“The Shooting of the Bawks”


The narrator protests a law against killing bawks during the summer when they are most plentiful. He wonders how he is going to feed his family and sarcastically conjectures that the authorities will now provide the people with meat.


The author, Arthur Reginald Scammell, has written many poems, songs and even stories with Newfoundland themes. One of his more famous songs is "The Squid-Jiggin' Ground." Some collections of his works include: _My Newfoundland: Stories, Poems, Songs_ (St. John's: Harry Cuff Publications, 1988) and _Newfoundland Echoes_ (St. John's: Harry Cuff Publications, 1988). _Collected Works of A. R. Scammell_ was also published by Harry Cuff in 1990.

Although I haven't been able to find the exact equivalent for the "bawk" it can be gathered from the song that it is a seabird present only in summer. Other birds mentioned are the "tur" which is related to the auk, "noddy" which is a kind of tern or small gull and tickleace which is another kind of gull. The poem gives instructions to sing it to the tune of "The Wearin' o' the Green." - SH

The Canadian Oxford Dictionary lists "bawk" as a Newfoundlander term, of unknown origin, for the Greater Shearwater. The Greater Shearwater is a fairly large bird which often occurs in flocks and frequently follows ships; they are therefore tempting targets. They breed in November-January in the Tristan da Cunha islands (far down in the south Atlantic, at about the latitude of Buenos Aires but roughly half way between Africa and South America), then spend the North American summer months off the American east coast. - PJS, RBW

I do not know the reason for the Canadian ban on shooting bawks, but as their breeding grounds are small and under threat by man, and their summer feeding grounds are being heavily fished, I suspect it is to protect the species. - RBW


  1. Doyle2, p. 79, "The Shooting of the Bawks" (1 text)
  2. Roud #7309
  3. BI, Doy079


Author: A.R. Scammell
Earliest date: 1940 (Doyle)
Found in: Canada(Newf)