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REPORT OF THE ORNITHOLOGIST AND MAMMALOGIST.

SIR: I have the honor to submit herewith my fifth annual report of the doings of the Division of Economic Ornithology and Mammalogy, covering the year 1890. It consists of two principal parts or sections in accordance with the two lines of work carried on by the Division--the one, a study of the economic relations of mammals and birds which are beneficial or harmful from a directly economic standpoint; the other, a study of the geographic distribution of species.

As stated in my last report, the office force of the Division is wholly insufficient for the rapidly increasing demands of the investigations in hand, and the mere routine work has already outgrown the means at command for its proper accomplishment. During the year 1890 about four thousand letters were written, copied, indexed, and mailed, and several thousand circulars and schedules were distributed. During the same period the number of letters received was more than five thousand, and more than half of these were accompanied by schedules, lists, reports, or other records of observations, all of which were examined, indorsed, jacketed, and either filed for future reference or at once utilized in studies already in progress. Other routine work has consisted in attending to the needs of field agents, in identifying specimens, comparing and correcting proof, preparing and revising card lists of correspondents, filing certain classes of reports received, typewriting franks for the distribution of documents to American and foreign correspondents, compiling a reference list of publications useful in the regular work of the Division, preparing colored diagrams or maps in connection with the work on geographic distribution, and miscellaneous work.

It is gratifying to record the fact that the restriction referred to in my last report as seriously affecting the scope of the work, has been removed by Congress, in obedience to your urgent recommendation, and that the Division is now in effect a biological survey, it having been authorized to undertake a comprehensive investigation of the geographic distribution of animals and plants.

I beg to call your attention to the inferior colored illustrations contained in the last annual report and in other publications of the Division. The originals from which these pictures were reproduced are of the highest quality, while the prints in the reports are the cheapest chromos-coarse, dauby, and differing widely in different copies. Such figures are discreditable to the Department and a disgrace to the National Government. Unless it is possible to obtain illustrations that are at least respectable it is better to do without them altogether. Respectfully,

.C. HART MERRIAM, Chief of Division of Ornithology and Mammalogy. Hon. J. M. RUSK, Secretary.

WORK OF THE YEAR.

SECTION OF GEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION.

The work accomplished in the section of geographic distribution may be conveniently summarized under two heads, namely, (1) office work, and (2) field work.

(1) Office work.The office work has consisted largely in collecting and tabulating records of the occurrence of certain species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and plants for the purpose of mapping their distribution; in working up the results of the field work carried on by the Division; in the care and arrangement of the material sent in by field agents and others; in the identification of specimens sent to the Department for that purpose, and in the preparation and publication of reports based on the investigations of the Division.

In mapping the distribution of species an obstacle is frequently encountered in the unsettled status of the species themselves, for it is impossible to map the distribution of animals which have not been named, and whose relationships are unknown. In the light of the large series of specimens collected by the Division in regions heretofore unvisited by naturalists, many groups require thorough revision before the species can be correctly named. The results of these critical studies appear in North AMERICAN FAUNA, the publication containing the results of the scientific work of the Division, Two numbers of NORTH AMERICAN FAUNA (Nos. 3 and 4) have been prepared and issued during the year, the first comprising the results of a biological survey of the San Francisco Mountain region and desert of the Little Colorado, in Arizona; the second containing descriptions of a number of new species of North American mammals.

(2) Field work.-Field work has been carried on during the year in parts of Minnesota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, California, Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama, and several thousand specimens, including many species new to science, have been secured and now form a part of the national collections at Washington.

SECTION OF ECONOMIC RELATIONS.

The economic work of the Division, that devoted to the study of species directly injurious or beneficial to agriculture, has been confined mainly to investigations connected with the preparation of thu four bulletins already announced, namely:

(1) An illustrated bulletin on hawks and owls.—This bulletin is now completed and will be published as soon as funds are available for the purpose. In its preparation the stomach contents of about 2,500 hawks and owls, representing 45 species, have been examined and the results tabulated; and to the mass of facts thus obtained the published observations of reliable naturalists throughout America have been added. The conclusions based on the study of this vast amount of material are irresistible. It is shown beyond question that the American hawks and owls, excepting the few species which habitually prey upon domesticated fowls or beneficial birds, are of great value to the farmer, destroying rats, mice, gophers, squirrels, and insects.

(2) Bulletin on the gophers of the Mississippi Valley.-Work on this bulletin has been continued during the year, and much valuable

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