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Preface


The plan I have followed in this work has been to sift and arrange the
facts I have gathered concerning the habits of the animals best known to
me, preserving those only, which, in my judgment, appeared worth
recording. In some instances a variety of subjects have linked
themselves together in my mind, and have been grouped under one heading;
consequently the scope of the book is not indicated by the list of
contents: this want is, however, made good by an index at the end.

It is seldom an easy matter to give a suitable name to a book of this
description. I am conscious that the one I have made choice of displays
a lack of originality; also, that this kind of title has been used
hitherto for works constructed more or less on the plan of the famous
_Naturalist on the Amazons._ After I have made this apology the reader,
on his part, will readily admit that, in treating of the Natural History
of a district so well known, and often described as the southern portion
of La Plata, which has a temperate climate, and where nature is neither
exuberant nor grand, a personal narrative would have seemed superfluous.

The greater portion of the matter contained in this volume has already
seen the light in the form of papers contributed to the _Field,_ with
other journals that treat of Natural History; and to the monthly
magazines:--_Longmans', The Nineteenth Century, The Gentleman's
Magazine,_ and others: I am indebted to the Editors and Proprietors of
these periodicals for kindly allowing me to make use of this material.

Of all animals, birds have perhaps afforded me most pleasure; but most
of the fresh knowledge I have collected in this department is contained
in a larger work _(Argentine Ornithology),_ of which Dr. P. L. Sclater
is part author. As I have not gone over any of the subjects dealt with
in that work, bird-life has not received more than a fair share of
attention in the present volume.

W. H. Hudson