If life is, as some hold it to be, a vast melancholy ocean over which ships more or less sorrow-laden continually pass and ply, yet there lie here and there upon it isles of consolation on to which we may step out and for a time forget the winds and waves. One of these we may call Bird-isle—the island of watching and being entertained by the habits and humours of birds—and upon this one, for with the others I have here nothing to do, I will straightway land, inviting such as may care to, to follow me. I will speak of birds only, or almost only, as I have seen them, and I must hope that this plan, which is the only one I have found myself able to follow, will be accepted as an apology for the absence of much which, not having seen but only read of, I therefore say nothing about. Also, if I sometimes here record what has long been known and noted as though I were making a discovery, I trust that this, too, will be forgiven me, for, in fact, whenever I have watched a bird and seen it do anything at all—anything, that is, at all salient—that is just how I have felt. Perhaps, indeed, the best way to make discoveries of this sort is to have the idea that one is doing so. One looks with the soul in the eyes then, and so may sometimes pick up some trifle or other that has not been noted before.