DAWSON, William Leon (1873-1928). The Birds of California. New York: The Devin Adair Company, 1940.

$ 1,500.00

4 volumes. 4to., (12 2/8 x 9 4/8 inches). Half titles, title-pages printed in red and black. 30 fine photogravure plates, 110 colour plates by Major Allan Brooks, 120 duotone plates, and with half-tones throughout. Original ochre cloth backed natural linen boards, gilt. 

Format de Luxe, first published in 1923. Signed by Dawson on a leaf tipped-in before the frontispiece. The author was a life-long ornithologist who is best remembered for his three comprehensive books of the birds of Ohio, Washington, and California as here. In his Preface he writes: "Since the dawn of the scientific era the study f birds, ornithology, has occupied an honourable place. Men like Linneaus, Brisson and Cuvier, Temminck, Vieillot, Forbes and Gray, and more recently, Gadow, Evans and Hartet, Sharpe, Ridgway, Oberholser and Grinnell, have expounded its technique; while apostles like Audubon and Gould, Baird, Newton and Coues, Hudson, Chapman and Beebe, have published its gospel ad immortalized its claims. Without claiming either the technical equipment of a Ridgeway or the apostolic fervour of an Audubon, the author has tried nevertheless to do a rough justice to the dual claims of descriptive science and or artistic interpretation in a field which he realizes to be singularly favoured, not alone for the variety and wealth of its bird life, but for the number and quality of its human inhabitants. As a citizen by choice of the Golden State, the writer can truly say that California seems to offer unparalled advantages for bird study. Indeed, its range of avian interest is fairly typified by the fact that within its borders a bird of modest power, as a Clark Nutcracker, might breakfast (somewhat sparingly) at the lowest point upon the American point of the American Continent, viz., in the Death Valley, and lunch (even more austerely) upon the highest point of land in the United States, viz., the summit of Mt. Whitney, 14,501 feet above the level of the sea. California is a land of contrasts, and the description of its vividly contrasting and kaleidoscopic bird-life is, perhaps, the most privileged task which might fall to the lot of ornithologist" (page iii).