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Library 
of  the 

University  of  Toronto 


A  M  'x 


tL. -S  <Vws^  1  -tv^  “Vo-oK  0\HLt  , 


BRITISH  BIRDS. 


YOL.  III. 


Digitized  by  the  Internet  Archive 
in  2018  with  funding  from 
University  of  Toronto 


https://archive.org/details/historyofbritish03yarr_1 


HISTORY 


BRITISH  BIRDS 

BY 

WILLIAM  YAEEELL,  Y.P.L.S.,  F.Z.S. 


FOURTH  EDITION,  IN  FOUR  VOLUMES. 
ILLUSTRATED  BY  564  WOOD- ENGRAVINGS. 

VOL.  III.,  REVISED  AND  ENLARGED 

BY 

HOWARD  SAUNDERS,  F.L.S.,  F.Z.S.,  Etc. 

LONDON: 

JOHN  VAN  VOORST,  PATERNOSTER  ROW. 

MDCCCLXXXIT-  MDCCCLXXXIV. 


LONDON  : 


PRINTED  BY  WOOD  FALL  AND  KINDER, 

MILFORD  LANE,  STRAND,  W.C. 


P REFACE 


TO 

YOLS.  III.-IV.  OF  THE  FOURTH  EDITION. 


This  Fourth  Edition  of  Yarrell’s  ‘  History  of  British 
Birds  ’  was  commenced  by  Professor  Newton  in  1871,  and 
continued  by  him  until  May  1882,  during  which  time  the 
account  of  the  Accipitres ,  Passeres,  and  Picarice  was  com¬ 
pleted.  In  June  1882  I  undertook  to  finish  the  work — not 
willingly  or  with  a  light  heart,  hut  after  considerable  pressure 
and  at  much  personal  sacrifice.  There  were  various  diffi¬ 
culties  which  could  he  foreseen,  and  not  the  least  among 
them  was  the  conviction  that  my  portion  of  the  work  must 
necessarily  appear  at  a  disadvantage  when  compared  with 
the  high  standard  of  excellence  attained  by  my  predecessor. 
There  was,  moreover,  a  stipulation  for  the  completion  of  the 
work  by  June  1885  ;  and,  allowing  for  a  pre-arranged  and 
necessary  absence  of  six  months  from  England,  this  left 
only  two  and  a  half  years  for  writing  the  history  of  nearly 
200  species.  The  accomplishment  of  the  task  within  the 
allotted  term  may  be  allowed  to  extenuate  some  slips  of  the 
pen  which  are  corrected  in  the  Errata. 

The  Second  and  Third  Editions  were  little  more  than 
reprints  with  additions,  of  the  First,  which  appeared  just 
forty-two  years  ago.  During  the  interval  our  knowledge  of 
many  species  has  been  vastly  augmented,  and  the  literature 
of  the  main  subject  has  been  more  than  doubled ;  an  in- 


VI 


PREFACE. 


crease  necessitating  an  amount  of  research,  and  the  careful 
sifting  of  a  mass  of  information,  unknown  to  the  original 
Author.  The  advantages  undoubtedly  counterbalance  the 
drawbacks,  hut  it  must  be  confessed  that  the  latter  are  con¬ 
siderable. 

It  is  not  within  my  province  to  consider  the  advisability 
of  publishing  under  the  honoured  name  of  Yarrell  a  work 
which  must  necessarily  he,  to  a  great  extent,  rewritten  ;  but 
my  portion  of  the  task,  once  accepted,  has  been  performed 
to  the  best  of  my  ability.  Where  practicable,  the  original 
phraseology  has  been  followed,  with  due  modifications  ;  the 
opening  words  of  the  sentences  have  frequently  been  pre¬ 
served,  as  ‘  landmarks  ’  for  possessors  of  former  Editions  ; 
and  extracts  from  the  authors  and  correspondents  quoted  by 
Yarrell  have  been  retained,  subject  to  considerations  of  space, 
relevancy,  and  accuracy.  This  work  of  selection  and  adapta¬ 
tion  has  entailed  severe  labour,  and,  as  a  matter  of  fact,  the 
original  articles  on  the  species  added  to  the  British  list  since 
the  publication  of  the  Third  Edition,  are  those  which  have 
given  the  least  trouble. 

The  many  completed  works  on  ornithology  of  which  I 
have  availed  myself  are  mentioned  from  time  to  time  in 
these  volumes,  and  if  the  enumeration  is  re-commenced,  it 
will  be  difficult  to  say  where  to  stop.  I  can,  however, 
acknowledge  most  of  them  collectively  by  expressing  my 
obligations  to  that  pre-eminent  compilation,  Mr.  H.  E. 
Dresser’s  ‘  Birds  of  Europe,’  a  work  which  has  materially 
lightened  my  labours.  Again,  Mr.  J.  E.  Harting  kindly 
placed  at  my  disposal  the  annotated  copy  of  his  useful 
‘  Handbook  of  British  Birds,’  with  several  volumes  of  notes 
and  extracts  ;  and  on  all  sides  assistance  has  been  freely 
proffered.  The  completion  of  the  work  within  the  appointed 
time  is  largely  owing  to  the  co-operation  of  numerous  friends 
and  correspondents  who  sent  notes,  rare  books,  and  speci¬ 
mens,  looked  over  proofs,  and  answered  questions  (some¬ 
times  by  telegraph),  with  the  utmost  cheerfulness  and 
promptitude.  My  thanks  are  especially  due  to  Major  H.  W. 
Feilden,  Messrs.  E.  Bidwell,  F.  Bond— the  Nestor  of  British 


PREFACE. 


Vll 


ornithology, — John  Corcleaux,  John  Gatcombe,  J.  H. 
Gurney,  jun.,  J.  A.  Harvie-Brown,  H.  Seebolim,  and  Cecil 
Smith ;  also  to  Lieut. -Col.  E.  A.  Butler,  Messrs.  T.  E. 
Buckley,  A.  Chapman,  W.  Eagle  Clarke,  T.  Duckworth, 
E.  Hargitt,  F.  S.  Mitchell,  A.  G.  More,  T.  H.  Nelson,  J.  C. 
Mansel-Pleydell,  Henry  Stevenson,  R.  J.  Ussher,  Robert 
Warren,  John  Young,  and  others  too  numerous  for  mention. 

The  changes  made  in  the  systematic  arrangement  are 
believed  to  be  the  fewest  consistent  with  the  present  state 
of  our  knowledge.  It  was  obviously  impossible  that  the 
Herons  &c,  should  continue  to  split  the  Order  Limicolce  by 
occupying  their  former  place  midway  between  the  Plovers 
and  the  Curlews.  It  was  equally  clear  that,  according  to 
modern  views,  the  Gavice  (Terns  and  Gulls)  must  follow 
the  Limicolce,  to  which,  indeed,  they  are  so  closely  related 
that  it  is  doubtful  whether  they  should  not  be  comprised  in 
the  same  Order.  Opinions  not  being  unanimous  upon  the 
relative  positions  of  the  Petrels,  the  Auks,  the  Divers,  and 
the  Grebes,  I  have  subordinated  my  own  views  to  the 
previous  arrangement.  The  Herons  ( Herocliones )  and  the 
Cormorants  ( Steganopocles ),  had,  of  course,  to  be  allocated 
in  a  proximity  the  scheme  of  which  had  already  been  dis¬ 
arranged  by  the  commencement  of  the  work  with  the 
Accipitres.  Under  these  exceptional  circumstances  the  last 
Order  is  necessarily  that  of  the  Anseres ;  nor  is  it  altogether 
undesirable  that  it  should  be  so,  inasmuch  as  in  the  ossifica¬ 
tion  of  the  sternum  the  normal  members  of  that  group 
show  some  resemblance  to  the  Ratitce,  a  sub-class  which  is 
generally,  although  not  universally,  allowed  to  be  lower  than 
the  Carinatce. 

Assuming  that,  according  to  the  original  scheme  of  the 
work,  a  species  is  allowed  to  have  a  claim  to  be  considered 
‘  British  ’  when  a  single  authenticated  example  is  proved  to 
have  been  obtained  in  our  islands  without  suspicion  of  arti¬ 
ficial  introduction,  it  would  seem  that  the  following  species 
which  have  not  been  figured  or  described  in  detail,  have 
some  right  to  be  enumerated  in  the  British  list ;  but  certain 


Vlll 


PREFACE. 


New  World  Passer es  wliicli  cannot  reasonably  be  supposed 
to  have  reached  our  shores  without  human  agency  need  not 
be  mentioned. 

Lanius  major,  Pallas.  Pallas’s  Grey  Shrike.  To  this 
species  or  sub-species — for  it  seems  possible  that  it  may  in¬ 
terbreed  with  Lanius  excubitor — belong  the  majority  of  the 
‘  Great  Grey  ’  Shrikes  obtained  in  winter  in  the  British 
Islands,  especially  in  Scotland.  It  appears  to  be  a  northern 
or  north-eastern  form,  distributed,  from  Scandinavia  east¬ 
ward,  over  a  large  portion  of  Northern  Europe  and  Asia, 
and  distinguishable,  when  thorough-bred,  by  its  white  rump 
and  by  the  absence  of  the  white  bases  to  the  secondaries, 
while  the  white  bases  of  the  primaries  are  smaller  than  in 
L.  excubitor.  Roughly  speaking,  L.  major  has  only  one  alar 
bar  instead  of  two.  Its  range  on  migration  is  not  yet 
clearly  defined. 

Saxicola  stapazina  ( Vieillot ).  The  Black-throated 
Wlieatear.  An  adult  male  was  shot  near  Bury  in  Lan¬ 
cashire  about  the  middle  of  May,  1878,  and  was  exhibited 
at  a  meeting  of  the  Zoological  Society  in  the  following 
November  (P.  Z.  S.  1878,  pp.  881  and  977).  The  species  is 
common  in  Southern  Europe  and  North  Africa,  and  has 
straggled  as  far  north  as  Heligoland. 

Saxicola  deserti  ( Tcmminck ).  The  Desert  Wlieatear. 
A  male  in  autumn  plumage  was  killed  near  Alloa,  Clack¬ 
mannanshire,  on  the  26th  of  November,  1880,  and,  having 
been  sent  to  Mr.  J.  J.  Dalgleish,  was  forwarded  by  him  for 
exhibition  before  the  Zoological  Society  (P.  Z.  S.  1881,  p. 
453).  The  species  inhabits  the  southern  and  eastern  sides 
of  the  Mediterranean  basin,  and  has  twice  been  known  to 
wander  to  Heligoland. 

Acrocephalus  palustris  ( Bechstein ).  The  Marsh  War¬ 
bler.  It  is  impossible  to  doubt  the  authenticity  of  the 
examples  obtained  during  the  last  ten  years.  Mr.  Cecil 
Smith  has  shown  (Zool.  s.s.  p.  4713)  that  it  breeds  near 
Taunton,  and  it  is  now  known  to  do  so  annually  (Zool. 
1882,  pp.  265,  306)  ;  it  has  also  nested  near  Bath.  I  have 
examined  several  fresli-killed  birds  :  also  their  nests  and 


PREFACE. 


IX 


eggs  ;  the  two  latter  being  very  different  from  those  of  the 
Reed  Warbler.  The  range  of  the  two  species  is  similar. 

Sylvia  nisoria  {Bechstein).  The  Barred  Warbler.  An 
example  shot  many  years  ago  in  a  garden  near  Queen’s 
College,  Cambridge,  was  exhibited  by  Professor  Newton 
before  the  Zoological  Society  (P.  Z.  S.  1879,  p.  219).  One 
was  killed  in  Yorkshire  on  the  28tli  August,  and  one  in 
Norfolk  on  the  4tli  September,  1884  (P.  Z.  S.  1884,  p.  477). 
The  species  breeds  over  the  greater  part  of  Europe  up  to  the 
south  of  Sweden,  and  about  as  far  west  as  6°  E.  long. 

Tichodroma  muraria  ( Linnaeus ).  The  Wall  Creeper. 
The  occurrence  of  this  remarkable  species,  so  conspicuous 
from  the  band  of  crimson  on  the  wing,  was  made  known  by 
Marsham,  of  Stratton- Strawless  Hall,  Norfolk,  in  a  letter  to 
Gilbert  White,  dated  October  80th,  1792  (Zool.  s.s.  p.  4664). 
Mr.  F.  S.  Mitchell  has  recorded  another  well-authenticated 
example  shot  in  Lancashire  on  the  8th  May,  1872  (Zool.  s.s. 
p.  4839).  Although  an  inhabitant  of  the  mountainous  por¬ 
tions  of  Central  and  Southern  Europe,  Asia,  and  North 
Africa,  it  is  known  to  have  straggled  on  several  occasions  to 
such  apparently  unsuitable  localities  as  the  centre  of  the 
commercial  town  of  Nantes,  on  the  Lower  Loire,  and  I  have 
examined  several  specimens  obtained  there. 

Acanthyllis  caudacuta  {Latham).  The  Needle-tailed 
Swift.  The  two  occurrences  of  this  species  in  England  are 
noticed  in  vol.  ii.  p.  371. 

Caprimulgus  ruficollis,  Temminck.  The  Red-necked 
Nightjar.  For  remarks  on  the  occurrence  of  this  southern 
species  in  Northumberland,  see  vol.  ii.  p.  386. 

Caprimulgus  ^gyptius  (Licht).  The  Isabelline  Nightjar. 
On  the  23rd  of  June,  1883,  an  undoubted  example  of  this 
south-eastern  species  was  shot  by  the  gamekeeper  of  Mr.  J. 
Whitaker,  of  Rainworth  Lodge,  near  Mansfield,  Nottingham¬ 
shire,  in  whose  collection  it  now  is  (Zool.  1883,  p.  374). 
The  species  is  a  native  of  North-eastern  Africa  and  Western 
Asia ;  but  this  makes  its  sixth  occurrence  in  Europe  ;  one 
of  them  being  in  Heligoland. 

jEgialitis  vocifera  {Linnceus).  The  Killdeer  Plover. 

vol.  hi.  b 


X 


PHEEACE. 


In  noticing  an  undoubted  specimen  of  this  American  species 
said  to  have  been  killed  in  Hampshire  (vol.  iii.  p.  ICO),  I 
did  not  then  consider  the  evidence  quite  sufficient  to  justify 
admission  to  the  British  list.  On  the  15th  of  January, 
1885,  Mr.  Jenkinson  shot  and  sent  to  Mr.  Yingoe  for  pre¬ 
servation  (Zool.  1885,  p.  113),  a  specimen  which  I  have 
since  examined. 

Totanus  solitarius  {Wilson).  The  Solitary  Sandpiper. 
In  my  note  on  this  species  (vol.  iii.  p.  468),  I  hesitated  to 
include  the  species  on  the  reported  occurrence  on  the  Scilly 
Islands  of  an  example  which  had  not  been  authenticated  by 
some  expert.  Since  then,  a  bird  of  this  species  has  been 
shot  near  Marazion,  Cornwall,  and  has  been  identified  by 
competent  authorities  (Zool.  1885,  p.  113). 

Colymbus  adamsi,  Gray.  The  Yellow-billed  Northern 
Diver.  Since  writing  the  remarks  on  this  recognizable  species 
(vol.  iv.  p.  100),  Mr.  J.  H.  Gurney  has  kindly  sent  me  a 
photograph  of  the  head  of  the  immature  bird  shot  on  the 
Suffolk  coast  in  1852,  and  the  form  of  the  bill  shows  clearly 
that  it  is  an  example  of  Colymbus  aclamsi.  Mr.  H. 
Seebolim  has  identified  a  second  specimen,  in  the  Newcastle 
Museum,  shot  on  the  coast  of  Northumberland,  and  has 
given  his  views  on  the  geographical  distribution  of  the 
species  in  ‘  The  Zoologist,’  1885,  p.  144. 

I  am  only  aware  of  three  errors  of  sufficient  importance 
for  notice  beyond  the  inevitable  Errata.  The  first  is  to  be 
found  in  vol.  iii.  p.  678,  line  26,  in  the  description  of  the 
young  of  the  Arctic  Skua,  where,  by  an  inadvertence,  the 
words  “the  shafts  of  the  two  outer  feathers  white,  the  others 
dusky”;  have  slipped  in;  they  really  refer  to  the  next 
species,  the  Long-tailed  Skua. 

In  the  article  on  the  Puffin,  vol.  iv.  p.  95,  line  2,  by  a  slip 
of  the  pen  consequent  upon  the  transposition  of  the  words 
‘  summer  ’  and  *  winter  ’  in  the  revise,  the  very  opposite  of 
what  is  meant  is  stated.  It  is  obvious  that  the  bill  of  the 
Puffin  is  larger  in  summer  than  in  winter,  and  that  word 
should  be  substituted  for  “  smaller.” 


PREFACE. 


Xl 


Lastly,  in  tlie  list  of  Norfolk  heronries  (vol.  iv.  p.  166) 
there  is  a  double  error  in  the  statement  that  there  is  a 
colony  of  Herons  at  Spixworth,  and  that  their  nests  are  in 
Portugal  laurels.  There  is  no  heronry  at  Spixworth,  and 
the  birds  which  bred  in  the  laurels  were  Rooks ;  hut 
although  the  information  has  proved  to  be  incorrect,  it  came 
from  an  informant  whose  name  is  so  well  known  in  connec¬ 
tion  with  Norfolk  that  there  was  no  primary  reason  to  doubt 
it.  To  those  who  are  only  acquainted  with  the  Heron  as 
nesting  on  tall  trees,  my  credulity  may  appear  absurd,  hut 
ornithologists  of  wider  experience  who  have  seen,  on  the 
one  hand,  laurels  strong  enough  to  sustain  the  nest  of  an 
Eagle,  and  have  found,  on  the  other,  Herons  nesting  on 
mere  hushes,  will  admit  that  there  was  no  inherent  improb¬ 
ability  in  the  statement. 

Howard  Saunders. 

7,  Radnor  Place,  Hyde  Park,  W., 

3 Oth  April ,  1885. 


CONTENTS  OF  YOL.  III. 


COLUMBiE. 

COLUMBIDiE. 

Columba  palumbus.  Ring  Dove 
,,  oenas.  Stock  Dove 

,,  livia.  Rock  Dove 

Turtur  communis.  Turtle  Dove 
Ectopistes  migratorius.  Passenger  Pigeon 

PTEROCLETES. 

Pteroclid^e. 

Syrrhaptes  paradoxus.  Sand-Grouse 

GALLING. 

Tetraonidj:. 

Tetrao  urogallus.  Capercaillie  . 

,,  tetrix.  Black  Grouse 
Lagopus  scoticus.  Red  Grouse 
,,  mutus.  Ptarmigan 

PHASIANID2E. 

Phasianus  colchicus.  Pheasant . 

Perdix  cinerea.  Common  Partridge 
Caccabis  rufa.  Red-legged  Partridge 
Coturnix  communis.  Common  Quail 

HEMIPODII. 

TuRNICIDiE. 

Turnix  sylvatica.  Andalusian  Hemipode  . 


PAGE 

1 

8 

13 

21 

26 


31 


45 

60 

73 

83 


03 

105 

115 

123 


131 


XIV 


CONTENTS. 


FULICARIHL 

Rallid.®. 

PAGE 

Crex  prate  nsis.  Land  Rail  .  .  •  •  .137 

JPorzana  maruetta.  Spotted  Crake  ....  143 

,,  2 larva.  Little  Crake  .....  148 

„  bailloni.  Baillon’s  Crake  .  .  .  .154 

Eallus  aquaticus.  Water  Rail  .....  159 

Gallinula  chloropus.  Moor-Hen  ....  1G4 

Eulica  atra.  Common  Coot  .  .  •  •  .171 

ALECTORIDES. 

Gruid^:. 

Grus  communis.  Crane  .  .  .  .  •  .178 

OTIDIDiE. 

Otis  tarda.  Great  Bustard  .  .  .  .  .  193 

,,  tetrax.  Little  Bustard  .....  210 

„  macqueeni.  Macqueen’s  Bustard  .  .  .221 

LIMICOLiE. 

CEdicnemid^. 

(Edicnemus  scolopax.  Stone-Curlew  ....  225 

Glareolid^:. 

Glareola  pratincola.  Collared  Pratincole  .  .  .  231 

CHARADRIIDiE. 

Cursorius  gallicus.  Cream-coloured  Courser  .  .  238 

j Eudromias  morinellus.  Dotterel  ....  246 

JEgialitis  hiaticula.  Ringed  Plover  ....  257 

„  curonica.  Little  Ringed  Plover  .  .  262 

„  cantiana.  Kentish  Plover  .  .  .  .  267 

Charadrius  pluvialis.  Golden  Plover  .  .  .  271 

Squatarola  lielvetica.  Grey  Plover  ....  278 

Vanellus  vulgaris.  Lapwing  .....  283 

Strepsilas  interpres.  Turnstone  ....  2S9 

Hwmatopus  ostralegus.  Oyster-Catcher  .  .  .  294 


CONTENTS. 


LIMICOLJE — continued. 

Scolopacid^;. 

Becurvirostra  avocetta.  Avocet 
H imantopus  candidus.  Black-winged  Stilt 
Blialaropus  fulicarius.  Grey  Phalarope 

,,  hyperboreus.  Red-necked  Phalarope 
Scolopctoc  rusticula.  Woodcock  .... 
Gcdlinago  major.  Great  Snipe  .... 
,,  ccelestis.  Common  Snipe  . 

,,  gallinula.  Jack  Snipe 
JKacrorhamphus  griseus.  Red-breasted  Snipe 
Limicola  platyrhyncha.  Broad-billed  Sandpiper 
Tringa  maculata.  Pectoral  Sandpiper 
„  fuscicollis.  Bonaparte’s  Sandpiper 

,,  alpina.  Dunlin  ..... 

,,  minuta.  Little  Stint 

,,  minutilla.  American  Stint 
,,  temminchi.  Temminck’s  Stint 

,,  subarquata.  Curlew  Sandpiper 
„  striata.  Purple  Sandpiper 

,,  canutus.  Knot  ..... 

Calidris  arenaria.  Sanderling  .... 
Machetes  pugnax.  Ruff  ..... 
Trgngites  rufescens.  Buff-breasted  Sandpiper  . 
Bartramia  longicauda.  Bartram’s  Sandpiper 
Totanus  hypoleucus.  Common  Sandpiper  . 

,,  macularius.  Spotted  Sandpiper  . 

,,  ochropus.  Green  Sandpiper 

,,  glareola.  Wood  Sandpiper  . 

,,  calidris.  Common  Redshank 

„  fuscus.  Spotted  Redshank  . 

„  jlavipes.  Yellow-shanked  Sandpiper  . 

,,  canescens.  Greenshank 
Limosa  (Egocepliala.  Black-tailed  God  wit 
,,  lapponica.  Bar-tailed  Godwit 

Numenius  arquata.  Common  Curlew 
,,  pliceopus.  Whimbrel 

,,  borealis.  Eskimo  Curlew 


xv 


PAGE 

299 
305 
310 
315 
320 
336 
342 
351 
357 
362 
368 
373 
377 
386 
396 
398 
403 
40  S 
413 
420 
426 
435 
440 
446 
452 
457 
463 
469 
474 
480 
483 
488 
494 
499 
507 
512 


XVI 


CONTENTS. 


GAVIHL 


55 


55 


55 


Laridje. 

Hydrochelidon  nigra.  Black  Tern  .... 
,,  leucoptera.  White-winged  Black  Tern 

„  hybrida.  Whiskered  Tern 

Sterna  anglica.  Gull-billed  Tern 
„  caspia.  Caspian  Tern 
„  cantiaca.  Sandwich  Tern 

,,  dougalli.  Roseate  Tern  . 

jiumatilis.  Common  Tern 
macrura.  Arctic  Tern  . 
minuta.  Lesser  Tern 
fuliginosa.  Sooty  Tern  . 

Anoas  stolidus.  Noddy  Tern 
Xema  sabinii.  Sabine’s  Gull 
Rhodostethia  rosea.  Cuneate-tailed  Gall 
Larus  Philadelphia.  Bonapartian  Gull 
minutus.  Little  Gull 
ridibundus.  Black-headed  Gull 
ichthyaetus.  Great  Black-headed  Gull 
canus.  Common  Gull 
argentatus.  Herring  Gull 
fuscus.  Lesser  Black-backed  Gull 
marinus.  Great  Black-backed  Gull 
glaucus.  Glaucous  Gull  . 
leucopterus.  Iceland  Gull 
Rissa  tridactyla.  Kittiwake  Gull 
Ragopliila  eburnea.  Ivory  Gull 
Stercorarius  catarrliactes.  Great  Skua 

pomatorliinus.  Pomatorhine  Skua 
crepidatus .  Arctic  or  Richardson’s  Skua 
parasiticus.  Long-tailed  or  Buffon’s  Skua 


55 


55 


55 


55 


55 


55 


55 


55 


55 


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516 

522 

527 

531 

536 

540 

544 

549 

553 

558 

562 

567 

573 

579 

584 

589 

594 

609 

613 

618 

624 

631 

636 

642 

650 

656 

662 

668 

674 

680 


ERRATA  TO  VOL.  III. 


PAGE  LINE 

86,  28,  dele  Northern. 

124,  6,  for  Oxfordshire  read  Cambridgeshire. 

143,  19,  for  porzana  read  maruetta. 

200,  22,  for  at  Hawold.  Across  the  Humber,  it  would  appear,  read  at 

Hawold,  across  the  Humber.  It  would  appear,  &c. 

241,  28,  for  St.  Micbael’s-in-Wyse  read  St.  Michael’s-on-Wyre. 

297,  5,  for  Shrenck  read  Schrenck. 

310,  1,  insert  Limicoljs. 

331,  19,  for  (1688)  read  (1678). 

364,  13,  for  Pryor  read  Pryer. 

399,  31,  for  Lancashire  read  Lancashire. 

405,  9,  for  stragger  read  straggler. 

415,  31,  for  Lyons  read  Lyon. 

453,  20,  for  is  read  are. 

489,  4,  clele  recurved. 

513,  30,  dele  late. 

598,  35,  dele  the. 

609,  2,  for  ichtyaetos  read  ichthyaetcts. 

663,  9,  for  pray  read  prey. 

678,  27,  for  of  the  others  dusky  read  of  the  others  also  mainly  white,  but 

somewhat  dusky  towards  the  tips. 


BRITISH  BIRDS 


COL  TJMBJE. 


COLUMBIDA ?. 


Columba  palumbus,  Linnaeus  *. 

THE  RING  DOVE  OR  WOOD  PIGEON. 

Columba  pa lumbus . 

Columba,  Linnceusf. — Bill  moderate,  straight  at  the  base,  compressed,  the 
point  deflected.  Base  of  the  upper  mandible  covered  with  a  soft  skin,  in  which 
the  nostrils  are  pierced.  Tarsi  short,  anteriorly  scutellate,  posteriorly  scurfy  ; 
feet,  three  toes  in  front,  entirely  divided,  one  toe  behind.  Wings,  long,  broad, 
rather  pointed;  the  second  quill-feather  longest.  Tail  of  twelve  feathers  nearly 
even. 

*  Syst.  Nat.  Ed.  12,  i.  p.  282  (1766).  f  Tom.  cit.  p.  279. 

VOL.  III.  B 


2 


COLUMBINE. 


The  Ring  Dove,  so  called  from  the  white  feathers  which 
form  a  partial  ring  round  its  neck,  and  equally  wTell  known 
in  many  parts  of  England  as  the  Wood  Pigeon,  and  in 
the  North  as  the  Queest  or  the  Cushat,  is  the  largest  member 
of  the  genus  found  in  Europe.  It  is  an  abundant  and  gene¬ 
rally  distributed  species  throughout  the  British  Islands  ;  its 
numbers  having  increased  of  late  years  to  an  extent  which 
has  caused  grave  anxiety  to  the  farmers.  This  is  mainly 
owing  to  the  altered  conditions  of  cultivation  ;  the  large 
proportion  of  land  now  under  turnips  and  other  green  crops 
supplying  food  which  was  formerly  wanting  during  the 
inclement  months ;  whilst  the  numerous  small  plantations 
which  have  lately  sprung  up  afford  just  the  kind  of  shelter 
that  the  Ring  Dove  requires : — open  enough  to  preclude 
the  approach  of  an  unseen  adversary, — close  enough  for 
protection  from  the  weather  and  for  breeding  purposes. 
Add  to  this,  that  its  natural  foes  have  been,  as  far  as  possible, 
destroyed  by  game-preservers  and  their  keepers,  and  it  can 
hardly  be  a  matter  of  surprise  that  under  such  favourable 
circumstances  the  species  is  now  far  more  numerically 
abundant  than  in  former  years.  In  addition  to  those  bred 
in  this  country,  large  flocks  make  their  appearance  in  winter 
and  autumn,  crossing  the  North  Sea  from  the  continent  by 
an  E.  to  W.  flight. 

The  note  of  this  Dove — a  deep  coo  roo,  coo  coo — may  be 
frequently  heard  in  the  months  of  March  and  April  in  the 
neighbourhood  of  woods  and  plantations,  particularly  those 
of  firs,  in  which  it  delights  to  build.  The  nest  usually 
consists  of  merely  a  few  sticks  laid  across,  at  times  so  thinly 
that  the  eggs  can  be  distinguished  from  below  ;  but  it  is 
often  more  substantial,  and  occasionally  the  old  nest  of 
some  other  bird,  or  a  squirrel’s  drey,  serves  as  a  foundation. 
Although  generally  at  some  distance  from  the  ground,  it  is 
also  to  be  found  in  hedgerows  of  old  hawthorn  ;  and  Mr.  R. 
Gray  states  that  near  Arbroath,  in  Forfarshire,  nests  have 
been  observed  in  tall  whin  bushes.*  Not  unfrequently  it 


*  Birds  of  the  West  of  Scotland,  p.  218. 


RING  DOVE. 


3 


chooses  a  site  for  its  nest  in  gardens  in  close  proximity  to 
habitations,  and  sometimes  even  in  the  matted  ivy  covering 
their  walls.  The  first  clutch  of  eggs  is  generally  laid  early 
in  April,  and  the  second  early  in  June  ;  even  a  third  laying 
is  not  unfrequent,  for  birds  just  hatched  have  been  found 
at  least  as  late  as  October  18th,  so  that  even  a  fourth  brood 
is  possible,  although  the  young  probably  succumb  to  the 
approach  of  winter.*  The  eggs,  whose  complement,  as 
with  all  true  Pigeons,  is  invariably  two  in  number,  are  oval 
in  form  and  of  a  pure  glossy  white,  measuring  1*6  by  1*2  ; 
they  are  deposited  at  an  interval  of  two  or  three  days,  and 
incubation  lasts  from  sixteen  to  eighteen.  The  male  takes 
a  share  in  this  task,  and,  as  a  rule,  sits  on  the  eggs  during 
the  greater  portion  of  the  day.  The  young,  when  hatched, 
are  helpless  and  blind,  continuing  so  until  about  the  ninth 
day,  and  they  remain  in  the  nest  until  they  are  quite  able  to 
fly.  They  are  nourished  by  food  supplied  from  the  crops 
of  the  parent  birds,  who,  opening  their  bills  so  that  the 
mandibles  of  the  young  enter  the  pharynx,  regurgitate  the 
pulpy  and  half-digested,  curd-like  contents  of  the  crop, 
shewing  that  “  pigeon’s  milk  ”  is  not  the  absolute  and 
unfounded  fable  it  was  once  supposed  to  be.  Mr.  R.  Gray 
{op.  cit.)  states  that  he  has  several  times  reared  young  birds 
from  eggs  placed  under  a  common  Pigeon,  and  in  these 
cases  they  maintained  a  quiet  habit,  mixing  freely  and 
tamely  with  their  domestic  neighbours ;  but  in  only  one 
instance  did  he  know  of  a  Ring  Dove  breeding  in  confine¬ 
ment.  This  was  a  female,  taken  young,  which  received  her 
liberty  when  fully  grown,  but,  instead  of  flying  back  to  the 
woods,  she  paired  with  a  bachelor  domestic  Pigeon  in  a 
dovecote  in  the  town  of  Cumnock.  The  pair  had  eggs 
three  times,  although  only  one  young  bird  was  reared ;  it 
was  larger  than  the  domestic  Pigeon,  and  resembled  the 
female  parent  in  its  general  markings.  As  mentioned  in 
former  Editions  of  this  work,  the  late  Mr.  Thomas  Allis,  of 

*  Mr.  Frank  Norgate  (Zoologist,  1878,  p.  106)  states  that  on  February  1st  he 
shot  four  young  Ring  Doves  in  Norfolk,  one  of  which  retained  the  long  downy 
filaments  on  the  upper  wiDg-coverts. 


4 


COLUMBIDiE. 


York,  and  the  late  Earl  of  Derby,  at  Knowsley,  were  success¬ 
ful  in  inducing  this  species  to  breed  in  confinement. 

When  reared  from  the  nest,  the  birds  frequently  become 
much  attached  to  their  owner,  and  even  when  given  their 
liberty  they  have  been  known  to  sweep  down  and  recognize 
him  with  demonstrations  of  pleasure  after  an  absence  of 
nearly  twelve  months,  although  always  shy  to  strangers. 
Up  to  six  years  ago,  a  pair  used  to  breed  in  the  Green  Park, 
and  a  few  still  do  so  in  Kensington  Gardens;  but  the  tame¬ 
ness  of  this  species,  under  certain  conditions,  can  nowhere  he 
witnessed  better  than  in  Paris,  where,  in  the  gardens  of  the 
Luxembourg,  the  Tuileries,  the  Parc  Monceau,  and  other 
public  promenades,  the  Ring  Doves  may  be  seen  taking  food 
from,  and  even  perching  upon  the  arms  and  shoulders  of 
those  who  habitually  feed  them. 

The  Ring  Dove  is  strictly  monogamous,  and  during  the 
breeding  season  is  generally  seen  in  pairs  :  or  singly,  when 
taking  turns  at  the  task  of  incubation.  In  the  autumn,  how¬ 
ever,  it  becomes  gregarious,  and  in  winter  the  flocks  sometimes 
consist  of  many  hundreds,  and  even  thousands.  During  the 
summer  these  birds  feed  on  green  corn,  young  clover  (the 
leaves  of  which  they  devour  by  the  bushel),  grain  of  all  sorts, 
peas,  &c.  Mr.  R.  Gray  has  shot  numbers  with  their  crops 
perfectly  distended  with  gooseberries ;  and  from  the  crop  of 
one  killed  in  Forfarshire  1,020  grains  of  corn  were  counted. 
The  crops  of  four  of  these  birds  sent  by  Lord  Haddington 
at  different  times  yielded  the  following  results  :  the  first 
contained  144  field  peas  and  seven  large  beans  ;  the  second 
281  beech  nuts  ;  the  third  813  grains  of  barley ;  and  the 
fourth  874  grains  of  oats,  and  fifty-five  of  barley.  Such 
damage  may  be  better  estimated  from  the  fact  that  the  bird 
is  known  to  feed  three  times  daily ;  and  in  a  grain-pro¬ 
ducing  district,  like  East  Lothian,  where  from  15,000  to 
29,000  Pigeons  have  been  destroyed  within  twelve  months, 
without  effecting  any  apparent  decrease  in  their  numbers,  the 
loss  to  agriculturists  must  he  enormous.  It  appears  doubt¬ 
ful  whether  the  bill  of  the  Wood  Pigeon  is  strong  enough  to 
break  into  the  bulbs  of  turnips,  but  when  that  work  has 


RING  DOVE. 


5 


been  commenced  by  Rooks,  Partridges  or  liares,  the  Pigeons 
continue  to  hollow  them  out  very  successfully ;  whilst  there 
can  be  no  doubt  that  they  eat  the  leaves,  and  thus  check  the 
growth  of  the  turnip  in  its  earlier  stages."'  They  are  fond 
of  bathing  in  and  drinking  fresh  water,  and  Mr.  Cordeaux 
states  that  in  summer,  but  at  no  other  time,  this  species 
resorts  daily  to  the  marsh  drains  of  the  Humber  district 
to  which  the  tide  has  access  for  the  purpose  of  drinking  the 
brackish  water ;  Mr.  H.  Blake-Ivnox  has  also  observed  it 
eating  sea-weed  on  the  rocks  left  bare  by  the  ebb.  It  is 
partial  to  the  seeds  of  the  common  buttercup  (. Ranunculus 
acris),  as  well  as  the  berries  of  the  holly  and  the  yew;  and 
when  it  resorts  to  the  stubbles  after  harvest  to  consume  the 
scattered  grain,  it  also  devours  an  immense  number  of  the 
seeds  of  various  weeds,  thereby  rendering  services  to  the 
farmer  which  in  some  measure  counterbalance  the  depreda¬ 
tions  of  the  rest  of  the  year. 

In  England  it  has  long  been  known  as  an  abundant 
and  generally  distributed  species,  whose  numbers  have 
shewn  a  decided  tendency  to  increase  ;  but  in  Scotland  the 
spread  of  high  cultivation  has  assisted  its  progress  in  a 
remarkable  manner.  In  East  Lothian,  where  less  than  a 
century  ago  the  species  was  quite  unknown,  the  records 
of  the  Agricultural  Society  of  that  district  shew  that  no 
less  than  130,440  birds  were  destroyed  between  1863-1870 
without  materially  affecting  its  numbers.  The  eastern  dis¬ 
tricts  of  Scotland  frequently  suffer  from  the  arrival  of  im¬ 
mense  flocks  from  the  continent,  a  large  proportion  taking 
up  their  abode  in  the  country,  but  on  the  western  side 
although  on  the  increase  it  is  less  numerous,  and  although 
ranging  up  to  Sutherlandshire,  it  is  merely  a  straggler  to  the 
westward  of  the  Inner  Hebrides.  Even  to  the  Orkneys  and 
the  storm- swept,  treeless  Shetlands,  its  visits  are  becoming 
more  frequent,  and  it  has  wandered  several  times  as  far  as 
the  still  bleaker  Faeroes.  In  Ireland  it  is  generally  distri¬ 
buted  and  on  the  increase.  On  the  continent  of  Europe  it 
ranges  in  summer  throughout  suitable  districts  up  to  about 

*  R.  Gray,  op.  cit. 


6 


COLUMBlDiE. 


65°  N.  lat.,  and  has  even  straggled  up  to  60°  10/  N.  :  in  the 
central  portion  it  is  generally  resident,  but  in  the  southern 
countries  bordering  the  Mediterranean  it  is  more  especially 
abundant  on  migration,  although  it  breeds  in  some  numbers 
down  to  Morocco,  and  also  in  Algeria.  Its  western  limit 
is  the  group  of  the  Azores,  where  according  to  Mr.  Godman 
it  appears  to  he  confined  to  the  central  and  eastern  islands. 
To  the  eastward  its  range  cannot  he  traced  with  certainty 
much  beyond  the  Ural,  in  the  north,  or  beyond  the  Tigris  in 
the  south  :  in  Asia  Minor,  Palestine,  and  as  far  as  Bagdad 
this  species  is  certainly  abundant,  hut  in  Turkestan,  and  to 
the  east  of  the  line  of  the  Persian  Gulf,  it  appears  to  he 
replaced  hy  an  allied  species,  C.  casiotis  (Bp.),  with  neck- 
patches  of  a  huff  colour  instead  of  pure  white. 

In  the  adult  male  the  hill  is  yellow  towards  the  tip  and 
orange-red  at  the  base ;  the  soft  parts  about  the  nostrils 
almost  white ;  irides  straw-yellow ;  head  and  upper  part  of 
the  neck  hluisli-grey,  the  feathers  on  the  sides  of  the  neck 
glossed  with  violet  and  purple,  the  lower  ones  being  tipped 
with  white,  forming  parts  of  four  or  five  oblique  rings  ;  back, 
scapulars,  both  sets  of  wing-coverts  and  tertials  a  shade 
darker,  and  browner  than  the  head ;  the  first  four  or  five 
feathers  of  both  sets  of  wing-coverts  white,  or  partially 
white,  which,  when  the  wing  is  closed,  produces  only  a  white 
line  down  the  edge  of  the  wing,  but  when  they  are  spread 
open  these  feathers  then  form  a  conspicuous  white  patch, 
which  is  visible  at  a  great  distance  ;  the  primary  quill- 
feathers  are  lead-grey  with  narrow  white  margins  and  black 
shafts ;  lower  hack,  rump,  and  upper  tail-coverts  bluish- 
grey  ;  tail-feathers  twelve  ;  the  pair  in  the  centre  of  two 
colours,  the  basal  two-thirds  bluish-grey,  the  ends  dark  lead- 
grey  ;  the  other  ten  feathers  of  three  shades  of  grey,  the 
middle  part  being  the  lightest  in  colour;  chin  hluisli-grey; 
neck  and  breast  vinous-purple ;  belly,  vent,  and  under  tail- 
coverts  ash-grey ;  under  surface  of  tail-feathers  pearl-grey  in 
the  middle,  lead-grey  at  both  ends ;  tarsi  and  feet  red,  claws 
brown. 

The  whole  length  is  seventeen  inches.  From  the  carpal 


RING  DOVE. 


7 

joint  to  the  end  of  the  wing  ten  inches ;  the  second  quill- 
featlier  being  the  longest  in  the  wing,  from  which  the  others 
decrease  gradually. 

The  female  is  a  little  smaller  than  the  male,  and  her 
colours  are  somewhat  duller. 

Young  birds  are  fully  fledged  by  the  end  of  the  third 
week,  and  are  then  of  a  lead-grey,  with  a  very  conspicuous 
wing-bar,  on  the  upper  parts ;  the  breast  being  vinous- 
brown,  with  numerous  yellowish  filaments  still  adhering  to 
the  tips  of  the  feathers.  The  bill,  which  is  tumid  and  quite 
out  of  proportion  to  the  size  of  the  bird,  is  even  more 
flattened  out,  and  more  distinctly  notched  on  the  edges  of 
the  under  mandible,  than  in  most  domestic  Pigeons.  The 
colour  of  both  bill  and  feet  at  this  time  is  a  livid  grey  : 
the  former  with  a  white  tip  crossed  by  a  narrow  black  bar. 
Before  their  first  moult  they  have  no  white  on  the  sides  of 
the  neck,  and  the  general  colour  of  the  plumage  is  less  pure 
and  glossy,  but  they  assume  the  adult  plumage  the  first 
year.  Varieties  more  or  less  spotted  over  the  body  with 
white,  and  even  perfect  albinos,  are  sometimes  met  with  :  a 
remarkable  example  of  the  latter  is  in  the  collection  of  Mr. 
John  Marshall,  of  Belmont,  Taunton. 


8 


COLUMBID/E. 


COLUMBJE. 


COL  VMBIDJE. 


Columba  cenas,  Linmeus 
THE  STOCK  DOVE. 

Columba  cenas. 

By  Montagu,  Bewick,  Fleming,  and  some  of  the  earlier 
authors,  the  Stock  Hove  was  confounded  with  the  Rock  Dove, 
from  which,  however,  it  is  now  w~ell  known  to  be  perfectly 
distinct.  Whilst  this  confusion  lasted,  the  name  was  sup¬ 
posed  to  be  owing  to  its  being  considered  to  be  the  origin  of 
our  domestic  stock ;  hut  the  appellation  is  now  generally 
attributed  to  its  habit  of  nesting  in  the  stocks  of  trees,  par- 

Columba  cenas,  Linmeus,  Syst.  Nat.  Ed.  12  (1766),  i.  p.  279,  in  part,  the 
description  being  somewhat  confused  with  that  of  the  Domestic  Pigeon,  although 
in  the  Fauna  Suecica,  p.  75  (1761),  the  author  had  accurately  described  the 
present  species.  As  the  name  has  been  long  and  almost  universally  applied  to 
this  bird,  there  seems  to  be  no  adequate  reason  for  rejecting  it.  (Enas  from 
ailvos,  vinum. 


STOCK  DOVE. 


9 


ticularly  such  as  have  been  headed  down,  and  have  become 
rugged  and  bushy  at  the  top.  Its  German  name  Hohltaube, 
or  Hole-Dove,  is  similarly  owing  to  the  predilection  for 
hollow  trees.  In  fact,  the  peculiar  nesting  habits  of  this 
Dove  are  amongst  its  principal  characteristics.  In  wooded 
countries  it  generally  selects  elms,  oaks,  and  willows — 
especially  pollards — and  the  hollows  of  beeches  :  frequently 
making  no  nest  but  depositing  its  eggs  upon  the  rotten 
wood  which  has  accumulated ;  it  also  makes  use  of  old 
Crows’  and  Magpies’  nests  and  squirrels’  dreys,  the  matted 
houghs  of  the  Scotch  fir,  and  ivy-grown  trees  and  ruins. 
In  such  situations  as  the  foregoing  its  eggs  may  be  found 
even  so  near  to  London  as  Richmond,  Windsor,  and 
Cashiobury  Parks,  and  generally  throughout  the  wooded 
southern  counties  of  England.  But  in  the  open  districts — 
Norfolk  and  Suffolk — it  occupies  the  deserted  rabbit-burrows 
upon  warrens ;  placing  its  eggs  about  a  yard  from  the 
entrance,  generally  upon  the  bare  sand,  sometimes  using  a 
small  quantity  of  dried  roots,  &c.,  barely  sufficient  to  keep 
the  eggs  from  the  ground.  Besides  such  situations  on  the 
heath,  it  nestles  under  thick  furze  bushes  which  are  imper¬ 
vious  to  rain  in  consequence  of  the  sheep  and  rabbits  eating- 
off  the  young  and  tender  shoots  as  they  grow  ;  the  birds 
always  preferring  those  bushes  that  have  a  small  opening 
made  by  the  rabbits  near  the  ground."'  The  young,  which 
are  ready  for  the  table  early  in  June,  are  stated  by  Professor 
Newton  to  be  a  source  of  considerable  profit  to  the  warreners, 
whose  perquisites  they  are  ;  and  in  consequence  almost  every 
warrener  keeps  a  “  dowe-dawg,”  i.e.,  a  dog  trained  to 
discover  the  burrows  in  which  the  Doves  breed,  f  They 
also  breed  in  the  rabbit-burrows  of  the  Lincolnshire  coast 
and  of  Walney  Island,  Lancashire.  But  the  nesting  pecu¬ 
liarities^  the  Stock  Dove  do  not  end  here.  Mr.  Harting 
(Zoologist,  18G7,  p.  758)  relates  how  a  pair  bred  for  several 
seasons  on  a  crossbeam  in  the  old  spire  of  Kingsbury 
Church,  and  the  young  birds,  which  he  took  and  reared, 

*  J.  D.  Salmon,  Loudon’s  Mag.  Nat.  H.  ix.  p.  520. 

f  Stevenson,  Birds  of  Norfolk,  i.  p.  356. 


VOL.  III. 


C 


10 


COLUMBINE. 


were  seen  by  many  ornithologists.  By  the  same  plan 
Mr.  Harting  also  proved  that  the  Pigeons  which  frequented 
the  Dorsetshire  cliffs  about  Lulworth  Cove  were  not,  as  had 
been  generally  supposed,  Bock  Doves,  but  Stock  Doves. 
There  can,  indeed,  be  little  doubt  that  in  several  locali¬ 
ties  a  similar  error  has  prevailed ;  and  this  is  certainly 
the  case  in  the  Undercliff  district  of  the  Isle  of  Wight, 
where  the  Editor  can  state  from  personal  knowledge  that 
the  Stock  Dove  is  the  species  which  nests  in  abundance  in 
the  holes  of  the  wooded  crags  near  Ventnor.  It  also  nests 
in  the  sea  cliffs  of  Flamborough,  where,  hoAvever,  the  Bock 
Dove  is  also  found.  Under  these  circumstances  it  is  not  so 
strange  that  this  species  should  have  been  confounded  with 
the  Bock  Dove,  for  it  appears  to  be  about  the  same  size  when 
on  the  wing,  and  although  it  has  not  a  white  rump,  yet  in  its 
light  and  rapid  flight  it  far  more  closely  resembles  the  Bock 
than  its  larger  and  heavier  congener  the  Bing  Dove. 

The  eggs,  two  in  number,  are  oval  and  white,  of  a  some¬ 
what  more  creamy  tint  than  those  of  C.  palumbus,  and 
measure  about  1*5  in  length  by  1*1  in  breadth.  They  are 
usually  laid  about  the  commencement  or  middle  of  April, 
hut  Mr.  C.  Mathew  Prior  states  that  fledged  young  may  often 
be  found  by  the  third  week  of  that  month,  and  he  also  found 
two  fresh  eggs  in  a  hollow  ash-tree  on  2nd  October,  1875.* 
Incubation  lasts  seventeen  or  eighteen  days.  In  its  habits 
this  species  resembles  the  Bing  Dove,  but  its  note  is  far  less 
distinct  and  less  prolonged,  and  may  not  inaptly  be  described 
as  grunting.  Its  food  is  naturally  somewhat  similar ;  but 
the  late  Mr.  Bodd  remarked  that  in  the  case  of  a  bird  of  each 
species  shot  at  the  same  discharge,  whereas  the  crop  of  the 
Bing  Dove  contained  a  great  pulp  of  clover  leaves,  turnip- 
tops  and  bulbs,  that  of  the  Stock  Dove  contained  not  a  leaf 
of  clover,  hut  an  egg-full  of  charlock  seeds,  some  barley  and 
several  weed  seeds. 

Columba  oenas  is,  in  fact,  a  south-eastern  species  which  is 
gradually  extending  its  range  northwards  and  westwards. 
It  has  occurred  in  the  Scilly  Islands,  and  sometimes  visits 

*  Zoologist,  1879,  p.  338. 


STOCK  DOVE. 


11 


Cornwall  in  large  flocks  in  winter,  passing  upwards  into 
Wales,  in  some  counties  of  which  it  certainly  breeds — among 
the  rocks  of  Merthyr  Tydfil,  for  example — although  nowhere 
so  numerous  as  the  Eing  Dove.  In  Devonshire  it  is  prob¬ 
ably  increasing,  and  Mr.  Cecil  Smith  says  that  it  is  twenty¬ 
fold  more  numerous  in  Somersetshire  now  than  in  1869. 
Although  of  somewhat  local  distribution,  it  occurs  through¬ 
out  the  southern,  midland,  and  eastern  counties  including 
Lincolnshire,  where,  Mr.  Cordeaux  says,  it  is  distinctly 
on  the  increase ;  and,  although  scarcer  to  the  north  of 
the  Humber,  it  breeds  regularly  in  the  rocks  and  rabbit- 
holes  of  the  cliffs  in  the  Hambleton  Hills.  It  has  already 
become  common  in  the  neighbourhood  of  Castle  Eden 
Dene,  Durham,  and  has  even  pushed  its  breeding  range  as 
far  as  Northumberland  and  Berwickshire.  Its  occurrence 
in  Stirlingshire  and  southern  Perthshire  has  been  recorded 
by  Mr.  Dalgleisli  (Ibis,  1878,  p.  882),  and  Mr.  E.  Gray 
says  that  there  is  evidence  that  it  has  straggled  as  far  as 
Orkney.  The  instances  already  cited  in  which  this  species 
has  been  mistaken  for  the  Eock  Dove  on  the  strength  of 
its  selecting  holes  in  cliffs  for  its  nesting-place,  lead  to  the 
supposition  that  similar  and  as  yet  undiscovered  errors  may 
have  been  made  elsewhere.  In  Ireland  its  occurrence  was 
first  recorded  by  Lord  Clermont,  who  obtained  one  in 
October,  1875,*  and  subsequently  obtained  another,  and  ob¬ 
served  the  birds  nesting  in  a  crevice  of  the  rock  on  the  hill¬ 
side  on  the  borders  of  Armagh  and  Louth — a  locality  which 
they  had  been  known  to  frequent  for  some  years,  but  until 
then  it  had  not  been  decided  whether  they  were  this  species 
or  the  Eock  Dove.  It  has  also  been  obtained,  and  has  bred, 
in  county  Down.f 

On  the  continent  it  has  once  been  known  to  straggle 
beyond  the  arctic  circle,  but  its  usual  northern  range 
nearly  coincides  with  that  where  the  oak  grows  (about  60° 
to  61°  N.  lat.)  :  it  being  plentiful  in  south-eastern  Norway, 
Sweden,  Germany,  and  suitable  localities  in  Eussia  as  far 
as  the  Ural,  migrating  southward  in  winter.  In  some  of  the 
*  Zoologist,  1876,  p.  4798.  t  Op.  cit.,  1877,  p.  383. 


12 


COLUMBID/E. 


large  forests  of  France  it  is  abundant,  and  resident,  but  in 
the  countries  bordering  the  Mediterranean  it  principally 
occurs  on  migration.  In  Morocco,  however,  Colonel  Irby 
observed  it  during  the  breeding- season  near  Tangier,  and 
also  as  far  south  as  Laraclie ;  and  it  certainly  visits  and 
probably  breeds  in  Algeria  ;  but  its  occurrence  as  far  as 
Egypt  is  at  present  open  to  doubt.  In  Palestine  and  Asia 
Minor  it  is  also  found,  reaching  as  far  as  the  Tigris,  but 
beyond  the  Persian  plateau,  and  eastward  of  that  line  and  of 
Turkestan,  its  place  is  taken  by  a  very  interesting  and  dis¬ 
tinct  species,  G.  eversmanni.  The  latter,  whilst  resembling 
C.  oenas  in  the  broken  and  undefined  character  of  the  bars 
on  the  wing,  differs  from  it  in  having  the  basal  half  of  the 
bill  black,  the  crown  of  the  head  vinous,  and  a  pale  grey 
band  across  the  rump,  in  which  latter  characteristic  it 
approaches  the  Rock  Dove,  C.  livia. 

The  beak  is  liorn-white  at  the  tip  :  the  basal  portion  red ; 
irides  brown  ;  head,  neck,  back,  scapulars,  and  wing-coverts 
bluish-grey  ;  primary  quill-featliers  brownish-grey,  the  ex¬ 
ternal  margin  lighter  ;  secondaries  pearl-grey  at  the  base  of 
the  outer  web,  lead-grey  at  the  ends ;  tertials  bluish-grey,  the 
last  three  with  a  dark  lead-grey  spot  on  the  outer  web,  and  a 
similar  spot  on  some  of  the  wing-coverts  above,  without, 
however,  forming  a  regular  band  in  any  position  of  the  wing ; 
rump  and  upper  tail-coverts  light  bluish-grey ;  tail  of  twelve 
feathers :  the  basal  two-thirds  bluish-grey,  inclining  to  white 
on  the  outer  web  of  the  exterior  ones,  followed  by  a  band  of 
lighter  grey  :  the  ends  lead-grey  ;  chin  bluish-grey  ;  sides  of 
the  neck  glossy  green,  with  purple  reflections  ;  breast  vinous  ; 
belly,  flanks,  vent,  under  wing,  and  under  tail-coverts  pale 
bluisli-grey ;  tarsi  and  feet  red.  The  whole  length  of  the 
male  is  about  thirteen  and  a  half  inches.  From  the  carpal 
joint  to  the  end  of  wing  nearly  nine  inches  ;  the  second  quill- 
feather  the  longest,  and  the  third  nearly  equal  to  it.  The 
female  is  somewhat  smaller,  and  her  colours  are  less  brilliant. 

Young  birds  before  their  first  moult  have  no  shining 
metallic  feathers  in  the  neck,  nor  are  the  spots  on  the  tertials 
and  wing-coverts  apparent. 


ROCK  DOVE 


13 


GOLUMBJE.  COLUMBI  DM. 


Columba  livia,  Gmelin.* 

THE  ROCK  DOVE. 

Columba  livia . 

The  Rock  Dove,  as  its  name  implies,  is  a  species  which, 
in  its  natural  and  wild  state,  inhabits  rocks  whose  cavities 
afford  it  shelter  during  the  greater  part  of  the  year.  Such 
localities  are  in  these  islands  principally  confined  to  the  sea- 
coast,  and  consequently  the  records  of  the  Rock  Dove  being 
found  breeding  inland  are,  in  many  cases,  open  to  the 
suspicion  that  either  the  Stock  Dove  has  been  mistaken  for 
it,  or  that  the  individuals  in  question  are  really  domestic 
birds  which  have  abandoned  the  dovecote.  It  has  already 
been  pointed  out  that  even  on  the  sea-coast  it  is  frequently 

*  Columba  livia,  Glmelin,  Syst.  Nat.  i.  p.  769  (1788),  ex  Brisson.  There  is 
some  uncertainty  about  Gmelin’s  description,  but  the  name  has  been  universally 
adopted  for  this  species. 


14 


COLUMBIA. 


the  Stock  Dove  which  has  been  proved  to  inhabit  the 
cliffs,  as  in  Dorsetshire,  the  Isle  of  Wight,  and  Yorkshire ; 
and  it  seems  to  the  Editor  that  the  only  localities  in  which 
true  wild  birds  can  be  with  certainty  indicated  as  breeding 
are  those  in  which  the  rocks  offer  deep  caves,  or  at  least 
cavities  and  fissures.  Cliffs  of  this  description  are  compara¬ 
tively  rare  on  the  coast  of  England,  and  it  is  in  the  north 
and  west,  and  along  the  rugged,  sea- scooped  shores  of 
Scotland,  Ireland,  and  their  islands,  that  the  true  home  of 
the  really  wild  Rock  Dove  must  be  sought.  There  can 
be  no  doubt  that  this,  with  two  or  three  closely-allied 
sub-species  or  geographical  races,  is  the  stock  whence  our 
domestic  Pigeons  have  sprung,  and  a  very  large  proportion 
of  the  latter  have  varied  so  little  from  the  parent  stem,  that 
it  is  often  extremely  difficult  to  distinguish  between  true- 
bred  wild  birds  and  those  which  have  been  at  least  partially 
domesticated.  Both  the  wild  stock,  and  the  varieties  pro¬ 
duced  from  it,  have  been  exhaustively  treated  by  the  late 
Charles  Darwin,*  and  to  his  masterly  arrangement  of  facts 
the  present  abstract  is  much  indebted. 

In  the  eastern  and  southern  districts  of  England,  localities 
suited  to  its  habits  are  few  and  far  between,  and  even  in 
some  places  which  apparently  offer  the  requisite  conditions, 
such  as  Guernsey,  Sark  and  the  smaller  Channel  Islands, 
the  Rock  Dove  seems  to  be  little  known  ;  in  Devonshire  it  is 
also  rare  and  very  local,  and  only  a  few  frequent  the  cliffs  of 
Cornwall.  It  can  be  traced  along  the  coast  of  Wales  to  the 
Isle  of  Man,  to  the  northwards  of  which  its  numbers  increase 
until  almost  every  district  up  to  the  confines  of  the  Hebrides, 
the  Orkneys,  and  the  Shetlands,  has  its  “  Ua’  Caloman,”  or 
“  doo-cave.”  In  Ireland  also,  especially  on  the  rugged, 
wave-worn  crags  of  the  western  side,  it  is  abundant.  On 
the  eastern  side  of  England  the  breeding-places  of  this 
species  are  necessarily  few,  and  even  in  Yorkshire  and 
Northumberland  the  birds  found  in  them  are  open  to  the 
suspicion  of  not  being  pure  wild  birds ;  but  along  the  coast 
of  Scotland,  from  the  Bass  Rock  upwards,  the  wild  Rock 
*  Variation  of  Plants  and  Animals  under  Domestication,  i.  pp.  137-235,  ed.  1875. 


ROCK  DOVE. 


15 


Dove  is  generally  distributed.  In  many  localities  either 
wild  birds,  or,  more  probably,  those  which  have  become  feral, 
are  chequered  with  black  on  the  wing-coverts  and  back,  and 
to  such  a  variety  the  late  Mr.  Blyth  once  doubtfully  gave 
the  name  of  C.  affinis. 

In  the  Faeroes*  it  is  abundant,  but  in  Scandinavia  the 
wild  bird  is  scarce  and  very  local ;  whilst  in  the  rest  of 
northern  and  central  Europe  it  is  decidedly  uncommon, 
except  in  a  feral  state,  until  mountainous  regions  are 
reached,  when,  as  in  the  Pyrenees,  it  is  again  met  with.  In 
the  Canaries  it  is  common,  and  Mr.  Godman  states  that  it  is 
abundant  in  the  Azores,  most  of  his  specimens  being  so 
dark  in  plumage  that  the  band  on  the  wings  is  no  longer 
visible ;  dark  forms  are  also  found  in  Madeira,  accompanied 
by  so  much  variability  as  to  raise  a  strong  suspicion  that 
they  are  domestic  Pigeons  which  have  become  feral.  The 
same  suspicion  attaches  to  C.  gymnocyclus,  G.  B.  Gray, 
from  Senegambia,  and  also  to  the  birds  now  found  in  a  wild 
state  in  the  island  of  St.  Helena. 

On  the  coasts  of  the  countries  on  both  sides  of  the 
Mediterranean,  and  on  the  islands,  it  is  generally  distributed  ; 
and  in  the  mountain  ranges  of  Spain,  especially  in  the 
neighbourhood  of  the  Sierra  Nevada,  the  Editor  has  seen 
immense  flocks  pouring  forth  from  the  deep  cavernous  gorges 
on  the  way  to  their  feeding-grounds.  He  estimated  that 
within  a  short  time  fully  7,000  birds  passed  in  his  immediate 
vicinity,  each  flock  being  led  by  a  pied  and  doubtless  half- 
bred  bird,  of  which  description  there  were  generally  a  few 
individuals  in  every  band.  It  must  be  remembered  that 
vast  numbers  of  semi-domestic  Pigeons  exist  in  Spain,  and 
that  there  are  well-known  laws  for  their  protection,  such 
as  the  prohibition  to  shoot  at  them  within  a  certain  distance 
of  the  dovecote,  or  when  obviously  returning  to  it.  In 
Italy  Bonaparte  considered  that  he  had  discovered  a  new 
species,  to  which  he  gave  the  name  of  C.  turricola ;  but  this 
is  now  considered  a  mere  variety  or  half-breed. 

*  A  bird  in  which  the  black  bars  on  the  wing  were  replaced  by  a  few  spots, 
was  named  by  Brehm  C.  amalice. 


16 


COLUMBIDiE. 


Many  of  the  birds  on  both  sides  of  the  Mediterranean 
have  a  distinctly  white  rump,  although  even  in  the  west,  as 
in  Spain,  there  is  a  tendency  in  the  white  to  become  less  pure 
than  in  northern  examples,  and  the  band  is  often  narrower. 
Proceeding  eastward,  there  is  a  gradual  increase  in  the 
number  of  birds  which  have  less  white  in  the  rump,  until 
in  the  Jordan  valley,  according  to  Canon  Tristram,  only  the 
grey-rumped  form,  to  which  Bonaparte  gave  the  name  of 
C.  schimperi,  is  found ;  although  in  the  mountains  on  either 
side  the  true  C.  livia  is  abundant.  In  Egypt,  Dr.  Leith 
Adams  states  that  it  is  not  easy  to  define  the  limits  of 
wild  and  domestic  Pigeons,  all  the  denizens  of  the  dove¬ 
cotes  preserving  the  leading  characteristics  of  the  two  black 
bars  on  the  wings  and  the  single  black  bar  on  the  tail,  with 
the  white  on  the  edges  of  the  outer  tail-feathers :  most  of  the 
domestic  birds,  however,  had  the  grey  rump  of  C.  schimperi. 
True  C.  livia  appears,  however,  to  go  as  far  as  Mesopotamia, 
and  has  also  been  obtained  in  Sindh  and  Cashmere,  but  in 
Gilgit,  Dr.  Scully  found  both  the  wliite-rumped  and  the  grey- 
rumped  forms  ;  even  the  latter,  however,  being  always  lighter 
than  the  extreme  form,  C.  intermedia ,  Strickland,  which  in¬ 
habits  Southern  India  and  Ceylon,  and  which  has  the  rump  as 
dark  as,  or  darker  than,  the  back.  In  Turkestan,  Central  Asia, 
Tibet  and  China,  is  found  a  more  distinct  form,  C.  rupestris, 
Pallas,  which  has  a  white  subterminal  band  on  the  tail- 
feathers.  “  There  seems,”  says  Darwin,  “to  be  some  rela¬ 
tion  between  the  croup  being  blue  or  white,  and  the 
temperature  of  the  country  inhabited  by  both  wild  and 
dovecot  pigeons ;  for  nearly  all  the  dovecot  pigeons  in  the 
northern  parts  of  Europe  have  a  white  croup  like  that  of  the 
wild  European  rock  pigeon ;  and  nearly  all  the  dovecot 
pigeons  of  India  have  a  blue  croup  like  that  of  the  wild 
C.  intermedia  of  India.” 

In  Britain  the  Rock  Pigeon  sometimes  begins  breeding  as 
early  as  March  :  birds  recently  hatched  having  been  noticed 
on  2nd  April,' *  and  young,  and  even  unhatched  eggs,  are 
found  in  September ;  so  that  at  least  two  broods  are  reared 
*  R.  Gray,  Birds  of  the  West  of  Scotland,  p.  222. 


ROCK  DOVE. 


17 


in  the  year.  Deep  caverns,  moist  with  the  spray  from  the 
thundering  surge,  are  its  favourite  resorts,  and  on  entering 
one  of  these  in  a  boat,  numbers  will  dart  forth  from  its 
dark  recesses,  and,  as  the  eye  becomes  accustomed  to  the 
twilight,  the  grey  plumage  of  those  which  have  remained 
on  the  more  distant  ledges,  may  be  discerned  against  the 
dark  background  of  the  rocks.  The  nest  is  slight,  con¬ 
structed  of  bents,  heather,  dried  grasses  or  sea-weed,  and 
the  eggs  are,  as  usual,  two  in  number,  pure  white,  of  a 
short  oval  shape,  rather  pointed  at  one  end,  measuring  1’5 
by  1*15. 

Like  its  congeners,  this  species  devours  considerable 
quantities  of  grain ;  making  amends  to  some  extent  by 
eating  the  roots  of  the  couch-grass  ( Triticum  repens),  and 
the  seeds  of  various  troublesome  weeds  when  corn  is  not 
procurable.  Montagu  ascertained  that  it  eats  considerable 
quantities  of  Helix  virgata,  and  Macgillivray  says  it  picks  up 
several  species  of  shell-snails,  especially  Helix  ericetorum 
and  Bulimus  acutus.  It  drinks  frequently,  and  in  Egypt, 
in  places  where  the  banks  of  the  Nile  are  so  steep  that  the 
birds  cannot  alight  on  the  shore  to  drink,  both  Mr.  R.  S. 
Skirving  and  Mr.  E.  C.  Taylor  have  observed  whole  flocks 
settle  on  the  water  like  Gulls,  and  drink  whilst  thev  floated 
down  stream.  The  same  habit  has  been  observed  in  tame 
pigeons  at  Cologne  when  the  sliore-ice  in  the  Rhine  prevented 
approach  to  the  water.  It  is  migratory  in  the  north  to  a 
limited  extent,  impelled  by  the  necessity  of  seeking  food,  hut 
generally  it  is  a  resident  species.  One  marked  characteristic 
is  its  strong  objection  to  settling  upon  trees — a  peculiarity 
shared  by  its  domesticated  relatives. 

The  adult  has  the  beak  reddisli-hrown  ;  hides  pale  orange ; 
head  and  neck  bluish-grey,  the  sides  of  the  latter  shining  with 
green  and  purple  reflections  ;  shoulders,  upper  part  of  the 
hack  and  both  sets  of  wing-coverts  frencli-grey;  all  the  greater 
coverts  with  a  black  mark  forming  a  conspicuous  black  hand ; 
primary  and  secondary  quill-feathers  bluish-grey,  darker  on 
the  outer  webs;  tertials  pale  grey  with  a  broad  band  of 
black  separated  from  the  above-mentioned  band  by  the  light- 

VOL.  III. 


D 


18 


COLUMBIDiE. 


coloured  line  of  the  great  wing-coverts ;  lower  back  and 
rump  white ;  upper  tail-coverts  slate-grey ;  tail-feathers 
twelve  in  number,  a  shade  lighter,  with  a  broad  terminal 
dark  leaden  band,  sometimes  paler  at  the  extreme  tip ;  chin 
bluish-grey  ;  throat  purple  and  green  ;  breast,  and  all  the 
under  surface  of  the  body  grey ;  under  wing-coverts  and 
axillaries  white ;  under  tail-coverts  slate-grey ;  tarsi  and 
feet  red ;  claws  dark  brown.  The  total  length  of  the  male 
is  fourteen  inches ;  from  the  carpal  joint  to  the  end  of  the 
wing  nine  inches ;  the  first  quill-featlier  a  little  shorter  than 
the  second  which  is  the  longest.  The  females  are  smaller 
than  the  males,  and  their  colours,  especially  on  the  neck  and 
shoulders,  are  less  brilliant. 

The  young,  which  are  at  first  covered  with  loose  yellow 
down,  are,  when  fledged,  of  a  duller  colour,  but  other¬ 
wise  similar  to  the  old  birds,  with  the  exception  of  the 
metallic  tints  on  the  neck  :  even  then  their  white  rump 
easily  distinguishes  them  from  the  young  of  the  Stock 
Dove,  and  at  the  first  moult  they  acquire  their  full 
plumage. 

It  hardly  comes  within  the  scope  of  this  work  to  enter 
into  details  respecting  the  domesticated  varieties  sprung 
from  this  stock.  Many  of  them,  as  Darwin  has  remarked, 
would,  if  found  wild,  have  been  ranked  as  distinct  species, 
whilst  not  a  few  present  even  structural  peculiarities,  which 
would  certainly  have  led  ornithologists  to  place  them  in  dif¬ 
ferent  genera.  A  peculiar  interest,  however,  attaches  itself 
to  the  Homing  Pigeon,  one  of  the  least  removed  from  the 
original  stock,  and  often  erroneously  called  the  Carrier. 
The  practice  of  using  Pigeons  for  the  conveyance  of  messages 
is  of  great  antiquity,  and  Dr.  Leith  Adams  (Ibis,  1864, 
p.  26)  states  that  on  one  of  the  walls  of  the  Temple  of 
Medinet  Haboo  is  a  sculpture  of  the  time  of  Pameses  III., 
b.c.  1297,  representing  that  monarch  as  having  just  assumed 
the  crown  of  Upper  and  Lower  Egypt,  whilst  a  priest  in 
the  regal  procession  is  sending  out  four  Pigeons  to  convey 
the  news  abroad,  shewing  that  even  then  they  were  used  for 
this  purpose.  The  following  observations  respecting  the 


ROCK  DOVE. 


19 


latest  performances  of  the  Homing  Pigeon  will,  therefore,  be 
read  with  interest ;  especially  as  they  proceed  from  that 
great  authority,  Mr.  W.  B.  Tegetmeier,  the  originator  of  the 
recent  utilization  of  this  variety  by  the  Trinity  House  : — 

“  The  variation  of  the  Rock  Dove  in  a  state  of  domestica¬ 
tion  is  capable  of  being  carried  out  to  a  very  remarkable 
degree  by  careful  selection  of  brood-stock.  Not  only  can 
the  colours  of  the  original  species  be  varied,  or  even  their 
arrangement  reversed,  hut  strange  modifications  can  be  per¬ 
petuated  ;  such  as  the  production  of  frills  or  hoods,  and  an 
increase  in  the  number  of  the  tail-feathers,  varying  from  the 
normal  twelve  up  to  forty.  Structural  alterations  are  also 
effected,  as  in  the  rounded  head  of  the  short-faced  Tumbler, 
or  the  elongated  beak  of  the  fancy  Carrier.  The  latter 
breed  is  frequently  confounded  with  the  Homing  or  Voya- 
geur  Pigeon,  which  is  only  altered  from  the  wild  original  by 
a  larger  cerebral  development,  greater  size  and  muscular 
power,  and  an  extraordinary  increase  in  the  breadth  of  the 
primary  flight-feathers  of  the  wing. 

“  Careful  training,  and  breeding  from  the  best  specimens, 
have  greatly  increased  the  faculty  that  these  Homing  birds 
have  for  returning  to  their  lofts  from  long  distances.  The 
system  of  beginning  with  a  few  miles,  and  increasing  until 
fifty  and  even  a  hundred  miles  are  taken  at  a  stage,  causes 
the  loss  of  the  weaker  and  the  less  intelligent  birds,  and  the 
perpetuation  of  the  best  of  the  race.  The  result  has  been 
remarkable.  Some  thirty  years  since  it  was  rarely  the  case 
that  in  the  Belgian  pigeon-races  of  300  miles,  even  a  few 
birds  returned  home  on  the  day  of  their  liberation,  but  now 
it  is  unusual,  in  good  weather,  for  any  of  the  prizes  in  a  500 
miles  race,  not  to  be  won  on  the  very  same  day  that  the 
birds  are  flown.  Thus  in  the  great  Belgian  national  race  of 
the  present  year  (1882),  which  took  place  from  Morcenx, 
south  of  Bordeaux,  to  Brussels,  a  distance  of  510  miles, 
1,674  birds  were  liberated  at  4.12  a.m.,  the  wind  being 
S.W.,  and  the  weather  clear,  the  first  bird  reached  home  at 
4.37  p.m.  ;  his  speed  having  been  about  1,300  yards  per 
minute.  One  hundred  and  fifty-five  birds  were  back  the 


20 


COLUMBIM. 


same  day,  and  the  match  was  over  early  next  day,  when  the 
winner  of  the  two  hundred  and  eighth,  or  last  prize,  was  sent 
to  the  club  for  identification.  The  return  of  these  birds  is 
not  unfrequently  spoken  of  as  a  peculiar  manifestation  of 
instinct,  hut  it  depends  upon  observation  and  power  of 
flight ;  and  the  best  bred  birds  will  he  lost  if  they  are  taken 
untrained  100  miles  from  home.  In  this  island,  where  the 
cloudier  state  of  the  atmosphere  interferes  greatly  with  the 
view  of  the  birds,  distances  equal  to  those  on  the  Continent 
have  not  been  accomplished,  but  races  are  regularly  organized, 
and  this  year  several  have  been  successfully  flown  from 
Cherbourg,  Arras,  St.  Quentin,  &c.,  to  all  parts  of  England. 

"  The  utilization  of  Homing  pigeons  in  the  conveyance  of 
letters  microscopically  reduced,  from  Tours  to  Paris  during 
the  siege  of  1870-71,  is  well  known  ;  and  birds  are  now 
reared  by  both  Germans  and  French  in  all  those  fortresses 
which  are  liable  to  be  beleaguered  in  time  of  war.  In 
England  the  Trinity  House  have  utilized  them  in  carrying 
messages  from  the  light-ships,  and  they  are  also  being 
employed  by  the  Government  on  some  of  the  Indian 
stations.” 


TURTLE  DOVE. 


21 


COLUMBIA. 


COLUMBIDsE. 


Turtur  communis,  Selby. * 

THE  TURTLE  DOVE. 

Columba  turtur. 

• 

Turtur,  Selby f. — Bill  rather  slender,  the  tip  of  the  upper  mandible  gently 
deflected,  that  of  the  lower  scarcely  exhibiting  the  appearance  of  an  angle  :  base 
of  the  upper  mandible  covered  with  two  soft,  tumid,  bare  substances  covering  the 

*  Naturalist’s  Library,  Ornithology,  vol.  v.  pp.  153  and  171  (1835). 

T  Tom.  cit.  p.  169. 


22 


COLDMBIDiE. 


nostrils.  Tarsi  rather  shorter  than  the  middle  toe  ;  inner  toe  longer  than  the 
outer.  Tail,  of  twelve  feathers,  rather  long  and  considerably  rounded  or 
graduated.  Wings  rather  long  and  pointed,  the  first  quill  a  little  shorter  than 
the  second,  which  is  the  longest. 

The  Turtle  Dove  is  only  a  summer-visitant  to  the  British 
Islands,  arriving  in  the  southern  districts  about  the  end  of 
April  or  beginning  of  May,  according  to  the  nature  of  the 
season.  Owing  to  the  great  increase  of  conditions  suitable  to 
their  habits,  these  birds  are  both  more  numerous  and  far 
more  widely  distributed  than  in  former  years.  They  frequent 
woods,  fir  plantations,  and  high  thick  hedges  dividing  arable 
land,  and  in  such  situations  they  make  a  flat  nest  of  a  few 
twigs,  frequently  so  slight  as  to  seem  incapable  of  retaining 
the  eggs.  Its  elevation  varies  considerably :  sometimes  it  is  not 
more  than  four  feet  from  the  ground  ;  the  average  distance  is 
about  twelve  ;  and  it  has  been  found  at  least  forty  feet  up,  on 
the  top  of  a  pine  in  a  shrubbery.  The  eggs,  deposited  from 
the  middle  of  May  onwards,  are,  as  usual,  two  in  number,  of 
a  glossy  creamy  white,  rather  pointed  at  one  end,  and  measure 
about  1*2  by  *9  in.  The  parent  birds  take  turns  in  the  task 
of  incubation,  which  lasts  a  fortnight,  and,  sometimes  at 
least,  two  broods  are  reared  in  the  season,  Mr.  Cecil  Smith 
having  shot  a  bird  on  the  1st  September  which  could  only 
have  just  left  the  nest.  They  are  partial  to  grain,  pulse, 
and  seeds  of  various  sorts,  and,  like  other  members  of  the 
family,  they  drink  regularly.  Their  flight  is  rapid  and, 
amongst  trees,  remarkably  tortuous.  The  note  is  a  low 
plaintive  coo ,  uttered  more  especially  by  the  male,  and  the 
pleasure  experienced  by  the  lover  of  nature  on  hearing  this 
harbinger  of  returning  summer  is  second  only  to  that  caused 
by  the  earlier  note  of  the  Cuckoo.  Being  somewhat  suscep¬ 
tible  to  cold,  the  majority  of  the  Turtle  Doves  take  their 
departure  for  southern  climes  in  September  ;  but  in  sheltered 
situations,  and  especially  in  southern  counties,  some  remain 
considerably  later,  and  an  example  has  even  been  obtained  as 
late  as  18th  November.  The  Report  of  the  Committee  of 
the  British  Association  on  the  Migration  of  Birds  in  1880, 
shews  that  fifteen  struck  the  Casquets  lighthouse  between 


TURTLE  DOVE. 


23 


10  p.m.  and  3  a.m.  on  September  7th-8tli.  In  the  autumn, 
young  and  old  birds  may  be  found  in  small  flocks  upon  the 
stubbles  and  among  the  root-crops,  and  are  at  that  time 
decidedly  beneficial  to  the  agriculturist  by  devouring  the 
seeds  of  numerous  weeds. 

In  Cornwall  it  appears  to  be  a  somewhat  irregular  visitant, 
nor  is  it  very  common  in  Devon,  but  in  the  other  southern 
counties,  and  up  to  Lincoln,  it  may  be  described  as  generally 
distributed,  and  breeding  where  the  nature  of  the  country  is 
suitable  to  it.  Shropshire,  especially  between  Shrewsbury 
and  Ludlow,  seems  to  be  a  favourite  district ;  and  Mr.  Eyton 
says  that  it  is  known  there  by  the  name  of  the  Wrekin  Dove. 
In  western  Wales  it  is  rare,  but  it  occurs  in  Lancashire, 
Westmoreland,  and  Cumberland.  As  a  rule,  however,  to 
the  north  of  the  line  of  Sheffield  it  can  only  be  considered  as 
a  straggler  on  migration ;  but  it  has  recently  been  known  to 
breed  in  Durham,  although  not  as  yet  in  Northumberland. 
The  last  remark  applies  to  Scotland,  although  it  has  occurred 
in  many  counties,  especially  in  those  on  the  western  side  of 
the  kingdom  :  on  migration  it  also  strays  to  the  Hebrides,  to 
the  Orkneys,  and  to  the  Slietlands.  In  some  of  the  wooded 
parts  of  Ireland  it  is  generally  distributed,  but  in  the  western 
districts  it  was  formerly  unknown,  and  notwithstanding  the 
increase  of  larch  and  other  plantations,  Mr.  R.  Warren  has 
only  observed  three  specimens  in  Mayo  and  Sligo  within  the 
last  twenty  years. 

A  straggler  to  the  Faeroes,  it  occurs  throughout  a  great 
part  of  Scandinavia,  and  even  at  such  an  elevation  as 
Quickjok,  although  somewhat  rare  and  local  in  Denmark. 
Throughout  Central  and  Southern  Europe  it  is  found  from 
spring  to  autumn,  being  especially  abundant  in  the  south  at 
the  epochs  of  migration  ;  in  South  Russia  it  occurs  in  large 
flocks ;  it  abounds  in  Asia  Minor,  Palestine  and  Persia, 
chiefly  on  passage,  and  was  obtained  by  Dr.  Henderson  in 
Yarkand.  In  Turkestan,  South-western  Siberia,  and  India 
it  is  represented  by  T .  ferrago,  Eversmann,  in  which  the 
tips  of  the  feathers  on  the  side  of  the  neck  are  slate-grey 
and  not  white  ;  and  eastwards,  again,  the  latter  species  is 


24 


COLUMBIDjE. 


replaced  by  T.  orientalis.  South  of  the  line  of  the  Medi¬ 
terranean,  it  occurs  at  Madeira  and  in  the  Canaries,  and  is 
found  throughout  Northern  Africa  to  Egypt,  where  Captain 
Shelley  says  that  it  breeds :  its  representative,  T.  isabel- 
linus ,  which  is  also  a  migrant,  being,  howrever,  the  more 
abundant  species  there.  Yon  Heuglin  met  with  T.  com - 
munis  in  the  Dahlak  archipelago,  in  the  Ked  Sea,  and  on  the 
shores  of  the  Tzana  Lake  in  Abyssinia  (12°  N.  lat.),  at  an 
elevation  of  over  6,000  feet,  during  the  month  of  May. 

The  adult  male  in  summer  has  the  beak  brown  ;  the  irides 
reddish-brown  ;  bare  skin  about  the  eye  red ;  crown,  nape, 
and  hind  neck  bluish-ash,  inclining  to  brown  ;  on  the  lower 
part  of  the  side  of  the  neck  are  several  rows  of  black 
feathers  broadly  margined  with  white ;  scapulars,  back  and 
rump  ash-brown,  with  darker  centres  to  each  feather ;  the 
larger  and  the  external  smaller  wing-coverts  dull  grey ; 
the  remainder  with  the  tertials  cinnamon-brown  with  dark 
centres ;  quill-feathers  clove-brown ;  upper  tail-coverts  and 
the  two  central  tail-feathers  clove-brown ;  the  other  tail- 
feathers  lead-grey  broadly  tipped  with  white,  which  runs  up 
the  whole  outer  webs  of  the  two  exterior  feathers  ;  chin 
nearly  white,  neck  and  breast  pale  vinous ;  belly,  vent,  and 
under  tail-coverts  white ;  under  surface  of  the  tail-feathers 
black  with  broad  white  tips,  as  on  the  upper  surface ;  under 
wing- coverts  and  flanks  bluisli-grey ;  tarsi  and  feet  red ; 
claws  dark  brown. 

The  whole  length  is  about  eleven  inches  and  a  half : 
from  the  carpal  joint  to  the  end  of  the  wing  seven  inches  ; 
the  second  quill-feather  a  shade  longer  than  the  first,  which 
again  is  longer  than  the  third. 

The  colours  in  the  female  are  less  bright  and  pure  than 
those  of  the  male,  and  she  is  rather  smaller  in  size. 

In  young  birds,  prior  to  the  autumnal  moult,  the  general 
colour  of  the  head  and  body  is  hair-brown  ;  the  back  rather 
darker  than  the  side  of  the  neck,  on  which  there  are 
no  black  and  white  feathers ;  the  wing-coverts  tipped  with 
huffy- white  ;  the  quill-feathers  slightly  tinged  on  their  outer 
edges  with  rufous  ;  belly  and  under  tail-coverts  white  ;  flanks 


TURTLE  DOVE. 


25 


Lluisli-grey  ;  tail-feathers  above  hair-brown,  on  the  under 
surface  blackisli-brown  :  the  outer  feathers  on  each  side  with 
the  external  web,  and  the  next  two  with  the  ends,  white ; 
tarsi  and  feet  brown.  Early  in  September  the  vinous  tint 
is  assumed  on  the  neck  and  breast,  and  the  black  and  white 
feathers  which  form  the  half  collar  begin  to  make  their 
appearance. 

The  upper  figure  in  the  engraving  at  the  head  of  this 
subject  represents  an  adult  bird  ;  the  lower  figure  was  taken 
from  a  young  bird  of  the  year.  The  vignette  represents  in 
outline  the  form  of  the  breast-bone  of  this  species,  of  the 
natural  size. 


VOL.  III. 


E 


26 


C0LUMB1M 


GOLUMBjE 


COL  TJMBIDJR. 


Ectopistes  migratorius  (Linnaeus*). 

THE  PASSENGER  PIGEON. 

Ectopistes  migratorius. 

Ectopistes,  Swainsonf.  Bill  small,  slender  and  notched.  Wings  rather 
elongated,  pointed;  the  second  feather  longest.  Tail  very  long  and  extremely 
cuneate.  Tarsi  very  short,  half-covered  anteriorly  by  feathers;  anterior 
scales  imbricate  ;  lateral  scales  small  and  reticulate. 

The  American  Passenger  Pigeon  was  included  in  tlie  first 
Edition  of  this  work  on  the  strength  of  the  occurrence  of  a 
single  specimen  recorded  by  Hr.  Fleming  in  his  ‘  History 
of  British  Animals/  p.  145,  as  having  been  “  shot  while 
perched  on  a  wall  in  the  neighbourhood  of  a  pigeon-house, 

*  Columba  migratoria ,  Linnteus,  Syst.  Nat.  Ed.  12,  i.  p.  285  (1766). 
t  Zoological  Journal,  iii.  p.  362  (1827). 


PASSENGER  PIGEON. 


27 


at  Westhall  in  the  parish  of  Monymeal,  Fifeshire,  the  31st 
of  December,  1825.  The  feathers  were  quite  fresh  and 
entire,  like  those  of  a  wild  bird.”  To  this  in  the  2nd  and 
3rd  Editions  was  added  the  record  of  another,  which  was  sent 
to  Mr.  .John  Norman,  of  Royston,  for  preservation,  the  follow¬ 
ing  notice  of  the  occurrence  being  contributed  by  Mr.  Hale 
Wortham.  This  bird  (now  in  the  Saffron  Walden  Museum)  was 
obtained  between  Royston  and  Chishill,  early  in  the  month 
of  July,  1844,  by  the  sons  of  the  tenant  of  the  farm  called 
Known’s  Folly,  about  two  miles  east  of  Royston.  When  the 
lads  first  saw  the  bird  it  appeared  so  much  exhausted  that  they 
could  have  knocked  it  down  with  a  pole,  if  they  had  had  one ; 
they,  however,  fetched  a  gun  and  shot  it.  When  examined 
the  crop  was  quite  empty,  hut  in  the  stomach  there  were 
some  few  seeds,  resembling  cole-seed,  and  a  few  small  stones, 
but  no  barley  or  any  traces  of  artificial  food.  The  plumage 
was  perfect,  and  neither  the  wings,  the  tail,  nor  the  legs 
exhibited  any  sign  that  the  bird  had  been  in  confinement. 
Of  the  correctness  of  the  identification  of  these  two  exam¬ 
ples  there  can  he  no  question  ;  hut  it  will  be  observed 
that  in  neither  case  does  the  date  of  the  occurrence  corre¬ 
spond  with  that  of  the  usual  periods  of  migration.  More¬ 
over,  although  there  is  no  proof  that  Passenger  Pigeons 
were  brought  over  to  this  country  prior  to  1825,  yet  Audubon 
states  that  in  March,  1830,  he  bought  about  350  of  these 
birds  in  the  market  of  New  York,  and  carried  most  of  them 
alive  to  England,  distributing  them  amongst  several  noble¬ 
men  (Orn.  Biog.  i.  p.  326) ;  thus  shewing  that  there  was 
then  no  difficulty  in  bringing  them  over ;  and,  as  a  matter  of 
fact,  they  have  subsequently  been  imported  with  frequency. 

The  next  instance  is  recorded  by  Thompson  in  the  ‘  Birds 
of  Ireland,’  iii.  p.  443,  in  which  he  quotes  the  following 
letter  from  Mr.  R.  D.  Fitzgerald,  Junr.,  writing  from  Tralee 
in  July  1850  : — “  I  had  in  my  possession,  about  two  years 
ago,  a  Passenger  Pigeon  which  was  caught  near  this  town 
when  unable  to  fly  from  fatigue.  From  this  circumstance 
there  can,  I  think,  he  no  doubt  that  it  came  direct  from 
America,  as  a  bird  of  its  powers  of  flight  would  not  have 


28 


COLUMBIDiE. 


been  exhausted  unless  it  came  from  some  very  great  distance. 
It  never  became  tame,  though  I  had  it  in  confinement  for 
about  two  years,  at  first  alone,  and  afterwards  in  company 
with  other  pigeons.  It  would  walk  backwards  and  forwards 
in  a  very  shy  manner  when  any  one  looked  at  it,  and  always 
avoided  the  other  birds.”  Thompson  adds  :  “  The  account 
of  this  individual  leads  one  to  believe  that  it  may  have 
crossed  the  Atlantic.” 

The  fourth  example  is  recorded  in  a  note  by  Lord  Binning 
in  Turnbull’s  4  Birds  of  East  Lothian,’  p.  41  (1867),  as  being 
in  the  collection  of  Lord  Haddington,  who  shot  it  at 
Mellerstain  in  Berwickshire ;  adding  that  a  gentleman  in 
that  county  was  known  to  have  turned  out  several  Pas¬ 
senger  Pigeons  shortly  before  this  one  was  shot,  and  it  was 
rather  remarkable  that  nothing  was  heard  of  the  others. 
A  supposed  Passenger  Pigeon  was  recorded  in  ‘  The  Field,’ 
September  11th,  1869,  as  having  been  shot  near  Melbourne, 
in  Derbyshire,  but  the  bird  was  not  preserved.  The  latest 
undoubted  occurrence  is  that  of  an  example  shot  nearMulgrave 
Castle,  Yorkshire,  by  Lord  Harry  Phipps,  and  examined  in 
the  flesh  on  13tli  October,  1876,  by  Mr.  John  Hancock,  who, 
in  the  *  Natural  History  Transactions  of  Northumberland  and 
Durham,’  v.  p.  338,  described  it  as  follows  : — “  The  quill- 
featliers  in  the  wings  were  much  worn  and  broken,  and  in 
the  forehead  above  the  bill  they  are  apparently  worn  off  to 
the  skull,  as  though  the  bird  had  been  trying  to  get  out  of 
a  cage  or  some  other  enclosure  ;  therefore  I  cannot  come  to 
any  other  conclusion  than  that  this  specimen,  a  female,  had 
made  its  escape  from  confinement.” 

There  is  no  authentic  record  of  the  occurrence  of  the 
Passenger  Pigeon  on  the  Continent  of  Europe  ;  or  even  on 
Heligoland,  famed  for  its  attractiveness  to  American  strag¬ 
glers.  As  regards  two  at  least  of  the  above  examples 
obtained  in  the  British  Islands,  there  seems  to  be  a  strong 
probability  that  they  were  birds  which  had  acquired  their 
freedom  ;  but  with  regard  to  the  others,  it  may  be  borne  in 
mind  that  this  species  is  capable  of  long-continued  flights, 
and  is  known  to  pass  over  a  great  extent  of  country  with  a 


PASSENGER  PIGEON. 


29 


rapidity  which  Audubon  estimated  as  at  least  a  mile  a 
minute.  Passenger  Pigeons  are  frequently  captured  in  the 
State  of  New  York  with  their  crops  still  filled  with  the 
undigested  grains  of  rice  that  must  have  been  taken  in  the 
distant  fields  of  Georgia  and  South  Carolina,  apparently 
proving  that  they  had  passed  over  the  intervening  space 
within  a  few  hours.  After  weighing  these  facts,  it  has  been 
deemed  advisable  on  the  whole  to  retain  this  species  in  the 
present  Edition. 

This  beautiful  Pigeon  is  found  throughout  North  America 
from  the  Atlantic  to  the  great  Central  Plains,  to  the  west  of 
which  its  food  supply  is  limited,  and  its  presence  correspond¬ 
ingly  restricted :  it  has,  however,  been  recently  obtained  on 
the  Pacific  slopes,  and  in  Nevada.  Northwards  it  was 
observed  on  the  Mackenzie  River  as  high  as  65°,  whilst  on 
the  coast  of  Hudson’s  Bay  it  only  reached  58°,  even  in  warm 
summers  :  as  a  straggler,  however,  a  young  male  bird  is 
recorded  by  Sir  James  Ross  as  having  flown  on  board 
the  Victory  during  a  storm,  whilst  crossing  Baffin’s  Bay  in 
latitude  73 J  N.,  on  the  31st  July,  1829.  In  the  Southern 
States  it  is  of  comparatively  rare  occurrence,  hut  it  has  been 
found  breeding  down  to  32°  N.  in  Mississippi ;  as  a  straggler 
it  has  visited  Cuba,  and,  perhaps,  the  Bermudas.  Considera¬ 
tions  of  food,  and  not  of  temperature,  mainly  influence  its 
migrations,  for  large  columns  frequently  move  northwards 
early  in  March  with  20°  of  frost.  Graphic  accounts  of  its 
migrations,  and  its  immense  breeding  communities,  will  he 
found  in  the  ornithological  works  of  Audubon,  Wilson,  and, 
for  more  recent  information,  the  ‘  History  of  North  American 
Birds,’  by  Messrs.  Baird,  Brewer  and  Ridgway,  may  he  con¬ 
sulted.  Its  food  consists  largely  of  the  service-berry  (Ame- 
lanchier  alnifolia),  acorns  and  beech-mast,  and  as  soon  as 
the  supply  becomes  exhausted,  the  immense  flocks  suddenly 
disappear,  and  do  not  return  for  a  long  period. 

The  nest  is  composed  of  a  few  dried  twigs  laid  crosswise, 
and  eggs  may  be  found  by  the  middle  of  March.  It  has 
been  stated  that  only  one  egg  is  laid,  but  subsequent  expe¬ 
rience  has  shown  that,  as  with  other  Pigeons,  two  is  the 


30 


COLUMBID2E. 


usual  number :  they  are  white,  of  an  oval  shape,  and  average 
1*5  in  length  by  1*1  in  breadth.  Incubation  lasts  sixteen 
days,  the  male  taking  turns  with  the  female.  An  account 
of  the  breeding  of  the  Passenger  Pigeon  in  the  Zoological 
Gardens  will  be  found  in  the  Proceedings  of  the  Society 
for  1833,  p.  10,  and  other  similar  instances  are  on  record. 

In  the  adult  male  the  beak  is  black;  head,  back  of  the 
neck,  wing-coverts,  back,  and  upper  tail-coverts  bluish-grey  ; 
sides  of  the  neck  reddisli-cliestnut,  richly  glossed  with 
metallic  gold  and  violet ;  scapulars,  tertials,  and  middle  of 
back  olive-brown  ;  primaries  lead-grey  with  lighter  coloured 
outer  margins,  the  shafts  black ;  the  tail,  of  twelve  feathers, 
long,  cuneiform  ;  the  four  middle  tail-feathers  the  longest, 
lanceolate  and  pointed ;  the  outer  four  on  each  side  gradu¬ 
ated  ;  the  middle  pair  dark  brown ;  the  rest  pearl-grey 
on  the  outer  web,  white  internally,  each  with  a  patch  of 
reddish-brown  at  the  base  of  the  inner  web,  followed  by 
another  of  black ;  chin  bluish-grey ;  throat  and  breast  pur¬ 
plish-chestnut,  becoming  violet  on  the  belly  and  flanks  ;  vent 
and  under  tail-coverts  white ;  legs  and  feet  red.  Total 
length  seventeen  inches ;  wing  eight  inches  and  a  half. 

The  female  is  smaller,  and  much  duller  in  colour  ;  beneath, 
pale  ash  instead  of  chestnut,  except  a  tinge  on  the  neck. 

Young  birds  have  most  of  the  feathers  of  the  head  and 
body  margined  with  dirty  white. 


\ 

Pallas’s  sand-grouse.  An  adult  male  drawn  from  a  specimen 

procured  in  1888 


SAND-GROUSE 


31 


PTEROCLETES.  PTEROCLIDjE. 


Syrrhaptes  paradoxus  (Pallas).* 
PALLAS’S  SAND-GROUSE. 


Syrrhaptes,  Illiger.  f — Bill  small,  gradually  decurved  from  the  base  to  the 
point ;  nostrils  basal,  hidden  in  the  feathers  ;  wings  very  long,  pointed,  the 
first  primary  longest ;  tail,  of  sixteen  feathers,  cuneate  ;  the  two  central  ones 
long  and  tapering  ;  tarsi  very  short  and  strong,  covered  with  downy  feathers  to 
the  toes,  which  are  three  in  number,  all  in  front,  and  united  by  a  membrane  as 
far  as  the  claws  ;  hallux  obsolete ;  soles  rugous  ;  claws  broad  and  obtuse. 

In  tlie  ‘Proceedings  of  the  Zoological  Society,’  18S2,  pp. 
312-332,  Dr.  Hans  Gadow  has  recently  published  the 
results  of  a  careful  examination  into  the  affinities  of  the 
Pteroclidce,  with  special  reference  to  the  opinion  expressed 

*  Tetrao  paradoxa,  Pallas,  Reise  Russ.  Reichs,  ii.,  App.  p.  712,  Tab.  F. 
(1773). 

f  Illiger,  Prodromus,  p.  243  (1811). 


32 


PTEROCLIDiE. 


by  tlie  late  Professor  Garrod  (P.  Z.  S.  1874,  pp.  249-259), 
that  they  must  certainly  he  included  in  the  same  sub-order 
with  the  Pigeons,  although  forming  two  quite  independent 
families.  In  arriving  at  that  conclusion,  it  would,  however, 
appear  that  a  little  too  much  stress  was  laid  upon  the  points 
in  which  the  Sand-grouse  resemble  the  Pigeons  and  differ 
from  the  Fowls,  without  equal  consideration  having  been 
given  to  their  affinities  with  the  Tetraonidce  and  with  the 
Plovers.  Putting  aside  minor  points,  the  principal  features 
may  be  briefly  summed  up  as  follows : — The  nestling- 
plumage  of  the  Sand-grouse  is  a  thick  downy  covering 
like  that  of  the  Plovers  and  Fowls ;  and,  like  them, 
the  young  can  shift  for  themselves,  whereas  the  Pigeons 
when  hatched  are  almost  nude,  and  quite  helpless.  The 
suppression  of  the  hind  toe,  characteristic  of  Syrrhaptes, 
does  not  occur  in  Pigeons  or  Fowls,  but  it  is  a  common 
feature  in  Plovers.  Unlike  the  majority  of  the  Columbcs, 
the  Pteroclidce  possess  a  gall-bladder ;  and  in  the  great 
development  of  the  caeca,  they  differ  from  the  Columbidce , 
and  resemble  the  Galiince.  Their  mode  of  drinking  is 
entirely  different  from  that  of  the  Pigeons ;  their  flight 
is  rapid  and  Plover-like,  without  any  of  the  gliding  or 
soaring  motion  characteristic  of  Pigeons ;  their  note  is 
certainly  unlike  a  coo ;  and,  lastly,  their  eggs,  although 
elliptical  in  shape,  are  coloured,  and  are  at  least  three  in 
number,  like  those  of  many  Plovers,  whereas  with  Pigeons 
the  eggs  are  two  in  number,  and  white.  On  the  other  hand, 
the  Sand-grouse  resemble  those  genera  of  Pigeons  which 
possess  an  oil-gland,  in  having  it  naked :  and  not  tufted  as 
in  the  Fowls  and  Plovers ;  the  skull  and  wing-bones  are 
Columbine,  and  in  their  myology  also  the  Sand-grouse  are 
more  nearly  allied  to  the  Pigeons  than  to  any  other  group. 
After  much  consideration  the  Editor  thinks  it  advisable  to 
adopt  for  the  Sand-grouse  the  separate  Order  to  which  Pro¬ 
fessor  Huxley  gave  the  name  of  Pteroclomorphce *  subse¬ 
quently  modified  by  Mr.  P.  L.  Sclater  to  Ptcrocletes.j- 

No  event  in  the  annals  of  ornithology  has  excited  more 
*  P.  Z.  S.  1868,  p.  303.  f  Ibis,  1880,  p.  407. 


SAND-GROUSE. 


33 


interest  than  the  irruption  of  Pallas’s  Sand-grouse,  which 
commenced,  so  far  as  regards  the  British  Islands,  in 
1859,  and  attained  its  maximum  in  1863.  The  history  of 
the  visitation  has  been  admirably  narrated  by  Professor 
Newton  (Ibis,  1864,  pp.  185-222)  :  details  as  regards  the 
eastern  counties  being  subsequently  furnished  by  Mr.  H. 
Stevenson  (Birds  of  Norfolk,  i.  pp.  376-404);  and  from 
their  able  treatises  the  present  abbreviated  account  is  mainly 
derived. 

The  earliest  date  on  record  of  the  appearance  of  the  Sand- 
grouse  in  Britain  was  about  the  beginning  of  July,  1859, 
at  Walpole  St.  Peter’s,  about  two  miles  from  the  Wash, 
Norfolk ;  the  example,  a  fine  male,  being  secured  for  the 
Lynn  Museum ;  and  a  notice  of  its  capture  communicated 
to  the  ‘Zoologist,’  p.  6764,  and  to  the  ‘Ibis’  (1859,  p. 
472),  by  the  Rev.  F.  L.  Currie.  On  9th  July,  another 
male  was  shot  from  a  flock  of  three,  near  Tremadoc,  at  the 
north  end  of  Cardigan  Bay,  and  presented  by  Mr.  Chaffers 
to  the  Derby  Museum,  at  Liverpool.  A  notice  of  this  had 
already  appeared  in  the  ‘  Zoologist  ’  (p.  6728),  from  Mr. 
T.  J.  Moore,  who  subsequently  gave  a  full  account  of  it  in 
the  ‘Ibis’  (1860,  pp.  105-110),  illustrated  by  one  of  Mr. 
Joseph  Wolf’s  admirable  plates.  In  November,  1859,  Mr. 
George  Jell,  of  Lydd,  in  Kent,  preserved  a  specimen  for 
Mr.  Simmons,  of  East  Peckliam,  near  Tunbridge,  and  these 
three  are  all  which  are  known  to  have  been  obtained  in 
Great  Britain  prior  to  1863 ;  all  statements  as  to  arrivals 
during  the  intervening  years  having  apparently  originated  in 
error. 

On  the  continent,  in  the  same  year,  a  pair  appear  to  have 
been  obtained  at  Wilna,  in  Western  Russia,  in  May;  a  third 
example  was  at  Hobro,  in  Jutland;  and  a  fourth,  one  of  a 
pair  which  had  haunted  the  sandhills  near  Zandvoort,  in 
Holland,  since  July,  was  shot  there  in  October.  In  1860, 
one  was  obtained  at  Sarepta,  on  the  Lower  Volga. 

In  1863  came  the  great  invasion,  extending  westwards  to 
Naran,  on  the  coast  of  Donegal.  To  understand  it,  allusion 
must  first  be  made  to  a  portion  of  its  course  on  the  conti- 

VOL.  in.  F 


34 


PTEROCLIDiE. 


nent.  The  most  eastern,  and  also  the  most  northern 
locality  of  which  there  is  any  record,  as  regards  this 
migration,  is  Archangel ;  a  specimen  in  the  Museum  of 
that  town  being  recorded  by  Messrs.  Alston  and  Harvie- 
Brown,*  another  being  in  a  private  collection  there ; 
and  a  specimen  was  also  obtained  at  Moscow,  f  The 
earliest  date  that  can  be  given  with  precision  is  the  6tli 
of  May,  at  Skolonitz,  in  Moravia.  By  the  21st  of  May 
Heligoland  was  reached,  and  the  same  day  the  first  British 
examples  of  that  year,  two  males  and  one  female,  were  shot 
out  of  a  flock  of  fourteen,  at  Thropton,  in  Northumberland. 
The  next  day  birds  had  reached  Eccleshall,  in  Staffordshire, 
where  two  were  shot  out  of  a  flock  of  about  twenty ;  and 
from  that  date  onwards  the  records  become  numerous.  It  is 
unnecessary  to  recapitulate  the  exact  localities  and  details  of 
each  capture,  so  carefully  worked  out  by  Professor  Newton 
and  Mr.  Stevenson ;  and  it  will  he  sufficient  to  say  that  in 
Norfolk  and  Suffolk  seventy-five  birds  were  obtained,  a 
number  far  exceeding  that  obtained  in  any  equal  area.  The 
most  interesting  of  these  instances  was  that  of  a  slightly 
wounded  bird  which  was  taken  alive  near  Elveden,  and  sent 
by  Professor  Newton  to  the  London  Zoological  Gardens, 
where  it  lived  for  some  time.  In  Lincolnshire  several 
were  obtained  in  May ;  and  early  in  December  about 
twenty  were  shot  out  of  a  flock  numbering  between  forty 
and  fifty  ;  many  more,  however,  are  believed  to  have  been 
eaten  or  destroyed  in  ignorance  of  their  rarity. t  In 
Yorkshire  about  twenty-four  examples  were  killed ;  and  in 
Durham  and  Northumberland  about  twenty-six.  On  the 
eastern  side  of  Scotland  birds  were  obtained  :  in  Hadding¬ 
tonshire,  where,  besides  the  slain,  one  was  kept  alive  by 
Lord  Haddington  ;  in  Forfarshire,  seven  or  eight  examples  ; 
in  Perthshire,  Kincardine,  Aberdeen,  Elgin,  Caithness,  and 
Sutherland  ;  even  on  Unst,  the  northernmost  of  the  Shet- 
lands,  an  example  was  obtained  on  4tli  November,  out  of 
a  small  flock ;  and  one  also  on  Benbecula,  in  the  Outer 

*  Ibis,  1873,  p.  66.  f  Dresser,  Birds  of  Europe,  vii.  p.  77. 

+  Cordeaux,  Birds  of  the  Humber  District,  p.  80. 


SAND-GROUSE. 


35 


Hebrides,"'  on  October  13th.  In  the  south,  before  the  end  of 
June,  Sand-grouse  had  visited  the  flat  shores  of  Essex,  Kent, 
and  Sussex ;  the  sands  of  Slapton,  in  South  Devon  ;  the 
Land’s  End,  and  St.  Agnes,  Scilly  Islands.  At  Heanton,  in 
North  Devon,  a  survivor  was  obtained  in  December ;  and  at 
Haverfordwest,  in  Pembrokeshire,  another,  which  was  seen 
in  the  flesh  by  the  late  Mr.  Gould,  was  obtained  8th  Feb¬ 
ruary,  1864;  the  latest  date  for  these  islands.  Eccleshall, 
in  Staffordshire ;  Oswestry ;  the  sandy  coasts  of  Cheshire 
and  Lancashire  ;  Penrith,  in  Cumberland,  were  visited ;  and 
then,  after  a  considerable  interval,  Sand-grouse  turned  up 
again  in  Renfrewshire  and  Stirling.  Inland  they  occurred 
in  various  localities  :  on  the  flats  of  Cambridgeshire,  the 
sandy  heaths  of  Aldershot,  and  even  so  near  the  metropolis 
as  Barnet.  In  Ireland  examples  were  killed  at  Ross  ;  and 
at  Drumbeg  and  Naran,  both  in  co.  Donegal ;  the  latter 
being  the  most  western  locality  on  record.  Judging  from 
the  materials  available,  it  would  appear  that  a  large  majority 
were  obtained  from  May  21st  onwards  to  the  end  of  June, 
by  which  time  the  awakened  and  widely-spread  interest  in 
the  new  visitants,  taking  its  usual  forms  of  persecution  and 
extermination,  had  done  its  worst.  Some  may  have  sought 
refuge  on  the  continent,  which  they  had  left ;  but,  at  all 
events,  by  the  middle  of  November  they  had  disappeared 
from  the  favoured  counties  of  Norfolk  and  Suffolk.  In  the 
remote  and  scantily  peopled  districts  of  the  wild  West  a 
few  individuals  lingered  throughout  the  autumn  and  winter ; 
but  even  there,  hy  February  1864,  the  last  of  the  invaders 
of  1863  had  succumbed. 

The  birds  which  arrived  on  our  shores  formed,  however, 
but  a  portion  of  a  far  larger  eastern  horde,  the  main  body 
of  which,  in  all  probability,  never  reached  the  British  Islands. 
The  meagre  information  as  to  their  occurrence  in  Russia  has 
already  been  given.  From  Galicia,  on  the  6tli  of  May,  the 
Sand-grouse  pressed  onwards  to  Pesth,  Vienna,  and  other 
Austrian  localities ;  the  outlying  wing  of  the  army  sending 
forth  its  stragglers  as  far  south  as  Rimini,  on  the  Adriatic ; 

*  R.  Gray,  Birds  of  the  West  of  Scotland,  p.  239. 


36 


PTEROCLID/E. 


Belluno  and  Novara,  in  Northern  Italy ;  Perpignan  at  the 
eastern,  and  Bayonne  at  the  western  extremities  of  the 
Pyrenean  chain.  In  France,  according  to  Degland  and 
Gerbe,  they  were  found  all  over  the  hasins  of  the  Seine,  the 
Loire,  the  Gironde,  and  the  Rhone,  reaching  as  far  as  the 
shores  of  the  Atlantic,  where  the  date  of  the  last  capture,  at 
Sables  d’Olonne,  in  Vendee,  in  February  1864,  coincides 
with  that  of  the  last  and  one  of  the  most  western  of  the 
occurrences  in  England.  In  the  Baltic  they  occurred  both 
on  the  southern  shores,  and  as  far  as  Nykoping,  in  Sweden ; 
whilst  examples  were  obtained  in  Norway  up  to  62°  N.  lat.  ; 
and  a  flock  even  reached  the  distant  Faeroes  in  May.  The 
main  body  appears  to  have  swept  through  Germany  as  far 
as  the  North  Sea,  and  finding  the  sandhills  of  the  coasts 
of  Denmark,  Holland,  and  Belgium  suited  to  their  hahits, 
they  took  up  their  abode  there  in  considerable  numbers. 
The  dunes  of  Zandvoort,  already  visited  by  a  pair  in  1859, 
again  attracted  several  hands,  and  at  least  one  clutch  of  eggs 
was  taken  ;  but  it  was  in  Denmark  that  the  most  interest¬ 
ing  details  were  obtained,  and  the  following  abstract  of  a 
paper  by  Professor  Reinhardt,  of  Copenhagen,  is  furnished 
by  Professor  Newton  : — 

“Early  in  June  last,  Herr  Bulow,  an  officer  in  the 
Custom-house  at  Ringkjobing,  sent  the  Professor  several 
living  birds  which  had  been  snared  by  a  gunner  on  their 
nests  in  the  above-mentioned  district,  together  with  four  of 
their  eggs.  One  of  the  latter  was  found  by  Herr  Bulow  in 
the  box  which  conveyed  the  birds,  having  been  laid  on  the 
journey.  It  was  colourless,  indicating  that  it  had  been 
prematurely  produced.  The  other  three  eggs  were  fully 
coloured.  It  appears  that  this  gunner  found  two  nests  of 
Syrrhaptes  in  his  own  neighbourhood,  and  a  third  at  a  place 
called  Bierregaard.  On  two  of  the  nests  both  the  birds 
(in  each  case  the  hens  first  and  then  the  cocks)  were  caught, 
on  the  6tli  June.  These  nests  were  near  one  another ;  and 
one,  containing  three  eggs,  consisted  of  a  slight  depression 
in  the  sand,  lined  with  a  little  dry  marram.  The  other  had 
only  two  eggs,  was  placed  among  some  ling,  and  furnished 


SAND-GROUSE. 


37 


in  a  like  manner.  The  third  nest  was  similar  to  the  first, 
and  was  half-way  up  a  sandhill.  Of  the  three  eggs  sent  to 
Herr  Bulow,  he  found  that  two  were  quite  fresh,  but  in  the 
third  the  foetus  had  begun  to  form,  shewing  that  they  had 
been  taken  from  different  nests.  Some  more  nests  were 
found  by  other  people,  but  unfortunately  none  of  them  were 
taken  care  of.  The  gunner,  at  Herr  Bulow’s  request,  made 
further  search,  hut  not  until  the  27tli  of  July  did  he  suc¬ 
ceed  in  making  any  new  discoveries.  On  that  day  he  met 
with  a  flock  of  about  a  dozen  birds,  of  which  he  shot  two. 
He  then  went  again  to  Bierregaard,  where  at  last  he  put  a 
bird  off  its  nest  among  some  stones  in  the  sand,  and  con¬ 
taining  three  eggs.  Next  day  he  returned  to  it,  set  a  snare, 
in  which,  after  two  or  three  hours,  the  hen-bird  was  caught ; 
and  a  few  hours  later  he  procured  the  cock  in  the  same  way. 
In  the  interval  he  found,  to  his  surprise,  that  one  of  the 
eggs  had  hatched.  He  took  away  with  him  the  pair  of  old 
birds,  the  newly-born  chick,  and  the  remaining  two  eggs, 
which,  on  getting  home,  he  put  in  a  box  of  wool  by  the  fire, 
where  a  second  egg  was  hatched.  The  third  proved  to  be 
rotten.  The  chicks  only  lived  one  day,  and  it  seems  they 
were  not  preserved.  On  that  same  day  (the  28th),  while 
waiting  about  for  these  birds  to  be  caught,  he  stumbled  on 
another  nest,  from  which  he  shot  both  the  owners.” 

Returning  to  the  subject  of  migration  :  the  Sand-grouse 
visited  Heligoland,  where  about  thirty-five  were  shot  in  May 
and  June,  and  a  few  in  autumn,  when  they  also  occurred  at 
Norderney  ;  Borldium  in  May  and  June,  and  again  on  their 
return,  in  September.  The  last  recorded  individual  of  this 
invasion  was  obtained  alive,  having  flown  against  the  telegraph 
wires  in  June  1864,  near  Plauen,  in  Saxony,  and  was  sent  to 
the  Zoological  Gardens  in  Dresden.*  Mr.  Dresser  states  that 
about  twenty  were  said  to  have  been  seen  in  that  year,  and 
three  of  them  shot  at  Brody,  Galicia ;  but  this  record  may 
possibly  refer  to  the  occurrence  in  previous  years  already  cited. 

As  regards  the  numbers  of  this  invasion,  it  is  undoubted 
that  a  very  large  proportion  passed  unrecorded,  even  in  the 
*  E.  Opel,  Journal  fiir  Ornithologie,  1864,  p.  312. 


38 


PTEROCLIDiE. 


British  Islands ;  and,  when  writing  in  1864,  Professor 
Newton  considered  that  the  total  could  be  set  down  as  under 
700  ;  an  estimate  which  is  probably  a  very  moderate  one, 
especially  when  the  number  of  birds  taken  and  eaten  in 
France  is  considered. 

In  1872  a  small  flock  of  Sand-grouse  were  reported  to 
have  frequented  the  coast  of  Northumberland,  opposite  the 
Fern  Islands,  from  the  end  of  May  to  6th  June;  but  a  bird 
which  was  at  first  stated  to  have  been  shot,  proved,  on 
enquiry,  to  have  got  away.*  On  25th  and  29tli  June  four 
birds  of  this  species  were  described  as  having  been  seen 
near  Girvan,  Ayrshire ;  f  but  there  is  no  confirmatory  record 
of  similar  occurrences  in  other  parts  of  the  British  Islands 
or  on  the  Continent. 

On  4tli  May,  1876,  a  solitary  example,  obtained  near 
Modena,  in  Italy,  might  have  been  expected  to  prove  the 
precursor  of  another  invasion ;  but  no  further  arrivals  either 
on  the  Continent  or  in  Britain  appear  to  have  been  recorded 
until,  on  the  4tli  of  October  of  that  same  year,  a  male  and 
female  were  shot  near  Kilcock,  co.  Kildare,  Ireland  ;  a  notice 
both  of  the  occurrence  and  of  the  places  where  the  specimens 
might  be  inspected,  being  published  in  ‘  The  Field  ’  of  14tli 
October,  by  Mr.  W.  N.  Coates.  With  these  stragglers  the 
list  of  visitants  closes  for  the  present. 

Essentially  a  native  of  the  Asiatic  steppes,  this  species 
was  first  made  known  to  Pallas  as  an  inhabitant  of  those 
Kirghiz  plains  whose  western  boundary  is  the  Caspian  Sea. 
A  straggler  across  the  political  frontier  between  Asia  and 
Europe,  reached  Sarepta  on  the  Lower  Volga  in  the  winter 
of  1848,  and,  coming  under  the  notice  of  the  Moravian 
settlement  there,  Herr  Moschler  enrolled  this  species  in  his 
list  in  1853  as  a  very  rare  European  bird.  It  is  probable 
that  our  visitors  came  from  this  western  extremity  of  their 
range.  Henke  (Ibis  1882,  p.  220)  says  that  Sand-grouse 
are  occasionally  found  near  Astrakhan  in  winter;  and  in 
1876  great  numbers  bred  on  the  Kirghiz  steppes,  where  the 

*  J.  Hancock,  N.  H.  Tr.  Northum.  and  Durham,  vi.  p.  87. 

+  E.  Gray,  Ibis,  1872,  p.  335. 


SAND-GROUSE. 


39 


nomads  told  him  that  they  had  not  previously  observed 
them.  Eastwards,  Pallas’s  Sand-grouse  is  found  throughout 
the  sandy  wastes  of  Turkestan  to  Samarcand  ;  throughout 
the  Kirghiz  steppes  to  Lake  Balkask ;  in  the  deserts  at  the 
foot  of  the  Tian  Shan  range  ;  and  in  both  the  steppes  and 
the  deserts  of  Mongolia,  and  in  the  basin  of  the  Tarei-nor. 
Colonel  Prjevalsky  *  states  that  in  summer  it  goes  north 
even  beyond  the  shores  of  Lake  Baikal,  where  it  breeds  ; 
spending  the  winter  in  those  parts  of  the  Gobi  Desert  which 
are  free  from  snow,  and  in  Ala-slian,  where  it  is  met  with 
from  October  onwards  in  flocks  of  several  thousands.  Some 
winter  in  the  Hoang-ho  Valley  in  South-east  Mongolia,  and 
during  severe  weather  the  plains  between  Tien-sin  and  Pekin 
and  of  the  Pecliili  are  covered  with  them  ;  the  natives,  who 
call  them  “Slia-chee,”  taking  numbers  of  them  with  nets.f 
Southwards,  this  species  extends  to  Koko-nor  and  Tsaidam, 
but  it  does  not  ascend  to  Kansu  or  Northern  Thibet,  being 
there  replaced  by  the  only  other  known  species  of  the  genus, 
Syrrhaptes  thibetanus,sm  inhabitant  of  much  greater  altitudes. 

These  enormous  flocks  feed  largely  on  the  seeds  of  Ar/rio- 
phyllum  gobicum,  so  that  the  number  of  wintering  birds 
depends  on  the  supply  of  that  food,  although  they  occasion¬ 
ally  feed  on  other  seeds  and  berries.  In  the  crops  of  some 
of  those  killed  in  Norfolk  only  the  seeds  of  plants  proper  to 
the  sandy  coast  were  found,  without  any  trace  of  animal  or 
mixed  food  ;  the  gizzards  containing  an  enormous  quantity 
of  small  stones  and  sand.  They  drink  several  times  a  day, 
preferring  fresh  to  brackish  water. 

Most  observers  agree  in  describing  the  flight  of  this  Sand- 
grouse  as  much  resembling  in  its  style  and  rapidity  that  of 
the  Golden  Plover.  Prjevalsky  says  that  when  a  large  flock 
is  on  the  wing,  the  noise  is  like  the  sighing  of  the  wind  and 
can  be  heard  at  a  considerable  distance.  In  the  air  the  male 
birds  utter  a  peculiar  note,  like  “  truck-turuk,  truck-turuk ,” 
especially  when  in  small  flocks. 

Prjevalsky  states  that  the  complement  of  eggs  is  three, 
which  is  the  usual  number  with  other  Sand-grouse.  In  the 

*  In  Rowley’s  Miscellany,  pt.  ix.  p.  382.  +  Swinhoe,  Ibis,  1861,  p.  341. 


40 


PTEROCLIDiE. 


beginning  of  June  be  found  in  Ala-slian  three  nests  with  three 
eggs  in  each,  one  set  being  quite  fresh,  the  two  other  sets 
very  much  incubated.  It  will  be  remembered  that  three  was 
the  largest  number  of  eggs  found  in  one  clutch  in  Denmark, 
and  three  is  well  known  to  be  the  complement  of  eggs  with 
other  members  of  the  Pteroclidce.  Herr  Radde,  however, 
who  had  excellent  opportunities  of  observing  this  species  in 
Dauria,  and  whose  detailed  account  is  translated  a  little 
further  on,  says  that  “the  eggs  go  up  to  four,”  although  it 
will  be  observed  that  he  never  mentions  finding  more  than 
three  ;  and  in  the  frontispiece  to  the  ‘  Reisen  im  Suden  von 
Ost-Sibirien,’  Band  ii. ,  he  figures  a  pair  of  birds  by  the 
side  of  a  nest  containing  four  eggs.  There  may  be  some 
mistake  in  this,  or  it  may  point  to  another  paradoxical 
character  in  this  species,  indicating  a  closer  affinity  to  the 
Plovers  than  is  shewn  by  the  other  members  of  the  order ; 
but,  at  all  events,  such  a  distinct  assertion  must  not  be 
passed  over  in  silence. 

The  eggs  are  elliptical,  stone-buff  in  colour,  with  darker 
blotches  of  purple-brown,  and  average  1*5  in  length  by  1*1 
in  breadth.* 

The  following  is  a  translation  of  the  full  account  given  by 
Herr  G.  Radde  in  his  above-cited  work,  pp.  292-294 : — 

“  The  basin  of  the  Tarei-nor,  in  Dauria,  is  situated  in  about 
50°  N.  lat.  and  116°  E.  long.  The  nest  is  very  simple,  re¬ 
sembling  those  of  the  other  Sand-grouse,  and  several  pairs, 
but  never  many,  usually  breed  in  company.  In  the  salt- 
impregnated  soil  on  the  Tarei-nor,  usually  on  the  ground 
which  has  been  dry  for  years,  a  shallow  hollow  about  five 
inches  in  diameter  is  scratched  out,  and  the  edge  is  lined 
with  a  few  salsola  shoots  and  grasses ;  but  the  latter  are  fre¬ 
quently  absent.  Eggs  go  up  to  four  (i.e.,  do  not  exceed  four). 
Syrrhaptes  does  not  winter  regularly  on  the  north-eastern 
edge  of  the  elevated  Gobi,  in  the  low  spurs  of  the  northern 
portion  of  the  Himalaya  range.  On  the  10th  (22nd)  March, 


*  An  egg  laid  in  the  Zoological  Gardens  on  21st  June,  1861,  by  one  of  several 
birds  sent  from  China,  was  described  and  figured  by  Professor  Newton,  P.  Z.  S. 
1861,  p.  397,  pi.  39,  fig.  1. 


SAND-GROUSE. 


41 


1 856,  when  at  night  the  thermometer  fell  to  —  18°  Reaumur, 
and  at  midday  rose  to  +  2°,  the  first  flock  of  the  present  species 
arrived  at  the  Tarei-nor.  They  flew  in  close  skeins  like  Plovers. 
In  the  spring  these  flocks  are  composed  of  four  or  six  pairs, 
as  the  birds  have  then  paired,  hut  in  the  autumn  more  than 
a  hundred  collect  together  in  one  flock.  When  on  the  wing 
they  utter  a  very  audible  cry,  from  which  their  Mongol 
name  (Njupterjun)  is  derived ;  and  the  pairs  fly  close 
together.  A  male,  shot  on  the  17th  (29tli)  March,  had  the 
testes  as  large  as  a  cedar-nut  ;  and  late  in  March  eggs  are 
to  he  found,  for  a  female  shot  on  the  80th  March  (lltli 
April)  had  an  egg  ready  for  exclusion  in  her  ovary.  This 
Sand-grouse  breeds  twice,  and  sometimes  three  times,  in 
the  season.  On  the  20tli  April  (2nd  May)  I  found  fully- 
formed  young  in  three  eggs  in  one  nest,  and  the  next  day 
I  took  two  fresh  eggs.  On  the  14th  (26th)  May  I  again 
found  fresh  eggs.  The  young  are  certainly  able  to  shift  for 
themselves  when  hatched,  and  this  fact  places  them  decidedly 
near  the  Fowls,  in  spite  of  their  manifold  relationship  to  the 
Pigeons.  I  first  saw  the  young  birds  running  after  their 
mother  on  the  80th  April  (12tli  May).  In  the  morning, 
especially  in  the  spring,  they  visit  the  fresh  water  to  drink 
regularly  at  the  same  hour,  and  in  April  this  was  at  nine 
o’clock.  Single  pairs  arrived  from  different  directions,  calling 
and  being  answered  by  those  which  had  already  arrived,  and 
which  they  then  joined  :  they  stood  on  the  edge  of  the  water 
in  a  line,  usually  eight  to  twelve  together,  not  remaining  there 
long,  but  soon  leaving,  apparently  to  feed.  They  are  fond  of 
the  young  juicy  shoots  of  the  Salicornics,  and  regularly  graze 
on  these  as  the  Bustard  does  on  some  of  the  grasses.  In  the 
spring  I  found  the  crop  and  stomach  full  of  the  seeds  of  the 
Salsola.  During  the  summer  they  are  fond  of  basking  in  the 
sun,  and  I  then  generally  found  several  pairs  together.  Like 
fowls,  they  scratch  a  hole  in  the  greyish- white  salty  hillocks 
which  cover  large  tracts  on  the  banks  of  the  Tarei-nor,  and 
on  which  the  salt-plants  grow.  I  have  often  watched  them 
resting  in  these  places  ;  at  first  they  run  about  as  if  search¬ 
ing  for  something,  and  then  about  eleven  o’clock,  when  it 
VOL.  in.  g 


42 


PTEROCLIDiE. 


becomes  hot,  they  rest,  scratching  a  hole  in  the  ground,  and, 
like  barn-door  fowls,  working  themselves  in  comfortably, 
lying  on  one  side,  with  their  usually  smooth  plumage  puffed 
out.  They  do  not  place  a  sentinel,  but  sit  motionless,  their 
black- sprinkled  plumage  assimilating  so  well  with  the  soil 
that  they  can  scarcely  be  distinguished.  When  disturbed 
they  rise,  uttering  a  cry,  and  fly  off  with  great  rapidity,  as  do 
all  that  hear  the  alarm-cry,  although  not  belonging  to  the 
same  flock.  They  first  pack  together,  then  divide  into  small 
flocks,  and  by  degrees  return  to  their  resting-places.  So 
swift  are  they  on  the  wing,  that  it  is  scarcely  possible  for 
the  fastest  Falcon  to  catch  them;  and  their  flight  is  more 
rapid  and  straigliter  than  that  of  the  Pigeon.  I  doubt, 
however,  if  they  can  run  far,  as,  when  I  have  been  watching 
them,  although  they  ran  swiftly,  they  did  not  continue  for 
any  distance.  It  is  curious  how  the  large  flocks  migrate 
away  in  the  summer.  I  had  a  peculiar  instance  of  this 
from  personal  observation.  Late  in  May  I  went  to  visit  the 
Aral  Island,  in  the  Tarei-nor,  and  had  to  pass  the  large 
tract  where  the  lake  was  dried  out ;  and  in  the  forenoon  I 
saw  a  number  of  flocks  of  Sand-grouse  which  inhabited  this 
place,  and  were  so  shy  that  I  could  not  possibly  approach 
them,  so,  after  many  unsuccessful  attempts  to  shoot  them,  I 
gave  up  the  chase  till  the  evening.  At  sunset  they  had 
collected  into  two  large  flocks  of  at  least  a  thousand  indi¬ 
viduals  each,  and  were  making  a  great  noise  ;  and  it  was 
now  impossible  to  approach  them.  After  being  several  times 
disturbed,  they  left  the  shores  of  the  Tarei-nor  and  went  to 
the  neighbouring  wintering-place  of  the  flocks  (of  sheep,  Ac.), 
where,  from  the  numerous  droppings,  there  was  always  a 
large  blackisli-brown  patch  on  the  sterile  steppe.  Here 
they  remained  undisturbed,  as  the  darkness  prevented  me 
from  following  them  ;  but  they  continued  calling  loudly. 
On  the  next  day  none  were  to  be  seen  ;  and  later  on  I  did 
not  see  one.  The  herdsmen  also  assured  me  that  there 
were  no  Sand-grouse  left,  but  that  they  would  return  in 
autumn  ;  and  such  proved  to  be  the  case  ;  for  in  October, 
when  north  of  the  Dalai-nor,  a  large,  noisy  flock  passed 


SAND-GROUSE. 


43 


me,  travelling  from  the  south  to  the  north.  Here,  on  the 
north-east  of  the  Gobi,  if  they  remain  in  the  autumn,  the 

natives  calculate  on  a  mild  winter . The  flesh  of 

this  Sand-grouse  is  white  and  very  good.” 

From  the  above  narrative  it  will  he  observed  that  this  Sand- 
grouse  is  liable  to  sudden  movements  in  large  flocks,  but 
of  the  cause  which  produced  the  invasion  of  1863  no  more 
is  known  now  than  it  was  then,  although  various  hypotheses 
have  been  started.  As  regards  the  merits  of  its  flesh, 
which  Herr  Kadde  naturally  found  excellent  in  the  deserts 
of  the  Tarei-nor,  Mr.  Stevenson,  experimenting  upon  exam¬ 
ples  which  had  first  been  skinned,  found  them,  at  their 
best,  nearly  equal  to  a  French  Partridge ;  the  only  resem¬ 
blance  to  Grouse  consisting  in  the  two  colours  of  the  flesh, 
the  outer  portion  of  which  is  dark  and  that  nearest  the  bone 
white  :  a  feature  which,  it  may  be  remarked,  is  common  to 
the  other  Sand-grouse. 

In  the  adult  male  the  bill  is  horn- colour,  the  crown  of 
the  head  yellowish-grey,  with  dusky  streaks ;  hind  neck 
crossed  by  a  band  of  orange,  more  intense  at  the  sides,  rest 
buff-grey  ;  back  and  scapulars  ocliraceous,  barred  with  dark 
brown  and  black,  as  are  the  rump  and  upper  tail-coverts,  on 
which  the  bars  gradually  change  into  streaks ;  primaries 
lavender,  with  black  shafts  and  dark  tips,  the  outer  quills 
attenuate,  especially  the  first,  which  is  the  longest ;  second¬ 
aries  buff  on  the  inner  and  black  on  the  outer  webs ;  wing- 
coverts  buff,  bordered  with  chestnut,  forming  a  conspicuous 
band  along  the  wing ;  tail  of  sixteen  feathers,  mostly  tipped 
with  white,  grey  centres,  and  rich  buff  inner  webs  barred 
with  dark  brown  :  the  central  pair  buff,  barred  with  black 
on  the  upper  parts,  then  passing  into  grey,  and  then  to  dark 
brown  near  the  filamentous  tips,  often  exceeding  the  others 
by  fully  three  inches  ;  chin  buff ;  throat  orange  ;  lower  parts 
buff,  with  a  narrowband  of  black-edged  feathers  on  the  chest, 
and  a  broader  dark  brown  band  on  the  abdomen  and  flanks ; 
under  wing- coverts  pale  buff ;  under  tail-coverts  white,  the 
lower  ones  long  and  pointed,  with  dark  centres  ;  legs  and 
feet,  down  to  the  toes,  covered  with  buff-white  feathers. 


44 


PTEROCLIDiE. 


The  young  male  differs  in  having  the  head  more  streaked 
with  black ;  the  throat  and  neck  are  huff  instead  of  orange, 
with  a  faint  black  gular  ring  ;  the  hand  across  the  chest  is 
at  first  absent ;  the  primaries  are  more  sandy-coloured  ;  the 
upper  parts  are  much  spotted  instead  of  being  barred,  and 
the  central  rectrices  are  hardly  prolonged. 

The  adult  female  has  the  crown  and  nape  buff  streaked 
with  black,  without  the  golden-orange  of  the  male  ;  the 
throat  and  sides  of  the  head  orange-buff,  with  a  narrow 
black  gular  terminal  band  ;  upper  parts  and  wing-coverts 
rather  spotted  than  barred  with  black ;  cliest-band  very 
indistinct,  but  feathers  on  the  abdomen  dark  brown  through¬ 
out  their  greater  parts ;  general  colours  duller,  and  central 
rectrices  less  elongated  than  in  the  adult  male. 

Total  length  of  the  male  about  fifteen  inches  :  wing  ten 
inches ;  first  primary  one  inch  longer  than  second  ;  central 
rectrices  extending  three  and  even  three  and  a  half  inches 
beyond  the  others.  Female  slightly  smaller.  Weight  of 
well-conditioned  birds  of  both  sexes  ten  and  a  half  ounces. 
Examples  with  recently  moulted  quills  were  obtained  on  26th 
June,  and  birds  shot  in  October,  after  their  full  change,  were 
remarkable  for  the  beauty  and  freshness  of  their  plumage. 

The  vignette  represents  the  sternum  of  this  species. 


CAPERCAILLIE. 


GALLING. 


TETRA  ONIDuE. 


Tetrao  urogallus,  Linnaeus*. 

THE  CAPERCAILLIE, 

WOOD  GROUSE,  OR  COCK  OF  THE  WOOD. 

Tetrao  uroqallus. 

Tetrao. +— Bill  short,  strong;  upper  mandible  convex,  and  arched  from  the 
base  to  the  tip.  Nostrils  basal,  lateral,  partly  closed  by  an  arched  scale,  and 

*  Syst.  Nat.  Ed.  12,  i.  p.  273  (1766).  +  l.  c. 


46 


TETRAONIDzE. 


hidden  from  view  by  small  closely-set  feathers.  Space  above  the  eye  naked,  the 
skin  red  with  papillae,  and  fringed.  Wings  short,  and  rounded  in  form  ;  the  fifth 
quill-feather  the  longest.  Tail  of  eighteen  feathers.  Feet  with  the  toes  naked, 
three  in  front  united  as  far  as  the  first  joint,  and  one  toe  behind,  short,  the  edges 
of  all  pectinated.  Tarsi  feathered  to  the  junction  of  the  toes. 

The  term  Capercaillie,  sometimes  written  Capercally  and 
Capercailzie,  is  of  Gaelic  origin,  and,  as  usual,  the  best 
authorities  differ  in  their  interpretation  of  it.  Both  the 
derivation  and  the  orthography  are  discussed  at  some  length 
in  Mr.  J.  A.  Harvie -Brown’s  excellent  monograph  entitled 
‘  The  Capercaillie  in  Scotland  ’  (1879),  and,  more  tersely, 
by  Professor  Newton  in  the  ‘  Encyclopaedia  Britannica.’  The 
balance  of  authority  appears  to  be  in  favour  of  the  com¬ 
ponent  words  Cabhcir,  an  old  man  (and  by  metaphor  an  old 
bird),  and  Coille ,  a  wood  ;  i.e.  the  old  bird  of  the  vrood.  It 
has  also  been  derived  from  the  Celtic  gobnr,  a  horse,  or  from 
gabur,  a  goat ;  and,  bearing  in  mind  the  extension  of  the 
feathers  on  the  throat  of  the  male  bird,  like  the  beard  of  a 
goat,  and  his  amorous  behaviour  in  spring,  the  derivation 
seems  not  unlikely.  The  Scottish  poet  Dunbar,  who  died 
about  1520,  uses  Capircalyeane  as  a  term  of  endearment ; 
and  Hector  Boetius,  in  1526,  alludes  to  the  bird  as  the 
Auercalze,  or  horse  of  the  woods ;  it  is  cited  in  the  bill  of 
fare  of  the  Earl  of  Atlioll  when  he  entertained  James  Y.  in 
1528-29,  and  by  Bishop  Lesly  in  1578,  wdio  was  the  first  to 
indicate  a  definite  locality — Locliaber — as  its  abode.  In  the 
account  given  by  John  Taylor,  the  Water-poet,  of  his  “  visit  to 
the  Brea  of  Marr,”  in  1618,  Caperkellies  are  specified  along 
with  “  lieathcocks  and  termagants,”  names  which  are  subse¬ 
quently  found  in  some  old  Acts  of  the  Scottish  Parliament, 
circa  1621,  and  in  some  later  records,  which,  however,  con¬ 
vey  little  information.  In  1651  it  was  already  scarce  ;  for 
in  the  ‘  Black  Book  of  Taymouth  ’  a  friend  of  the  Laird  of 
Glenorquhy  writes  to  him  :  “I  went  and  shew  your  Caper¬ 
cailzie  to  the  king  in  his  bedchamber,  who  accepted  it  weel 
as  a  raretie,  for  he  had  never  seen  any  of  them  before.” 
At  the  time  of  Pennant’s  Tour  in  Scotland,  in  1769,  it  was 
nearly  extinct,  and  he  appears  to'  have  seen  only  one  example, 
which  w7as  killed  in  the-  Chisholm’s  country  to  the  w7est  of 


CAPERCAILLIE. 


47 


Inverness.  It  is  true  that  Graves,  writing  in  1818,  mentions 
two  males  shot  respectively  about  six  years,  and  two  years 
previously,  the  latter  by  Captain  Stanton,  near  Burrowsto- 
ness ;  hut  there  is  really  no  satisfactory  account  of  its  occur¬ 
rence  from  the  time  of  Pennant  until  its  restoration  in  the 
present  century.  The  causes  of  its  extinction  had  probably 
been  at  work  for  a  considerable  time  ;  the  principal  ones 
being  the  destruction  of  large  tracts  of  pine  forests  by  fire 
to  get  rid  of  wolves,  and  other  “vermin”;  the  wasteful 
destruction  of  timber,  and  the  altered  conditions  thereby 
produced.  In  Ireland,  where  it  certainly  existed,  although 
Giraldus  Cambrensis,  Willugliby  and  Bay  give  little  hut  its 
name,  similar  causes  led  to  its  extermination.  Writing  in 
1772,  J.  Butty  (Nat.  Hist,  of  the  County  of  Dublin,  i. 
p.  802)  says,  “  one  was  seen  in  the  county  of  Leitrim  about 
the  year  1710  ;  hut  they  have  entirely  disappeared,  owing  to 
the  destruction  of  our  woods.”  Pennant  also  states  that 
about  1700  a  few  were  to  he  found  about  Tliomastown,  in 
Tipperary  ;  and  Longfield,  in  his  treatise  on  ‘  The  Game 
Laws  in  Ireland,’  says  that  the  “  Wild  Turkeys  ”  of  Act 
George  III.  must  have  been  Capercaillies  ;  adding  that  they 
were  not  extinct  so  late  as  1787."  After  careful  investiga¬ 
tion  of  the  existing  evidence,  Professor  Newton  is  of  opinion 
that  the  species  was  exterminated  about  the  same  time  in 
both  Scotland  and  Ireland  ;  the  original  British  race  becom¬ 
ing  wholly  extinct,  and  no  remains  of  it  being  known  to  exist 
in  any  museum. f 

As  regards  the  occurrence  of  the  Capercaillie  in  England, 
within  the  last  two  years  Mr.  James  Backhouse,  of  York,  has 
discovered  in  the  caves  of  the  mountain-limestone  of  Teesdale, 
at  an  elevation  of  about  1,600  feet,  numerous  hones,  which 
have  been  pronounced  by  Professor  Newton  to  he  those  of  this 
species.  In  a  letter  to  the  Editor,  Mr.  Backhouse  writes  as 
follows  :  “  Among  these  [bones]  is  one  nearly  perfect  humerus 
belonging  to  a  male  bird  of  full  size ;  others,  less  perfect,  to 
the  female  of  ordinary  size ;  whilst  others,  again,  are  smaller 
than  those  of  the  type.  From  the  abundance  of  the  remains 

*  J.  A.  Harvie-Brown,  op.  cit.  p.  154.  L  Encyc.  Brit.  Ed.  9,  v.  p.  54. 


48 


TETRAONIDiE. 


of  this  bird,  and  their  association  with  hone  implements, 
there  can  he  no  doubt,  I  think,  that  the  Capercaillie  was, 
in  past  ages,  a  common  denizen  of  the  forests  of  the 
north  of  England,  and  was  freely  used  as  an  article  of  food 
by  the  cave-dwellers.  Remains  of  the  Bear,  Wolf,  Lynx, 
Black  Grouse,  Red  Grouse,  Woodcock,  Curlew,  Long-eared 
Owl,  and  Grey-lag  Goose  were  found  in  proximity.”  This 
discovery  shews  that  a  large  portion  of  the  north  of  England 
was  formerly  covered  by  coniferous  woods.  Mr.  Harting 
states  that  bones  of  the  Capercaillie  have  been  found  amongst 
Roman  remains  at  Settle ;  and  that  he  has  met  with  old 
grants  ( circa  1348-1861)  of  land  in  the  county  of  Durham, 
held  by  the  tenure  inter  alia  of  paying  “  one  wode-heune 
yerely  ”  to  the  Bishop  of  Durham  for  the  time  being.* 
There  seems  to  he  no  other  evidence  of  the  existence  of  the 
Capercaillie  in  England,  or  in  Wales,  within  historic  times, 
beyond  the  statement  by  several  authorities  that  it  was 
known  to  the  Britons  by  the  name  of  Ceiliog  Coed. 

In  the  wooded  parts  of  Scandinavia  it  is  abundant,  reaching 
as  far  as  70°  N.  lat.,  but  towards  the  limits  of  the  pine 
forests  a  diminution  is  observable  both  in  numbers  and  in 
size.  It  is  also  very  numerous  in  the  forests  of  Russia, 
as  far  south  as  the  department  of  Saratov  on  the  left 
bank  of  the  Volga,  in  about  52°  N.  lat.  In  Denmark 
its  remains  are  found  in  the  kitchen-middens  of  the  pre¬ 
historic  races  who  inhabited  the  country  when  it  was 
covered  with  the  pine  forests  which  have  long  since  given 
way  to  the  oak  and  the  beech ;  and  under  these  altered  con¬ 
ditions  the  bird  became  extinct.  Throughout  the  forests  of 
Northern  and  Central  Germany,  Switzerland,  Tyrol,  and  on 
the  pine-clad  mountain  frontier  of  North  Italy  it  still  exists  ; 
a  few  still  linger  in  the  Vosges  and  the  Jura;  and  its  remains 
have  been  obtained  in  several  of  the  bone-caves  of  France. 
From  Auvergne  it  has  nearly,  if  not  altogether,  disappeared; 
and  on  the  northern  slope  of  the  Pyrenees  it  has  become 
somewhat  rare,  but  it  is  not  uncommon  in  the  wild  forests  on 
the  Spanish  side,  ranging  to  the  extreme  west  of  the  Asturias, 

*  Zoologist,  1879,  p.  468. 


CAPERCAILLIE. 


49 


along  the  Cantabrian  range.  Passing  eastward  again,  it  is 
found  in  the  Carpathians,  and,  probably,  in  portions  of  the 
Balkans  ;  but  Dr.  Kruper  has  failed  to  discover  any  evidence 
of  its  reported  occurrence  in  Akarnania  ;  a  few  stragglers 
are  said  to  be  found  in  Bessarabia  on  the  northern  side  of 
the  Black  Sea,  but  it  does  not  reach  to  the  Caucasus.  In 
Asiatic  Siberia,  as  represented  by  a  very  grey  form,  it 
is  resident  in  suitable  localities  as  far  east  as  Lake  Baikal ; 
but  in  Amoorland  and  Kamtchatka  its  place  is  occupied 
by  a  distinct  species,  Tetrao  urogalloicles  of  Middendorf 
(not  to  be  confounded  with  the  “ Tetrao ,  hybridus ,  Urogal- 
loides  ”  *  or  T.  urogallidesf  of  Nilsson,  which  is  a  hybrid 
between  the  Black-cock  and  the  hen  Capercaillie).  The 
real  Tetrao  urogalloides  of  Middendorf  is  a  more  slender 
bird  :  the  head  and  neck  are  rich  purple-blue,  in  which  re¬ 
spect  alone  it  resembles  the  above-mentioned  hybrid ;  the 
wing-coverts  and  tertials  are  much  margined  with  white, 
and  the  upper  tail-coverts  are  broadly  tipped  with  the  same, 
and  the  tail  is  much  longer  in  proportion  and  more  graduated 
than  in  the  Capercaillie — not  in  the  least  forked,  as  it  is  in 
the  hybrid.  Owing  to  the  same  name  having  been  applied 
to  a  genuine,  but  little-known  species,  and  also  to  a  far  more 
common  and  well-known  hybrid  which  will  be  treated  later 
on,  much  confusion  has  arisen,  and  even  some  recent  autho¬ 
rities  appear  to  be  unaware  that  T.  urogalloides  of  Eastern 
Siberia  is  a  perfectly  distinct  bird  from  T.  urogallus. 

About  the  end  of  the  year  1827,  or  early  in  January,  1828, 
Lord  Fyfe  imported  a  cock  and  hen  from  Sweden,  only  the 
former  of  which  reached  Braemar ;  and  in  1829  another 
cock  and  hen ;  but  although  the  latter  laid  a  couple  of  dozen 
eggs  in  the  ensuing  April,  this  attempt  at  restoration  was 
a  failure.  The  probable  reasons  for  this,  with  a  long  account 
of  the  experiment,  are  given  in  Mr.  Harvie-Brown’s  able 
monograph  above  cited,  and  from  which  many  subsequent 
particulars  are  taken.  In  1887,  however,  Lawrance  Banville, 
head  keeper  to  the  late  Sir  Thomas  Fowell  Buxton,  of  Nor¬ 
folk,  was  sent  over  to  Venersborg,  in  Sweden,  the  residence 

*  Skand.  Fogl.  ii.  p.  72  (1835).  +  Op.  cit.  ii.  p.  73  (1858). 

VOL.  III.  II 


50 


TETRAONIDiE. 


of  that  veteran  sportsman,  the  late  Mr.  Lloyd,  who  had 
volunteered  his  services,  and  hy  June  24tli  “Larry”  was 
hack  at  Taymoutli  Castle  with  thirteen  cock  and  sixteen  hen 
Capercaillies,  which  were  handed  over  to  the  successful  care 
of  Mr.  James  Guthrie,  Lord  Breadalbane’s  head  keeper. 
More  were  brought  over  in  1838,  both  to  Taymoutli  and 
also  to  East  Norfolk,  hut  the  latter  attempt  at  introduction 
was  not  crowned  with  success.  By  the  end  of  1839  there 
appear  to  have  been  fifty-four  adult  Capercaillies  at  Tay- 
moutli ;  in  1841  favourable  reports  were  received  of  the 
hatching  of  eggs  under  grey-hens ;  and  hy  1863  Guthrie 
estimated  the  birds  on  the  estate  at  2,000. 

From  Taymoutli,  the  centre  of  restoration,  and  all  along 
the  Tay  valley,  as  far  as  Dunkeld,  Capercaillies  spread,  and 
although  Perthshire  still  remains  the  head-quarters,  Forfar¬ 
shire  ranks  not  far  behind.  In  Fifesliire,  where  the  woods 
are  of  smaller  extent,  the  species  is  more  local,  and  in 
Kinross-shire,  where  there  are  no  extensive  pine-woods,  it  is 
comparatively  rare.  It  is  merely  a  straggler  to  Clackmannan¬ 
shire,  hut  through  Stirlingshire  it  is  advancing,  and  will 
probably  extend  in  time  to  the  southern  counties  of  Scot¬ 
land  by  that  route.  It  is  needless  to  enumerate  many 
other  localities  in  which  Capercaillies  occur,  either,  as  in 
Arran,  owing  to  separate  attempts  to  emulate  the  success  of 
the  first  experiment,  or  as  stragglers.  They  are  much  given 
to  migration,  especially  from  forests  of  an  older  to  those  of  a 
younger  growth,  which  are  more  suitable  to  their  require¬ 
ments  of  food  and  shelter  combined.  Spruce,  Scotch  fir  and 
larch  forests  are  their  favourite  haunts,  hut  beyond  these 
limits  they  are  pressed  by  the  increase  of  numbers  ;  and  they 
are  now  often  found  in  coverts  of  hircli  and  oak,  and  in  autumn 
on  the  heather-covered  hillsides.  Naturally  they  have  followed 
the  course  of  the  valleys,  choosing  hy  preference  a  southern 
exposure  :  the  hens  preceding  the  males  hy  one  or  two  years. 

Mention  has  already  been  made  of  the  attempt  to  intro¬ 
duce  the  Capercaillie  into  Norfolk ;  and  similar  ill-fortune 
has  attended  several  other  essays.  The  Hon.  Gerald  Las- 
celles  is  endeavouring  to  introduce  the  species  into  the  New 


CAPERCAILLIE. 


51 


Forest.  In  Ireland,  Lord  Bantry  failed  to  stock  tlie  woods 
of  the  neighbourhood  of  Glengariff,  and  Colonel  E.  H. 
Cooper,  of  Markree  Castle,  co.  Sligo,  has  informed  the 
Editor  that  his  birds  have  all  perished. 

The  following  description  of  the  habits  of  the  Capercaillie 
is  taken  from  Mr.  Lloyd’s  ‘  Field  Sports  of  the  North  of 
Europe,’  written  during  his  long  residence  in  Sweden  : — 

“  The  Capercali  is  to  be  found  in  most  parts  of  the  Scan¬ 
dinavian  peninsula ;  indeed  as  far  to  the  north  as  the  pine- 
tree  flourishes,  which  is  very  near  to  the  North  Cape  itself. 
These  birds  are,  however,  very  scarce  in  the  more  southern 
of  the  Swedish  provinces.  The  favourite  haunts  of  the 
Capercali  are  extensive  fir  woods.  In  coppices,  or  small 
cover,  he  is  seldom  or  never  to  be  found.  Professor  Nilsson 
observes  that  those  which  breed  in  the  larger  forests  remain 
there  all  the  year  round ;  but  those  which,  on  the  contrary, 
breed  on  the  sides  of  elevated  mountains,  or  in  a  more  open 
part  of  the  country,  in  the  event  of  deep  snow,  usually  fall 
down  to  the  lower  ground. 

“  The  principal  food  of  the  Capercali,  when  in  a  state  of 
nature,  consists  of  the  leaves  and  tender  shoots  of  the 
Scotch  fir,  Pinus  sylvestris.  He  very  rarely  feeds  upon 
those  of  the  spruce,  Pinus  abies.  He  also  eats  juniper 
berries,  cranberries,  blueberries,  and  other  berries  common 
to  the  northern  forests  ;  and  occasionally  also,  in  the  winter 
time,  the  buds  of  the  birch,  &c.  The  young  Capercali  feed 
principally  at  first  on  ants,  worms,  insects,  &c. 

“  In  the  spring  of  the  year,  and  often  when  the  ground  is 
still  deeply  covered  with  snow,  the  cock  stations  himself  on 
a  pine,  and  commences  his  love-song,  or  play,  as  it  is  termed 
in  Sweden,  to  attract  the  hens  about  him.  This  is  usually 
from  the  first  dawn  of  day  to  sunrise,  or  from  a  little  after 
sunset  until  it  is  quite  dark.  The  time,  however,  more  or 
less,  depends  upon  the  mildness  of  the  weather,  and  the 
advanced  state  of  the  season.  During  his  play,  the  neck  of 
the  Capercali  is  stretched  out,  his  tail  is  raised  and  spread 
like  a  fan,  his  wings  droop,  his  feathers  are  ruffled  up,  and, 
in  short,  he  much  resembles  in  appearance  an  angry  Turkey- 


52 


TETRAONIDiE. 


cock.  He  begins  liis  play  with  a  call  something  resembling 
the  word  feller,  feller,  feller ;  these  sounds  he  repeats  at 
first  at  some  little  intervals ;  but  as  he  proceeds  they 
increase  in  rapidity,  until  at  last,  and  after  perhaps  the 
lapse  of  a  minute  or  so,  he  makes  a  sort  of  gulp  in  his 
throat,  and  finishes  by  drawing  in  his  breath.  During  the 
continuance  of  this  latter  process,  which  only  lasts  a  few 
seconds,  the  head  of  the  Capercali  is  thrown  up,  his  eyes 
are  partially  closed,  and  his  whole  appearance  would  denote 
that  he  is  worked  up  into  an  agony  of  passion. 

“  On  hearing  the  call  of  the  cock,  the  hens,  whose  cry  in 
some  degree  resembles  the  croak  of  the  Baven,  or  rather, 
perhaps,  the  sound  gock,  gock,  gock,  assemble  from  all  parts 
of  the  surrounding  forest.  The  male  bird  now  descends 
from  the  eminence  on  which  he  was  perched  to  the  ground, 
where  he  and  his  female  friends  join  company. 

“  The  Capercali  does  not  play  indiscriminately  over  the 
forest,  but  he  has  his  certain  stations,  which  may  be  called 
his  playing-grounds.  These,  however,  are  often  of  some 
little  extent.  Here,  unless  very  much  persecuted,  the  call 
of  these  birds  may  be  heard  in  the  spring  for  years  together. 
The  Capercali  does  not  during  his  play  confine  himself  to 
any  particular  tree,  and  is  seldom  to  be  met  with  exactly  on 
the  same  spot  for  two  days  in  succession.  On  these  playing- 
grounds  several  Capercali  may  occasionally  be  heard  playing 
at  the  same  time.  Old  male  birds  will  not  permit  the 
young  ones,  or  those  of  the  preceding  season,  to  play. 
Should  the  old  birds,  however,  be  killed,  the  young  ones,  in 
the  course  of  a  day  or  two,  usually  open  their  pipes.  Com¬ 
bats,  as  may  be  supposed,  not  unfrequently  take  place  on 
these  occasions ;  though  I  do  not  recollect  having  heard 
of  more  than  two  of  these  birds  being  engaged  at  the  same 
time. 

“  Excepting  there  be  a  deep  snow,  the  Capercali  is  much 
upon  the  ground  in  the  daytime ;  very  commonly,  however, 
he  sits  on  the  pines,  sometimes  on  the  very  uppermost 
branches.  During  the  night  he  generally  roosts  in  the 
trees ;  but  if  the  weather  be  very  cold,  he  not  unfrequently 


CAPERCAILLIE. 


53 


buries  himself  in  the  snow.  Considering  the  large  size  of 
the  bird,  his  flight  is  not  particularly  heavy  or  noisy.”  Mr. 
Lloyd  has  not  only  seen  this  bird  at  a  very  considerable 
height  in  the  air,  hut  has  known  him  take  a  flight  of  several 
miles  at  a  time.  “  The  Capercali  lives  to  a  considerable 
age;  at  least  so  I  infer,”  says  Mr.  Lloyd,  “from  the  cocks 
not  attaining  to  their  full  growth  until  their  third  year  or 
upward.  The  old  ones  may  he  easily  known  from  their 
greater  bulk,  their  eagle-like  bill,  and  the  more  beautiful 
glossiness  of  their  plumage.  The  size  of  these  birds 
appears  to  depend,  in  a  great  degree,  on  the  latitude  where 
they  are  found.  In  Lapland,  for  instance,  the  cocks  seldom 
exceed  nine  or  ten  pounds.  In  Wermeland,  and  adjacent 
parts,  again,  I  have  never  heard  of  their  being  killed  of  more 
than  thirteen  pounds  ;  whilst  in  the  more  southern  provinces 
of  Sweden, — and  I  have  three  several  authorities  for  my 
statement, — they  have  not  unfrequently  been  met  with 
weighing  seventeen  pounds  and  upwards.  The  hen  Caper¬ 
cali  usually  weighs  from  five  to  six  pounds.* 

“The  Capercali  is  often  domesticated  in  Sweden;  in¬ 
deed,  both  at  Uddeholm  and  Bisater,  as  well  as  other 
places,  I  have  known  them  to  be  kept  for  a  long  period  in 
aviaries  built  for  the  purpose.  These  birds  were  so  per¬ 
fectly  tame  as  to  feed  out  of  the  hand.  Their  food  prin¬ 
cipally  consisted  of  oats,  and  of  the  leaves  of  the  Scotch  fir, 
Pinus  sylvestris,  large  branches  of  which  were  usually  intro¬ 
duced  into  their  cages  once  or  more  in  the  course  of  the 
week.  They  were  also  supplied  with  abundance  of  native 
berries  when  procurable.  They  were  amply  provided  at  all 
times  with  water  and  sand ;  the  latter  was  of  a  coarse 
quality,  and  hotli  were  changed  pretty  frequently.” 

During  the  breeding-season  the  Capercaillie  cock,  like  the 
males  of  most  of  the  polygamous  birds,  are  very  fierce,  and 
severe  combats  take  place  between  rivals.  Instances  are 
also  on  record  in  which  old  males  have  not  hesitated  to 
attack  the  passers-by  who  infringed  upon  their  domain,  peck- 

*  Mr.  Harvie-Brown  has  informed  the  Editor  that  in  Scotland  tire  weight  of 
males  rarely  reaches  10  lbs.,  and  that  of  females  does  not  seem  to  exceed  4^  lbs. 


54 


TETRAONIDiE. 


ing  at  tlieir  legs  and  feet,  and  striking  with  the  wings.  Mr. 
Adlerberg  mentions  such  an  occurrence.  During  a  number 
of  years,  an  old  Capercali  cock  had  been  in  the  habit  of 
frequenting  the  estate  of  Yillinge  at  Worm  do,  which,  as 
often  as  he  heard  the  voice  of  people  in  the  adjoining  wood, 
had  the  boldness  to  station  himself  on  the  ground,  and, 
during  a  continual  flapping  of  his  wings,  pecked  at  the 
legs  and  feet  of  those  that  disturbed  his  domain.  It  is  also 
stated  that  the  Capercaillie  occasionally  has  a  spel  of  short 
duration  about  Michaelmas. 

The  nest  is  a  mere  hole  scraped  in  the  ground,  under 
a  tree  or  bush,  and  the  eggs  are  from  six  to  twelve  in 
number :  as  many  as  fifteen  being  on  record  ;  they  are  of  a 
pale  reddish-yellow  colour,  mottled  with  brown  spots  and 
blotches,  and  measure  about  2*2  in  length  by  1*5  in  breadth. 
Incubation  lasts  about  a  month,  and  the  young  are  usually 
hatched  early  in  June  :  remaining  with  the  mother  until  the 
approach  of  winter. 

The  adult  male  has  the  beak  of  a  whitish  horn  colour  ; 
the  irides  hazel ;  over  the  eye  a  semilunar  patch  of  naked 
skin  which  is  bright  scarlet ;  plumage  of  the  head,  the 
neck  in  front  and  behind,  the  back,  rump,  and  upper  tail- 
coverts,  minutely  freckled  with  slate-grey  on  a  brownish- 
black  ground ;  the  feathers  of  the  crown  of  the  head  and 
on  the  throat  rather  elongated ;  wing-coverts  and  wings 
freckled  with  light  brown  on  a  darker  brown  ground  :  the 
depth  of  the  tint  depending  on  the  greater  age  of  the  bird  ; 
quill-feathers  russet ;  tail-feathers  nearly  black,  with  a  few 
greyish-white  spots  on  the  outer  webs ;  some  of  the  longer 
and  lateral  upper  tail-coverts  tipped  with  white ;  the  chest 
of  a  fine  shining  dark  green ;  breast  black,  with  a  few 
white  spots ;  flanks  and  under  tail-coverts  greyish-black, 
spotted  with  white ;  under  wing-coverts  white,  a  small 
patch  appearing  on  the  outside  near  the  shoulder ;  thighs 
grey  ;  legs  covered  with  hair-like  brown  feathers  which  over¬ 
hang  the  toes  in  winter,  but  are  shorter  in  summer ;  toes 
and  claws  naked  and  black. 

The  dimensions  of  the  males  are  subject  to  considerable 


CAPERCAILLIE. 


55 


variation,  but  the  extreme  length  may  be  set  down  at  three 
feet  four  inches.  From  the  carpal  joint  to  the  end  of  the 
wing,  sixteen  inches  :  the  first  feather  two  inches  shorter 
than  the  second,  and  the  second  one  inch  shorter  than  the 
third  ;  the  third  and  fourth  equal  in  length,  and  longer  than 
the  others. 

The  adult  female  has  the  beak  brown  ;  the  irides  hazel ; 
the  feathers  of  the  head,  neck,  back,  wings,  upper  tail- 
coverts,  and  tail,  dark  brown,  barred  and  freckled  with 
yellow-brown  and  tipped  with  white  ;  those  of  the  neck  in 
front  and  the  breast  are  of  a  fine  yellowish- chestnut  mar¬ 
gined  with  black,  and  with  an  extreme  edge  of  greyish- 
white  ;  the  feathers  of  the  flanks,  vent,  and  under  tail- 
coverts  with  broader  edges  of  white  ;  legs  greyish-brown ; 
toes  and  claws  pale  brown. 

The  wdiole  length  of  the  female  described  was  twenty- six 
inches.  From  the  carpal  joint  to  the  end  of  the  wing, 
thirteen  inches. 

The  young  birds  of  both  sexes  in  their  first  plumage 
resemble  the  old  female,  the  young  males  afterwards  ob¬ 
taining  by  slow  degrees  the  colours  which  distinguish  that 
sex.  Full  plumage  is  not  attained  until  the  third  year. 

Varieties  of  both  sexes  are  not  unfrequent,  and  Nilsson 
mentions  several.  They  are  usually  of  a  pale,  faded  grey, 
with  a  few  darker  markings ;  and  Mr.  Lloyd  (Game  Birds 
and  Wildfowl  of  Sweden  and  Norway)  figures  a  nearly- white 
female,  which,  when  killed,  had  a  brood  of  young  ones  with 
her ;  one  of  them  being  nearly  full  grown,  and  of  the  usual 
colour  of  the  Capercaillie  hen.  A  male  variety  in  the 
Thunberg  collection,  at  Upsala,  has  received  the  name  of 
Tetrao  eremita.  Sterile  females,  which  have  assumed  to  a 
greater  or  less  extent  the  plumage  of  the  male,  are  often 
met  with  :  indeed  Mr.  Collett,  of  Christiania,  says  that  he 
finds  them  every  winter,  and  one,  obtained  on  the  18th 
October,  1872,  exhibited  so  striking  a  resemblance  to  an  old 
and  fully-coloured  male  as  to  be  with  difficulty  distinguished 
from  one.  The  distinguishing  characteristics  were  the 
beard-like  feathers  on  the  throat  speckled  with  white,  the 


56 


TETRAONIDiE. 


dark  bill,  and  the  absence  of  the  large  white  spot  of  the  male 
bird  on  the  tail,  which  was  finely  spotted  with  greyish-red.* 
That  this  sterility  is  not  always  a  consequence  of  old  age, 
is  proved  by  the  fact  that  many  of  these  females  are  young 
birds ;  hut  in  all  those  dissected  by  Nilsson  the  ovarium  was 
more  or  less  diseased  ;  and  the  older  the  female,  the  closer 
was  the  resemblance  she  bore  to  the  male.  A  figure  of  a 
barren  female  of  this  description  is  given  below  from  Nilsson. 


Like  many  gallinaceous  birds,  the  Capercaillie  in  confine¬ 
ment  will  breed  with  other  species,  and  the  first  result  of 
the  earliest  importation  to  Braemar  was  the  production  of  a 
hybrid  between  the  sole  surviving  male  and  a  common  barn¬ 
door  Hen.  In  Mr.  Lloyd’s  ‘  Game  Birds,’  already  cited, 
*  Ornithology  of  Northern  Norway,  p.  48. 


CAPERCAILLIE. 


57 


is  an  amusing  account  of  a  male  Capercaillie,  which,  having 
paired  successfully  with  a  Turkey-lien,  deserted,  her  for  a 
white  Goose,  hut  was  so  scared  by  his  reception  that  he  never 
made  any  further  advances  to  the  Turkey  or  to  any  other 
hen  bird.  Allusion  has  already  been  made  to  the  wild 
hybrid  between  the  Capercaillie  and  the  Black  Grouse : 
a  cross  which  is  not  uncommon  in  all  countries  inhabited 
by  the  two  species,  and  is  known  in  Scandinavia  as  the 
Rakkelhane  or  j Rakkelfogel.  This  hybrid  is  generally,  and 
some  say  invariably,  produced  between  the  female  Caper¬ 
caillie  and  the  Black-cock,  and  Mr.  Harvie-Brown  con¬ 
siders  that  it  probably  results  from  the  fact  that  the  females 
of  the  Capercaillie  start  on  their  wanderings  before  the 
males,  and,  in  the  absence  of  their  natural  partners,  mate 
with  the  handsome  and  amorous  Black-cocks  whose  ter¬ 
ritory  they  have  invaded.  The  male  Capercaillies  soon 
follow  the  females,  so  this  hybridism  rarely  attains  to  serious 
proportions.  As  regards  the  paternity,  however,  the  late 
M.  Falk,  whose  arguments  are  given  at  considerable  length 
in  Mr.  Lloyd’s  ‘  Game  Birds,’  held  that  many  of  these 
hybrids  were  the  offspring  of  the  females  of  the  Black 
Grouse,  and  the  younger  male  Capercaillies  which  had  been 
debarred  by  the  older  and  stronger  birds  from  uniting  with 
females  of  their  own  species.  Under  the  former  assump¬ 
tion,  which  has  been  maintained  by  Nilsson,  Collett,  and 
others,  the  name  of  Tetrao  urogallo-tetrix  has  been  given 
as  expressive  of  the  origin  of  this  hybrid,  and  as  a  sub¬ 
stitute  for  the  inapplicable  name  T.  urogalloides.  From 
the  erroneous  belief  that  it  was  a  distinct  species,  it  had 
already  been  called  T.  medius,  T.  intermedins,  &c< 

The  male  of  this  hvbrid  is  a  handsome  black-billed  bird, 
sometimes  nearly  as  large  as  a  young  Capercaillie  cock,  and 
from  six  to  seven  pounds  in  weight ;  the  shining  feathers  on 
the  neck  are  of  a  rich  Orleans-plum  colour,  and  the  outer 
feathers  of  the  tail  are  longer  than  the  others,  giving  it  a 
forked  appearance,  although  never  to  anything  like  the  same 
extent  as  in  the  Black-cock.  The  figure  of  this  bird  on  the 
next  page  is  taken  from  a  coloured  illustration  to  Nilsson’s 

VOL.  III.  i 


58 


TETllAONIDiE. 


‘  Skandinavisk  Fauna.’  Females  are  either  rarer,  or,  from 
their  similarity  to  the  hens  of  both  species,  they  are  over¬ 
looked  ;  they  may,  however,  be  recognized  by  the  shape  of 
the  tail,  which  is  perfectly  square  at  the  end,  whereas  in 
the  Capercaillie  hen  it  is  rounded,  and  in  the  Grey-hen 
it  is  slightly  forked.  The  Rakkelfogel  are  not  believed  to 
breed  amongst  themselves,  says  Mr.  Lloyd,  but  the  males 
resort  to  the  Lek  of  the  Black- game  and  disperse  the  cocks  ; 
and  at  the  Lek  of  the  Capercaillie,  they  flit  from  tree  to  tree 
and  disturb  the  Spel,  for  which  reasons  they  are  always  shot 
as  speedily  as  possible  by  Scandinavian  sportsmen.  In 
Scotland  they  have  already  made  their  appearance,  and  it  is 
probable  that  they  existed  there  in  former  times  contempo¬ 
raneously  with  the  Capercaillie. 

Full  descriptions  and  illustrations  of  every  way  of  shoot¬ 
ing  and  snaring  the  Capercaillie  will  be  found  in  Mr.  Lloyd’s 
‘  Game  Birds ;  ’  but  the  following  description  of  a  trap 


CAPERCAILLIE. 


59 


used  by  the  peasants  in  Norway  is  derived  from  Mr.  Grant, 
who  also  contributed  the  drawing  from  which  the  vignette  at 
the  end  is  taken  : — 

Where  the  trees  grow  thickly  on  either  side  of  a  foot-path, 
two  long  pieces  of  wood  are  placed  across  it ;  one  end  of 
these  rests  on  the  ground,  the  other  being  raised  a  foot  and 
a  half,  or  somewhat  more,  from  the  surface,  and  supported 
by  a  piece  communicating  with  a  triangular  twig,  placed 
in  the  centre  of  the  path,  and  so  contrived  that  on  being 
slightly  touched  the  whole  fabric  falls :  a  few  stones  are 
usually  placed  upon  the  long  pieces  of  wood  to  increase  the 
rapidity  of  the  drop,  by  the  additional  weight.  Birds 
running  along  the  foot-path  attempt  to  pass  beneath  the 
barrier,  strike  the  twig,  and  are  killed  by  the  fall  of  the 
trap. 


(30 


TETRAONID/E 


GA  L  LINAS. 


TETRA  ON  ID  A. 


Tetrao  tetrix,  Linnaeus.* 
THE  BLACK  GROUSE. 
Tetrao  tetrix. 


Although  at  the  present  day  the  word  Grouse,  when  used 
alone,  is  applied  in  common  parlance  to  the  Red  Grouse 
( Lag  opus  scoticus),  yet  it  would  appear  from  Professor 

*  Syst.  Nat.  Ed.  12,  i.  p.  274  (1766). 


BLACK  GROUSE. 


61 


Newton’s  researches  that  the  earliest  record  of  its  employ¬ 
ment  is  with  reference  to  the  present  species.  “  It  first 
seems  to  occur  {fide  0.  Salusbury  Brereton,  Archceologia,  iii. 
p.  157)  as  ‘  grows  ’  in  an  ordinance  for  the  regulation  of 
the  royal  household  dated  ‘  apud  Eltliam,  mens.  Jan.  22, 
Hen.  VIII.,’  i.e.,  1581,  and,  considering  the  locality,  must 
refer  to  Black  game.  It  is  found  in  an  Act  of  Parliament 
i.  Jac.  I.,  cap.  27,  §  2,  i.e.  1603,  and  as  reprinted  in  the 
Statutes  at  Large,  stands  as  now  commonly  spelt,  but  by 
many  writers  or  printers  the  final  e  is  now  omitted.  In 
1611  Cotgrave  had  ‘  Poule  griesclie.  A  Moore-henne  ;  the 
lienne  of  the  Grice  [in  ed.  1673  *  Griece  ’]  or  Mooregame 
( Dictionarie  of  the  French  and  English  Tongues,  sub  voce 
Poule).  The  most  likely  derivation  seems  to  be  from  the  old 
French  word  Griesclie,  Greoche,  or  Griais  (meaning  speckled, 
and  cognate  with  Griseus,  grisly  or  grey),  which  was  applied 
to  some  kind  of  Partridge.”*  Members  of  this  species  are 
now  generally  known  collectively  as  Black  game,  and  in 
Devon  and  Somerset  as  Heath-poults ;  the  sexes  being  dis¬ 
tinguished  as  the  Black-cock  and  the  Grey-hen. 

The  increase  of  population,  the  enclosure  of  wastes,  and 
the  drainage  of  boggy  lands,  have  combined  to  curtail  the 
area  over  which  the  Black  Grouse  formerly  roamed  in  the 
south  of  England,  and  neither  Eltliam — once  a  favourite 
resort  of  Plantagenet  and  Tudor  sovereigns — nor  any  other 
part  of  Kent  can  now  shew’  any  indigenous  birds.  In 
Surrey — in  consequence,  it  is  said,  of  reintroduction  early 
in  the  present  century — Black  Grouse  are  found  about  Leith 
Hill,  and  in  the  neighbourhood  of  Guildford  ;  and  also  in 
Wolmer  Forest,  where  the  species  had  become  extinct  in 
the  time  of  Gilbert  White ;  but  having  been  reintroduced 
after  the  planting  of  the  woods  by  Sir  Charles  Taylor,  then 
ranger  of  the  forest,  they  throve  exceedingly  well.  The 
parents  of  the  present  race  came  from  Cumberland,  and  in 
1872  an  old  man  who  brought  the  birds  to  Wolmer  was 
still  living  at  Lipliook.f  Descendants  of  these  birds  have 

*  Encycl.  Brit.  Ed.  9,  xi.  p.  221,  note. 

t  H.  W.  Feilden,  ‘The  Field,’  March  30th,  1872  (p.  286). 


62 


TETRAONID/E. 


strayed  to  the  heathy  portions  of  the  neighbouring  counties 
of  Berkshire  and  Hampshire  on  the  one  side,  and  to  the 
district  of  the  St.  Leonard’s  and  Tilgate  Forests  in  Sussex 
on  the  other.  In  the  south-west  of  Hampshire,  however, 
in  the  New  Forest,  they  have  never  become  extinct :  they  are 
found,  although  sparingly,  in  Wiltshire,  and  in  suitable 
localities  in  Dorsetshire  ;  becoming  tolerably  abundant  again 
on  the  Quantocks  and  the  Brendons  in  Somersetshire,  and 
numerous  where  that  county  joins  Devon  on  the  wilds  of 
Exmoor.  They  are  also  met  with  in  some  parts  of  South 
Devon,  and,  although  by  no  means  common,  they  breed  on 
the  eastern  moors  of  Cornwall.  In  Glamorganshire  they 
became  extinct  prior  to  1820,  but  they  are  found  in  Brecon, 
Radnorshire  and  some  other  Welsh  counties  ;  in  Shropshire ; 
and  in  Staffordshire,  especially  about  Cannock  Chase,  they 
were  recently  abundant.  Rare,  if  not  extinct,  in  Charnwood 
Forest  in  Leicestershire,  they  still  inhabit  Sherwood  Forest 
in  Nottinghamshire,  north  of  which  they  are  found, — 
although  locally,  and  in  some  cases  owing  to  introduction, 
— in  every  county  in  England.  An  isolated  and  decreasing 
colony  exists  in  Norfolk  on  the  wild  heathy  tracts  about 
Bawsey,  Dersingham,  Sandringham,  and  Snettisliam  ;  and  as 
Sir  Thomas  Browne  (temp.  Charles  II.)  says,  “  I  have  heard 
some  have  been  seen  about  Lynn,”  it  appears  probable  that 
the  species  is  indigenous  there.  In  Lincolnshire,  according 
to  Mr.  Cordeaux,  they  were  introduced  some  years  ago  on 
the  wild  district  near  Frodlingham  on  Trentside. 

In  Scotland,  although  less  generally  distributed  than  in 
former  years,  Black  Grouse  are  found,  more  or  less  abun¬ 
dantly,  on  all  the  mountainous  and  hilly  districts  and  on 
many  isolated  patches  of  upland  heather  and  sheep-land. 
They  are  plentiful  in  many  of  the  Inner  Hebrides,  espe¬ 
cially  on  Mull ;  whilst  in  the  northern  portion  of  Islay, 
although  it  is  bare  of  cover,  they  are,  according  to  Mr. 
Elwes,  rapidly  increasing.*  They  have  not  as  yet  been 
successfully  introduced  in  the  Orkneys  or  the  Shetland 
Islands.  Thompson  considers  that  there  is  no  satisfactory 
*  R.  Gray,  ‘Birds  of  the  West  of  Scotland,’  p.  231. 


BLACK  GROUSE. 


63 


evidence  of  tlie  species  having  ever  been  indigenous  in 
Ireland,  and  attempts  at  introduction  made  in  Antrim, 
and  recently  by  Colonel  Cooper,  of  Markree  Castle,  Sligo, 
have  resulted  in  failure. 

In  Norway  and  Sweden  the  Black  Grouse  is  widely  dis¬ 
tributed  wherever  there  are  woods  and  moorlands  up  to  the 
limit  of  the  birch  forests  in  about  69°  N.  lat.,  and  it  even 
ascends  the  fells  beyond  the  birch  belt.  Rare  on  the  heaths 
of  Denmark,  and  scarcely  known  in  Holland  and  Belgium, 
except  towards  their  southern  and  eastern  frontiers,  it  be¬ 
comes  tolerably  numerous  iu  suitable  districts  of  Germany, 
and  is  more  or  less  abundant  on  both  sides  of  the  mountain 
ranges  of  Central  Europe  from  the  Alps  to  the  Carpathians. 
A  resident  in  the  wooded  portions  of  Lombardy  and  Liguria, 
it  even  occurs  as  a.  straggler  in  the  Apennines  down  to  the 
Modenese.  In  France  it  appears  to  be  confined  to  the 
mountains  on  the  eastern  frontier,  but  Crespon  seems 
inclined  to  believe  in  its  occurrence  in  the  Cevennes,  which 
would  tend  to  strengthen  the  hitherto  unsupported  state¬ 
ment  made  by  Dr.  Companyo  that  it  is  found  in  the  Eastern 
Pyrenees  :  a  district  which  differs  in  many  important  natural 
features  from  the  Central  and  Western  portions  of  that 
chain,  from  which  it  is  not  recorded.  In  Finland,  the 
greater  part  of  Russia,  and  even  in  Poland,  it  is  generally 
distributed,  extending  as  far  as  Sarepta  on  the  Volga ;  but 
in  the  Caucasus  it  is  unknown,  its  place  being  taken  by  a 
very  distinct  although  closely  allied  species,  named,  after  its 
discoverer,  Tetrao  mlokosiewiczi .  The  male  of  the  latter  is  a 
smaller  and  more  slender  bird  than  the  Black-cock,  and  its 
entire  plumage  is  of  a  deep  glossy  black,  as  may  be  seen  on 
reference  to  Mr.  Dresser’s  fine  plate  in  the  ‘  Birds  of  Europe,’ 
vol.  vii.  Beyond  the  Ural  the  Black  Grouse  stretches  across 
Siberia  with  the  limit  of  the  forest  growth  to  Mantchuria 
and  Northern  China,  but  precise  details  as  to  its  southern 
distribution  are  as  yet  wanting.  Siberian  examples  are  more 
feathered  about  the  legs  than  European  ones. 

The  Black-cock  is  polygamous,  and,  like  the  Capercaillie, 
has  his  pairing- grounds,  which  are  visited  somewhat  earlier 


64 


TETRAONIDiE. 


in  the  season.  The  males  assemble  even  before  the  first 
dawn  of  day,  and  utter  a  succession  of  notes  which  in  calm 
weather  can  he  heard  at  the  distance  of  a  mile  or  more.  At 
this  time  it  is  popularly  supposed  in  Scandinavia  that  they 
are  deaf ;  hut  this  is  a  mistake,  although  when  combating, 
the  cocks  are  more  easily  approached  than  at  other  times. 
As  the  old  cocks  alight,  they  begin  to  make  love  to  the 
hens,  which  keep  somewhat  in  the  background  amongst  the 
hushes  ;  they  strut  about  with  outstretched  neck,  trailing 
wings,  and  expanded  tail,  occasionally  vaulting  high  in  the 
air,  and  describing  an  irregular  somersault,  coming  down 
with  the  head  turned  in  the  opposite  direction.  Desperate 
combats  frequently  ensue,  and  at  times  even  a  general 
melee.  When  the  lek  is  over  for  the  time,  the  birds  separate  : 
each  cock  accompanied  by  the  hens  which  he  has  secured  ; 
and  at  the  conclusion  of  the  pairing-season  the  latter  retire 
to  their  breeding-grounds.  The  females  make  a  slight  nest 
on  the  ground,  frequently  under  shelter  of  some  low  thick 
bush,  and  deposit  from  six  to  ten  eggs  of  a  yellowish- 
white,  spotted  and  speckled  with  orange-brown  ;  measuring 
about  2  by  1*45  in.  There  is  also  a  short  spel  in  autumn, 
when  the  males  again  separate  from  the  females  and  flock 
together. 

Although  to  a  certain  extent  arboreal  in  their  habits,  cover 
is  by  no  means  essential  to  Black  Grouse  during  the  whole 
of  the  year ;  but  they  must  have  water,  and  their  favourite 
haunts,  especially  when  young,  are  moist  forest  lands  and 
swampy,  rushy  moors,  where  they  feed  freely  upon  the  juicy 
brown  seeds  of  a  coarse  thick  rush.  To  the  drainage  and 
reclaiming  of  much  of  this  kind  of  land,  Mr.  Harvie-Brown 
partially  attributes  the  undoubted  recent  decrease  in  the 
number  of  Black  Grouse  in  Scotland.*  Ants’  eggs  and 
other  insect  food  are  favourites  with  very  young  birds.  In 
spring,  says  Macgillivray,  their  food  consists  principally  of 
twigs  and  catkins  of  alder,  birch  and  willow  ;  in  summer, 
of  tops  of  heather,  Vaccinium  myrtillus,  and  Empetrum 
nigrum;  in  autumn,  of  heath,  crowberries,  cranberries, 

*  ‘The  Capercaillie  in  Scotland,’  Chap.  xii. 


BLACK  GROUSE. 


05 

blaeberries,  and  whortleberries ;  and  in  winter,  of  tops  and 
buds  of  these  plants,  and  of  fir  :  they  also  make  frequent 
*  excursions  into  the  stubble  fields  in  autumn,  being  espe¬ 
cially  partial  to  barley.  Birds  which  had  lived  in  woods 
during  winter  have  been  found  to  have  their  stomachs 
stuffed  with  the  foliage  of  Poly  podium  vulgar  e,  which  was 
also  taken  by  Macgillivray  from  the  crop  of  a  Pheasant. 
In  severe  weather  in  Scandinavia  they  are  well  known  to 
burrow  into  the  snow. 

Mr.  Lloyd  says  that  the  Black  Grouse  is  easily  domesti¬ 
cated,  and  if  reared  from  a  chick  or  taken  young  becomes 
even  tamer  than  the  Capercaillie ;  requiring  similar  treat¬ 
ment.  As  an  illustration  of  the  familiarity  of  the  bird  in 
the  wild  state,  the  following  is  taken  from  the  ‘  Zoologist,’ 
p.  4440 : — “As  Mr.  S.  W.  Hurrelwas  crossing  the  hill  between 
Carr-bridge  and  the  Spey,  on  a  fishing  excursion,  with  some 
of  his  dogs  following,  one  of  them  pointed,  when  a  Grey¬ 
hen  offered  to  do  battle  in  defence  of  her  brood,  and  flap¬ 
ping  her  wings  like  fanners,  she  with  heroic  bravery  actually 
beat  her  canine  antagonist,  and  drove  him  crest-fallen  away. 
Mr.  Bass,  M.P.,  and  his  friends,  who  have  taken  the  shoot¬ 
ings  around  Carr-bridge,  are  in  the  habit  of  giving  presents 
to  the  lierd-hoys  in  the  districts,  in  order  to  engage  them  to 
preserve  the  nests,  and,  if  possible,  guard  them  against 
external  violence.  One  of  the  keepers  lately  accosted  one  of 
these  lierd-boys,  and,  in  answer  to  several  queries  on  the 
subject  of  nests,  was  told  by  the  boy,  that,  in  guarding  the 
game  from  molestation,  he  had  no  difficulty  except  with  one 
nest,  which  was  situated  in  a  place  much  frequented  by  the 
cattle,  and  which,  he  said,  must  have  been  destroyed  unless 
by  some  means  protected.  ‘  But,’  continued  the  boy,  *  I  have 
built  a  little  house  of  stones  and  turf  about  it,  and  that  will 
prevent  the  cattle  getting  at  it.’  ‘  But,’  replied  the  keeper, 
‘  you  will  certainly  scare  away  the  birds.’  ‘  Oh  no,’  rejoined 
the  boy,  ‘  I  have  left  a  little  door  for  the  hen  to  get  in  and 
out  at,  and  she  sits  on  the  eggs  as  usual ;  ’  which  the  keeper, 
on  visiting  the  place,  found  to  be  true.” 

In  the  adult  male,  at  the  time  of  the  lek  or  spel,  the 

VOL.  III.  Iv 


66 


TETRAONIDiE. 


semilunar,  scarlet,  erectile  patches  of  naked  skin  over  each 
eye  become  inflated  until  they  stand  up  firmly  above  the 
crown  of  the  head,  but  shortly  after  death  they  collapse,  and 
in  autumn  they  are  far  less  marked  ;  the  beak  is  black  ; 
the  irides  dark  brown ;  the  feathers  of  the  head,  hack,  wing- 
coverts  and  tail,  black  ;  those  of  the  neck  and  rump  metallic 
blue-black ;  the  primary  quill-featliers  brownish-black,  with 
white  shafts  ;  the  secondaries  and  tertials  black  at  the  end, 
but  white  at  the  base,  forming  a  conspicuous  white  bar 
below  the  ends  of  the  great  wing-coverts,  which,  with  the 
lesser  coverts,  are  black  ;  the  feathers  of  the  spurious  wing 
with  white  spots  at  the  base ;  tail  of  eighteen  black  feathers, 
of  which  three,  four,  and  sometimes  five  of  those  on  each 
outside  are  elongated,  and  curve  outwards ;  the  others  nearly 
equal  in  length,  and  square  at  the  end  ;  the  chin,  breast, 
belly,  and  flanks,  black  ;  under  wing-coverts,  axillary  plume, 
and  under  tail-coverts,  pure  white  ;  vent,  thighs,  and  legs, 
mixed  black  and  white  ;  toes  and  claws  blackisli-brown. 

The  whole  length  is  twenty-two  inches.  From  the  carpal 
joint  to  the  end  of  the  wing,  ten  inches  and  a  half :  the  form 
of  the  wing  rounded  ;  the  first  quill-featlier  about  as  long 
as  the  seventh,  the  second  about  as  long  as  the  sixth,  the 
fourth  rather  longer  than  the  third  or  the  fifth,  and  the 
longest  in  the  wing. 

The  female  of  the  Black  Grouse,  usually  called  the  Grey¬ 
hen,  has  the  beak  dark  brown,  irides  hazel ;  the  general 
colour  of  the  plumage  pale  chestnut-brown  barred  and 
freckled  with  black  :  the  dark  bars  and  spots  larger,  and 
most  conspicuous  on  the  breast,  back,  \yngs,  and  upper 
tail- coverts  ;  the  feathers  of  the  breast  edged  with  greyish- 
white,  particularly  in  old  birds  and  in  those  from  northern 
latitudes  ;  under  tail-coverts  nearly  white  ;  feathers  on  the 
legs  pale  mottled  brown;  toes  and  claws  brown. 

The  whole  length  is  seventeen  to  eighteen  inches ;  from 
the  carpal  joint  to  the  end  of  the  wing,  nine  inches. 

In  the  young  in  down  a  day  or  two  old,  the  bill  is 
yellowish-brown  ;  the  general  colour  is  yellowish-buff,  paler 
below  :  ruddier,  with  dark  mottlings,  above  ;  a  dark  brown 


BLACK  GROUSE. 


67 


spot  on  the  forehead,  and  a  broad  chestnut  patch,  with 
darker  edges,  on  the  crown.  When  partially  fledged,  the 
bill  becomes  darker,  and  the  feathers  on  the  back  and 
wing-coverts  have  white  tips  and  centres. 

The  first  plumage  of  the  young  male  is  similar  to  that 
of  the  female,  but  by  the  beginning  of  October  the  female 
garb  has  been  discarded ;  the  tail  is  black,  although  but 
slightly  forked,  with  a  few  mottlings  on  the  upper  coverts  ; 
dark  feathers,  only  slightly  mottled  with  brown  or  grey, 
cover  both  upper  and  under  parts,  and  the  white  bars  on 
the  wings  are  thoroughly  defined.  The  head  already  is 
glossy  black,  but  the  brown  feathers  still  remaining  about 
the  neck  give  the  bird  a  peculiar  appearance,  which  is,  how¬ 
ever,  soon  lost.  The  mottlings  on  the  wing-coverts  and 
secondaries  disappear  with  increasing  age,  and  by  the  third 
year  full  plumage  is  assumed. 

Examples  of  both  sexes  are  sometimes  found  with  an 
unusual  amount  of  white  about  their  plumage,  and  this  is 
especially  the  case  with  females  from  northern  and  north¬ 
eastern  localities.  Males  from  Siberia  shew  more  white 
than  Western  specimens,  but  beautiful  examples  with  white- 
mottled  breasts  and  wing-coverts  may  also,  though  rarely, 
be  obtained  in  Scotland.  Isabelle  varieties  of  the  female 
are  also  met  with. 

Barren  Grey-hens  sometimes  assume  the  male  plumage, 
and  the  collection  of  Mr.  F.  Bond  contains  some  remark¬ 
ably  fine  examples.  One  of  these  is  nearly  black  below, 
with  a  few  mottlings,  and  rich  bluish-purple  above ;  others 
shew  little  more* than  a  tendency  to  a  uniform  dull  colour, 
with  white  bars  on  the  wing  and  metallic  blue  on  the  rump. 
The  weight  of  an  old  Black-cock,  has  been  known  to  reach 
4}  lbs.  :  a  young  one  weighs  from  2J  to  3  lbs.,  and  a  Grey¬ 
hen  from  2  to  2J  lbs. 

Hybrids  between  the  Black  Grouse  and  the  Capercaillie 
have  been  noticed  when  treating  of  the  former  species.  Inter¬ 
breeding  has  also  taken  place  between  the  Black  and  the  Bed 
Grouse,  and  in  many  parts  of  this  country  both  birds  inhabit 
the  same  ground  ;  but  such  a  union  happens  more  rarely 


68 


TETRAONI  DyE. 


with  species  which,  like  the  Red  Grouse,  pair  in  their 
season,  than  with  those  which,  like  the  Pheasant  and  the 
Capercaillie,  do  not  pair.  Macgillivray  (British  Birds,  i.  162) 
has,  however,  mentioned  three,  describing  in  detail  one 
bird  supposed  to  have  been  thus  produced,  and  which 
was  sent  by  Lord  Mostyn  from  Wales,  for  preservation, 
on  the  8th  of  September,  1855,  when  a  note  was  made 
of  its  appearance.  The  head,  neck,  breast,  and  all  the 
under  surface  of  the  body,  resembled  the  plumage  of  the 
young  Red  Grouse  ;  the  hack,  wings,  upper  tail-coverts,  and 
the  tail-feathers,  were  as  black  as  those  parts  in  the  Black 
Grouse ;  the  tail-feathers  were  elongated  and  forked,  but 
being  a  young  bird  of  the  year,  and  killed  thus  early  in  the 
season,  the  most  lateral  of  the  tail-feathers  had  not  begun 
to  curve  outwards  ;  the  legs  were  feathered  to  the  junction  of 
the  toes,  hut  the  toes  were  naked  and  pectinated,  like  those 
of  the  Black  Grouse.  Another  was  recorded  in  ‘  The  Field  ’ 
of  March  15th,  1868,  and  a  very  handsome  example,  more 
like  the  Black-cock  about  the  upper  parts,  was  obtained  by 
Mr.  H.  E.  Dresser  in  Leadenliall  Market,  the  12tli  October, 
1876. 

In  Scandinavia  the  Black  Grouse  occasionally  mates  with 
the  Dal-Ripa  or  Willow-Grouse  (Lag opus  albus),  the  repre¬ 
sentative  there  of  our  Scotch  Grouse  ;  the  offspring  being 
known  as  “  Rypeorre  ”  or  “  Riporre.”  A  representation  of  one 
of  these  hybrids  is  given  on  the  opposite  page  from  Nilsson’s 
‘  Skandinavisk  Fauna. ’*  A  far  rarer  hybrid  is  the  one  between 
the  Black  and  the  Hazel  Grouse  ( Bonasa  betulina)  described 
and  exhibited  by  Mr.  Dresser  (P.  Z.  S.,  1876,  p.  345). 

In  this  country  the  hybrids  best  known  are  those 
between  the  Black  Grouse  and  the  Pheasant.  The 

*  Mr.  Collett  of  Christiania  maintains,  in  opposition  to  some  other  naturalists, 
that  this  hybrid  is  the  result  of  a  union  between  the  male  of  Lagopus  albus  and 
the  female  of  Tctrao  tetrix ;  and  his  arguments  are  given  at  great  length  in  his 
‘  Remarks  on  the  Ornithology  of  Northern  Norway,’  published  in  the  ‘  Forhand- 
linger  Yidenskabs-Selskabet  i  Christiania,’  1873,  pp.  238-251,  and  partly  repro¬ 
duced  in  Mr.  Dresser's  ‘Birds  of  Europe,’  vii.  pp.  213-216.  The  reader 
should  bear  in  mind  that  whenever  Mr.  Collett  uses  our  word  ‘  Ptarmigan  ’ 
in  the  above  pages,  he  refers  to  the  Willow-Grouse,  and  not  to  Lagopus  mulus. 


BLACK  GROUSE. 


69 


first  on  record  is  the  bird  noticed  by  Gilbert  White,  of 
Selborne,  of  which  a  coloured  representation  is  given  in 
some  of  the  editions  of  his  work.  The  subject  being  then 
new,  the  real  character  of  that  specimen  was  a  matter  of 
doubt,  till  more  recent  experience,  and  other  examples, 
seemed  to  confirm  its  origin.  In  June,  1884,  the  late  Mr. 
Sabine  called  the  attention  of  the  members  present  at  a 
meeting  of  the  Zoological  Society  to  a  specimen  of  a  hybrid 
bird,  between  the  common  Pheasant  and  the  Grey-hen, 
which  was  exhibited.  Its  legs  were  partially  feathered ; 
it  bore  on  the  shoulder  a  white  spot,  and  its  middle  tail- 
feathers  were  lengthened.  It  was  bred  in  Cornwall,  and 
belonged  to  Sir  William  Call  (P.  Z.  S.,  1884,  p.  52). 

In  1835,  the  late  Mr.  T.  C.  Eyton,  residing  near  Wel¬ 
lington,  Shropshire,  sent  up  for  exhibition  to  the  Zoological 
Society  a  hybrid  bird  between  the  cock  Pheasant  and  the 
Grey-hen,  with  a  note,  as  follows  : — “  For  some  years  past, 
a  single  Grey-hen  has  been  seen  in  the  neighbourhood  of 
the  Merrington  covers,  belonging  to  Robert.  A.  Slaney,  Esq., 


70 


TETRAONIDiE 


but  she  was  never  observed  to  be  accompanied  by  a  Black¬ 
cock,  or  any  other  of  her  species.  In  November  last  a  bird 
was  shot  on  the  manor  adjoining  Merrington,  belonging  to 
J.  A.  Lloyd,  Esq.,  resembling  the  Black-game  in  some 
particulars,  and  the  Pheasant  in  others.  In  December 
another  bird  was  shot  in  the  Merrington  covers,  resembling 
the  former,  but  smaller ;  this,  which  is  a  female,  is  now  in 
my  collection,  beautifully  preserved  by  M.  Shaw,  of  Shrews¬ 
bury  ”  (P.  Z.  S.,  1885,  p.  62).  The  figure  given  below 
represents  this  bird,  Mr.  Eyton  having  allowed  the  use  of 
his  specimen  for  that  purpose.  He  further  remarks,  that 
he  had  also  seen  another  specimen,  killed  near  Cor  wen, 
in  Merionethshire,  and  then  in  the  collection  of  Sir  Rowland 
Hill,  Bart. 

In  December,  1887,  Mr.  John  Leadbeater  exhibited  at 


BLACK  GROUSE. 


71 


tlie  Zoological  Society  a  male  hybrid  between  the  Pheasant 
and  Black  Grouse.  It  was  observed  that  this  was  the  third 
specimen  which  had  been  sent  to  the  Society  for  exhibition 
within  a  comparatively  short  space  of  time.  The  first  bird, 
from  Cornwall,  was  more  of  a  Grouse  in  appearance  than  a 
Pheasant ;  the  second,  Mr.  Eyton’s  bird,  from  Shropshire, 
was  more  Pheasant-like ;  hut  the  present  bird  was  decidedly 
intermediate,  exhibiting  characters  belonging  to  both.  The 
head,  neck  and  breast,  were  of  a  rich  dark  maroon  colour, 
the  feathers  on  the  breast  shewing  the  darker  crescentic 
tips  ;  the  upper  part  of  the  tarsi  were  covered  with  feathers  ; 
the  back  and  wings  mottled  blackish-grey,  like  that  of  a 
young  Black-cock  after  his  first  moult,  hut  with  some 
indications  of  brown  ;  the  feathers  of  the  tail  rather  short, 
but  straight,  pointed,  graduated,  and  Pheasant-like.  It 
was  remarked  that  this  bird  more  closely  resembled  the 
hybrid  figured  by  White  than  either  of  the  specimens 
previously  exhibited.  This  bird  was  understood  to  have  been 
killed  near  Alnwick,  and  it  is  now  by  the  liberality  of  the 
Duke  of  Northumberland  deposited  in  the  British  Museum. 

Dr.  Edward  Moore,  in  his  ‘  Notes  on  the  Birds  of  Devon¬ 
shire,’  published  in  the  f Magazine  of  Natural  History’  for 
the  year  1837,  says,  that  a  hybrid  of  this  kind  was  shot  at 
Whidey,  near  Plymouth,  by  the  Bev.  Mr.  Morsliead.  A 
male  Pheasant,  a  female  Grouse,  and  one  young,  had  been 
observed  in  company  for  some  time  by  the  keeper.  Mr. 
Morsliead  shot  the  Pheasant,  and,  in  a  few  days,  the  young 
hybrid ;  but  the  Grouse  escaped.  The  young  bird  hears 
the  marks  of  both  parents ;  hut  the  most  prominent 
characters  are  those  of  the  Grouse.  The  space  above  the 
eye,  however,  is  not  hare,  as  in  the  Grouse,  but  entirely 
feathered,  as  in  the  Pheasant ;  the  whole  of  the  neck  is 
covered  with  black  feathers,  somewhat  mottled ;  the  tail  is 
not  forked,  but  fan-shaped,  and  half  as  long  as  that  of  the 
Pheasant ;  the  tarsi  are  hare,  as  in  the  Pheasant ;  the 
colour  is  generally,  except  the  neck,  that  of  the  Pheasant ; 
but  it  has  the  white  spot  on  the  shoulders,  as  in  the  Grouse. 

Another  example,  now  figured  from  a  coloured  draw- 


72 


TETRAONID/E 


ing  supplied  by  the  late  Mr.  Selby,  of  Twizell  House, 
was  shot  early  in  December,  1839,  in  a  large  wood  a  few 
miles  to  the  east  of  Fenton.  Of  late  years  other  instances 
have  been  recorded,  one  of  the  most  recent  being  described 
by  Mr.  J.  Gatcomhe  (Zool.  1879,  p.  60).  Mr.  Lloyd  says 
that  it  is  on  record  that  a  Black-cock,  confined  in  a  coop 
with  a  domestic  hen,  paired  with  her,  the  result  being 
seven  hybrids,  all  females,  and  these  subsequently  proved 
good  “laying  hens.” 


THE  RED  GROUSE 


73 


Lagopus  scoticus  (Latham*). 

THE  RED  GROUSE. 

Lagopus  scoticus. 

Lagopus,  Brisson\. — Bill  very  short,  clothed  at  the  base  with  feathers  ;  the 
upper  mandible  convex,  and  bent  down  at  the  point.  Nostrils  basal,  lateral, 
partly  closed  by  an  arched  membrane,  and  nearly  hidden  by  the  small  closely-set 
feathers  at  the  base  of  the  bill.  Eyebrows  naked,  as  in  the  genus  Tetrao. 

*  Tetrao  scoticus,  Latham,  Ind.  Orn.,  ii.  p.  641  (1790). 

+  Ornithologie,  i.  pp.  181,  216  (1760). 

VOL.  III.  L 


GALLINjE. 


TETRA  ONI  DJI. 


74 


TETRAONIDdS. 


Wings  short,  concave,  with  the  third  and  fourth  feathers  the  longest.  Tail  of 
sixteen  feathers,  generally  square  at  the  end.  Tarsi  and  toes  completely 
feathered  ;  hind  toe  very  short,  and  barely  touching  the  ground  with  the  tip  of 
the  nail.  Nails  long,  and  nearly  straight. 

This  handsome  species  is  the  British  representative  of  the 
Willow-Grouse  (Lagopus  albas),  which  ranges  from  Norway 
across  the  entire  continents  of  Europe,  Asia,  and  North 
America.  There  can  he  little  question  that  both  species  are 
sprung  from  a  common  stock,  and  that  our  bird  is  an 
example  of  an  insular  form  which  is  found  nowhere  else  in 
a  natural  state.*  It  is  the  only  one  of  the  genus  Lag  opus 
which  does  not  turn  white  in  winter,  and  it  differs  slightly 
from  its  nearest  ally  in  its  summer  dress,  in  its  call-note, 
and  in  some  of  its  habits ;  hut  no  structural  differences 
between  the  two  species  have  as  yet  been  discovered.  The 
remains  of  what  may  fairly  be  considered  as  the  ancestor  of 
these  two  forms  have  been  found  in  the  hone-caves  of  the 
south  of  France  and  also  in  Germany ;  and  the  Editor 
possesses  an  example  of  the  Willow-Grouse  assuming  the 
summer  garb,  which  was  obtained  in  May  as  far  south  as 
the  neighbourhood  of  Tiflis,  in  the  Caucasus.  The  Bed 
Grouse  is  probably  an  isolated  descendant  which  has  lost 
the  power  of  turning  white  with  the  passing  away  of  the 
necessity  for  doing  so  for  the  purposes  of  assimilation. 

In  Scotland,  whence  its  specific  name  is  derived,  it  is 
generally  distributed  over  all  the  moors  from  the  highest 
point  where  the  ling  ( Calluna )  and  the  heath  (Erica) 
flourish,  down  to  the  coast-line.  It  is  also  found  on  Lewis, 
Harris,  North  and  South  Uist,  Barra,  and  some  of  the 
smaller  islands  of  the  Outer  Hebrides,  and  is  tolerably 
abundant  in  Islay,  Skye,  Rum,  and  Jura,  but  is  scarce  in 
Mull.  Remarkably  fine  birds  are  produced  in  the  Orkneys, 
although  not  in  large  numbers ;  but  in  the  not  far  distant 
Shetlands  it  is  not  indigenous,  and  the  few  introduced  birds 
have  failed  to  maintain  themselves  there.  The  low  sandy 

*  About  fourteen  years  ago  Mr.  Oscar  Dickson  successfully  introduced  this 
species  into  the  district  of  Gottenberg,  Southern  Sweden,  corresponding  in 
latitude  with  Aberdeen. 


THE  RED  GROUSE. 


75 


heaths  of  the  eastern  portions  of  Scotland  are  less  suitable 
to  its  tastes  than  the  north  and  west,  but  there  is  not  a 
county  (unless  Clackmannan  prove  an  exception)  which 
cannot  claim  the  Red  Grouse  as  an  inhabitant.  Across  the 
border  it  is  found  on  the  moors  of  all  the  northern  counties, 
especially  on  those  of  Yorkshire  and  Derbyshire,  down  the 
backbone  of  England  as  far  as  the  Trent,  particularly 
between  1,000  and  1,500  feet  of  elevation  ;  westwards  it 
occurs  in  Lancashire,  Cheshire,  Staffordshire,  Shropshire, 
and  on  most  of  the  Welsh  moors  down  to  Glamorgan. 
Beyond  these  lines  the  Red  Grouse,  although  introduced  on 
the  heaths  of  Surrey  and  elsewhere,  has  never  succeeded  in 
maintaining  itself,  and  Montagu  records  with  surprise  the 
occurrence  of  a  straggler  taken  alive  near  Weohampton,  in 
Wiltshire,  in  the  winter  of  1794. 

On  the  moorlands  and  peat-bogs  of  Ireland  it  is  generally 
distributed,  although,  from  want  of  preservation,  not  in  such 
abundance  as  in  Scotland  and  the  north  of  England. 

The  Red  Grouse  pair  very  early  in  spring,  and  the  female 
soon  goes  to  nest :  this  is  formed  of  the  stems  of  ling 
and  grass,  with  occasionally  a  very  few  feathers :  these 
materials  being  slightly  arranged  in  a  depression  on  the 
ground,  under  shelter  of  a  tuft  of  heather.  Daniel,  in  his 
‘Rural  Sports,’  says  that  “on  the  5th  of  March,  1794, 
the  gamekeeper  of  Mr.  Lister  (afterwards  Lord  Ribblesdale), 
of  Gisburne  Park,  discovered  on  the  manor  of  Twitten,  near 
Pen  die  Hill,  a  brood  of  Red  Grouse,  seemingly  about  ten 
days  old,  and  which  could  fly  about  as  many  yards  at  a 
time  ;  this  was  an  occurrence  never  known  to  have  happened 
before  so  early  in  the  year.” 

Thompson  (Birds  of  Ireland,  ii.  p.  49)  mentions  a 
nest  containing  eleven  eggs  on  the  Belfast  Mountains  on 
17th  March.  A  farmer  in  burning  ling  off  Sliap  Fell,  burnt 
over  a  nest  containing  fifteen  eggs  on  the  25tli  of  March, 
1885.  The  eggs  are  from  eight  to  fourteen  or  fifteen  in 
number,  of  a  reddish-white  ground  colour,  nearly  covered 
with  blotches  and  spots  of  umber  brown  :  measuring  about 
1*75  by  1*2  in.  The  female  sits  very  close;  and  Mr. 


76 


TETRAONIDiE. 


Salmon  mentions  that  one  allowed  him  to  take  her  off  her 
eggs.  The  cock  bird  does  not  share  the  duties  of  incuba¬ 
tion,  but  while  the  hen  is  sitting  he  is  generally  not  far  off, 
and  at  the  approach  of  danger  he  utters  his  warning  kok, 
kok,  kok.  He  is  also  in  the  habit  of  sitting  on  a  hillock  or 
“  knowe,”  and  crowing  at  dawn,  especially  on  clear  frosty 
mornings  :  the  cry  is  peculiar,  and  not  easily  described, 
that  of  the  female  being  a  strange  nasal  croak.  The  young 
brood  leave  the  nest  soon  after  they  are  freed  from  the  shell, 
and  are  attended  to  by  both  the  parent  birds,  under  whose 
example  they  learn  to  feed  on  the  various  vegetable  sub¬ 
stances  by  which  they  are  surrounded.  The  extreme  ends 
of  the  common  ling  and  fine-leaved  heather,  with  the  leaves 
and  berries  of  the  black  and  red  wortle,  and  crowberry,  and 
occasionally  oats,  when  grown  at  the  moor  side,  are  the  por¬ 
tions  and  kinds  of  food  most  frequently  found  in  their  crops. 

The  variation  in  the  plumage  of  the  Red  Grouse  is  con¬ 
siderable,  especially  in  the  feathers  of  the  underparts  ;  and 
those  who  have  had  opportunities  of  examining  many  ex¬ 
amples,  can  give  a  good  guess  at  the  localities  from  which 
they  have  come.  Thus  birds  from  the  Hebrides  and  Wigton- 
sliire  are  said  to  be  smaller  and  lighter  in  colour  than  those 
from  more  eastern  moors  ;  the  Perthshire  Grouse  are  smaller 
and  darker  than  those  of  Argyllshire,  whilst  in  Lanark,  Ren¬ 
frew  and  the  Border  counties  they  are  as  light-coloured  as 
Partridges.*  The  Welsh  birds  are  said  to  be  large  in  size 
and  light  in  colour ;  those  from  the  north  of  England  are 
more  rufous ;  those  from  Ireland  are  much  lighter,  with  a 
yellowish-red  tinge  in  the  plumage,  and  browner  legs.  This 
variation  is  principally  noticeable  in  the  underparts,  and 
may  be  partially  attributable  to  age,  but  it  has  been  gener¬ 
ally  ascribed  to  a  tendency  to  assimilate  with  the  ground 
they  frequent.  Mr.  E.  T.  Buckley,  however  (P.  Z.  S.  1882, 
pp.  112-116),  says  that  he  has  killed  dark  birds  on  light- 
coloured  ground,  and  that,  considering  the  partially  migratory 
habits  of  the  Grouse,  which  must  descend  from  the  higher 
to  the  lower  grounds  as  winter  advances,  it  is  scarcely 

*  Colquhoun,  ‘The  Moor  and  the  Loch,’  ed.  3,  p.  112. 


THE  RED  GROUSE. 


77 


possible  to  suppose  that  each  bird  could  select  the  surround¬ 
ings  suitable  to  its  own  plumage.  Nor  is  the  principal 
variation  in  the  back — although  that  is  the  portion  which 
requires  protective  assimilation — but  in  the  underparts, 
which  are  concealed  when  the  birds  squat ;  and  these  varia¬ 
tions  are  therefore  considered  to  be  instances  of  individual 
difference  or  polymorphism. 

Some  birds  bred  on  high  ground  shew  a  tendency  to  white 
underparts  in  winter,  and,  although  rare,  instances  are  not 
unknown  of  a  change  similar  to  that  observed  in  the  Willow- 
Grouse.  Mr.  John  Marshall,  of  Belmont,  Taunton,  has  two 
birds  said  to  have  been  shot  in  Perthshire,  in  wdnch  the 
quill-feathers  are  white  with  black  shafts  ;  the  tail  black, 
tipped  with  white  ;  the  tail-coverts  pure  white ;  and  the 
body  wdiite,  sprinkled  with  dark  feathers  about  the  head  and 
neck.  A  male  specimen  in  the  collection  formed  by  Messrs. 
Salvin  and  Godman,  and  now  in  the  British  Museum, 
obtained  on  the  Island  of  Lewis  in  October,  has  a  consider¬ 
able  amount  of  white  on  the  throat.  Varieties  of  a  greyish- 
buff  are  sometimes  obtained,  and  on  one  of  these,  purchased 
from  a  dealer,  the  late  Mr.  G.  R.  Gray  conferred  the  name 
of  Lagopus  persicus,  under  the  impression  that  it  came 
from  some  place  in  Persia.  This  specimen  is  figured  in  Gray 
and  Mitchell’s  *  Genera  of  Birds,’  vol.  iii.  p.  517,  pi.  cxxxiii., 
and  in  Mr.  D.  G.  Elliott’s  Monograph  of  the  Tetraoriidce,  but 
there  can  scarcely  be  a  doubt  that  the  locality  was  assigned 
in  error.  A  similar  variety  has  been  obtained  in  co.  Mayo 
(A.  G.  More,  Zool.  1882,  p.  147) ;  and  examples  of  a  cream 
colour  have  been  recorded  by  Selby  (Ill.  Brit.  Orn.  i.  p.  249) 
from  the  moors  of  Blanchland  in  the  county  of  Durham, 
but  from  the  anxiety  of  sportsmen  to  procure  specimens, 
these  birds  were  not  allowed  to  increase. 

Red  Grouse  also  vary  much  in  weight  in  different  districts 
and  according  to  the  time  of  year,  being  at  their  best  both 
as  regard  weight  and  plumage  in  November.  A  cock  Grouse 
generally  weighs  about  1J  and  a  hen  about  1J  lbs.,  but 
many  birds  are  on  record  up  to  2  lbs.  The  weight  of  the 
heaviest  birds  shot  between  1874-1881  on  Rousay  in  the 


78 


TETRA0NID2E. 


Orkneys,  where  disease  is  unknown,  and  the  winters  are 
open,  was  nearly  80  ounces.  Unlike  its  Scandinavian  con¬ 
gener  the  Willow-Grouse,  the  Red  Grouse  seldom  perches  in 
trees.  Mr.  H.  Seebohm  has  only  once  seen  one  alight  in  a 
wood  after  a  flight,  remaining  for  a  short  time  with  its  wings 
half  expanded,  and  apparently  not  at  all  at  its  ease ;  hut  Mr. 
L.  Lloyd  cites  (Game  Birds  of  Sweden,  p.  126)  an  instance  of 
several  birds,  unmistakably  of  this  species,  being  observed 
in  an  ash-tree  on  the  edge  of  a  moor  in  Ayrshire  ;  and  Sir 
John  Crewe  states  (Gould’s  Birds  of  Great  Britain)  that  on 
one  occasion  not  less  than  five  brace  were  observed  in  an  old 
thorn-tree  ;  the  autumn  being  the  season  when  this  habit  is 
most  noticed,  and  the  larch  the  tree  preferred.  They  are 
frequently  seen  to  sit  on  dykes  and  stone-walls. 

The  Red  Grouse,  like  the  Capercaillie  and  the  Black 
Grouse,  will  live  and  breed  in  confinement,  and  some  have 
become  remarkably  tame.  Daniel  mentions  (Rural  Sports) 
that  they  “  had  been  known  to  breed  in  the  menagerie  of 
the  late  Duchess  Dowager  of  Portland,  and  that  this  was  in 
some  measure  effected  by  her  Grace’s  causing  fresh  pots  of 
ling  or  heath  to  he  placed  in  the  menagerie  almost  every 
day.  At  Mr.  Grierson’s,  Ratlifarnham  House,  county  of 
Dublin,  in  the  season  of  1802,  a  brace  of  Grouse,  which  had 
been  kept  for  three  years,  hatched  a  brood  of  young  ones.  In 
1809,  Mr.  William  Routledge,  of  Oakshaw,  in  Bewcastle, 
Cumberland,  had  in  his  possession  a  pair  of  Red  Grouse 
completely  domesticated,  and  which  had  so  far  forgotten 
their  natural  food  as  to  prefer  corn  and  crumbs  of  bread  to 
the  tops  and  seeds  of  heath.  The  hen  laid  twelve  eggs, 
but  from  some  cause  was  not  suffered  to  hatch  them  ;  or,  in 
all  probability,  the  young  brood  would  have  been  equally  as 
tame  as  their  parents.”  In  1811,  a  pair  of  Red  Grouse 
bred  in  the  aviary  at  Knowsley  ;  the  female  laid  ten  eggs, 
and  hatched  out  eight  young  birds  ;  hut  these,  from  some 
unknown  cause,  did  not  live  many  days.  In  1866  a  brood 
was  hatched  in  the  gaol  at  Omagh,  and  other  instances  are 
on  record. 

Owing  to  preservation,  and  the  reduction  or  extirpation  of 


THE  RED  GROUSE. 


79 


tlieir  natural  enemies,  Red  Grouse  had  enormously  increased 
prior  to  the  time  when  the  Grouse-disease  shewed  itself,  and 
made  terrible  ravages  on  some  of  the  moors  which  had  pre¬ 
viously  been  amongst  the  best  stocked.  It  has  been  ascribed 
to  various  causes,  most  of  which  have  in  all  probability  had 
a  share  in  contributing  to  its  development,  and  each  of 
which,  to  the  exclusion  of  all  others,  has  found  its  violent 
partisans.  The  immediate  cause  in  specimens  examined  by 
Dr.  Spencer  Cobbold  would  seem  to  have  been  the  presence  in 
extraordinary  numbers  of  two  sets  of  entozoic  parasites,  both 
flat  and  round,  the  existence  of  which  in  small  numbers  may 
be  compatible  with  health,  whilst  emaciation  and  death  result 
from  their  supremacy.  Bad  weather,  and  the  nipping  of  the 
young  shoots  of  the  heather  by  a  late  frost,  or  its  injudicious 
burning,  also  tend  to  weaken  the  systems  of  the  birds. * 

It  is  not  desirable  to  enter  into  details  respecting  Grouse¬ 
shooting,  but  as  the  number  of  this  species  bagged  in  a 
single  day  exceeds  that  of  any  other  game-bird,  a  few  facts 
may  be  given.  The  largest  bag  on  record  was  made  by 
Lord  Walsingliam  at  Blubberliouses  in  Yorkshire,  on  the 
28tli  August,  1872,  when  he  killed  842  Grouse  in  one  day 
to  his  own  gun,  and  under  somewhat  unfavourable  circum¬ 
stances.  In  the  same  year,  on  the  Wemmergill  Moors,  in 
the  North  Riding  of  Yorkshire,  Mr.  F.  A.  Milbank,  M.P., 
in  six  days,  and  with  an  average  of  six  companions,  killed 
3,983 1  brace,  or  nearly  8,000  birds.  The  largest  bag  over 
dogs  was  made  by  the  Maharajah  Duleep  Singh  at  Grand- 
tully,  Perthshire,  on  the  12th  August,  1871,  when  220 
brace  of  fairly-grown  Grouse  and  no  “  cheepers  ”  were  shot ; 
and  on  the  14th,  110  brace  of  Grouse  over  one  brace  of  dogs 
in  six  hours. f 

A  male  bird  of  the  year,  killed  in  December,  had  the 
beak  black ;  the  irides  hazel,  with  a  crescentic  patch  of 
vermilion  red  skin  over  the  eye,  fringed  at  its  upper  free 
edge  ;  head  and  neck  reddish-brown,  but  more  rufous  than 
any  other  part  of  the  bird  ;  back,  wing,  and  tail-coverts, 
chestnut-brown,  barred  transversely  and  speckled  with 
*  Cf.  Harvie-Brown,  Zool.  1882,  p.  401.  f  Rural  Almanac,  1881,  p.  21. 


80 


TETRAONID/E. 


black ;  distributed  among  the  plumage  were  several  feathers 
in  which  the  ground  colour  was  of  a  bright  yellowish-brown  ; 
all  the  quill-featliers  dark  umber-brown  ;  the  secondaries 
and  the  tertials  edged  on  the  outside,  and  freckled  with 
lighter  brown  ;  the  tail  of  sixteen  feathers  :  the  seven  on 
each  outside  dark  umber-brown ;  the  four  middle  feathers 
chestnut-brown,  varied  with  black.  On  the  breast  the 
plumage  was  darker  than  on  the  sides,  almost  black,  and 
tipped  with  white  ;  the  chestnut-brown  feathers  on  the  sides, 
flanks,  belly,  vent,  and  under  tail-coverts,  tipped  with  white ; 
legs  and  toes  covered  with  short  greyish- white  feathers  ; 
claws  long,  bluish-horn  colour  at  the  base,  nearly  white  at 
the  end.  In  the  breeding-season  the  red  skin  over  the  eye 
is  partially  erectile,  but  droops  at  the  edges  and  does  not 
stand  up  firmly  like  the  comb  of  the  Black-cock. 

The  whole  length  is  sixteen  inches.  From  the  carpal 
joint  to  the  end  of  the  wing,  eight  inches  and  three-eighths  : 
the  first  quill-feather  shorter  than  the  sixth,  but  longer  than 
the  seventh ;  the  second  shorter  than  the  fifth,  but  longer 
than  the  sixth  ;  the  third  and  fourth  nearly  equal  in  length, 
and  the  longest  in  the  wing. 

The  old  male  in  summer  has  many  of  the  body  feathers 
tipped  with  yellow,  and  the  red  colour  is  of  a  lighter  tint. 

The  female  is  rather  smaller  than  the  male  ;  the  patch 
of  red  skin  over  the  eye  is  also  smaller ;  the  red  and  brown 
tints  of  the  feathers  are  lighter  in  colour,  and  give  a  more 
variegated  appearance  to  the  plumage  generally.  In  her 
summer  plumage  all  the  feathers  of  the  head  and  upper 
part  of  the  neck  are  yellowish-chestnut,  with  a  few  black 
spots  :  those  of  the  lower  neck,  breast,  back,  wing,  and 
tail-coverts,  and  middle  tail-feathers,  transversely  barred 
with  black,  and  tipped  with  yellow  ;  the  long  feathers  on 
the  sides  and  flanks  also  barred  across  with  black  and 
yellow,  very  much  resembling  the  feathers  borne  on  the 
same  parts  at  the  same  season  by  the  female  Ptarmigan, 
shewing  its  affinity  to  that  bird ;  and  some  authors  have 
called  our  Red  Grouse,  the  Red  Grouse  Ptarmigan,  the 
Red  Ptarmigan,  and  the  Brown  Ptarmigan. 


THE  RED  GROUSE. 


81 


In  the  young  in  down  of  a  day  or  two  old,  are  yellowish- 
buff  banded  with  brown  above,  and  yellowish-brown  below  ; 
darker  on  the  breast ;  a  dark  brown  streak  runs  from  the 
base  of  the  bill  to  the  centre  of  the  crown,  where  it  widens 
out  into  a  broad  ruddy-brown  patch  with  darker  margin. 
With  increasing  age  the  down  becomes  duller  ;  rufous-brown 
feathers  with  darker  bars  appear  on  the  side  of  the  breast 
and  flanks  ;  the  feathers  of  the  wing- coverts  and  back  are 
rich  rufous  with  black  centres  tipped  with  black  and  white ; 
the  quill-feathers  dull  brown,  with  tawny  mottlings. 

The  young  of  both  sexes  resemble  the  adult  female,  but 
by  the  middle  of  winter,  when  the  first  moult  is  com¬ 
pleted,  the  young  males  are  very  similar  to  the  old  ones, 
excepting  that  the  head  and  neck  are  barred  and  spotted. 

Not  being  polygamous,  it  does  not  often  hybridize  with 
other  species.  The  rare  instances  of  its  having  done  so 
with  the  Black  Grouse  have  already  been  noticed.  The  fol¬ 
lowing  are  the  remarks  made  by  Professor  Newton  (P.  Z.  S. 
1878,  p.  793)  on  exhibiting  a  supposed  hybrid  between 
the  Red  Grouse  and  the  Ptarmigan  (L.  mutus)  : — “  This 
remarkable  specimen  was  lately  given  to  me  for  the  museum 
of  the  University  of  Cambridge,  by  Captain  Houston  of  Kin- 
tradwell,  in  Sutherland,  having  been  shot  there  out  of  a  covey 
of  Grouse  on  the  1st  of  Sept.  1878.  As  will  be  seen,  it  bears 
some  considerable  resemblance,  above,  to  a  hen  Ptarmigan 
in  summer  plumage,  but  its  general  appearance  is  much 
darker.  Beneath,  there  is  a  greater  resemblance  to  the 
young  of  the  Red  Grouse ;  and  the  primaries  are  much  as 
in  that  bird,  being,  however,  partially  edged  with  white  to 
a  much  greater  extent  than  is  commonly  found  in  the  latter. 
I  have  shewn  the  skin  to  several  ornithological  friends, 
none  of  whom  have  been  able  to  offer  any  other  suggestion 
concerning  it  than  that  originally  made  by  the  donor, 
namely,  that  it  is  a  hybrid  between  the  two  species  named  ; 
and  in  confirmation  thereof,  Captain  Houston  told  me  that 
the  part  of  his  ground  on  which  it  was  shot  is  close  to  a 
locality  frequented  by  the  Ptarmigan.  Without  having 
made  an  exhaustive  search,  I  may  say  that  I  am  not  aware 

M 


VOL.  in. 


82  TETRAONIDiE. 

of  any  record  of  such  a  hybrid  as  this  is  supposed  to 
be,  though  information  received  from  several  quarters  in¬ 
duces  me  to  believe  that  other  examples  have  before  now 
occurred ;  and  my  chief  object  in  exhibiting  the  present 
specimen  is  to  call  attention  to  the  subject.” 


PTARMIGAN. 


83 


GALLIN/E. 


TETRA  ONI  DJI. 


Lagopus  mutus  (Montin  * ) . 

THE  PTARMIGAN. 

Lagopus  mutus. 

The  Ptarmigan  is  the  smallest  in  size  of  the  British 
Grouse  ;  and,  so  far  as  regards  these  islands,  it  is  at  the 
present  day  confined  to  Scotland,  beyond  which  it  has 
probably  not  been  found  within  the  historic  period.  Its 

*  Tetrao  mutus ,  Montin,  Physiographiska  Siilskapets  Handl.,  p.  155  (Stock¬ 
holm,  1776).  The  essential  portion  of  this  rare  work  is  in  the  library  of  the 
Linnean  Society. 


84 


TETRAONIDiE. 


name,  derived,  with  a  slight  and  inexplicable  modification, 
from  the  Gaelic  word  Tarmachan,  occurs  as  far  back  as 
1617,  in  a  letter,  dated  at  Whitehall,  from  James  I.  of 
England  to  the  Earl  of  Tullibardine,  commanding  that  a 
provision  of  “Capercaillies  and  termigantis ”  he  made  for 
the  royal  sustenance  between  Durham  and  Berwick.  As 
mentioned  when  treating  of  the  Capercaillie  (p.  46),  Taylor, 
the  water-poet,  speaks  of  “  termagants  ”  in  1618,  and,  to 
judge  by  old  Acts  of  Parliament,  the  latter  seems  to  have 
been  the  usual  Lowland  form  of  spelling  the  name. 

Respecting  its  distribution,  Mr.  Harvie-Brown  says  that 
in  Sutlierlandshire  it  especially  frequents  the  stony  moun¬ 
tains  of  Assynt,  on  the  ridge  of  Ben  Chaorin  (commonly 
called  Harran)  and  the  heights  and  corries  of  Glashven, 
Ben  Mhor,  and  Braebag,  being  less  numerous  on  the 
curiously-shaped  and  isolated  peaks  of  Quinaig,  Canislip, 
Soulbhein  (the  “  Sugar-loaf  ”),  Coul  Mhor,  and  Coul  Beg, 
lying  nearer  the  sea.  In  Ross-shire  it  is  abundant  on  Ben 
Wyvis  in  the  east,  and  on  the  range  of  Ben  Deraig  in  the 
west,  but  again  becomes  scarcer  towards  the  coast.  South¬ 
ward,  through  Ross-shire  and  Inverness-shire,  in  all  suitable 
localities,  it  is  met  with  abundantly,  preferring,  as  a  rule, 
the  larger  masses  of  mountain  land  to  the  isolated  peaks. 
In  Aberdeenshire,  on  Lochnagar  and  Ben  Muich-dhu,  it  is 
tolerably  numerous,  although  comparatively  scarce  on  the 
western  mountains  of  the  same  range,  owing  to  the  summits 
being  less  stony,  deeply  covered  with  moss,  and  not  hearing 
mountain-berries  in  such  quantities.  In  Skye  it  is  found 
among  the  Cuchullin  Hills,  but  not  in  great  numbers  ;  nor 
is  it  abundant  in  Harris  or  Lewis.  In  Inverness-shire  the 
Editor  observed  a  covey  of  nine  birds  on  Ben  Nevis  in 
August,  1879.  Southwards,  through  Perthshire,  a  fair 
number  of  Ptarmigan  may  he  met  with  in  certain  localities  ; 
and  Mr.  James  Lumsden,  of  Arden,  states  that,  although 
in  decreasing  numbers,  birds  are  still  to  be  found  breeding 
on  Ben  Lomond  and  in  its  vicinity.  In  Arran  the  species 
became  nearly,  if  not  quite,  extinct  about  the  year  1856  ;  but 
in  1867  a  few  young  birds  were  introduced  from  the  north 


PTARMIGAN. 


85 


of  Scotland,  and  their  descendants  still  maintain  a  footing 
on  Goatfell  and  Ben  Noush.  There  appears  to  be  no 
satisfactory  evidence  that  this  species  ever  occurred  in  the 
Orkneys,  or  in  the  Shetland  Islands.  It  is  found  in  Jura, 
and  even  on  Islay,  within  sight  of  the  coast  of  Ireland  ; 
but  although  many  of  the  northern  summits  of  the  sister 
island  are  of  considerable  elevation,  and  similar  in  their 
character  to  those  frequented  by  the  Ptarmigan  elsewhere,  the 
species  has  never  been  known  in  Ireland  even  as  a  visitant. 

The  alleged  former  existence  of  the  Ptarmigan  on  the 
mountains  of  Cumberland  and  Westmorland,  and  also  in 
Wales,  has  been  carefully  investigated  by  Mr.  A.  G.  More 
(Zoologist,  1881,  pp.  44—47).  It  appears  that  Pennant,  in 
his  4  British  Zoology,’  Ed.  4  (176Q,  stated  that  “a  few 
still  inhabit  the  lofty  hills  near  Keswick,”  to  which  Latham 
(1783)  added  the  words  “  as  well  as  in  Wales,” — a  locality 
which  Pennant,  although  a  Welshman,  had  nowhere  men¬ 
tioned.  Dr.  Heysham,  in  Hutchinson’s  ‘  History  of  Cum¬ 
berland  ’  (1794),  quoted  Pennant,  without  adding  a  particle 
of  independent  evidence,  and  later  writers  have  merely 
amplified  or  paraphrased  these  statements.  Mr.  More  has, 
however,  learnt  from  Capt.  W.  K.  Dover,  residing  at  Keswick, 
that,  although  he  has  not  succeeded  in  finding  any  tradition 
of  the  former  existence  of  the  Ptarmigan  in  the  Lake 
district,  yet  there  is  a  highly  white-mottled  variety  of  the 
Red  Grouse  found  upon  Skiddaw,  and  also  on  Shap  Fells, 
in  Westmorland  ;  the  latter  being  so  white  that  two  Scotch 
gamekeepers  who  saw  them  called  them  Ptarmigan.  It  is 
easy  to  understand  that  more  than  a  century  ago,  when 
statements  were  less  critically  examined,  and  the  Ptarmigan 
was  only  just  known  to  be  a  British  bird,  any  “  white- 
mottled  ”  Grouse  seen  on  the  mountains  would  be  assumed 
to  he  the  alpine  species. 

In  Scandinavia,  the  Ptarmigan  is  resident  in  the  Lofoden 
Islands,  and  on  the  Fells  above  the  limits  of  the  tree- 
growth,  as  far  as  the  Nore-fjeld,  in  58°  40'  N.  lat.,  from 
whence  it  descends  in  small  numbers  to  the  western  districts. 
Stretching  across  the  northern  portions  of  Finland,  it  is 


86 


TETltAONIDJE. 


found  on  the  mountains  which  attain  an  elevation  of  about 
8,000  feet  in  the  vicinity  of  the  Imandra  Lake  on  the  Kola 
Peninsula.  Hoffman*  found  it  breeding  on  the  high  ground 
near  the  source  of  the  Petchora  in  lat.  62°  N.,  and  obtained 
five  specimens  between  lat.  61°  and  66°  N.  In  Arctic 
Siberia,  Middendorf  found  a  species  of  Ptarmigan  occupying 
the  generally  flat  northern  portion  of  Siberia  from  66°  N. 
in  winter,  up  to  71°  N.  in  summer,  as  far  east  as  the  Taimyr 
Peninsula,  and,  whilst  calling  it  L.  mutus,  he  expressed  sur¬ 
prise  at  finding  it  so  similar  to  L.  rupestris.  It  was  sub¬ 
sequently  suggested  by  Professor  Newton  that  the  examples 
of  Ptarmigan  obtained  by  Mr.  H.  Seebohm  in  71J°  N.  lat. 
on  the  Yenesei,  might  actually  belong  to  the  latter : 
a  view  which  comparison  appears  to  have  confirmed. 
Lagopus  rupestris,  the  Pock-Ptarmigan  of  authors,!  is 
a  form  which  in  all  plumages  except  the  white  garb  of 
winter,  is  browner  than  L.  mutus ,  and  which  also  inha¬ 
bits  lower  and  more  level  ground. I  Its  range  was  already 
known  to  reach  right  across  the  northern  portions  of 
America  from  the  shores  of  Behring’s  Straits  to  Newfound¬ 
land,  Greenland,  and  also  to  Iceland  ;  but  its  presence  in 
Arctic  Siberia  from  Behring’s  Straits  on  the  east  to  the 
Yenesei  in  the  west,  and  probably  further,  coupled  with  the 
fact  that  it  does  not  enter  Europe,  points  to  a  barrier  caused 
by  important  physical  changes  on  the  eastern  side  of  the  Ural. 
It  now  appears  probable  that  the  Ptarmigan  recorded  by 
Messrs.  Blakiston  and  Pryer,  as  found  in  Northern  Japan  (Ibis, 
1878,  p.  226),  and  more  recently  in  the  Kurile  Islands,  may 
also  be  L.  rupestris.  On  the  other  hand,  the  birds  found 
by  Padde  on  the  Sochondo,  at  from  7,500  to  8,000  feet 
altitude,  and  those  observed  by  Dybowski  on  the  Sayansk 

*  ‘  Der  Nordliche  Ural,  Wirbelthieie,’  p.  68. 

+  H.  Seebohm,  ‘Ibis,’  1879,  p.  148. 

X  Selby  (Rep.  Brit.  Ass.  1834,  p.  611)  recorded  L.  rupestris  as  having  been 
killed  on  the  Benmore  ridge  in  Sutherlandshire  ;  supposing,  no  doubt,  that  the 
orange-yellow  dress,  which  is  now  well  known  to  be  assumed  in  summer  by  the 
female  of  L.  mutus,  was  peculiar  to  the  former  species  ;  and  not  being  aware  that 
Ptarmigan  from  the  higher  ground  are  smaller  than  those  from  lower  elevations. 
( Cf '.  J.  A.  Harvie-Brown,  Pr.  Nat,  Hist.  Soc.  Glasgow,  1875,  p.  107.) 


PTARMIGAN. 


87 


mountains  to  the  south-west  of  Lake  Baikal  were  probably 
our  L.  mutus,  which  Dr.  0.  Finsch  also  obtained  in  the 
Altai  range  at  an  elevation  of  6,000  feet. 

In  Central  Europe  the  Ptarmigan  is  found  throughout 
the  higher  regions  of  Switzerland,  and  on  the  French  and 
Italian  slopes  of  the  Alps ;  also  in  smaller  numbers  in 
Tyrol,  Styria,  and  even  as  far  as  the  edge  of  the  Black 
Forest.  It  is  tolerably  abundant  on  the  upper  portions 
of  the  Pyrenees ;  and  Lord  Lilford  has  been  informed 
on  good  authority  that  it  occurs  in  the  mountains  of  the 
Asturias  and  of  Leon. 

Ptarmigan  pair  early  in  spring,  breeding  in  Scotland  in  the 
month  of  May;  the  nest,  which  is  difficult  to  find,  being  a  mere 
cup  scraped  in  the  turf,  and  sparingly  lined  with  grasses 
and  feathers.  The  eggs,  of  a  yellowish-white  blotched  and 
spotted  with  dark  brown,  are,  as  a  rule,  of  a  somewhat 
lighter  ground-colour  than  those  of  the  Bed  Grouse,  and 
of  smaller  size,  measuring  about  1*7  by  1*1  in.,  and  are 
from  eight  to  ten  in  number. 

The  young  run  about  immediately  on  leaving  the  shell, 
and  are  expert  at  concealing  themselves  even  on  the  barest 
places  ;  whilst  the  hen  bird  resorts  to  the  usual  devices  to 
divert  attention.  In  wet  or  stormy  seasons  the  various 
families  associate  or  pack,  by  the  beginning  of  August,  but 
otherwise  not  till  winter,  when  as  many  as  fifty  have  been 
seen  together. 

Ptarmigan  are  scarcer  on  the  extreme  summits  of  the 
mountains  than  at  a  lower  elevation,  and  those  which  are 
shot  on  the  “  barrens,”  or  level  deserts  of  stones  in  the 
higher  situations,  are  found  to  be  considerably  smaller-sized 
birds.  Macgillivray  observes,  that  “these  beautiful  birds, 
while  feeding,  run  and  walk  among  the  weather-beaten  and 
lichen-crested  fragments  of  rock,  from  which  it  is  very 
difficult  to  distinguish  them  when  they  remain  motionless, 
as  they  invariably  do  should  a  person  be  in  sight.  Indeed, 
unless  you  are  directed  to  a  particular  spot  by  their  strange 
low  croaking  cry,  you  may  pass  through  a  flock  of  Ptar¬ 
migans  without  observing  a  single  individual,  although 


88 


TETRAONIDiE. 


some  of  them  may  not  be  ten  yards  distant.  When 
squatted,  however,  they  utter  no  sound,  their  object  being 
to  conceal  themselves  ;  and  if  you  discover  the  one  from 
which  the  cry  has  proceeded,  you  generally  find  him  on  the 
top  of  a  stone,  ready  to  spring  off  the  moment  you  show 
an  indication  of  hostility.  If  you  throw  a  stone  at  him,  he 
rises,  utters  his  call,  and  is  immediately  joined  by  all  the 
individuals  around,  which,  to  your  surprise,  if  it  be  your 
first  rencontre,  you  see  spring  up  one  by  one  from  the  hare 
ground.  They  generally  fly  off  in  a  loose  body,  with  a 
direct  and  moderately  rapid  flight,  resembling,  but  lighter 
than,  that  of  the  Red  Grouse,  and  settle  on  a  distant  part 
of  the  mountain,  or  betake  themselves  to  one  of  the  neigh¬ 
bouring  summits,  perhaps  more  than  a  mile  distant.” 
Their  food  consists  of  fresh  green  twigs  of  Calluna  vulgaris , 
Vaccinium  myrtillus ,  and  Empetrum  nigrum ,  and  other 
plants  with  berries  in  autumn  :  for  the  most  part  the  same 
as  that  of  the  Red  Grouse.  Like  that  species,  they  suffer 
from  disease  in  Scotland. 

Ptarmigan  are  only  kept  alive  in  captivity  with  great 
difficulty.  Dr.  A.  Girtanner  (Zoologische  Garten,  1880, 
pp.  71-82)  gives  a  long  account  of  his  repeated  failures 
with  both  old  and  young  birds  ;  but  at  last  he  succeeded  by 
placing  the  latter  with  a  captive ,  Rock-Partridge  ( Caccabis 
saxatilis),  by  whose  example  they  learned  to  feed,  and  all 
lived  together  in  apparent  contentment. 

An  adult  male  shot  in  Ross-sliire  on  18th  May  has  the 
bill  blackish-horn  colour  ;  over  the  eye  an  erectile  red  skin  ; 
the  lores  black ;  the  head  and  neck  of  a  mottled  brown  with 
some  new  black-centred  feathers  appearing  on  the  crown 
and  mantle ;  back  and  upper  tail-coverts  ochreous-grey,  the 
centre  ones  longer  than  the  tail-feathers ;  tail-feathers 
blackish,  tipped  with  white  ;*  primary  quill -feathers  white, 
with  dark  shafts ;  secondaries  and  wing-coverts  white,  with 


*  Specimens  killed  in  spring  frequently  have  the  two  long  central  tail-coverts 
of  a  pure  white,  the  remainder  of  the  winter  plumage  ;  and  these  might  easily 
be  mistaken  for  the  middle  feathers  of  the  tail  itself.  In  autumn  these  feathers 
are  renewed,  and  in  immature  birds  the  central  portions  are  lead-coloured. 


PTARMIGAN. 


89 


a  few  mottled  brown  feathers  appearing ;  chin  white  ;  throat 
mottled  brown  and  white  ;  breast  dark  mottled  brown  ;  flanks  . 
yellowish-brown;  abdomen  and  under  tail- coverts  white;  legs 
and  feet  greyish- white.  In  a  Perthshire  specimen,  killed  June 
2nd,  the  short  mottled  feathers  of  the  head  shewed  abraded 
white  tips  with  dark  bases ;  the  larger  feathers  of  the  neck 
and  breast  had  dark  bases,  followed  by  a  bar  of  white  edged 
with  buff,  and  terminating  with  black  tips  undergoing  abra¬ 
sion  ;  back  mottled  with  black,  grey,  and  buff.  In  very  old 
males,  and  especially  in  examples  from  Scandinavia,  a  much 
larger  proportion  of  the  feathers  on  the  upper  parts  and 
breast  are  often  of  very  dark  colour. 

The  female,  which  is  slightly  smaller  than  the  male,  has 
the  head  and  upper  parts  of  a  rufous  buff,  broadly  mottled 
with  black,  and  slightly  tipped  with  grey ;  the  quill-feathers 
white,  with  more  dark  markings  about  the  shafts  than  in  the 
male  ;  the  tail-feathers  blackish,  but  freckled  with  grey  on 
the  outer  web,  especially  in  Pyrenean  examples ;  breast  and 
flanks  buff,  mottled  with  black  and  grey ;  low7er  breast  and 
belly  mottled  white  ;  under  tail-coverts  buff,  barred  with 
black ;  under  wing-coverts  white. 

The  whole  length  of  a  male  is  fifteen  inches.  From  the 
carpal  joint  to  the  end  of  the  wing,  eight  inches  :  the  first 
quill-feather  an  inch  and  a  half  shorter  than  the  second ; 
the  second  rather  longer  than  the  fifth ;  the  third  and 
fourth  nearly  equal  in  length,  and  the  longest  in  the  wing. 
The  wings  of  the  old  birds  killed  in  autumn  are  seldom 
perfect,  as  this  is  the  season  for  moulting  the  flight-feathers. 

Early  in  autumn  both  males  and  females  moult  into 
a  freckled  grey  plumage  on  the  upper  parts ;  the  quill- 
feathers,  and  some  of  the  wing-coverts,  with  those  on  the 
middle  of  the  belly,  being  white  ;  by  the  end  of  October  this 
plumage  changes  to  pure  white  in  Continental  specimens ; 
and  to  white  with  slight  mottlings  about  the  bases  of  the 
feathers,  in  some  Scotch  examples ;  the  tail-feathers  remain¬ 
ing  black,  but  being  nearly  concealed  by  the  long  white 
coverts.  The  fur-like  feathers  on  the  legs  and  feet  increase 
in  length  and  thickness.  In  this  winter  plumage  the 

VOL.  III.  N 


90 


TETRAONIDiE. 


males  have  the  lores  black,  whereas  in  the  female  the  lores 
are  usually  white ;  but  some  old  females  shew  a  dark  eye- 
streak.  This  garb  is  retained  until  the  following  spring. 
Macgillivray  mentions  two  hen  birds  from  Banffshire 
examined  on  the  16tli  December,  which  had  the  white 
plumage  delicately  tinted  with  rose-colour. 

In  the  young,  with  the  quill-feathers  just  appearing,  the 
down  is  rather  more  ruddy  than  in  the  Red  Grouse,  and  the 
patch  on  the  crown  and  nape  is  of  a  rather  paler  chestnut 
in  the  centre  ;  but  when  lialf-fledged  the  young  are  greyer 
than  those  of  the  Grouse.  The  first  quill-featliers  are 
mottled  brown,  but  in  August  they  are  replaced  by  white 
ones,  and  a  grey  body  plumage,  similar  to  that  of  the  adults, 
is  assumed. 

In  winter  large  numbers  of  so-called  “  Ptarmigan  ”  are 
sent  over  to  the  English  markets ;  fully  seven-eighths  of  them 
being,  however,  Willow-Grouse  in  winter  dress.  These  may 
be  recognized  by  their  larger  size,  and,  in  the  case  of  the 
males,  by  the  absence  of  the  black  lores,  which  are  always 
present  in  the  male  Ptarmigan. 

In  the  three  representations  of  the  Ptarmigan  at  the 
head  of  this  subject,  the  lower  figure  is  taken  from  a  female 
killed  in  the  month  of  May,  the  upper  figure  from  a  male 
killed  in  October,  and  the  middle  figure  from  a  male  bird 
killed  in  January. 


PHEASANT 


91 


OA  LLINsF.  ph  A  SI  A  Nil)  Hi. 


Phasianus  colchicus  (Linnaeus*), 
THE  PHEASANT. 

Ph  a  ni  anus  cole  h  i  c  i is . 


Phasianus,  Brissonf. — Bill  of  moderate  length,  strong  ;  upper  mandible 
convex,  naked  at  the  base,  and  with  the  tip  bent  downwards.  Nostrils  basal, 
lateral,  covered,  with  a  cartilaginous  scale  ;  cheeks,  and  the  skin  surrounding  the 

*  Syst.  Nat.  Ed.  12,  i.  p.  271  (1766).  f  Ornithologie,  i.  p.  262  (1760). 


92 


PHASIANID.E. 


eyes,  destitute  of  feathers,  and  with  a  verrucose  red  covering.  Wings  short : 
the  first  quill-feather  narrow  towards  the  tip  ;  the  fourth  and  fifth  feathers  the 
longest  in  the  wing.  Tail  long,  wedge-shaped,  graduated,  containing  eighteen 
feathers.  Feet — three  toes  in  front,  one  behind ;  the  three  anterior  toes  united 
by  a  membrane  as  far  as  the  first  joint ;  the  hind  toe  articulated  upon  the  tarsus, 
which  in  the  male  birds  is  furnished  with  a  horny,  conical,  and  sharp  spur. 

Both  the  generic  and  specific  names  of  the  Pheasant  are 
due  to  the  mythological  tradition  which  attributes  to  Jason 
and  his  Argonauts  the  introduction  of  the  bird  from  the 
banks  of  the  river  Phasis,  in  Colchis.  This  classic  stream 
is  the  modern  Bion,  which  finds  its  way  into  the  Black  Sea 
near  the  town  of  Poti,  whence  the  railway  now  runs  to  Tiflis, 
the  capital  of  the  Caucasus  ;  and  in  its  unhealthy  swamps 
the  descendants  of  the  original  stock  are  still  to  he  found 
in  all  their  purity.  The  head-quarters  of  this  Pheasant 
appear  to  he  the  marshy  forests  of  the  shores  of  the  Caspian 
Sea,  as  far  east  as  the  river  Gurgan,  near  Astrabad  ;  the  river- 
valleys  of  the  Caucasus,  especially  the  Terek  and  Goulak  up 
to  3,000  feet  elevation ;  the  neighbourhood  of  Astrakhan  ; 
and  the  northern  portions  of  Asia  Minor  which  border  on  the 
Black  Sea  and  the  Sea  of  Marmora,  particularly  near  Broussa. 
It  occurs  as  far  south  as  Ephesus,  but  Mr.  Danford  did  not 
meet  with  it  in  the  Cilician  Taurus,  nor  did  Canon  Tristram 
find  it  in  Syria.  In  Greece  the  remains  of  a  species  of 
Pheasant  have  been  disinterred  at  Pikermi,  in  Attica,  and  its 
modern  representative  still  frequents  the  covers  at  the  foot 
of  Mount  Olympus,  although  nearly  exterminated  in  the 
swamps  of  Akarnania.  Not  known  in  Cyprus  or  Bliodes,  it 
occurs  on  the  island  of  Thasos  near  Salonika,  and  in  suitable 
localities  throughout  Boumelia,  as  well  as  in  Albania ;  but 
north  of  the  line  of  the  Balkans  it  is  probably  not  in¬ 
digenous.  Assuming  it  to  have  been  introduced  at  some 
unknown  period,  it  is  now  found  in  a  feral  state  in  nearly 
every  country  in  Europe.  It  occurs  in  South  Bussia ;  in 
Transylvania,  although  now  nearly  exterminated,  it  was 
formerly  abundant ;  and  in  Bohemia  and  some  parts  of 
Saxony  it  wanders  uncared  for ;  but  north  of  Central 
Germany  it  requires,  and  receives,  a  certain  amount  of 
protection.  Under  such  conditions  it  exists  in  Holland, 


PHEASANT. 


93 


Belgium,  Denmark,  Sweden  (where  it  has  been  introduced 
by  Mr.  Oscar  Dickson),  and  even  near  Christiania,  in  Norway. 
In  France*  and  Italy  it  also  maintains  itself  under  similar 
protection  ;  but  it  is  said  to  exist  in  a  perfectly  wild  state  on 
the  hills  of  Aleria,  in  Corsicaf  ;  Spain  and  Portugal  being 
apparently  the  only  European  countries  where  attempts  at 
acclimatization  have  not  proved  successful.  Some  of  these 
more  recent  introductions  on  the  Continent  may  have  con¬ 
sisted  of  fertile  crosses  with  the  Chinese  King-necked 
Pheasant ;  hut  as  regards  the  greater  part  of  Europe,  and 
the  British  Islands,  there  can  be  no  doubt  that  the  original 
species  was  P.  colcliicus. 

Before  going  further,  it  may  be  as  well  to  consider  briefly 
the  range  of  our  Pheasant,  and  the  other  members  of  the 
same  group.  It  has  been  shewn  that  P.  colcliicus ,  one  of 
the  species  without  the  white  collar,  inhabits  wet  marshy 
forests  as  far  east  as  Astrabad,  beyond  which  it  now  meets 
with  the  barrier  of  the  desert  of  Mariana.  East  of  the 
great  Tian  Shan  range,  on  the  plains  and  in  the  jungles 
of  Eastern  Turkestan,  especially  in  the  neighbourhood  of 
Kashgar  and  Yarkand,  is  found  another  collarless  species, 
P.  shawi ,  which  even  when  taken  young  is  one  of  the  most 
untamable  of  birds  in  captivity,  j  Mr.  D.  G.  Elliot 
(Monogr.  Phasianidae,  ii.)  considers  that  this  is  the  origi¬ 
nal  stock  of  the  group,  and  to  it  may  be  united  a  doubt¬ 
fully  distinct  and  at  all  events  closely  allied  species 
described  from  two  headless  specimens,  under  the  name 
of  P.  insignis,  also  found  in  Yarkand.  These  forms 
lead  to  P.  mongolicus,  a  well-marked  species  with  a  broad 
white  collar,  an  amethystine  throat,  and  a  greenish  rump, 
which  is  found  near  Bokhara,  on  the  Syr-Daria  (the 
ancient  Jaxartes),  and  thence,  past  Lake  Balkasli,  through¬ 
out  that  portion  of  Mongolia  which  lies  to  the  north  of  Gobi. 
On  the  Amu-Daria  (the  ancient  Oxus)  is  found  a  remarkably 

*  The  bone-beds  of  Sanson  in  Gascony  have  yielded  remains  which  have  been 
referred  to  two  species  of  Phasianus. 

t  H.  H.  Giglioli,  ‘Ibis,’  1881,  p.  207. 

t  Scully,  ‘  Stray  Feathers,’  1876,  p.  179. 


94 


PHASIANIDiE. 


handsome  species,  P.  chrysomelas,  with  a  small  white  collar 
and  rich  golden  neck  and  breast-feathers  tipped  with  emerald 
green ;  but  although  nearer  in  point  of  distance  to  P.  col - 
chicus,  neither  of  the  above  so  closely  resemble  our  Pheasant 
as  does  P.  shawi,  which  is  now  found  only  on  the  eastern 
side  of  a  lofty  range  whose  passes  attain  an  altitude  of 
14,000  feet.  This  distribution  is  exceedingly  puzzling,  and 
can  only  be  cleared  up  by  more  exact  information.  The 
other  species  of  the  group  are  the  collarless  P.  decollatus  of 
Moupin,  where  it  is  the  only  species,  but  which  mixes  on  its 
eastern  frontier  with  the  collared  P.  torquatus  of  Southern 
China ;  the  two  collarless  species,  P.  elegans  of  the  west  of 
Secliuen  and  Yunnan,  and  P.  versicolor  of  Japan  ;  and  the 
collared  P.  formosanus,  of  the  island  of  Formosa.  Excepting 
for  the  introduction  of  P.  torquatus  and  P.  versicolor  into 
our  covers,  these  species  have  no  immediate  bearing  upon 
the  question. 

Whatever  may  have  been  the  date  of  the  introduction 
of  the  Pheasant  into  England,  it  has  undoubtedly  main¬ 
tained  itself  in  this  country  in  a  wild  state  for  a  period 
sufficient  to  entitle  it  to  be  considered  a  British  bird.  Upon 
this  point  Professor  Boyd  Dawkins  has  contributed  the 
following : — 

“It  may  interest  your  readers  to  know  that  the  most 
ancient  record  of  the  occurrence  of  the  Pheasant  in  Great 
Britain  is  to  be  found  in  the  tract  ‘  De  inventione  Sanctae 
Crucis  nostrae  in  Monte  Acuto  et  de  ductione  ejusdem  apud 
Waltham,’  edited  from  manuscripts  in  the  British  Museum 
by  Professor  Stubbs,  and  published  in  1861.  The  bill  of 
fare  drawn  up  by  Harold  for  the  Canon’s  household  of  from 
six  to  seven  persons,  a.d.  1059,  and  preserved  in  a  manu¬ 
script  of  the  date  of  circa  1177,  was  as  follows  (p.  16)  : — 

“  ‘Erant  autem  tales  pitantiae  unicuique  canonico  :  afesto 
Sancti  Micliaelis  usque  ad  caput  jejunii  [Ash  Wednesday] 
aut  xii.  merulfe,  aut  ii.  agauseae  [Agace,  a  magpie  (?)  : 
Ducange~\  aut  ii.  perdices,  aut  unus  yhasianus,  reliquis 
temporibus  aut  ancae  [Geese :  Ducange ]  ant  gallinae.’ 

“  Now  the  point  of  this  passage  is  that  it  shews  that 


PHEASANT. 


95 


Phasianus  colchicus  had  become  naturalized  in  England 
before  the  Norman  invasion ;  and  as  tlie  English  and  Danes 
were  not  the  introducers  of  strange  animals  in  any  well- 
autlienticated  case,  it  offers  fair  presumptive  evidence  that  it 
was  introduced  by  the  Koman  conquerors,  who  naturalized 
the  Fallow  Deer  in  Britain.”* 

It  appears  by  Dugdale’s  ‘  Monasticon  Anglicanum  ’  that 
at  the  commencement  of  the  reign  of  Henry  I.  (a.d.  1100) 
license  was  given  to  the  Abbot  of  Amesbury  to  kill  hares 
and  Pheasants ;  and,  according  to  Echard’s  History  of  Eng¬ 
land,  in  a.d.  1299,  during  the  reign  of  Edward  I.  the  price 
of  a  Pheasant  was  fourpence  ;  the  value  of  a  Mallard  being 
three-halfpence,  a  Plover  one  penny,  and  a  couple  of  Wood¬ 
cocks  three-halfpence.  To  these  early  notices  may  he  added 
one  contributed  by  the  Saturday  lievieiv  critic  of  the  1st 
Edition  of  Mr.  W.  B.  Tegetmeier’s  admirable  treatise  on 
<Plieasants,’f  to  wit  that  Thomas  a  Becket,  on  the  day  of 
his  martyrdom  (December  29,  1179),  dined  on  a  Pheasant 
and  enjoyed  it,  as  it  would  seem  from  the  remark  of  one  of 
his  monks  that  “  he  dined  more  heartily  and  cheerfully  that 
day  than  usual.” 

Mr.  Harting,  in  his  ‘  Ornithology  of  Shakspeare,’  gives 
numerous  interesting  details  and  quotations,  shewing  the 
esteem  in  which  this  bird  was  held  for  the  table  in  somewhat 
more  recent  times.  It  appears,  by  Leland’s  account  of  the 
feast  at  the  enthronization  of  George  Nevill,  Archbishop  of 
York  in  the  reign  of  Edward  IV.,  that  two  hundred 
“  fessauntes  ”  were  served  with  other  meats;  and  in  the 
‘  Household  Book  ’  of  the  L ’Estranges  of  Hunstanton,  from 
a.d.  1519  to  a.d.  1578,  there  are  such  entries  in  the  reign 
of  Henry  VIII.  as  “  vj.  fesands  and  ij.  ptrychys  kyllyed  wt 
the  hauks.’’  “  Item,  to  Mr.  Ashley’s  servant  for  brynging 
of  a  Fesant  Cocke  and  four  Woodcocks  on  the  18th  day  of 
October,  in  reward,  four-pence.”  “  Item,  a  Fesant  kylled 
with  the  Goshawke.”  Similar  allusions  are  made  in  the 

*  Ibis,  1869,  p.  358. 

t  See  p.  18  of  the  2nd  Edition  (1881),  to  which  the  Editor  is  under  great 
obligations. 


96 


PH  ASIAN  IDvE. 


‘Household  Book’  of  the  fifth  Earl  of  Northumberland  (1512), 
and  from  the  time  of  the  Tudor  monarclis,  Pheasants  are 
specified  with  Partridges  in  the  statutes  for  the  protection  of 
game. 

In  Scotland,  according  to  Mr.  R.  Gray,*  the  first  mention 
of  the  Pheasant  occurs  in  an  Act  dated  June  8,  1594,  in  the 
reign  of  James  VI.,  a  great  protector  of  all  kinds  of  game. 
In  the  aforesaid  year  he  “  ordained  that  quhatsumever  person 
or  persones  at  ony  time  hereafter  sail  happen  to  slay  deir, 
harts,  pliesants,  foulls,  partricks,  or  uther  wyld  foule  quhat- 
sumever,  ather  with  gun,  crace  how,  dogges,  balks,  or  girnes, 
or  he  uther  ingine  quhatsumever,  or  that  beis  found  schutting 
with  ony  gun  therein,”  &c.,  &c.,  shall  pay  the  usual  “  hun- 
dretli  punds,”  &c.  It  is  now  generally  distributed  in  suit¬ 
able  localities  from  Sutherland  to  Wigtownshire,  and  in  the 
neighbourhood  of  Loch  Lomond  it  is  occasionally  seen  on 
the  mountain-sides  as  far  up  as  1,200  feet.  Introduced  into 
Lewis  in  the  Outer  Hebrides  about  fifteen  years  ago  by  Sir 
James  Matlieson,  it  has  become  fairly  established  there,  as 
well  as  in  Islay,  where  it  grows  to  a  large  size.  The  east 
side  of  Scotland  does  not,  as  a  rule,  appear  to  be  so  well 
suited  to  it,  but  it  has  thriven  in  the  coverts  near  Banff 
belonging  to  the  Earl  of  Fife. 

As  regards  Ireland,  the  date  of  its  introduction  is  unknown. 
Giraldus  Cambrensis,  in  his  ‘  Topograpliia  Hibernica  ’  (a.d. 
1188-1186),  expressly  states  that  in  his  day  there  were 
neither  Pheasants  nor  Partridges  ;  and  Ranulphus  Higden, 
who  died  at  an  advanced  age  about  1868,  mentions  in  his 
‘  Polychronicon/  ‘  perdices  ’  and  ‘  pliasiani  ’  as  being  absent 
from  Ireland. f  About  two  centuries  later,  in  ‘  A  Brife 
Description  of  Ireland  made  in  the  yeere  1589  by  Robert 
Payne,’  is  the  following: — “There  be  great  store  of  wild 
swannes,  cranes,  phesantes ,  partriges,  heathcocks,  plouers 
greene  and  gray,  curlewes,  woodcockes,  rayles,  quailes,  and 
all  other  fowles  much  more  plentifull  than  in  England.” 
Eynes  Moryson,  who  was  in  Ireland  from  1599  till  1603, 

*  Birds  of  the  West  of  Scotland,  p.  226. 

t  Halting,  ‘Zoo!.’  1881,  pp.  437  and  439. 


PHEASANT. 


97 


observes  that  “  they  have  such  plenty  of  pheasants,  as  I 
have  known  sixty  served  up  at  one  feast,  and  abound  much 
more  with  rails,  but  partridges  are  somewhat  scarce.”  (Descr. 
of  Ireland,  ii.  p.  368.)  Smith  seems  to  have  imagined  that 
Pheasants  were  indigenous  to  the  island,  as  in  his  History  of 
Cork  it  is  remarked  : — “  They  are  now  [1749]  indeed  very 
rare,  most  of  our  woods  being  cut  down.”  At  the  present 
day  it  is  generally  distributed  throughout  the  wooded  parts 
of  the  island. 

Up  to  the  end  of  the  last  century  our  Pheasant  had 
deviated  but  little,  if  indeed  at  all,  from  the  typical 
P.  colchicus ;  but  about  that  time  the  introduction  of  the 
Chinese  King-necked  bird,  P.  torquatus,  commenced.  The 
males  of  this  hardy  species,  although  smaller  in  size  than 
the  English  birds,  are  exceedingly  pugnacious,  and  per¬ 
haps  also  the  beauty  of  their  plumage  rendered  them  pecu¬ 
liarly  attractive  to  the  hens.  At  all  events,  in  a  polyga¬ 
mous  bird  like  the  Pheasant,  they  rapidly  effected  a  con¬ 
siderable  alteration  in  the  breed,  and  at  the  present  day  it 
is  difficult  to  find  birds  without  some  trace  of  hybridism. 
Some  offsprings  of  the  first  cross  are,  indeed,  scarcely  to  be 
distinguished  from  the  Chinese  bird ;  and  although  many  of 
the  features  of  that  species  are  gradually  bred  out,  yet  the 
characteristic  white  ring  is  long  retained.  The  beautiful 
Japanese  Pheasant,  P.  versicolor,  has  also  been  introduced 
in  small  numbers ;  some  magnificent  hybrids  being  the 
result,  although  the  influences  of  the  cross  have  not  proved 
lasting.  Examples  of  the  splendid  long-tailed  P.  reevesi 
have  also  been  turned  out,  and  in  some  districts  they  have 
succeeded  very  well ;  as  many  as  sixty  having  been  shot  in  a 
single  season  in  the  covers  of  Lord  Tweedmoutli  in  Inver¬ 
ness-shire.  Lord  Lilford,  who  presented  to  the  British 
Museum  a  fine  male  hybrid  shot  in  Sussex  in  December, 
1879,  says  that  they  have  done  fairly  in  Northamptonshire, 
but  considers  that  in  this  country  a  wide  range  of  hill 
coverts  would  be  most  suitable  to  them ;  whilst  for  the 
table,  he  thinks  they  are  distinctly  superior  to  our  com¬ 
mon  bird.  The  so-called  Bohemian  Pheasant  is  merely 


VOL.  III. 


o 


98 


PHAS1ANID.E. 


a  pale  buff-colourecl  variety  which  crops  up  in  certain 
localities. 

Whilst  on  the  subject  of  introduction,  it  may  be  men¬ 
tioned  that  Pheasants  have  been  imported  both  from  England 
and  China  into  New  Zealand,  where  they  have  multiplied 
with  marvellous  rapidity.  The  Chinese  Pheasant  was 
acclimatized  in  the  island  of  St.  Helena  in  1518  by  some 
Portuguese  exiled  from  Goa,  and  their  descendants  continue 
to  thrive ;  a  slight  variation  from  the  original  type  being 
noticeable  in  their  plumage,  probably  owing  to  the  influences 
of  altered  climate  and  diet.  Pheasants  have  also  been  intro¬ 
duced  in  the  neighbouring  island  of  Ascension. 

Woods  that  are  thick  at  the  bottom,  with  long  grass  kept 
up  by  brambles  and  bushes,  thick  plantations,  or  marshy 
islands  and  moist  grounds  overgrown  with  rushes,  reeds,  or 
osiers,  are  the  favourite  resorts  of  Pheasants,  in  default  of 
which  they  take  to  thick  hedgerows,  but  can  seldom  be 
induced  to  remain  long  on  any  ground  bare  of  shelter,  how¬ 
ever  undisturbed.  Wood  and  water  are  indispensable. 

The  short  crow  of  the  males  may  be  heard  in  March,  when 
they  fight  freely  for  the  possession  of  the  hens,  and  display 
their  plumage  to  the  greatest  advantage.  The  females  have 
been  known  to  commence  laying  in  that  month,  although,  as 
a  rule,  not  until  April,  hatching  by  the  end  of  May  or  the 
beginning  of  June.  Sitting  birds  have  also  been  found  as 
late  as  the  beginning  of  September.  They  make  a  slight  nest 
upon  the  ground,  in  which  they  deposit  from  ten  to  fourteen 
eggs,  measuring  about  1*85  by  1*45  in.,  generally  of  a 
uniform  olive-brown  colour ;  but  pale  bluish  varieties  are, 
however,  not  uncommon.  The  well-known  suppression  of  the 
scent  in  a  sitting  hen,  so  necessary  for  the  safety  of  a  ground¬ 
nesting  species,  is  due,  in  the  opinion  of  Mr.  Tegetmeier,  to 
vicarious  secretion ;  that  is  to  say,  the  odoriferous  particles 
which  are  usually  exhaled  by  the  skin  are,  during  incubation, 
excreted  into  the  intestinal  canal. 

Incubation  lasts  about  twenty-four  days.  Two  and  even 
three  hen  Pheasants  will  sometimes  lay  in  the  same  nest, 
and  many  instances  are  on  record  of  nests  containing  both 


PHEASANT. 


99 


Partridges’  and  Pheasants’  eggs,  the  hens  of  both  species 
having  been  observed  sitting  side  by  side  in  perfect  amity. 
The  common  fowl  has  also  been  taken  into  partnership  ;  and 
three  wild  hen  Pheasants  are  said  to  have  availed  themselves 
of  the  nest  of  a  tame  Duck.  Loftv  situations,  such  as  old 
nests  and  squirrels’  dreys  in  trees,  are  sometimes  selected,  but 
the  entire  brood  is  rarely  brought  down  in  safety.  Cock  birds, 
as  a  rule,  take  no  share  whatever  in  the  duties  of  incubation  ; 
yet  there  are  a  few  well-authenticated  instances  of  their  having 
been  seen  sitting  on  nests  in  covers,  as  well  as  in  aviaries,  and 
also  of  their  assuming  the  protection  of  the  young  brood. 

The  food  of  Pheasants  in  a  wild  state  consists  of  grain, 
seeds,  green  leaves,  and  insects,  especially  ants  and  their 
larvae,  which  form  the  chief  sustenance  of  the  young.  They 
have  been  observed  pulling  down  ripe  blackberries  from  a 
hedge- side,  and  later  in  the  year  flying  up  into  high  bushes 
to  pick  sloes  and  haws.  The  root  of  the  buttercup,  Ranun¬ 
culus  bulbosus,  and  also  the  pilewort  crowfoot,  Ranunculus 
Jicaria,  forms  a  great  portion  of  their  food  during  the 
months  of  May  and  June,  and  at  the  latter  end  of  autumn 
their  crops  are  often  found  to  be  distended  with  acorns  of  so 
large  a  size,  that  they  could  not  have  been  swallowed  without 
great  difficulty.  The  “spangles”  or  galls  of  the  oak  are 
also  favourite  food.  Pheasants  destroy  enormous  numbers 
of  injurious  insects  ;  no  less  than  1,200  wire-worms  having 
been  taken  out  of  the  crop  of  a  single  bird,  and  from 
another  Mr.  F.  Bond  extracted  440  grubs  of  the  crane-fly. 
Several  instances  are  on  record  of  the  slow-worm  ( Anguis 
frag  ills )  being  devoured,  and  there  is  one  instance  of  a 
Pheasant  being  found  dead,  evidently  choked  by  swallowing 
a  short-tailed  field-mouse.  The  leaves  of  the  yew-tree  have 
also  been  known  to  prove  fatal,  and  shot,  picked  up  in  the 
covers,  has  produced  lead-poisoning.*  Towards  and  through¬ 
out  the  winter,  Pheasants  in  preserves,  to  prevent  them  from 
straying  away  in  their  search  for  food,  require  to  be  supplied 
constantly  with  barley  in  the  straw,  or  beans,  or  both  ;  and 
one  good  mode  of  inducing  them  to  stop  at  home  is  to  sow 

*  W.  B.  Tegetmeier,  ‘Pheasants,’  Ed.  2,  p.  88. 


100 


PHASIANIDvE. 


in  summer,  beans,  peas,  and  buckwheat,  mixed  together, 
leaving  the  whole  crop  standing  on  the  ground  ;  the  strong 
and  tall  stalks  of  the  beans  carry  up,  sustain,  and  support 
the  other  two,  and  all  three  together  afford,  for  a  long  time, 
both  food  and  cover.  Maize  or  Indian  corn  is,  however, 
preferred  to  any  other  food. 

During  summer,  till  the  old  birds  have  completed  their 
seasonal  moult,  Pheasants  do  not  roost  constantly  in  trees, 
but  afterwards  they  may  be  heard,  about  dusk,  to  go  up  to 
their  roost,  by  the  flutter  of  their  wings,  and  their  peculiar 
notes  ;  the  male  giving  his  short  chuckling  crow,  and  the 
female  her  more  shrill  piping  whistle,  as  soon  as  they  get 
upon  their  feet  on  the  branch  :  both  generally  roost  upon  the 
smaller  trees,  and  near  the  stem.  Unless  disturbed,  and 
obliged  to  secure  their  safety  by  flight,  Pheasants  seldom 
use  their  wings,  except,  as  before  noticed,  at  night  and 
morning  ;  nor  have  they  much  occasion,  as  a  mode  of 
progression,  for  they  get  over  the  ground  with  remark¬ 
able  speed  by  running.  But  when  well  on  the  wing  they 
fly  with  tremendous  force,  and  plate-glass  windows  J  inch 
thick  have  been  smashed  into  fragments  by  birds  deceived 
by  the  reflection  in  a  mirror  facing  the  window,  or  attracted 
by  a  light  inside  ;  and  also  when  pursued  by  a  hawk.  As 
regards  the  duration  of  flight,  Mr.  Cordeaux  states  that 
when  shooting  in  the  marshes  near  Grimsby  on  the  Lincoln¬ 
shire  side  of  the  Humber,  which  is  there  nearly  four  miles 
across,  a  man  working  on  the  sea  embankment  called  his 
attention  to  two  Pheasants  which  had  just  flown  over  from  the 
Yorkshire  side,  and  which,  on  being  shot,  proved  to  be  hens 
in  very  good  condition.  Pheasants  can  also  swim  with  con¬ 
siderable  facility,  both  old  and  young  birds  having  occasion¬ 
ally  been  known  to  take  to  the  water  of  their  own  free  will. 
Although  capable  of  being  rendered  tame,  and  even  in 
individual  cases  disagreeably  familiar,  the  Pheasant  never 
becomes  domesticated  in  the  same  sense  as  our  common 
fowls ;  the  young,  even  when  hatched  under  a  domestic  hen 
and  accustomed  to  be  fed,  always  betaking  themselves  to 
the  covers  on  the  approach  of  strangers. 


PHEASANT. 


101 


In  the  last  Edition  mention  is  made  of  a  brace  of  cock 
Pheasants  which  turned  the  scale  at  91bs. ;  hut  this  weight 
has  since  been  surpassed  in  several  instances  ;  the  heaviest 
as  yet  on  record  being  one  described  in  ‘  The  Field,’ 
vol.  xlvi.  p.  179,  weighed  independently  by  Mr.  Kelly  and 
Admiral  Sir  Houston  Stewart,  and  which  attained  to  61bs. 
less  loz.  This  was  doubtless  owing  to  the  fattening  influence 
of  feeding  on  maize  ;  and  the  average  of  an  old  cock  bird 
may  be  taken  at  31bs.  to  BJlbs.,  and  a  hen  about  2Jlbs. 

Like  other  gallinaceous  birds,  the  Pheasant  has  a  strong 
inclination  to  breed  with  other  birds,  not  of  its  own  species. 
Edwards  long  ago  figured,  plate  337,  a  bird  which  was  con¬ 
sidered  to  have  been  produced  between  a  Pheasant  and  a 
Turkey.  I  have  twice  been  shewn  birds  that  were  said  to 
be  the  produce  of  the  Pheasant  and  the  Guinea  Fowl,  and 
the  evidence  to  be  derived  from  the  plumage  was  in  favour 
of  the  statement.  Of  birds  produced  between  the  Pheasant 
and  the  Black  Grouse,  several  figures  and  particulars  have 
been  given  under  the  head  of  Black  Grouse.  Birds  pro¬ 
duced  between  the  Pheasant  and  Common  Fowl  are  of 
frequent  occurrence,  and  such  a  one  is  usually  called  a  Pero. 
The  Zoological  Society  have  possessed  several,  which  were 
for  a  time  kept  together,  but  shewed  no  signs  of  breeding ; 
they  are  considered,  like  other  hydrids,  to  be  unproductive 
among  themselves,  all  being  half-bred  ;  but  when  paired  with 
the  true  Pheasant  or  the  Fowl,  the  case  is  different.  In 
September,  1836,  a  communication  from  Mr.  Edward  Fuller, 
of  Carleton  Hall,  near  Saxmundham,  was  read,  which  stated 
that  his  gamekeeper  had  succeeded  in  rearing  two  birds 
from  a  Barn-door  Hen  having  a  cross  from  a  Pheasant,  and 
a  Pheasant  cock ;  that  the  birds  partook  equally  of  the  two 
species  in  their  habits,  manners  and  appearance,  and  con¬ 
cluded  by  presenting  them  to  the  Society.  The  gamekeeper, 
in  a  short  note  which  accompanied  the  birds,  stated  that  he 
had  bred  them,  and  they  were  tliree-quarter-bred  Phea¬ 
sants.  (Zool.  Proceedings  for  1836,  p.  84.)  Several  speci¬ 
mens  of  hybrids,  from  the  preserved  collection  in  the  Museum 
of  the  Society,  were  placed  on  the  table  the  same  evening 


102 


PH  ASIAN  ID,E. 


for  exhibition  and  comparison.  These  had  been  bred  between 
the  Pheasant  and  Common  Fowl,  the  Common  Pheasant 
and  the  Silver  Pheasant,  and  the  Common  Pheasant  with  the 
Gold  Pheasant.  The  Rev.  Richard  Lubbock,  in  his  ‘Fauna 
of  Norfolk,’  mentions  that  in  the  beginning  of  January,  1845, 
he  was  called  into  a  bird-preserver’s  shop  to  look  at  a  curious 
hybrid  obtained  near  Thetford,  believed  to  be  bred  between 
a  Pheasant  and  a  Red-legged  Partridge ;  hut  Mr.  J.  H. 
Gurney,  who  has  examined  this  bird,  says  it  is  without 
doubt  a  female  Golden  Pheasant. 

A  history  of  our  Pheasant  would  be  incomplete  without  a 
notice  of  that  remarkable  assumption  of  a  plumage  resem¬ 
bling  that  of  the  male  observed  to  take  place  in  some  of  the 
females,  and  which  is  well  known  to  sportsmen  and  game- 
keepers,  by  whom  such  birds  are  usually  called  Mule  Phea¬ 
sants.  The  name  is  correct,  since  some  of  our  dictionaries 
shew  that  the  term  mule  is  derived  from  a  word  which  signifies 
barren,  and  these  hen  Pheasants  are  incapable  of  producing 
eggs,  from  derangement  of  the  generative  organs  ;  sometimes 
owing  to  an  original  internal  defect,  sometimes  from  subse¬ 
quent  disease,  and  sometimes  from  old  age.  The  illustration 
given  on  the  next  page  represents  on  a  small  scale  a  pre¬ 
paration  of  part  of  the  body  of  a  healthy  female  Pheasant 
in  winter,  in  the  left-hand  figure ;  and  that  of  a  diseased 
female  Pheasant  on  the  right  hand.  The  disorganization  is 
marked  by  the  appearance  of  the  dark  lead  colour  pervading 
the  ovarium,  situated  on  the  middle  line,  and  between  the 
two  kidneys,  which  dark  colour  is  seen  in  patches  on  various 
parts  of  the  oviduct  below ;  and  I  have  never  examined  a 
hen  Pheasant  assuming  the  plumage  of  the  male  without 
finding  more  or  less  of  the  appearance  here  indicated. 

In  some  seasons,  for  instance  those  of  1881  and  1882,  a 
preponderance  of  cock-birds  compared  with  hens  has  been 
observed.  Mr.  Harvie-Brown  states  that  such  has  been  the 
case  with  birds  hatched  in  his  covers  from  eggs  obtained 
from  Elveden,  and  also  in  many  covers  in  Peebles,  Fife, 
Dumbarton,  and  Perthshire.  Similar  accounts  have  been 
received  from  Norfolk,  Surrey,  and  Sussex. 


PHEASANT. 


103 


In  the  adult  male  the  beak  is  of  a  whitish  horn  colour, 
rather  darker  at  the  base  ;  the  eyes  surrounded  with  a  naked 
skin  of  a  bright  scarlet  colour,  speckled  with  a  bluish-black ; 
the  irides  hazel ;  the  head,  and  the  neck  all  round,  steel-blue, 
reflecting  brown,  green,  and  purple,  in  different  lights  ;  ear- 
coverts  dark  brown  ;  feathers  of  the  upper  part  of  the  hack 
orange-red,  tipped  with  velvet-black ;  back  and  scapulars 
orange-red,  the  centre  of  each  feather  dark  brown,  with  an 


outer  band  of  straw-yellow  ;  saddle  hackle  feathers,  rump, 
and  upper  tail-coverts,  light  brownish-red ;  wing-coverts  of 
two  shades  of  red ;  quill-featliers  dull  greyish-brown,  varied 
with  pale  wood-brown ;  tail-feathers  very  long,  pale  yellow- 
brown,  with  narrow  transverse  black  bars  about  one  inch 
apart ;  breast  and  belly  golden  red  ;  each  feather  margined 
with  velvet-black,  and  reflecting  tints  of  gold  and  purple ; 
lower  part  of  the  belly,  vent,  and  under  tail-coverts,  brownish- 


104 


PHASIANID/E. 


black ;  legs,  spurs,  toes,  and  claws,  brownish-lead  colour  ; 
the  spurs  become  pointed  and  sharp  after  the  first  year. 

The  whole  length  of  a  male  Pheasant  is  about  three  feet, 
depending  upon  the  age  of  the  bird,  and  the  consequent 
length  of  the  two  middle  feathers  of  the  tail,  which  fre¬ 
quently  measure  two  feet.  Wing  from  the  carpal  joint  to 
the  end,  nearly  ten  inches ;  the  wing  in  form  rounded  ;  the 
fifth  quill-featlier  the  longest. 

The  female  measures  about  two  feet.  The  general  colour 
of  the  plumage  pale  yellowish-brown  ;  varied  by  different 
shades  of  darker  brown  ;  sides  of  the  neck  tinged  with  red 
and  green.  Females  assuming  the  plumage  of  males  may 
be  known  by  the  absence  of  brilliancy  of  tint,  and  the  golden 
red  feathers  on  the  breast  generally  want  the  contrast  of  the 
broad  dark  velvet-like  margin.  The  legs  and  feet  retain 
their  smaller  and  more  slender  female  character,  and  are 
usually  without  spurs  ;  but  Mr.  Bond  has  an  example  with 
a  spur  on  one  leg. 

Young  birds,  of  both  sexes,  in  their  first  plumage,  re¬ 
semble  the  females. 

White  and  Pied  varieties  of  the  Pheasant  are  not  uncom¬ 
mon  ;  but  for  further  details,  as  well  as  for  instructions  as 
to  the  management  of  Pheasants  both  in  the  covert  and 
the  aviary,  and  the  disorders  to  which  they  are  liable,  the 
reader  is  referred  to  Mr.  Tegetmeier’s  excellent  work  already 
mentioned. 


COMMON  PARTRIDGE 


105 


r,  t 

del 
e  'la 
pots 
imp] ». 

>ruit 

este  ] 

dign 
d’un 
i.  anij 


?  on  a 


ina  OA  LLlNsE. 

idj( 


i  e  u 


PTIASIANIDAi. 


Perdix  cinerea,  Latliam.* 

THE  COMMON  PARTRIDGE. 

Perdix  cinerea. 

Perdix,  Brissonf. — Bill  short,  strong,  naked  at  the  base;  upper  mandible 
convex,  deflected  towards  the  tip.  Nostrils  basal,  lateral,  the  orifice  partly 
concealed  by  an  arched  naked  scale.  Wings  short,  concave,  rounded  in  form  ; 
the  first  three  feathers  shorter  than  the  fourth  or  fifth,  which  are  the  longest  in 
the  wing.  Tail,  of  eighteen  feathers,  short,  rounded.  Feet,  with  three  toes  in 
front,  and  one  behind,  those  in  front  united  by  a  membrane  as  far  as  the 
first  articulation. 

The  enlarged  demands  of  an  increasing  population,  tempt¬ 
ing  prices  in  seasons  of  scarcity,  or  the  progress  of  science 

*  Ind.  Orn.,  ii.  p.  645  (1790,  ex.  Brisson). 
t  Ornithologie,  i.  p.  219  (1760). 


VOL.  Ill 


P 


106 


PHASIANIDiE. 


unfolding  the  nature  of  soils,  have  each  in  turn  induced  the 
cultivation  of  various  tracts  of  ground  unplouglied  before  ; 
and  as  the  labours  of  the  agriculturists  encroach  upon  the 
boundaries  of  the  moor,  the  Grouse  retires,  and  the  Partridge 
takes  its  place  upon  the  land  :  the  districts  best  cultivated, 
and  producing  the  most  corn,  frequently  also  producing  the 
greatest  number  of  Partridges. 

Of  a  bird  so  universally  known,  little  that  is  new  can  he 
said ;  with  its  appearance  and  its  habits  almost  all  are 
familiar.  These  birds  pair  in  February  ;  but  seldom  begin 
to  lay  eggs  till  towards  the  end  of  April  or  the  beginning  of 
May ;  a  slight  depression  in  the  ground,  with  a  few  dead 
leaves  or  dried  grass  bents  scratched  together,  serves  for  a 
nest ;  and  the  place  chosen  is  sometimes  only  a  few  yards 
from  a  public  footpath.  Occasionally,  also,  the  nest  of  a 
Partridge  is  found  in  a  situation  the  least  likely  to  be  occu¬ 
pied  by  a  bird  so  decidedly  terrestrial  in  its  habits.  In 
Daniel’s  ‘Rural  Sports,’  it  is  recorded  that  a  Partridge  made 
her  nest  on  the  top  of  an  oak  pollard  ;  and  this  tree  had 
one  end  of  the  bars  of  a  stile,  where  there  was  a  footpath, 
fastened  into  it,  and  by  the  passengers  going  over  the  stile 
before  she  sat  close,  she  was  disturbed,  and  first  discovered. 
She  there  hatched  sixteen  eggs  ;  and  her  brood,  scrambling 
down  the  short  and  rough  ground  which  grew  out  all  round 
from  the  trunk  of  the  tree,  reached  the  ground  in  safety. 
The  eggs  of  the  Partridge  are,  however,  mostly  deposited 
among  brushwood  or  long  grass,  or  in  fields  of  clover  and 
standing  corn  ;  they  are  generally  of  a  uniform  olive-brown 
colour,  but  pale  blue  or  whitish  varieties  are  not  very  un¬ 
common  :  they  measure  about  1*45  by  1*1  in.,  and  from  twelve 
to  twenty  are  produced  by  one  female.  Twenty-eight  eggs 
in  one  instance,  and  thirty-three  eggs  in  two  other  instances, 
are  recorded  as  having  been  found  in  one  nest ;  but  there  is 
little  doubt  in  these  cases  that  more  than  one  bird  had  laid 
eggs  in  the  same  nest.  In  one  of  the  instances  recorded,  in 
which  the  nest  with  thirty-three  eggs  was  in  a  fallow  field, 
twenty-three  young  birds  were  hatched  out  and  went  off  with 
the  old  ones,  and  four  of  the  eggs  left  behind  had  live  birds 


COMMON  PARTRIDGE. 


107 


in  them.  The  attachment  of  Partridges  to  their  eggs  and 
young  is  proverbial.  Montagu  mentions  an  instance  in 
which  a  Partridge,  on  the  point  of  hatching,  was  taken, 
together  with  her  eggs,  and  carried  in  a  hat  to  some  dis¬ 
tance  ;  she  continued  to  sit,  and  brought  out  her  young. 
Mr.  Jesse  mentions  two  cases: — “A  farmer  discovered  a 
Partridge  sitting  on  its  eggs  in  a  grass-field.  The  bird 
allowed  him  to  pass  his  hand  frequently  down  its  back  with¬ 
out  moving,  or  showing  any  fear ;  but  if  he  offered  to  touch 
the  eggs,  the  poor  bird  immediately  pecked  his  hand.  A 
gentleman  living  near  Spilsby,  in  Lincolnshire,  was  one  day 
riding  over  his  farm  and  superintending  his  ploughmen,  who 
were  ploughing  a  piece  of  fallow  land.  He  saw  a  Partridge 
glide  off  her  nest  so  near  the  foot  of  one  of  his  plough- 
horses,  that  he  thought  the  eggs  must  be  crushed  ;  this, 
however,  was  not  the  case ;  but  he  found  that  the  old  bird 
was  on  the  point  of  hatching,  as  several  of  the  eggs  were 
beginning  to  chip.  He  saw  the  old  bird  return  to  her  nest 
the  instant  he  left  the  spot.  It  was  evident  that  the  next 
round  of  the  plough  must  bury  the  eggs  and  the  nest  in  the 
furrow.  His  surprise  was  great  when,  returning  with  the 
plough,  he  came  to  the  spot,  and  saw  the  nest  indeed,  but 
the  eggs  and  bird  were  gone.  An  idea  struck  him  that  she 
had  removed  her  eggs  ;  and  he  found  her,  before  he  left  the 
field,  sitting  under  the  hedge  upon  twenty-one  eggs,  and  she 
brought  off  nineteen  birds.  The  round  of  ploughing  had 
occupied  about  twenty  minutes,  in  which  time  she,  probably 
assisted  by  the  cock  bird,  had  removed  the  twenty-one  eggs 
to  a  distance  of  about  forty  yards.” 

Incubation  with  the  Partridge  lasts  twenty-one  days,  and 
the  great  hatcliing-time  in  the  southern  parts  of  England 
is  from  the  20tli  of  June  till  the  end  of  that  month. *  Mr. 
Selby  observes,  that  “  as  soon  as  the  young  are  excluded, 
the  male  bird  joins  the  covey,  and  displays  equal  anxiety 
with  the  female  for  their  support  and  defence.  There  are 
few  persons  conversant  with  country  affairs  who  have  not 

*  Abnormal  instances  of  nests  containing  eggs  in  January,  and  young  being 
hatched  in  February,  are  on  record. 


108 


PIlASIANIDiE. 


witnessed  the  confusion  produced  in  a  brood  of  young  Par¬ 
tridges  by  any  sudden  alarm ;  or  who  have  not  admired  the 
stratagems  to  which  the  parent  birds  have  recourse,  in  order 
to  deceive  and  draw  off  the  intruder.  Their  parental  instinct, 
indeed,  is  not  always  confined  to  mere  devices  for  engaging 
attention  ;  hut  where  there  exists  a  probability  of  success, 
they  will  fight  obstinately  for  the  preservation  of  their 
young,  as  appear  from  many  instances  already  narrated  by 
different  writers,  and  to  which  the  following  may  he  added, 
for  the  truth  of  which  I  can  vouch  : — A  person  engaged  in  a 
field,  not  far  from  my  residence,  had  his  attention  arrested 
by  some  objects  on  the  ground,  which,  upon  approaching,  he 
found  to  be  two  Partridges,  a  male  and  female,  engaged  in 
battle  with  a  Carrion  Crow ;  so  successful  and  so  absorbed 
were  they  in  the  issue  of  the  contest,  that  they  actually  held 
the  Crow  till  it  was  seized  and  taken  from  them  by  the 
spectator  of  the  scene.  Upon  search,  young  birds,  very 
lately  hatched,  were  found  concealed  amongst  the  grass.  It 
would  appear,  therefore,  that  the  Crow,  a  mortal  enemy  to 
all  kinds  of  young  game,  in  attempting  to  carry  off  one  of 
these,  had  been  attacked  by  the  parent  birds,  and  with  this 
singular  result.  The  Editor  has  seen,  near  Lynton,  in 
North  Devon,  the  old  birds  shew  a  bold  front  to  a  Hen- 
Harrier,  to  enable  their  brood  to  gain  the  protection  of  a 
hedge.  Their  desire  to  go  to  nest,  and  their  partiality  to  a 
young  brood,  is  sometimes  shewn  in  another  manner.  In 
1808,  at  Mark’s  Hall,  in  Essex,  Payne,  the  gamekeeper, 
noticed  a  brace  of  Partridges,  whose  nest  had  been  destroyed, 
taking  to  a  nest  of  Pheasant’s  eggs,  the  hen  of  which  had  been 
killed  by  accident.  The  Partridges  hatched  and  brought  up  ten 
young  Pheasants.  The  keeper  frequently  shewed  his  master, 
Colonel  Burgoyne,  and  others,  the  old  Partridges  with  the 
young  Pheasants,  at  different  periods  of  their  growth.* 
During  the  day  a  covey  of  Partridges,  keeping  together, 
are  seldom  seen  on  the  wing  unless  disturbed ;  they  fre¬ 
quent  grass-fields,  preferring  the  hedge-sides,  some  of  them 
picking  up  insects,  and  occasionally  the  green  leaves  of 

*  Daniel’s  Supplement,  p.  397. 


COMMON  PARTRIDGE. 


109 


plants  ;  others  dusting  themselves  in  any  dry  spot  where 
the  soil  is  loose,  and  this  would  seem  to  be  a  constant 
practice  with  them  in  dry  weather,  if  we  may  judge  by  the 
numerous  dusting-places,  with  the  marks  and  feathers,  to  be 
found  about  their  haunts  ;  and  sportsmen  find,  in  the  early 
part  of  the  shooting-season,  that  young  and  weak  birds  are 
frequently  infested  with  numerous  parasites.  In  the  after¬ 
noon  the  covey  repair  to  some  neighbouring  field  of  standing 
corn,  or,  if  that  be  cut,  to  the  stubble,  for  the  second  daily 
meal  of  grain  ;  and,  this  completed,  the  call-note  may  be 
heard,  according  to  White,  as  soon  as  the  beetles  begin  to 
buzz,  and  the  whole  move  away  together  to  some  spot  where 
they  jug,  as  it  is  called — that  is,  squat  and  nestle  close 
together  for  the  night ;  and  from  the  appearance  of  the 
mutings,  or  droppings,  which  are  generally  deposited  in  a 
circle  of  only  a  few  inches  in  diameter,  it  would  appear  that 
the  birds  arrange  themselves  also  in  a  circle,  of  which  their 
tails  form  the  centre,  all  the  heads  being  outwards, — a  dis¬ 
position  which  instinct  has  suggested  as  the  best  for  observ¬ 
ing  the  approach  of  any  of  their  numerous  enemies,  whatever 
may  be  the  direction,  and  thus  increase  their  security  by 
enabling  them  to  avoid  a  surprise.  In  the  morning  early 
they  again  visit  the  stubble  for  a  breakfast,  and  pass  the 
rest  of  the  day  as  before.  Fields  of  clover  or  turnips  are  very 
favourite  places  of  resort  during  the  day.  Mr.  Harvie-Brown 
informs  the  Editor  that  when  the  snow  lay  upon  the  ground 
he  has  known  a  covey  to  roost  regularly  on  a  limb  of  a  large 
tree  ;  and  he  has  also  seen  Partridges  “  treed  ”  by  a  dog. 

Many  Partridges  are  annually  reared  from  eggs  that  are 
found,  or  mowed  out  in  cutting  clover  or  grass,  these  eggs 
being  hatched  under  hens.  The  young  birds  should  be  fed 
with  ants’-eggs,  curd,  grits  ;  small  grain  and  some  vege¬ 
tables,  when  the  birds  are  old  enough.  Partridges  thus 
hatched  and  reared  become  so  tame  as  even  to  be  trouble¬ 
some,  running  close  about  the  feet  of  those  who  are  in  the 
habit  of  supplying  them  several  times  daily  with  food. 
Although  they  live  for  years  in  an  aviary,  records  of  the  Par¬ 
tridge  breeding  in  confinement  are  rare.  Sir  Thomas  Marion 


110 


PHASIANIDiE. 


Wilson,  Bart.,  liacl  a  small  covey  of  seven  or  eight  hatched 
and  reared  hy  the  parent  birds  in  his  aviary  at  Charlton 
in  the  summer  of  1842.  Dry  summers  are  particularly 
favourable  to  the  breeding  of  Partridges ;  White,  in  his 
‘  History  of  Selborne,’  notes,  that  after  the  dry  summers 
of  1740  and  1741,  Partridges  swarmed  to  such  a  degree, 
that  “  unreasonable  sportsmen  killed  twenty  and  sometimes 
thirty  brace  in  a  day.”  The  late  Earl  of  Leicester,  on  the 
7tli  of  October,  1797,  upon  his  manor  at  Warham,  and 
within  a  mile’s  circumference,  bagged  forty  brace  of  Par¬ 
tridges  in  eight  hours,  at  ninety-three  shots  :  every  bird  being 
killed  singly ;  and  the  day  before,  on  the  same  ground,  he 
killed  twenty-two  brace  and  a  half  in  three  hours.  This 
was  wonderfully  good  shooting  in  the  days  of  flint-locks,  but 
as  a  bag  it  has  long  since  been  thrown  into  the  shade.  The 
largest  bag  of  Partridges  on  record  was  made  by  the  Maharajah 
Duleep  Singh  to  his  own  gun  in  1876,  the  number  of  780 
hand-reared  birds  being  shot  on  one  day,  and  814  wild  birds 
on  another ;  the  total  of  six  days’  shooting  near  Thetford 
being  2,530  Partridges,  without  counting  ground-game. 

When  “  driving  ”  is  practised,  telegraph  wires  often  prove 
fatal  to  Partridges,  and  they  frequently  fly  against  these 
unseen  obstacles  on  foggy  mornings. 

Mr.  Selby  observes  that  the  Partridge  is  found  to  vary 
considerably  in  size,  according  to  situation,  and  the  different 
nutritive  qualities  of  food  ;  thus,  the  largest  are  met  with  in 
districts  where  an  abundance  of  grain  prevails,  whilst  upon 
the  precincts  of  moors,  where  arable  land  is  scarce,  they  are 
much  smaller  in  size,  although  by  no  means  inferior  in  point 
of  flavour.  It  has  been  observed  to  me  also,  that  on  some 
heathy  districts  in  Surrey,  such  as  the  Hurtwood  and 
Bagshot  Heath,  Partridges  seldom  frequent  the  corn-lands, 
but  subsist  on  heath  and  hurtle-berries.  These  birds  are 
not  so  white  in  the  flesh  when  dressed,  and  have  some  of 
the  flavour  of  the  Grouse.  A  Partridge  weighing  lib.  is 
above  the  average,  but  examples  have  been  known  up  to 
18  ozs. 

The  Partridge  is  so  generally  distributed  over  this  country 


COMMON  PARTRIDGE. 


Ill 


as  to  make  an  enumeration  of  particular  localities  unneces¬ 
sary  ;  but  though  plentiful  in  some  of  the  low  grounds  of 
Scotland,  it  does  not  appear  to  have  extended  beyond  a  few 
of  the  islands  of  the  Inner  Hebrides.  It  was  introduced 
in  some  of  the  Orkney  Islands  about  1840.  In  Ireland, 
although  found  in  most  of  the  cultivated  districts,  it  does 
not  seem  to  thrive,  and  of  late  years  its  numbers  have  on 
the  whole  diminished,  from  various  causes. 

In  Norway  the  Partridge  exists  under  difficulties,  and  its 
numbers  fluctuate  almost  down  to  the  point  of  extermination, 
owing  to  the  rigour  of  the  winters  and  the  abundance  of 
birds  of  prey,  especially  the  Goshawk.  In  Sweden  it  has 
been  known  to  occur  as  far  as  6G°  N.  lat.,  but  it  can  hardly 
be  said  to  flourish  in  any  part  of  that  country,  or  in  Finland. 
Throughout  the  greater  part  of  Denmark  it  is  resident,  as 
well  as  in  Northern  Germany  down  to  Poland,  and  thence 
through  Russia  to  the  Ural.  In  Holland,  Belgium,  and 
Northern  and  Central  France  it  is  found  in  suitable  locali¬ 
ties  down  to  Savoy,  but  in  the  south  it  gives  place  to  the 
Red-legged  species ;  nevertheless  it  occurs  on  both  sides  of 
the  Pyrenees,  especially  in  the  moister  regions  to  the  west, 
where  it  holds  its  own  against  the  Red-leg  as  far  as  Galicia, 
and  down  to  the  valley  of  the  Ebro.  In  arid  Southern  Spain 
and  Portugal  it  is  almost  unknown,  but  in  Italy  it  ranges 
down  to  Naples.  As  Malherbe’s  statement,  that  it  visits  Sicily 
on  its  passages  to  and  from  Africa,*  is  often  quoted  in  sup¬ 
port  of  the  supposed  migratory  habits  of  this  bird,  it  may  be 
mentioned  that  the  recent  careful  investigations  of  Professor 
Doderlein,  of  Palermo,  himself  a  great  sportsman,  afford  no 
satisfactory  evidence  of  its  existence  even  in  the  mountains 
of  that  island  ;  and  it  is  quite  unknown  in  Northern  Africa. 
Neither  is  it  indigenous  to  the  island  of  Sardinia.  The 
gradual  destruction  of  the  forests  in  some  parts  of  Southern 
Germany  and  Austria  appears  to  have  favoured  its  increase, 
and  it  abounds  in  the  cultivated  districts  of  Albania,  Mace¬ 
donia,  and  Roumelia,  whilst  more  to  the  northwards  it  is 
generally  distributed  throughout  the  steppes  of  Southern 
*  Faune  Ornithologique  de  la  Ricile,  p.  154. 


112 


PI1ASIANID/E. 


Russia.  In  Asia  Minor  it  appears  to  be  very  local,  and 
almost  confined  to  the  central  portions  of  the  peninsula, 
Mr.  Danford  having  obtained  it  near  Angora  (Ibis,  1880, 
p.  94) ;  but  eastward  again,  Sir  Oliver  St.  John  found  it 
generally  distributed  in  the  mountainous  districts  to  the 
north  of  Tehran.  Throughout  the  southern  portion  of  its 
range  it  is,  in  fact,  generally  a  frequenter  of  moderately 
elevated  ground  not  altogether  removed  from  the  vicinity  of 
cultivation.  From  the  Altai  eastward,  in  Dauria,  Mongolia, 
and  Northern  China,  it  is  replaced  by  a  closely  allied  species, 
Perdix  barbata,  the  male  of  which  is  characterized  by  its 
smaller  size,  golden-buff  throat  and  breast,  moustache-like 
tufts  at  the  base  of  the  lower  mandible,  and  deep  black 
liorse-shoe  mark  on  the  lower  breast.  In  Thibet  and  along 
the  Himalayas  from  the  borders  of  Cashmere  to  Sikkim  is 
found  a  third  and  very  handsome  species,  P.  hodgsonice, 
which,  whilst  displaying  a  conspicuous  liorse-slioe,  and 
having  tarsi  destitute  of  spurs,  yet  approaches  the  Red- 
legged  group  ( Gaccabis )  in  some  points  of  coloration.  These 
three  are  the  only  well-defined  species  of  true  Perdix  as 
yet  known,  and  the  genus  appears  to  be  confined  to  the 
temperate  portions  of  the  Pakearctic  region. 

The  adult  male  has  the  beak  bluish-white  ;  the  irides 
hazel ;  behind  the  eye,  and  above  the  ear-coverts,  a  small 
triangular  patch  of  naked  red  skin  ;  the  forehead,  the  space 
between  the  beak  and  the  eye,  with  the  feathers  extending 
backwards  as  far  as  the  ear-coverts,  and  downwards  covering 
the  front  of  the  neck  and  throat,  bright  yellowish-chestnut  ; 
top  of  the  head,  hind  neck,  and  upper  back,  freckled  greyish- 
brown  ;  lower  back  and  wing-coverts  freckled  with  two 
shades  of  chestnut-brown  on  a  ground  of  wood-brown,  the 
shaft  of  each  feather  forming  a  conspicuous  streak  of  pale 
wood-brown  ;  the  quill-featliers  brown,  with  transverse  bars 
of  wood-brown  ;  the  rump  and  upper  tail-coverts,  some  of 
which, are  long,  freckled  with  two  shades  of  brown,  and 
barred  transversely  with  chestnut ;  tail-feathers  eighteen 
in  number :  the  two  middle  ones  marked  like  the  coverts, 
the  next  pair  with  chestnut  centres  and  mottled  edges,  and 


COMMON  PARTRIDGE. 


113 


the  remaining  fourteen  reddish-chestnut.*  The  neck  and 
upper  part  of  the  breast,  the  sides,  and  flanks,  light 
bluish-grey,  minutely  freckled  with  dark  grey  ;  lower  breast 
with  a  rich  chestnut-coloured,  horse-shoe-shaped  patch  on 
a  ground  of  white ;  sides  and  flanks  barred  with  chestnut ; 
thighs  greyish-white  ;  under  tail-coverts  yellowish-brown  ; 
the  legs  and  toes  bluish- white ;  the  claws  brown. 

The  whole  length  of  the  male  bird  is  twelve  inches  and  a 
half.  The  wing  is  rounded  in  form.  The  length  from  the 
carpal  joint  to  the  end,  six  inches ;  the  first  feather  about 
as  long  as  the  sixth ;  the  second  equal  to  the  fifth ;  and  all 
of  them  shorter  than  the  third  and  fourth,  which  are  the 
longest  in  the  wing. 

The  female  is  generally  a  little  smaller  than  the  male ; 
the  light  chestnut-coloured  patch  round  the  beak  is  lighter 
in  colour,  and  smaller  in  size  than  in  the  male,  not  extend¬ 
ing  farther  hack  over  the  sides  of  the  neck  than  a  line  falling 
perpendicularly  from  the  eye  ;  the  grey  feathers  of  the  lower 
part  of  the  sides  of  the  neck  are  more  mixed  with  brown  ; 
the  lower  breast  is  greyish-white,  not  assuming  the  dark 
chestnut  patch  till  the  second  or  third  year  ;  the  chestnut 
bars  on  the  flanks  are  broader. 

Young  birds  before  their  first  autumn  moult  have  no  red 
mark  behind  the  eye ;  the  general  plumage  is  of  a  uniform 
brownish-yellow,  barred  and  streaked  with  darker  brown  ; 
the  legs  and  toes  yellowish  clay-brown.  During  the  two  first 
months  of  our  shooting-season,  the  young  Partridges  may  he 
found  in  every  stage  of  moult. 

Varieties  of  the  Partridge  in  colour  are  very  common,  some 
exhibiting  only  patches  of  white  ;  others  are  wholly  white;  and 
cream-coloured,  or  very  pale  buff-coloured  varieties  are  also 

*  It  is  not  easy  to  count  with  accuracy  the  number  of  tail-feathers  in  pre¬ 
pared  skins  of  Partridges,  and  authorities  do  not  agree  upon  this  point,  owing  to 
a  difference  of  opinion  as  to  whether  the  two  central  feathers  belong  to  the  true 
tail  or  to  the  upper  tail-coverts.  After  examining  a  large  number  of  birds  in 
the  flesh,  the  Editor  has  come  to  the  conclusion  that  the  Common  Partridge  has 
eighteen,  and  the  Red-legged  Partridge  fourteen,  true  rectrices.  The  fact  that, 
as  a  rule,  these  game-birds  are  only  procurable  in  autumn,  when  they  are  in 
moult,  adds  to  the  difficulty. 


VOL.  III. 


Q 


114 


PH  ASIANIDiE. 


common.  Birds  from  a  gravelly  soil  are  frequently  very  rich 
in  colour,  whilst  those  from  the  clay  are  often  poor,  and  some 
Cambridge  and  also  Devonshire  birds  are  said  to  he  nearly  as 
grey  as  an  autumn  Ptarmigan.  The  neighbourhood  of  Saffron 
Walden  produces  sandy-coloured  birds.  In  Flanders  a  toler¬ 
ably  constant  pale  variety  is  known  by  the  name  of  Perdix 
de  marais,  and  has  been  accorded  specific  rank  by  Demeeze- 
maker  as  Starna  palustris.  Mr.  Harvie-Brown  has  specimens 
of  a  local  variety  which  seems  to  be  on  the  increase,  and  in 
which  the  liorse-shoe  mark  is  white  ;  and  Mr.  J.  H.  Gurney, 
Junr.,  informs  the  Editor  that  several  similar  examples 
have  been  shot  near  Northrepps  in  Norfolk.  Mr.  J.  Hancock 
(Nat.  Hist.  Tr.  Nortliumb.  and  Durham,  pis.  xi.  and  xii.) 
has  figured  some  remarkable  varieties ;  and  from  his  remarks 
it  would  appear  that  these  aberrant  states  of  plumage  are 
mostly  found  in  young  birds  which  were  gradually  assuming 
the  normal  dress  of  the  adult.  A  very  red  variety  has  been 
figured  by  the  late  Sir  William  Jardine  (Nat.  Lib.  Ornith. 
iv.  pi.  ii.)  under  the  name  of  P.  montana. 

Hybrids  between  the  Partridge  and  any  other  species  are 
uncommon,  but  Mr.  F.  Bond  has  a  bird  shot  on  Blubber- 
house  Moor,  near  Harrogate,  in  August  1866,  by  the 
present  Lord  Walsingliam,  which  appears  to  be  the  result  of 
a  cross  with  the  Bed  Grouse  ;  the  bill  being  strong  and 
Grouse-like,  the  tarsi  and  feet  partially  feathered,  the  breast 
and  body  mottled  with  pale  reddish-brown  with  a  sprinkling 
of  grey,  the  quill-featliers  dirty  white,  with  lavender-grey 
outer  webs.  The  brown  colour  of  the  upper  parts  is  not 
very  significant,  but  the  feathering  of  the  tarsi  and  feet 
seems  tolerably  conclusive.  A  few  instances  are  also  on 
record  of  hybrids  between  this  species  and  the  Bed-legged 
Partridge. 


RED-LEGGED  PARTRIDGE 


1  15 


GA  LLINJE. 


PHASIANIDJi. 


Caccabis  bufa  (Linnaeus*). 

THE  RED-LEGGED  PARTRIDGE. 

Perclix  rufa. 

Caccabis,  Kaup +. — Bill  short,  stout,  naked  at  the  base  ;  upper  mandible 
decurved  to  the  tip.  Nosti'ils  basal,  lateral,  partly  covered  and  closed  by  an 
oblong  horny  scale.  Wings  short,  rounded  ;  the  first  three  feathers  shorter  than 
the  fourth  and  fifth,  which  are  the  longest.  Tail,  of  fourteen  feathers,  short, 
rounded.  Tarsi  anteriorly  scutellate,  and,  in  the  male,  armed  with  blunt  spurs  ; 
feet  with  one  toe  behind,  and  three  in  front  united  at  their  bases  by  a  membrane. 

The  Red-Legged  Partridge  is  one  of  the  genus  Caccabis, 
a  well-defined  group  of  birds  which  closely  resemble  each 
other  in  their  main  pattern  of  coloration,  and  also  in  their 
habits.  They  prefer  sandy  soils,  and  some  of  them  are 
partial  to  mountainous  districts ;  the  sexes  being  alike ; 

*  Tetrao  rufus,  Linnieus,  Syst.  Nat.  Ed.  12,  i.  p.  276  (1766),  partim. 

E  Natiirl.  Syst.  p.  183  (1829). 


116 


PHASIANID/E. 


whereas  in  true  Perdix  they  differ  in  plumage  ;  and  the 
males  have  blunt  spurs,  which  is  not  the  case  with  our  bird. 
Their  natural  range  is  principally  throughout  the  warmer 
portions  of  the  Paloearctic,  and  the  northern  districts  of  the 
Ethiopian  and  Oriental  regions. 

Originally  introduced  from  abroad,  the  Red-legged  Par¬ 
tridge  has  maintained  its  position  for  upwards  of  a  century, 
not  only  without  assistance,  hut  even  in  spite  of  some 
attempts  to  exterminate  it,  and  its  claim  to  a  place  in 
the  British  list  is  now  generally  admitted.  It  is  stated 
in  Daniel’s  ‘  Rural  Sports,’  that  so  long  ago  as  the  time 
of  Charles  the  Second,  several  pairs  of  Red-legged  Par¬ 
tridges  were  turned  out  about  Windsor  to  obtain  a  stock ; 
hut  they  are  supposed  to  have  perished,  although  some  of 
them,  or  their  descendants,  were  seen  for  a  few  years  after¬ 
wards  ;  and  I  find  other  records  of  this  bird  having  been 
killed  in  Berkshire.  Mr.  Daniel  further  states  that  the  late 
Duke  of  Northumberland  preserved  many  in  hopes  of  their 
increasing  upon  his  manors ;  and  he  also  adds,  that  he  him¬ 
self,  in  1777,  within  two  miles  of  Colchester,  found  a  covey 
of  fourteen,  which  baffled  for  half  an  hour  the  exertions  of  a 
brace  of  good  pointers  to  make  them  take  wing,  and  the  first 
which  did  so  immediately  perched  on  the  hedge,  and  was 
shot  there,  without  its  being  known  what  bird  it  was.  This 
covey  was  probably  descended  from  those  introduced  into 
England  about  the  year  1770  by  the  Marquis  of  Hertford 
and  Lord  Rendlesham,  each  of  whom  had  eggs  procured  on 
the  Continent,  carefully  brought  to  England,  and  placed 
under  domestic  fowls ;  the  former  at  Sudbourn,  near  Orford, 
in  Suffolk,  one  of  his  shooting  residences  ;  the  latter  on  his 
estates  at  Rendlesham,  a  few  miles  distant  from  Sudbourn. 
From  these  places  the  birds  have  been  gradually  extending 
themselves  over  the  adjoining  counties. 

Professor  Newton  states  that  in  the  neighbourhood  of 
Tlietford,  Suffolk,  near  which  he  formerly  resided,  the  Red- 
legged  Partridge  was  not  much  known  till  after  1823,  when 
it  was  introduced  by  Lords  de  Ros  and  Alvanley  at  Culford, 
near  Bury  St.  Edmunds,  whence  the  birds  spread  rapidly  on 


RED-LEGGED  PARTRIDGE. 


117 


the  adjoining  estates,  and  became  very  plentiful.  The  eggs 
were  brought  from  France,  as  Professor  Newton  was  told  by 
his  father,  who  refused  to  have  anv  at  the  time  of  their 
introduction.  From  this  time  onwards  the  Red-legs  increased 
with  such  rapidity  that  in  1825  Messrs.  Sheppard  and  Whitear 
(Trans.  Lin.  Soc.  xv.  p.  84)  wrote,  “  These  birds  are  now  very 
plentiful  in  some  parts  of  Suffolk.  We  have  seen  at  least 
one  hundred  and  fifty  brace  upon  Dunming worth-lieatli,  and 
they  are  found  in  greater  or  less  numbers  from  Aldborough 
to  Woodbridge.”  Since  then  the  species  has  spread  into 
Cambridgeshire,  Herts,  Essex,  Buckinghamshire,  and  even 
Middlesex,  and  has  been  found  occasionally  in  other  counties 
from  Kent  to  Devonshire,  and  northwards  to  Westmoreland, 
but  the  Midland  and  North-eastern  districts  do  not  appear  to 
suit  it,  and  the  counties  of  Norfolk  and  Suffolk,  where  it 
frequents  both  the  light  and  the  heavy  lands,  still  remain  its 
stronghold.  In  Scotland  a  solitary  example  was  obtained 
near  Aberdeen  in  January,  1867  ;*  and  an  attempt  to  intro¬ 
duce  the  species  into  the  Orkneys  has  failed.  Neither 
does  it  appear  to  have  thriven  in  Ireland,  where,  according 
to  Thompson,  it  was  introduced  a  few  years  prior  to  1844. 

This  species  was  formerly  known  by  the  name  of  the 
Guernsey  Partridge,  owing  to  the  belief  that  it  was 
indigenous  to  that  island ;  but  Mr.  Cecil  Smith  (Zool. 
1881,  p.  897)  considers  that,  even  as  an  introduced  species, 
it  is  extinct  both  there  and  in  the  neighbouring  islets : 
Jersey,  where  Mr.  Harvie-Brown  saw  one  a  few  years  ago, 
being  the  only  island  on  which  any  still  exist.  This 
disposes  of  the  supposition  that  an  example  shot  many 
years  ago,  near  Weymouth,  in  Dorsetshire,  had  migrated 
from  the  Channel  Islands  ;  and,  in  fact,  all  the  evidence 
at  present  available  tends  to  shew  that  this  species  is  no¬ 
where  in  the  habit  of  taking  long  migratory  flights.  Mr. 
Stevenson,  who  has  gone  very  carefully  into  the  question,  f 
points  out  that  although  small  coveys  of  birds  are  regularly 
met  with  in  spring  on  various  points  of  the  east  coast, 

*  R.  Gray,  ‘Birds  of  the  West  of  Scotland,’  p.  243. 

t  ‘Birds  of  Norfolk,’  i.  pp.  413-416. 


118 


PHASIANI'DjE. 


generally  in  an  exhausted  condition,  and  although  they  have 
even  been  seen  by  an  intelligent  witness  making  for  the  land, 
at  a  distance  of  from  four  to  five  miles  out  at  sea,  yet  there 
is  in  this  nothing  inconsistent  with  the  probability  of  their 
having  flown  out  to  sea  from  our  eastern  shores,  where  they 
are  already  plentiful,  and,  having  misjudged  the  distance, 
returning  in  an  exhausted  state.  This  frequently  happens 
with  Common  Partridges  shot  at  in  the  vicinity  of  the  sea. 
Neither  is  there  any  country  to  the  north  or  east  of  England 
whence  they  could  have  migrated,  the  species  being  unknown 
in  Scandinavia  and  in  Northern  Germany.  The  very  fact 
that,  as  stated  by  Sir  Thomas  Browne  more  than  two  cen¬ 
turies  ago,  this  Partridge  was  then  unknown  in  the  eastern 
counties,  and  continued  to  be  so  until  its  introduction,  is 
one  of  the  strongest  arguments  against  its  vernal  immi¬ 
gration  at  the  present  time. 

In  Belgium  the  Bed-legged  Partridge  is  almost  unknown, 
nor  is  it  abundant  in  the  northern  districts  of  France,  hut 
in  Savoy  it  is  tolerably  numerous,  and  spreads  for  a  short 
distance  into  Switzerland,  where  it  meets  with  a  larger  and 
stronger  congener,  C.  saxatilis .*  Throughout  central  and 
southern  France  it  is  generally  distributed,  and  it  is  the  only 
species  of  Bed-leg  indigenous  to  the  Iberian  Peninsula. 
Strong  evidence  of  its  non-migratory  nature  is  afforded  by 
the  fact  that  although  abundant  on  the  hills  of  Spain  within 
sight  of  the  opposite  coast  of  North  Africa,  it  has  never  been 
known  to  cross  the  Straits  ;  nor  does  it  even  visit  the  neigh¬ 
bouring  Bock  of  Gibraltar,  which  is  occupied  by  an  intro¬ 
duced  species,  the  Barbary  Partridge,  C.  petrosa.  In  Italy  it 
is  local,  for  in  the  Apennines  its  extension  eastwards  is  again 
barred  by  C.  saxatilis,  and  it  becomes  rare  in  the  southern 
provinces ;  and  in  Sicily,  again,  C.  saxatilis  is  the  only  in¬ 
digenous  Partridge.  In  the  Balearic  Islands  ;  in  Elba  ;  and 
in  Corsica,  the  Bed-legged  Partridge  is  the  only  representa¬ 
tive  of  the  group ;  but  in  Sardinia  its  place  is  occupied  by 
C.  petrosa,  the  only  Partridge  found  in  Northern  Africa, 

*  A  hybrid  between  these  two  species  was  described  by  M.  Booteille  (Orn.  du 
Dauphine,  ii.  p.  337)  under  the  name  of  Perdix  labatiei. 


RED-LEGGED  PARTRIDGE. 


119 


and  which,  in  its  turn,  has  never  been  proved  to  migrate 
even  to  the  mainland  of  Europe.  At  the  present  day  the 
Ked-legged  Partridge  occurs  in  the  Azores  and  in  Madeira, 
hut  there  can  hardly  he  a  doubt  that  it  was  introduced  there 
by  the  Portuguese  settlers  in  the  same  way  as  G.  cliukar  of 
India  was  carried  to  St.  Helena. 

Ked-legged  Partridges  scrape  together  a  slight  nest  of 
dried  grass  and  leaves  upon  the  ground,  among  growing 
corn,  grass,  or  clover ;  and  two  or  three  instances  are 
recorded  in  which  nests  with  eggs  were  found  in  the  thatch, 
or  upon  the  top  of  low  stacks.  The  eggs  are  from  fifteen 
to  eighteen  in  number,  of  a  reddish-yellow  white,  spotted 
and  speckled  with  reddish-brown,  measuring  1*6  by  1*25 
in.  Professor  Newton  remarks  that  this  species  begins  to 
lay  its  eggs  earlier  than  the  Common  Partridge,  but  it 
has  a  habit  of  dropping  its  first  eggs  about  in  a  desultory 
manner,  so  that  it  is  no  great  gainer  by  making  an  early 
beginning.  The  young,  like  those  of  our  Common  Partridge, 
soon  quit  the  nest  after  they  are  released  from  the  egg-shell. 
They  feed  also,  like  other  Partridges,  on  seeds,  grain,  and  in¬ 
sects;  they  frequent  turnip-fields,  but  appear  to  prefer  heaths, 
commons,  and  other  waste  land,  interspersed  with  bushes. 

As  an  object  of  pursuit  they  are  not  esteemed  by  sports¬ 
men,  for  being  stronger  on  the  wing  than  the  Common 
Partridge,  they  are  usually  much  more  wild,  and  accord¬ 
ingly  more  difficult  to  get  shots  at  within  distance. 
They  foot  away  before  a  pointer  like  an  old  cock  Phea¬ 
sant  ;  and  unless  the  sportsman  can  drive  them  into  furze, 
or  some  other  such  thick  bottom,  through  which  they  can¬ 
not  thread  their  way,  but  little  chance  of  success  attends 
him.  For  these  reasons  they  have  been  in  many  places 
destroyed  as  vermin,  but  under  the  modern  system  of  “  driv¬ 
ing  ”  sportsmen  are  enabled  to  give  a  better  account  of 
them,  and  the  strong  abhorrence  entertained  for  them  has 
somewhat  abated.  When  wounded,  they  will  run  to  ground 
in  a  rabbit-burrow,  or  any  other  hole  they  can  find.  Occa¬ 
sionally  they  perch  in  trees,  and  have  been  seen  on  the  upper 
bar  of  a  gate,  or  the  top  of  a  lift  of  paling. 


120 


PHASIANIDiE. 


The  flesli  of  the  Red-legged  Partridge  is  white,  but  rather 
more  dry,  and  in  this  country  it  is  not  so  much  in  request 
as  that  of  our  own  bird,  although  on  the  Continent  it  is 
generally  preferred.  The  Red-legged  bird  has  been  known 
to  breed  in  confinement,  and  hybrids  between  it  and  the 
Grey  Partridge  are  on  record.  Mr.  Stevenson  mentions 
one  killed  at  Holverstone  in  1850,  and  Temminck  cites 
another. 

The  adult  male  has  the  beak  red ;  from  the  nostrils  a 
black  streak  passes  to  the  eye,  and,  recommencing  behind 
the  eye  passes  dowmwards  and  then  forwards,  joining  in 
front,  forming  a  gorget  of  black,  from  which,  both  on  the 
sides  of  the  neck  and  in  the  front,  numerous  black  streaks 
and  spots  descend  towards  the  breast ;  the  irides  reddish- 
orange,  eyelids  vermilion  red;  top  of  the  head  with  a  line 
of  white  before  and  behind  the  eye ;  back  of  the  neck,  the 
shoulders,  back,  wing-coverts,  rump,  and  upper  tail-coverts, 
hair-brown,  wing-feathers  umber-brown,  with  a  margin  of 
buff  on  the  outer  web ;  tail-feathers,  chestnut ;  breast,  pearl- 
grey  ;  belly,  vent,  and  under-tail  coverts,  fawn-colour ;  fea¬ 
thers  of  the  sides,  flanks,  and  thighs,  transversely  barred 
with  pearl-grey,  white,  black,  and  fawn-colour  ;  legs  and  toes 
red,  the  former  with  a  blunt  rounded  knob  in  the  situation 
of  a  spur ;  the  claws  brown. 

The  whole  length  is  thirteen  inches  and  a  half.  From 
the  carpal  joint  to  the  end  of  the  wing,  six  and  a  quarter 
inches. 

The  female  is  rather  smaller  than  the  male  :  her  plumage 
is  not  quite  so  bright  in  colour,  and  she  has  no  rounded 
spur-like  knob  on  the  legs. 

White  or  pied  varieties  of  this  species  are  sometimes 
met  with.  M.  A.  Lacroix,  in  his  ‘  Oiseaux  des  Pyrenees 
Frangaises,’  has  given  an  illustration  of  an  example  with 
a  white  breast-band,  obtained  in  the  Haute  Garonne  in 
November,  1872;  and  similar  varieties  were  captured  at 
the  same  season  in  the  years  1873  and  1874. 

The  Red-legged  Partridge  has  afforded  a  remarkable  illus¬ 
tration  of  the  manner  in  which  birds  may  aid  in  the  disper- 


RED-LEGGED  PARTRIDGE. 


121 


sion  of  seeds.  On  December  3rd,  1860,  an  example  which 
had  one  foot  and  leg  imbedded  in  a  hard  lump  of  earth, 
outside  which  two  toes  only  were  visible,  came  under  the 
notice  of  Mr.  H.  Stevenson,  and  was  exhibited,  described, 
and  figured  by  Prof.  Newton  (P.  Z.  S.,  1863,  p.  127).  The 
latter  forwarded  the  encrusted  limb  to  the  late  Mr.  Darwin, 
who  had,  in  his  ‘Origin  of  Species,’  alluded  to  the  possibility 
of  seeds  being  contained  and  transported  in  similar  lumps ; 
and  the  following  are  the  remarks  of  that  distinguished 
naturalist:  “I  have  examined  the  Partridge’s  leg ;  the  toes 
and  tarsus  were  frightfully  diseased,  enlarged,  and  indurated. 
There  were  no  concentric  layers  in  the  ball  of  earth,  but  I 
cannot  doubt  that  it  had  become  slowly  aggregated,  probably 
the  result  of  some  viscid  exudations  from  the  wounded  foot. 
It  is  remarkable,  considering  that  the  ball  is  three  years  old, 
that  eighty-two  plants  have  come  up  from  it,  twelve  being 
Monocotyledons,  and  seventy  Dicotyledons ,  consisting  of  at 
least  five  different  plants,  perhaps  many  more.”  (H.  Steven¬ 
son,  Birds  of  Norfolk,  i.  p.  418.) 

The  Barbary  Partridge  ( Caccabis  petrosa)  was  included 
in  former  Editions  owing  to  an  example  having  been 
picked  up  dead  at  Edmondthorpe  near  Melton  Mowbray, 
in  April  1842.  It  passed  into  the  hands  of  Mr.  Thomas 
Goatley,  of  Chipping  Norton,  Oxfordshire,  and  from  it  the 
present  figure  was  drawn.  Subsequently  another  was  shot 
on  the  estate  of  the  Marquis  of  Hertford  at  Sudbourn  in 
Suffolk ;  and  two  more  Suffolk  examples  are  recorded  by 
Mr.  Harting  (Handb.  Brit.  Birds,  p.  129)  on  the  authority 
of  Mr.  J.  H.  Gurney,  Jun.,  who  considers  that  these  speci¬ 
mens  must  have  been  turned  down,  or  their  eggs  introduced, 
by  game-preservers.  Another  is  mentioned  by  Mr.  Cordeaux 
(B.  of  the  Humber,  p.  81)  as  killed  near  Beverley  about 
three  years  prior  to  1872  ;  and  Dr.  Bullmore  (Cornish 
Fauna,  p.  25)  cites  an  example  obtained  at  Killiganoon, 
Cornwall,  in  1865.  The  restricted  natural  range  and  non- 
migratory  habits  of  this  species  have  already  been  indicated  ; 
and  there  can  be  no  reasonable  doubt  that  the  occurrence  of 


VOL.  III. 


R 


122 


PHASIANIDiE 


these  examples  was  owing  to  artificial  introduction.  Unlike 
the  preceding  species,  the  Barbary  Partridge  has  failed  to 
maintain  a  footing  in  this  country,  and  it  is  therefore 
omitted  from  the  present  Edition,  the  late  Mr.  Gould  having 
equally  disallowed  its  claim.  The  figure  of  the  bird  is,  how¬ 
ever,  given  below. 


Even  less  can  he  urged  in  favour  of  the  insertion  of  the 
Virginian  Colin  ( Ortyx  virginianns) ,  thousands  of  which 
have  been  brought  over  from  North  America  during  the 
present  century,  and  turned  loose,  without  having  succeeded 
in  permanently  establishing  themselves.  This  species  is 
therefore  omitted  from  the  present  Edition. 


COMMON  QUAIL 


L23 


GA  LLINAE.  PII A  SI  A  NJDjE  . 


Coturnix  communis,  Bonnaterre.* 

THE  COMMON  QUAIL. 

Coturnix  vulgaris. 

Coturnix,  Bonnaterrcf. — Beak  strong,  shorter  than  the  head,  upper  man¬ 
dible  curved.  Nostrils  basal,  lateral,  half  closed  by  an  arched  membrane. 
Wings  moderate :  the  first  quill  the  longest.  Tarsi,  unarmed.  Feet  with  four 
toes,  those  anterior  connected  by  a  membrane  as  far  as  the  first  articulation. 
Tail  short,  rounded,  recumbent,  almost  hidden  by  the  tail-coverts. 


The  Quail  lias  generally  been  considered  as  a  summer- 
visitor  to  Great  Britain  ;  but  so  many  instances  have  been 
recorded  of  its  occurrence  in  England,  and  particularly  in 
Ireland,  as  well  as  during  the  winter  months,  as  to  make  it 
clear  that  a  portion  of  them  do  not  return  southward  in 
autumn.  Early  in  February,  1844,  I  saw  six  Quails  at  a 

*  Tableau  Encycloped.  et  Method.,  i.  p.  217  (1790).  f  loc.  cit. 


124  PliASlANIDyE. 

poulterer’s  shop  in  London,  which  had  been  sent  up  from 
Cambridgeshire,  and  as  these  birds  had  no  wound  about 
them,  I  had  no  doubt  they  had  been  caught  by  fowlers 
when  drawing  nets  for  Larks.  Of  these  six,  three  were 
females.  Mr.  H.  T.  Frere  (Zoologist,  p.  871)  refers  to 
the  late  appearance  of  Quails  in  Oxfordshire  in  the  following 
terms  : — “In  consequence  of  some  fields  of  corn  remaining 
in  this  part  of  England,  still  standing  in  December,  1844, 
Quails  did  not  leave  us  till  very  late.  After  several  days  of 
severe  frost,  I  heard  of  a  pair  having  been  seen  in  a  field, 
in  the  parish  of  Hornsey,  near  this  town.  I  cannot  re¬ 
member  the  exact  date,  hut  it  was  some  time  in  December  ; 
and  in  the  last  week  in  November,  I  saw  a  pair  in  this 
market,  where  they  have  been  more  plentiful  than  usual 
this  autumn,  which  had  been  killed  down  in  the  fens.  The 
birds  seen  at  Hornsey  had  not  been  driven  away  by  intense 
frost,  which,  curious  to  say,  prevailed  while  the  barley  where 
they  lay  was  being  carried.”  In  the  winter  of  1847,  and 
again  in  December  1865  and  January  1866,  Quails  were 
obtained  in  several  localities  of  the  east  and  north-east  of 
England.  The  majority,  however,  arrive  in  this  country  in 
May,  and  seem  more  partial  to  open  champaign  countries 
than  to  those  which  are  enclosed. 

Sparingly  distributed  throughout  the  country,  there  are 
few  districts  in  which  Quails  have  not  at  one  time  or  another 
been  recorded  as  breeding;  and  few  also  in  which  their 
appearance  can  he  counted  upon  either  with  regularity  or  in 
anything  like  average  numbers.  In  some  parts  of  Corn¬ 
wall  a  good  many  are  bred,  the  year  1870  having  proved 
unusually  favourable'  for  hatching ;  and  about  Bridgewater  in 
Somersetshire,  a  fair  number  nest  annually.  In  other  parts 
of  the  west  they  appear  to  he  uncommon,  at  least  beyond 
Breconshire  and  Cheshire ;  but  eastward  they  are  to  be 
found  scattered  about  most,  if  not  all,  of  the  southern  and 
midland  counties.  At  one  time  Quails  were  far  more  partial 
than  they  are  at  present  to  Hertford,  Cambridgeshire,  and 
the  fen-district ;  and  in  Norfolk,  and  also  in  Lincolnshire, 
they  are  far  less  abundant  than  in  former  years,  when  drain- 


125 


COMMON  QUAIL. 

age  and  high  cultivation  had  not  yet  broken  up  the  coarse, 
tussocky,  unimproved  land  in  which  they  delighted;  In  the 
Holderness  district  of  Eastern  Yorkshire  they  breed  annually 
in  small  numbers,  and,  although  local,  their  nests  have 
been  found  in  Durham  and  Northumberland.  Northwards, 
the  eastern  coast  of  Scotland  is  less  suitable  to  their  re¬ 
quirements;  and  except  in  the  Lowlands,  to  the  south  of  the 
Friths  of  the  Forth  and  the  Clyde,  Quails  are  rare,  although 
nests  have  been  found  in  the  east  of  Sutherland  and  in 
Caithness.  The  milder  west  coast  offers  greyer  attractions, 
especially  the  counties  of  Kirkcudbright,  Wigton,  and  Ayr ; 
and  Quails  have  even  bred  so  far  west  as  the  islands  of 
Lewis  and  North  Uist  in  the  Outer  Hebrides.  Mr.  J.  H. 
Dunn  obtained  a  nest  containing  eleven  eggs  on  the  4tli 
October,  1851,  near  Stromness  in  the  Orkneys  ;  and  Dr. 
Saxby  records  the  finding  of  one  with  ten  eggs  on  the  25tli 
September,  1868,  at  Burrafirth  in  Unst,  the  most  northern 
island  of  the  Shetland  group, — hut  the  extension  of  range 
in  this  north-eastern  direction  is  not  so  remarkable,  seeing 
that  the  summer-visits  of  this  species  extend  to  the  Faeroes. 
In  Ireland  Quails  are  both  more  generally  distributed  than  in 
Great  Britain,  and  a  far  larger  number  remain  throughout 
the  winter,  especially  in  the  south  and  south-western  districts, 
where  frost  is  seldom  felt ;  the  north-eastern  portion  being, 
apparently,  preferred  during  the  breeding-season. 

A  summer-visitant  in  no  great  abundance  to  Scandinavia 
and  Northern  Russia  up  to  about  65°  N.  lat.,  this  species 
becomes  more  common  in  Denmark  and  Northern  Germany ; 
and  from  thence  southwards  Quails  are  numerous,  especially 
on  migration,  throughout  the  remainder  of  the  Continent. 
Their  extreme  western  limit  is  at  the  Azores,*  where,  accord¬ 
ing  to  Mr.  Godman,  they  are  resident  and  not  migratory, 
breeding  twice  and  even  three  times  in  the  year ;  and  Dr.  Bolle 
says  substantially  the  same  of  those  found  in  the  Canaries. 
These  resident  birds  are  small  in  size,  and  the  males 

''  Large  numbers  have  been  turned  out  in  America,  especially  in  the  State  of 
Vermont,  where,  in  1877,  a  flourishing  stock  of  6,000  birds  had  been  secured. 
(J.  E.  Harting,  ‘  Zool.,’  1878,  p.  390.) 


126 


PHASIAN1D/E. 


generally  have  a  red  throat,  with  only  a  slight  trace  of  the 
dark  central  patch  ;  the  flank-feathers  are  also  more  distinctly 
marbled  with  brown  than  ordinary  and  migrating  examples. 
Naturally  they  occur  on  the  intermediate  island  of  Madeira. 
It  is,  however,  on  the  shores  of  the  Mediterranean  that  their 
amazing  numbers  are  most  noticeable  ;  the  vernal  migration 
being  the  largest  in  some  localities,  whilst  in  others  the 
spring  arrivals  preponderate  in  numbers.  In  the  south  of 
Spain,  especially  near  Malaga,  where  the  cotton  which  is 
cultivated  affords  excellent  cover,  Quails  remain  in  some 
numbers  throughout  the  winter.  These  resident  birds, 
which  are  as  a  rule  dark  in  plumage,  are  termed  “  codor- 
nices  castellanas  ”  by  the  natives,  whilst  the  spring- 
arrivals,  many  of  which  are  somewhat  smaller  and  lighter- 
coloured,  are  called  “  moriscas,”  “  africanas,”  and,  accord¬ 
ing  to  Colonel  Irby,  “  criollas.”  The  latter  arrive  in 
March  and  April ;  the  return  migration  taking  place  towards 
the  end  of  September.  Vast  numbers  cross  from  Africa  to 
Italy  by  way  of  Pantellaria,  Malta,  and  Sicily,  arriving  in  the 
spring  during  the  night,  whereas  in  autumn  they  generally 
pass  during  the  hours  of  daylight.*  The  migration  is 
equally  general  to  the  eastward,  and  in  Palestine,  during  the 
months  of  March  and  April,  the  Quails  come  up  in  the  night 
and  cover  the  land.  On  the  African  side  of  the  Mediterranean 
the  species  necessarily  occurs  on  migration  along  the  whole 
line ;  many  examples  remaining  to  breed  in  the  Cisatlantean 
provinces  ;  whilst  by  the  latter  part  of  August  a  great  number 
have  already  returned  through  that  great  continent  and 
reached  the  Cape  of  Good  Hope.  The  course  of  their 
migration  is  more  clearly  traceable  by  way  of  the  Cape  de 
Verde,  and  along  the  western  side,  than  in  any  other 
direction  ;  but  there  are  probably  several  main  lines,  for 
Quails  are  widely  distributed  in  the  Transvaal,  and  they 
occur  both  in  Madagascar  and  Mauritius. 

Eastward  of  Asia  Minor  this  migratory  species  occurs  in 
Turkestan  and  Persia,  and  breeds  regularly  in  Cashmere, 
descending  in  the  cold  weather  to  the  plains  of  India,  where 

*  C.  A.  Wright,  ‘Ibis,’  1864,  p.  138. 


COMMON  QUAIL. 


127 


it  is  termed  by  sportsmen  the  “  Grey  ”  Quail,  to  distinguish 
it  from  its  smaller  congener  the  Black-breasted  or  “  Rain  ” 
Quail,  C.  coromandelica.  A  few  nest  in  the  Northern  and 
North-western  Provinces,  but  the  majority  leave  on  the 
approach  of  the  hot  weather.  Its  occurrence  in  Ceylon  is 
suspected  hut  not  yet  proved.  On  its  migrations  it  was 
obtained  by  Severtzoff  crossing  the  Pamir  or  “Dome  of  the 
World”;  Dr.  Henderson  obtained  a  specimen  alive  on  24tli 
September  at  an  elevation  of  13,500  feet,  and  several  were 
heard  by  Dr.  Scully  calling  in  the  fields  about  Yarkand.  In 
Siberia  its  northern  range  is  difficult  to  trace,  but  it  certainly 
extends  throughout  the  temperate  regions  as  far  as  Dauria  ; 
and  thence  to  Japan.  In  the  latter  large  numbers  are 
resident,  but  some  authorities  consider  the  Japanese  form  to 
be  distinct :  even  the  note  being  said  to  be  different.  It 
resembles  the  resident  Azores  bird  in  being  small,  and  in  the 
male  having  a  rufous  throat,  without,  as  a  rule,  any  trace 
of  a  black  central  patch ;  moreover,  the  marbling  on  the 
flank-feathers  is  so  extremely  bright  and  defined  as  to  give 
an  appearance  of  spots.  In  China,  the  ordinary  form 
occurs  on  migration,  and  it  also  visits  the  island  of 
Formosa,  in  which,  however,  there  is  a  resident  form 
similar  to  the  Japanese,  and  even  more  like  the  Azores 
bird.  The  development  of  a  red  throat,  well-defined 
coloration  and  small  size,  seem,  in  fact,  to  be  characteristic 
of  these  island  forms.  Very  dark  varieties  are  also  fre¬ 
quently  met  with  ;  a  shade  of  plumage  which  is  probably 
due  to  hemp,  or  some  other  food  similar  in  its  effects.* 
Enormous  numbers  of  Quail  are  netted  on  the  Continent, 
especially  on  the  spring  migration,  and  most  people  must  he 


*  In  1862  MM.  J.  Verreaux  and  0.  des  Murs  described  and  figured  (Rev.  et 
Mag.  de  Zool.  xiv.  p.  226,  pi.  11)  a  new  species  of  the  purely  Australian  genus 
Syncecus  obtained  in  Lombardy,  calling  it  S.  locloisice  !  Degland  and  Gerbe 
believed  in  it,  but  the  Reviewer  in  ‘  The  Ibis  ’  (1862,  p.  380)  scouted  the  idea 
of  the  occurrence  in  Europe  of  a  new  species  of  an  Australian  genus.  In  1868 
the  Editor  had  an  opportunity  of  examining  the  specimen  in  the  collection  of 
Count  Turati,  at  Milan,  and  he  considered  it  to  be  merely  a  dark  variety  of  the 
Common  Quail,  a  view  which  was  subsequently  endorsed  by  high  authority,  and 
finally  admitted  to  be  correct  by  the  late  J.  Verreaux  himself. 


128 


PHASIANID2E. 


familiar  with  the  long  cloth-covered  cages,  with  a  feeding- 
trough  in  front,  exposed  in  the  shops  of  the  principal  poul¬ 
terers.  The  greater  portion  of  these  are  males,  which  are 
the  first  to  arrive,  and  advantage  is  taken  of  this  circumstance 
by  the  bird-catchers,  who  decoy  hundreds  into  their  nets  hy 
imitating  the  call-note  of  the  female.  It  has  been  stated  that 
in  the  small  island  of  Capri  in  the  bay  of  Naples,  160,000  have 
been  netted  in  a  single  season,  and  even  larger  numbers  are 
on  record.  On  their  first  arrival  they  seem  much  fatigued, 
and  during  their  passage  they  have  frequently  been  known 
to  rest  upon  sailing-vessels.  Canon  Tristram,  in  his  ‘  Natural 
History  of  the  Bible/  pp.  280-233,  says  that  in  Algeria,  in 
the  month  of  April,  he  found  the  ground  covered  with  Quails 
for  an  extent  of  many  acres  at  daybreak,  where  on  the 
preceding  afternoon  there  had  not  been  one,  and  they  scarcely 
moved  until  almost  trodden  on  ;  and  in  Palestine  he  caught 
several  with  his  hand ;  one  being  actually  crushed  hy  his 
horse’s  foot.  The  Hebrew  name  “  selav  ’ ’ — in  Arabic  “  salwa  ” 
— from  a  root  signifying  “to  he  fat,”  is  very  descriptive  of 
the  round  plump  form  and  fat  flesh  of  the  Quail.  Canon 
Tristram  considers  that  the  period  at  which  the  Quails  were 
brought  to  the  camp  of  the  Israelites  was  on  their  northern 
migration  from  Africa  in  April,  when,  according  to  their  well- 
known  instinct,  they  would  follow  up  the  coast  of  the  Red  Sea 
till  they  came  to  its  bifurcation  with  the  Sinaitic  Peninsula, 
and  then,  with  a  favouring  wind,  would  cross  at  the  narrow 
part,  resting  near  the  shore  before  proceeding. 

It  has  been  stated  hy  many  writers  that  the  male  Quail  is 
polygamous,  and  at  times  perhaps  he  may  he  so  ;  hut,  seeing 
that  Quails  in  early  summer  are  usually  found  in  pairs,  and 
that  two  adult  birds  are  generally  found  in  attendance  on  the 
young  brood,  it  appears  probable  that  he  is  monogamous.* 
He  is  exceedingly  pugnacious  with  regard  to  others  of  his 
own  sex  ;  and  also  remarkably  amorous,  whence  the  French 
proverbial  expression,  “  Chanel  comme  caille ,”  which  has 
nothing  whatever  to  do  with  any  supposed  stimulating  pro- 

*  Such  is  the  distinctly  expressed  opinion  of  such  practical  observers  as 
Thompson,  Macgillivray,  Gould,  and  of  many  living  authorities. 


COMMON  QUAIL. 


129 


perties  possessed  by  the  flesh  of  the  bird.  On  arrival,  the 
shrill  triple  note  of  the  male  soon  makes  itself  heard  in  the 
evenings,  and  in  this  country  is  onomatopoetically  rendered 
by  the  words  “  wet-my-lips  whilst  to  the  German  peasant 
it  says  “  Buck’  den  Riick  ”  (Bend  your  back).  In  the  south 
of  France  it  is  rendered  by  “  J’ai  du  ble,  j’ai  pas  de  sa  (sac),” 
or  in  Provence  by  “  Tres  (trois)  per  un,  tres  per  un.”  Every 
one  who  has  been  in  Spain,  where,  in  spring,  the  caged 
males  “  sing  ”  all  day,  and  nearly  all  night  long,  must  be 
familiar — perhaps  too  much  so — with  the  castanet-like 
“  click-clic-lic  ”  which  perhaps  led  to  the  invention  of 
that  instrument  of  music,  and  obtained  for  the  bird  the 
scientific  name  of  dactylisonans.  Its  call  is,  however,  not 
strictly  dactylic,  the  emphasis  being  upon  the  second 
syllable.  In  June  in  this  country,  but  earlier  on  the 
Continent,  the  female  scrapes  out  a  small  cavity  on  the 
ground,  into  which  she  collects  a  few  bits  of  dry  grass, 
straw,  or  clover  stalks  ;  she  lays  from  seven  to  twelve 
eggs  ;  nesting  among  wheat  generally,  but  sometimes  in  a 
piece  of  clover  or  grass.  The  eggs  are  of  a  yellowish  or  dull 
orange-coloured  white,  blotched  or  speckled  with  umber-brown, 
measuring  1*1  by  *9  in.  Upon  these  she  sits  about  three 
weeks ;  the  young  are  able  to  follow  her  soon  after  they  are 
excluded  from  the  shell,  and  learn  to  feed  on  seeds,  grain, 
insects,  and  green  leaves.  Two  broods,  or  bevies  as  they  are 
called,  are  sometimes  reared  in  the  season.  Many  are  found 
and  killed  in  wheat  stubbles  by  Partridge-shooters  in  the 
month  of  September  ;  they  fly  quick,  but  generally  straight 
and  low,  and  are  difficult  to  raise  a  second  time  when  they 
have  been  once  flushed  and  alarmed.  The  greater  portion 
leave  this  country  in  October. 

The  food  of  the  Quail,  judging  from  about  thirty  examples 
shot  during  winter  and  early  spring,  consists,  according  to 
Thompson,  of  the  seeds  of  such  weeds  as  plantain,  persi- 
caria,  dock,  wild  vetch,  and  cliickweed ;  no  less  than  3,500 
seeds  of  the  latter  having  been  found  in  the  crop  of  a  single 
bird.  Another  contained  remains  of  eleven  of  the  nutritious 
slug  Limax  agrestis ;  and  in  May  the  crop  of  another  was 

VOL.  III.  s 


130 


PHASIANIDiE. 


found  to  be  distended  with  seeds  of  grass  mixed  with  a  large 
number  of  insects.  Seeds  of  the  reed  (Arundo  phragmitis) 
are  also  frequently  to  be  met  with,  and  the  gizzards  of  all 
contain  sand  and  fragments  of  stone. 

The  adult  male  has  the  beak  brownish-grey ;  the  irides 
hazel ;  top  of  the  head  dark  brown,  with  a  pale  wood-brown 
streak  from  the  base  of  the  beak  on  each  side  over  the  eye 
and  the  ear-coverts,  and  a  narrow  streak  of  the  same  colour 
over  the  crown  of  the  head  to  the  nape  of  the  neck  ;  the 
plumage  of  the  back,  wings,  rump,  and  tail,  brown,  with 
lighter-coloured  shafts  and  longitudinal  streaks  of  wood- 
brown  ;  wing-primaries  dusky  brown,  mottled  with  light 
brown  ;  chin  and  throat  white,  bounded  by  two  half-circular 
dark  brown  bands  descending  from  the  ear-coverts,  and 
with  a  black  patch  at  the  bottom  in  front ;  breast-feathers 
pale  chestnut-brown,  with  shafts ;  lower  part  of  the  breast, 
the  belly,  vent,  and  under  tail-coverts,  yellowish-white ; 
flank-feathers  barred  and  mottled  with  brown  on  the  edges, 
and  broadly  streaked  with  pale  buff  down  the  centre ;  legs, 
toes,  and  claws,  pale  brown. 

The  whole  length  is  seven  inches.  The  wing  from  the 
carpal  joint  to  the  end,  four  inches  and  a  half :  the  first 
feather  a  very  little  longer  than  the  second,  and  a  quarter 
of  an  inch  longer  than  the  third ;  the  form  of  the  wing  is 
therefore  pointed. 

The  female  has  no  dark  half-circular  marks  descending 
down  the  sides  of  the  neck,  nor  the  black  patch  in  front ; 
but  the  feathers  on  her  breast  are  strongly  marked  with 
a  small  dark  spot  on  each  side  of  the  light  straw-coloured 
shaft. 

The  young  birds  of  the  year  resemble  the  adult  female. 
The  young  males  do  not  acquire  the  black  patch  on  the 
front  of  the  neck  till  their  second  year. 

In  the  illustration  which  precedes  this  subject,  the  figure 
in  the  foreground  represents  the  male  bird  ;  that  behind 
and  a  little  to  the  left,  the  female. 


ANDALUSIAN  HEMIPODE 


131 


HEMIPODU. 


TURNJC/DsE. 


Turnix  svlvatica  (Desfontaines*). 

THE  ANDALUSIAN  HEMIPODE. 

Hemipodius  tacky dromus. 

Turnix,  Bonnaterref .  —  Beak  moderate,  slender,  very  compressed  ;  culmen 
elevated  and  curved  towards  the  point.  Nostrils  lateral,  linear,  longitudinally 
cleft,  partly  closed  by  a  membrane.  Tarsus  rather  long.  Toes  three  before, 
entirely  divided  ;  no  posterior  toe.  Tail  composed  of  weak  yielding  feathers 
clustered  together,  and  concealed  by  the  feathers  of  the  back.  Wings  moderate, 
the  first  and  second  quill-feathers  nearly  equal,  and  the  longest. 


The  term  Hemipodius,  signifying  Half-foot,  was  applied 
genetically  by  M.  Temminck,  in  1815,  to  several  species  of 
quail-like  birds,  but  with  three  toes  only,  which,  from  their 
very  diminutive  size  were  considered  the  pigmies  among  the 
Gallinaceous  birds:  an  order  in  which  they  have  generally  been 
placed.  After  the  light  thrown  upon  their  anatomy  by  the 

*  Tetrao  sylvaticus,  Desfontaines,  Mem.  de  l’Acad.  Roy.  des  Sc.,  1787,  p.  500, 
pi.  xiii. 

f  Tableau  Encycl.  et  Method.,  i.  p.  5  (1790). 


132 


TURNICIDiE. 


researches  of  Professor  W.  K.  Parker  (Trans.  Z.  Soc.,  vol.  v.) 
and  Professor  Huxley  (P.  Z.  S.,  1868,  p.  303),  it  seems, 
however,  necessary  to  place  them  in  a  distinct  order  Hemi- 
podii,  which  leads  off  towards  the  Crypturi,  or  Tinamous,  of 
South  America.  One  very  remarkable  feature  is  that  through¬ 
out  the  genus  the  females  are  considerably  larger  than  the 
males.  They  live  mostly  in  localities  covered  with  scrub,  in 
which  they  skulk  ;  hiding  themselves  at  the  least  appearance 
of  danger ;  seldom  taking  wing,  hut  running  with  great 
speed ;  and  as  a  rule  they  are  not  migratory. 

Of  the  Andalusian  Hemipode  it  may  be  said  that  even  in 
the  countries  it  inhabits,  it  is  extremely  local,  and  has 
never  been  proved  to  wander  to  any  extent.  In  Europe  it 
occurs  in  the  Alemtejo  in  the  south  of  Portugal,  and  along 
the  southern  coasts  of  Spain,  especially  where  the  ground 
is  covered  with  palmetto- scrub  ( Chcimcerops  humilis ),  as  in 
the  neighbourhood  of  Gibraltar,  and  of  Algesiras  in  the 
direction  of  Yejer,  and  also  about  Malaga  where  the  country 
is  of  a  similar  character.  It  is  not  again  met  with  in 
Europe  until  Sicily  is  reached,  when  it  is  found  in  con¬ 
siderable  abundance  along  the  south-western  side  of  that 
island,  very  seldom  straggling  even  so  far  as  the  vicinity 
of  Palermo :  never  migrating,  nor  being  known  to  visit 
either  Malta  on  the  one  side,  or  the  mainland  of  Italy  on 
the  other.  It  does  not  occur  on  any  other  island  of  the 
Mediterranean,  nor  has  it  been  proved  to  have  straggled 
even  to  the  southern  shores  of  France.  In  North  Africa  it 
is  found  in  suitable  localities  in  Morocco  from  Mogador 
to  Tangiers,  and  thence  through  Algeria,  Tunis,  and  Tripoli 
as  far  as  the  confines  of  Egypt,  beyond  which  it  cannot 
be  traced  with  certainty.  It  is  in  fact  restricted  to  cer¬ 
tain  localities  of  a  peculiar  physical  character  in  Southern 
Europe  and  Northern  Africa ;  and  few  birds  would  be  less 
likely  to  have  voluntarily  visited  the  British  Islands.  In 
India  and  Ceylon  this  species  is  represented  by  Turnix 
taigoor,  the  ‘Bush  Quail’ of  sportsmen,  and  other  members  of 
the  genus  are  found  throughout  the  Ethiopian  and  Oriental 
regions  down  to  Australia,  where  they  are  especially  numerous. 


ANDALUSIAN  HEMIPODE. 


133 


The  evidence  upon  which  the  Andalusian  Hemipode  has 
been  included  amongst  British  Birds  is  contained  in  the 
following  letter,  published  in  the  ‘Annals  of  Natural  History,’ 
xiv.  p.  459,  and  addressed  to  the  editors  : — 

“  Gentlemen, — I  have  recently  received  a  bird  which 
appears  to  me  to  he  new  to  this  country  ;  it  is  a  Quail, 
having  no  back  toe,  and  is  not  mentioned,  I  believe,  in  any 
work  on  British  Ornithology  to  which  I  have  access  ;  hut 
in  Dr.  Latham’s  ‘  General  History  ’  it  is  described  as  the 
Perclix  Gibraltarica ,  with  which  my  specimen  appears  to 
agree.  The  bird  was  shot  by  the  gamekeeper  on  the  Corn- 
well  estate  in  this  county,  about  three  miles  from  hence,  and 
has  been  kindly  presented  to  me.  It  was  found  in  a  field 
of  barley,  of  which  kind  of  grain,  by  the  bye,  hundreds  of 
acres  are  still  standing,  with  no  prospect  of  being  harvested 
in  a  proper  state.  Before  I  proceeded  to  preserve  the  bird, 
I  took  the  measure  of  its  various  parts,  the  colour  of  its 
eyes,  bill,  and  feet,  its  weight,  &c.,  after  which  I  found  its 
description  in  the  work  before  alluded  to.  It  was  shot  on 
the  29tli  of  October  last,  since  which  time  another  has  been 
killed  near  the  same  spot  by  the  same  person,  but  its  head 
was  shot  off,  and  otherwise  so  mutilated  as  to  he  unfit  for 
preservation  :  this  might  probably  complete  the  pair,  mine 
being  a  male  bird.  It  had  in  its  gizzard  two  or  three  husks 
of  barley,  several  small  seeds  similar  to  charlock,  some 
particles  of  gravel,  and  was  very  fat.  It  was  considerably 
injured  by  the  shot,  but  I  have  set  it  up  in  the  best  manner 
I  could,  and  consider  it  a  valuable  addition  to  my  small 
collection  of  British  Birds.  Should  this  prove  to  be  the 
only  known  instance  of  the  capture  of  the  bird  in  Britain,  I 
shall  feel  glad  in  having  saved  it  from  oblivion.  I  am, 
Gentlemen,  your  obedient  servant, 

“  Thos.  Goatley. 

“  Chipping  Norton,  Oxon,  Nov.  11,  1844.” 


“[The  bird  in  question  is  the  Hemipodius  tachidromus  of 
Temminck,  which  is  figured  in  Mr.  Gould’s  ‘  Birds  of  Europe,’ 


134 


TURNICIDiE. 


yoI.  iv.  plate  264.  Mr.  Gould,  to  whom  we  have  shewn 
Mr.  Goatley’s  letter,  considers  this  one  of  the  most  interest¬ 
ing  additions  to  the  British  Fauna  that  has  occurred  for 
many  years. — Ed.]  ” 

This  specimen  was  drawn  from  and  engraved  for  the 
present  work. 

In  the  ‘  Proceedings  of  the  Zoological  Society  *  for  1866, 
p.  210,  it  is  recorded  that  the  late  Mr.  Gould  exhibited  a 
specimen  of  the  Andalusian  Hemipode  which  had  been  taken 
near  Huddersfield,  and  which  had  been  sent  to  him  for 
inspection  by  the  possessor,  Mr.  Alfred  Beaumont.  In  ‘  The 
Birds  of  Great  Britain,’  vol.  iv.,  Mr.  Gould  adds  that  the 
specimen  was  accompanied  by  the  following  note  : — “  The 
bird  was  purchased  alive  by  the  son  of  S.  D.  Mosley,  a  bird- 
stuffer  of  Huddersfield,  from  two  Irishmen,  on  the  7tli  of 
April,  1865,  near  the  Fartown  bar  on  the  Bradford  Road. 
He  saw  it  in  the  hand  of  one  of  the  men,  and  thinking  it  a 
novelty  gave  them  sixpence  for  it ;  the  Irishmen  regarded  it 
as  a  young  Partridge.” 

Nothing  can  be  more  circumstantial  than  the  above  state¬ 
ments,  and,  failing  disproof,  there  seems  no  alternative  but 
to  continue  to  include  this  species  in  the  list  of  British 
birds. 

The  earliest  information  respecting  the  nesting  of  the 
Andalusian  Hemipode  was  given  in  ‘  The  Ibis  ’  for  1859, 
p.  80,  pi.  ii. ,  in  which  the  late  Mr.  W.  C.  Hewitson  figured 
two  of  its  eggs,  with  those  of  other  rarities,  brought  from 
Algeria  by  Canon  Tristram,  who  contributed  a  note  stating 
that  they  were  taken  by  Captain  Loche  of  the  French  army 
in  Kobah  Forest,  on  July  lltli,  1857.  The  nest  was  said  to 
have  contained  seven  eggs,  nearly  fresh,  and  was  placed  on 
the  ground  in  the  midst  of  a  dense  thicket  of  underwood. 
Colonel  Irby  *  says  that  owing  to  the  skulking  habits  of  the 
birds,  the  nest  is  exceedingly  difficult  to  obtain,  but  four 
eggs  slightly  incubated  were  brought  to  him  from  the  neigh¬ 
bourhood  of  San  Roque  on  the  6th  July,  1869  ;  the  nest 
being  described  by  the  finder  as  consisting  of  a  few  bits  of 

*  Ornithology  of  the  Straits  of  Gribi*altar,  p.  141. 


ANDALUSIAN  IIEMIPODE. 


135 


dried  grass  placed  under  the  shelter  of  a  palmetto  bush. 
Another  nest,  found  by  Capt.  Savile  G.  Eeid,  E.E.,  on  the 
19th  May,  1873,  was  placed  in  grass  near  the  shore,  and 
also  contained  four  incubated  eggs,  as  did  another  obtained 
near  Tangier  by  Olcese  ;  Favier  also  says  that  they  lay  four 
eggs,  and  that  number  appears  to  be  the  usual  complement. 
Col.  Irby  has  also  received  eggs  from  Mogador.  Loche  says 
that  the  old  females  lay  in  May,  and  again  in  August  :  the 
younger  ones  in  June  and  September ;  young  broods  being 
sometimes  found  in  the  latter  month.  The  eggs  are  of  a  dirty- 
white  colour,  thickly  blotched  with  purplish-grey  and  brown, 
very  similar  to  those  of  the  Pratincole,  but  smaller ;  their 
average  measurement  being  about  1  by  *8  in.  The  structure 
of  the  shell  is  very  different  from  that  of  the  egg  of  a  Quail. 

The  male  is  monogamous,  and  takes  part  in  the  duties  of 
incubation  and  of  attending  to  the  young,  which  are  able 
to  run  as  soon  as  they  are  hatched.  Their  natural  food 
consists  of  insects  and  seeds  of  wild  leguminous  and  other 
plants,  especially  those  of  the  broom ;  and  the  stomachs  of 
those  examined  by  the  Editor  have  also  contained  a  large 
proportion  of  minute  stones.  In  captivity  they  feed  on 
wheat,  millet,  chopped  lettuce,  very  small  snails,  and  broken 
sugar ;  hut  the  greatest  attractions,  says  Loche,  were  meal¬ 
worms  and  flies,  which  they  soon  learned  to  take  from  the 
hand.  An  adult  male  became  tame  almost  immediately, 
hut  a  wounded  female  sulked  for  some  time,  only  yielding 
to  the  temptation  of  meal-worms.  Subsequently  both  would 
allow  themselves  to  he  caressed,  and  made  no  attempts  to 
escape  ;  hut  Loche  could  never  succeed  in  rearing  the  young 
ones  captured  from  time  to  time.  A  female,  deprived  of 
the  male,  laid  more  than  fifty  eggs  between  March  3rd  and 
October  16th.  These  were  deposited  on  two  consecutive 
days  ;  after  an  interval  of  three  days  a  third  was  laid,  and 
again,  after  two  or  three  days,  a  fourth  ;  then  came  a  pause 
of  seven  or  eight  days,  and  laying  under  similar  conditions 
was  recommenced.  A  pair  of  birds  subsequently  hatched 
out  and  reared  a  brood  of  four  young  ones,  which,  as  soon  as 
they  became  thoroughly  independent,  separated  from  their 


136 


TURNICiM. 


parents  and  lived  together  ;  whilst  the  old  birds  had  just 
begun  to  breed  again,  when  they  fell  victims  to  an  accident. 

The  usual  note  of  the  old  birds  when  calling  to  their 
young  is  a  crrou,  crrou,  crrou,  hut  at  daybreak  and  towards 
sunset  the  male,  and  sometimes  the  female,  utters  a  mournful 
sound  similar  to  the  “  booming  ’’of  the  Bittern.  This  is 
well  known  to  the  Andalusian  peasant,  and  has  procured  for 
the  bird  its  name  of  Torillo,  or  “  little  hull.” 

The  adult  female,  which  is  considerably  larger  than  the 
male,  has  the  bill  horn -coloured,  lighter  at  the  angle  of  the 
under  mandible  ;  iris  pale  hazel ;  top  of  the  head  mottled- 
brown  with  a  central  buff  streak  descending  to  the  nape  ; 
the  cheeks  pale  huff,  barred  with  black ;  the  feathers  of  the 
upper  parts  rufous-brown,  thickly  covered  with  blackish  bars, 
and  margined  with  pale  buff ;  wing-coverts  spotted  with 
black,  chestnut,  and  huffy- white  ;  quill-feathers  dull  brown, 
with  a  light-coloured  line  along  the  edge  of  the  outer  web  ; 
chin  white ;  throat  and  upper  breast  pale  chestnut,  passing 
into  huffy- white  on  the  abdomen  ;  sides  of  the  breast  and 
flanks  spotted  with  black  and  brown  on  a  buff  ground ; 
under  tail-coverts  chestnut ;  legs  light  brown.  Total  length 
about  eight  inches ;  from  the  carpal  joint  to  the  tips  of  the 
first  and  second  primaries,  which  are  the  longest  in  the 
wing,  three  inches  and  a  half. 

An  adult  male  obtained  at  Malaga  on  the  23rd  of  Sep¬ 
tember,  1872,  had  the  testes  largely  developed,  although  the 
plumage  was  in  partial  moult.  The  markings  resemble 
those  of  the  female,  but  the  general  tone  of  the  upper  parts 
was  much  greyer,  and  the  chestnut  of  the  under  parts  less 
vivid.  Total  length  six  inches  and  three-quarters;  wing 
three  inches. 


LAND  RAIL. 


J37 


FULICARl.fi.  RALLTD.fi. 


Crex  pratensis,  Bechstein.* 
THE  LAND  BAIL, 


OR  CORN  CRAKE. 

Crex  pratensis. 

Crex,  Bechstein-f. — Bill  shorter  than  the  head,  thick  at  the  base,  subcul¬ 
trated,  compressed  ;  the  culmen  gradually  deflecting  from  the  forehead  to  the 
point  of  the  bill ;  lateral  furrow  of  the  upper  mandible  broad,  and  occupying 
more  than  half  its  length  ;  angle  of  the  under  mandible  bending  upwards;  both 
mandibles  of  an  equal  length.  Nostrils  concave,  lateral,  linear,  ovoid,  pierced 
in  a  membrane  occupying  the  mandibular  furrow  in  the  middle  of  the  bill. 
Wings  armed  with  a  spine,  and  having  the  second  and  third  quill-feather  the 
longest.  Legs  strong,  of  moderate  length,  with  the  lower  part  of  the  tibiae 
naked.  Feet  four-toed,  three  before,  one  behind.  Toes  long,  slender,  and  cleft 
to  their  base,  without  any  lateral  membrane  ;  hind  toe  resting  almost  wholly  on 
the  ground.  Claws  arcuate,  compressed,  and  sharp-pointed. 

The  Land  Bail  is  a  summer  visitor  to  this  country, 
generally  making  its  appearance  in  tlie  southern  counties 

*  Ornithologisches  Tascbenbuch,  ii.  p.  337  (1803). 

+  tom.  cit.  p.  336. 

VOL.  III. 


T 


138 


RALLIDiE. 


during  the  last  ten  days  of  April ;  but  in  Yorkshire,  and 
still  further  north,  it  is  seldom  observed  or  heard  till  the 
first  or  second  week  in  May.  In  the  Shetland  Islands  it 
only  makes  its  appearance  towards  the  end  of  that  month, 
the  herbage  even  then  being  too  scanty  to  afford  the 
requisite  concealment.  Generally  distributed  throughout 
the  mainland  of  Scotland,  it  also  goes  to  the  most  outlying 
of  the  Hebrides  :  even  to  the  remote  St.  Kilda.  In  Ireland, 
where  a  large  portion  of  the  country  is  under  pasture,  it  is 
fairly  abundant.  The  rich  meadows  upon  the  banks  of  the 
Trent  below  Newark  :  the  Yale  of  Purbeck  :  the  neighbour¬ 
hood  of  Battle  in  Sussex  :  and  the  Island  of  Anglesey,  have 
each  been  noted  for  the  abundance  of  this  species ;  and  in 
Devonshire,  the  Bev.  Bobert  Holdsworth  has  stated  that  he 
was  present  at  the  killing  of  as  many  as  thirteen  couple  in 
a  single  day  in  September,  at  which  season  Land  Bails  con¬ 
gregate  before  leaving  the  country.  In  the  neighbourhood 
of  Selborne,  in  Gilbert  White’s  time,  it  was  so  rare  that 
seldom  more  than  one  or  two  were  seen  in  a  season,  and 
then  only  in  autumn,  but  owing  probably  to  the  clearing 
of  the  forest,  and  the  increase  of  pasture  land,  this  is  no 
longer  the  case,  for  Mr.  J.  E.  Harting  states,  in  an  edi¬ 
torial  note  to  his  edition  of  ‘White’s  History  of  Selborne’ 
(p.  828),  that  he  has  killed  three  brace  in  a  September  day. 
By  the  beginning  of  October  the  majority  have  taken  their 
departure,  but  numerous  instances  are  on  record  of  occur¬ 
rences  both  in  England  and  Ireland  in  November  and 
December,  and  sometimes  even  in  January  and  February. 
Sir  B.  Payne-Gallwey  states  (‘  The  Fowler  in  Ireland,’ 
p.  251)  that  he  has  twice  found  Land  Bails,  to  all  appear¬ 
ance  asleep,  in  the  latter  month,  ensconced  in  the  centre  of 
loose  stone  walls  close  to  the  ground  ;  and  Mr.  Beeves,  of 
Capard,  Queen’s  Co.,  has  stated  that  he  took  three  in  a 
semi-comatose  state  out  of  a  rabbit-liole  on  7th  February, 
1882,  and  others  in  the  same  manner  in  former  years. 
Land  Bails  have  also  been  shot  in  mistake  for  Woodcocks 
in  winter,  especially  on  the  promontories  of  the  west  coast 
of  Ireland. 


LAND  RAIL. 


139 


A  summer  visitor  in  small  numbers  to  the  Faeroes, 
the  Land  Rail  occurs  at  that  season  in  Norway  up  to  the 
Arctic  circle,  and,  more  locally,  in  Sweden.  Rare  in 
summer  at  Archangel,  it  is  generally  distributed  over 
Russia  south  of  the  Baltic,  and  throughout  Central  Europe, 
especially  at  the  seasons  of  migration  :  breeding  in  suitable 
localities ;  but  in  Southern  France,  the  Spanish  Penin¬ 
sula,  the  islands  of  the  Mediterranean,  Italy  south  of 
Yenetia,  Greece,  and  Southern  Russia,  it  is  princi¬ 
pally,  if  not  entirely,  a  bird  of  passage.*  Beyond  the 
Mediterranean  it  is  to  some  extent  a  resident  throughout 
the  winter ;  but  numbers  of  Land  Rails  continue  their 
migrations  across  and  along  the  coasts  of  Africa  down  to 
Natal,  wrhere,  according  to  Mr.  Ayres,  they  are  at  times 
abundant ;  and  occasionally  to  Cape  Colony.  Mr.  Vernon 
Harcourt  enumerates  this  species  among  the  birds  of 
Madeira,  and  Mr.  F.  D.  Godman  vTas  shown  examples 
obtained  in  the  Azores.  East  of  the  Mediterranean,  it 
appears  to  be  resident  in  Asia  Minor,  and,  according  to 
Canon  Tristram,  in  Palestine :  ranging  through  Persia  to 
Afghanistan  and  Kashmir.  Severtzoff  states  that  it  breeds 
in  Turkestan,  and  it  occurs  in  Siberia  as  far  as  the  Lena  ; 
but  is  not  recorded  from  China  or  Japan. 

The  Land  Rail  is  a  very  rare  straggler  to  Iceland, 
and  a  single  example  was  obtained  near  Godthaab,  Green¬ 
land,  in  1851.  Professor  Baird  states  that  several  have 
occurred  on  the  eastern  coasts  of  the  United  States, 
and  a  solitary  individual  was  shot  in  the  Bermudas  in 
October,  1847.  In  these  distant  migrations  both  this  and 
other  species  probably  avail  themselves  of  the  spars  and 
rigging  of  passing  vessels  on  which  they  can  repose  un¬ 
observed  at  night,  and  not  unfrequently  even  by  day.  Mr. 
Gould  relates  that,  on  his  outward  voyage  to  America,  a 
Land  Rail  rested  on  the  ship  when  more  than  tvro  hundred 

*  In  the  south  of  France  the  peasants  call  the  Land  Rail  “  roi  des  cailles,  ” 
and  in  Spain  it  is  known  by  the  name  of  “guion  de  las  codornices,”  owing  to 
an  idea  that  it  places  itself  at  the  head  of  the  Quails,  and  precedes  them  on 
their  migrations. 


140 


RALL1D.E. 


miles  from  the  coast  of  Ireland ;  and  similar  cases  are 
doubtless  far  from  uncommon. 

The  Land  Rail  frequents  the  long  grass  of  meadows 
near  rivers,  beds  of  osiers,  and  fields  of  green  corn 
and  clover,  where  its  presence  is  indicated  by  its  creaking 
note  ;  and  hence  one  of  its  names,  that  of  Corn  Crake,  or 
Corn  Creak,  by  which  latter  term  it  is  also  known  in  Ireland. 
This  call-note  may  he  imitated  by  passing  the  edge  of  the 
thumb-nail,  or  a  piece  of  wood,  briskly  along  the  line  of 
the  points  of  the  teeth  of  a  small  comb  ;  and  so  similar 
is  the  sound,  that  the  bird  may  he  decoyed  by  it  within 
a  very  short  distance.  The  male  bird  is  said  to  be  the 
caller,  and  he  continues  the  note  until  a  mate  be  found 
and  incubation  commenced ;  after  which  he  is  less  fre¬ 
quently  heard,  although  not  uncommonly  on  summer 
evenings  in  June,  July,  and,  according  to  Thompson, 
occasionally  in  August.  A  Land  Rail,  kept  some  time  in 
confinement,  uttered  besides  a  low  guttural  sound  when 
alarmed  or  disturbed.  This  bird  has  been  credited  with 
ventriloquial  powers,  hut  it  may  be  doubted  whether  this  is 
not  in  consequence  of  the  marvellous  rapidity  with  which  it 
sneaks,  unperceived,  from  one  spot  to  another.  The  Editor 
has  had  ocular  proof  that  notes  which  were  supposed  to 
indicate  ventriloquism  were  in  reality  the  responsive  utter¬ 
ances  of  two  individuals.* 

The  food  of  the  Land  Rail  consists  of  worms,  slugs, 
snails,  small  lizards  and  insects,  with  portions  of  vegetable 
matter  and  a  few  seeds.  The  nest  is  formed,  on  the 
ground,  of  dry  plants  ;  and  a  field  of  thick  grass,  clover,  or 
green  corn,  is  generally  the  situation  chosen  :  the  eggs, 
from  seven  to  ten  in  number,  are  usually  produced  in  the 
early  part  of  J une ;  they  are  of  a  pale  reddish-white, 
spotted  and  speckled  with  ash-grey  and  pale  red-brown, 

*  An  old  North -country  name  for  the  Land  Rail  is  the  “Daker-hen.”  Mr. 
Cordeaux  suggests  that  it  may  have  reference  to  the  apparently  uncertain  advance 
of  the  bird  as  expressed  in  the  ventriloquous  call-notes;  whilst  Mr.  Harting 
inclines  to  trace  its  origin  to  the  Scandinavian  Ager  hone — i.e. ,  “field-lien,” 
the  initial  D  being  a  corrupt  abbreviation  of  “  the  giving  “  t’  acre-hen  ”  for 
“the  acre-ben.”  (Zool.  1883,  p.  229.) 


LAND  RAIL. 


141 


and  measure  about  1*5  by  1  in.  Daniel  says,  that  in  1808, 
as  some  men  were  mowing  grass  upon  a  little  island  belong¬ 
ing  to  the  fishing  water  of  Low  Bells  on  Tweed,  they  cut 
the  head  from  a  Corn  Crake  that  was  sitting  upon  eleven 
eggs  :  about  twenty  yards  from  this  spot,  they  had  nearly 
destroyed  a  Partridge  in  a  similar  way,  which  was  sitting 
upon  eighteen  eggs  ;  but,  observing  her,  the  mowers  took 
the  eggs  from  the  nest  of  the  Corn  Crake  and  put  them 
into  that  of  the  Partridge.  Two  days  after  she  brought  out 
the  whole  brood,  which  were  seen  running  about  the  island. 
The  Partridge  catered  for  them  all,  and  was  observed  to 
gather  her  numerous  family  under  her  wings  without  any 
distinction. 

During  the  early  part  of  the  Partridge-shooting  season 
in  this  country,  many  Land  Rails  are  killed  by  sportsmen, 
who,  after  the  barley  is  cut,  find  them  most  frequently  in 
seed  clover.  This  bird  does  not  take  wing  very  readily,  and 
flies  but  slowly,  with  its  legs  hanging  down,  seldom  going- 
farther  than  the  nearest  hedge,  or  other  covert,  in  which  it 
can  hide  itself;  and  is  rarely  flushed  a  second  time.  When 
closely  pressed,  aud  especially  if  wounded,  it  will  even  elude 
a  dog  by  fluttering  or  climbing  into  the  tangled  branches. 

Land  Rails  are  considered  most  delicate  as  articles  of  food. 
Dr.  Thomas  Muffet,  who  flourished  in  the  reign  of  Queen 
Elizabeth,  writes  of  them  : — “  Railes  of  the  laud  deserve 
to  be  placed  next  the  Partridg,  for  their  flesh  is  as  good  as 
their  feeding  good,  and  they  are  not  without  cause  preferred 
to  Noblemens  Tables  ”  ;  and  Drayton  speaks  of 

“The  Rayle,  that  seldom  comes  but  upon  rich  men’s  spits.”* 

The  usual  weight  of  a  Land  Rail  is  about  six  ounces  ;  but 
examples  weighing  eight,  and  eight  and  a  half  ounces  are  on 
record ;  and  the  heaviest  of  eleven  birds  shot  in  May,  1857, 
near  Surlingham,  in  Norfolk,  even  attained  to  nearly  nine 
ounces  :  the  others  averaging  eight. f 

Mr.  Jesse,  in  his  remarks  on  this  bird,  says,  “  I  have 
met  with  an  incident  in  the  Natural  Historv  of  the  Corn 

V 

*  Poly-olbion,  25th  Song,  line  338. 

+  Stevenson,  ‘Birds  of  Norfolk,’  ii  p.  390. 


142 


RALLIDiE. 


Crake  which  I  believe  is  perfectly  accurate,  having  been 
informed  that  the  bird  will  put  on  the  semblance  of  death 
when  exposed  to  danger  from  which  it  is  unable  to  escape. 
The  incident  was  this  : — A  gentleman  had  a  Corn  Crake 
brought  to  him  by  his  dog,  to  all  appearance  quite  dead. 
As  it  lay  on  the  ground,  he  turned  it  over  with  his  foot, 
and  felt  convinced  that  it  was  dead.  Standing  by,  how¬ 
ever,  in  silence,  he  suddenly  saw  it  open  an  eye.  He  then 
took  it  up  ;  its  head  fell ;  its  legs  hung  loose,  and  it  ap¬ 
peared  again  quite  dead.  He  then  put  it  in  his  pocket, 
and  before  long  he  felt  it  all  alive,  and  struggling  to 
escape.  He  then  took  it  out ;  it  was  as  lifeless  as  before. 
Having  laid  it  again  upon  the  ground  and  retired  to  some 
distance,  the  bird  in  about  five  minutes  warily  raised  its 
head,  looked  round,  and  decamped  at  full  speed.” 

The  beak  is  pale  brown  ;  the  irides  hazel  ;  over  the  eye 
and  ear-coverts,  and  on  the  cheeks,  ash-grey ;  the  head 
and  neck  all  round,  the  hack,  scapulars,  and  tertials,  pale 
yellowish-brown,  each  feather  having  an  elongated  central 
streak  of  very  dark  brown ;  tail-coverts  and  tail-feathers 
the  same  ;  wings  and  wing-coverts  rich  reddish-chestnut ; 
quills  brown,  tinged  with  red ;  breast,  belly,  flanks,  and 
under  tail-coverts,  pale  buff,  barred  transversely  on  the  sides 
and  flanks  with  darker  reddish-brown  ;  legs,  toes,  and  claws, 
pale  yellowish-brown. 

The  whole  length  is  rather  less  than  eleven  inches.  From 
the  carpal  joint  to  the  end  of  the  longest  feather  in  the 
wing,  five  inches  four  lines.  Females  are  rather  smaller 
than  males,  and,  as  well  as  young  birds  of  the  year,  have 
the  ash-grey  on  the  sides  of  the  head  less  distinct  and  pure, 
and  the  chestnut  colour  of  the  wing  mixed  with  darker 
reddish-brown. 

Young  Land  Rails  are  at  first  covered  with  black  down, 
but  soon  acquire  their  first  feathers,  and,  according  to  Mr. 
Selby’s  observation,  are  able  to  fly  in  about  six  weeks. 

Albinos  are  sometimes  met  with  :  one  shot  near  Exeter 
on  3rd  May,  is  recorded  by  Mr.  1)’ Urban  (Zool.  1881, 
p.  261)  as  presented  to  the  Museum  of  that  city. 


143 


SPOTTED  CRAKE. 


FULICARIJE. 


RALLTBjE. 


PORZANA  MARUETTA  (Leach *). 

THE  SPOTTED  CRAKE. 

C?rx  porzana. 

Porzana,  Vieillotf. — Beak  shorter  than  the  head,  slightly  higher  than  broad 
at  the  base,  compressed,  tapering  towards  the  point,  nostrils  linear  and  oblong, 
the  nasal  groove  reaching  to  the  middle  of  the  bill  ;  wings  moderate  and  con¬ 
cave  :  the  second  quill  the  longest  ;  tail  short,  rounded,  the  feathers  narrow, 
weak,  and  slightly  curved  ;  tibia  bare  on  the  lower  part ;  tarsi  short,  scutellate 
in  front  ;  toes  long  and  slender  ;  claws  long,  curved,  and  acutely  tapering. 

This  prettily  marked  bird  is,  like  the  Land  Rail  last 
described,  a  summer  visitor  to  this  country.  Mr.  Lubbock 
mentions  its  spring  arrival  in  Norfolk  as  taking  place  with 
great  regularity  between  the  P2th  and  20th  of  March ;  but 
Mr.  H.  Stevenson  says  that  of  late  years  he  has  no  record  of 
appearances  earlier  than  the  21st  of  that  month ;  and  a 
female  killed  on  23rd  March,  1866,  at  Ludham,  was  then 
forward  in  egg.  From  the  first  week  in  May  to  the  end 
of  that  month  appears,  however,  to  be  the  usual  time  for 

*  Ortygometra  porzana,  Leach,  Syst.  Cat.  M.  &  B.  Brit.  Mus.  p.  34  (1816). 

+  Analyse  d’une  nouv.  Ornithologie  61ementaire,  p.  61  (1816). 


144 


RALLID.E. 


fresh  eggs ;  and  he  has  seen  the  young  in  their  black  down 
taken  on  Rockland  Broad  in  the  last  week  in  July.  By 
the  latter  part  of  October,  the  majority  have  taken  their 
departure  for  the  South,  hut  stragglers  are  occasionally  met 
with  throughout  November  and  even  into  December  :  the 
marshmen  assuring  Mr.  Stevenson  that  examples  are  some¬ 
times  found  in  midwinter.  The  birds  observed  thus  late  in 
the  year  being  almost  invariably  in  immature  plumage,  they 
are  probably  late  broods  which  have  been  unable  to  join  the 
earlier  migrants.*  Similar  instances  are  on  record  from 
other  places  ;  one  of  the  latest  being,  perhaps,  the  specimen 
recorded  by  Mr.  Blytli  as  seen  by  himself  in  the  London 
market  in  the  month  of  January,  1884. 

In  England  the  Spotted  Crake  is  more  frequently 
observed  in  the  maritime  counties  of  the  south  and  east 
coasts,  especially  in  the  latter,  which  still  contain  fens  and 
“  broads  ”  suitable  to  its  requirements.  Before  the  drainage 
of  the  fens  it  was  not  uncommon  in  Cambridge  and 
Huntingdonshire,  hut  at  the  present  day  its  numbers  are 
greatly  diminished,  even  in  Norfolk,  owing  to  the  reclama¬ 
tion  of  the  marshes.  Although  local,  it  is  said  by  Mr. 
Cordeaux  to  he  not  uncommon  in  some  parts  of  the  Hum¬ 
ber  district,  and  also  of  the  Trent ;  and  it  is  not  rare  in 
Yorkshire,  especially  in  winter :  a  few  nesting  regularly 
on  the  sedgy  banks  of  the  Hull  near  Beverley,  and,  at 
times,  near  York  and  Doncaster.f  Notwithstanding  the 
drainage  of  Prestwick  Car,  Mr.  Hancock,  records  it  as  still 
breeding  occasionally  in  Durham  and  Northumberland. 
On  the  western  side  it  appears  to  be  very  local,  but  several 
pairs  breed  in  the  bogs  of  Breconshire  (E.  C.  Phillips, 
Zool.  1882,  p.  219);  and  from  Wales  it  ranges  up  to 
Cumberland.  On  the  eastern  side  of  Scotland  it  has  been 
frequently  obtained  as  far  north  as  Elgin,  where  the  nest 
has  been  taken,  as  well  as  in  Aberdeen  and  Perthshire,  so 
that  it  doubtless  breeds  sporadically  in  the  more  southern 
counties  ;  but  on  the  west  it  has  not  as  yet  been  recorded 

#  Birds  of  Norfolk,  ii.  p.  393. 

t  Clarke,  Handbk.  Yorkshire  Vertebrates,  p.  G5. 


SPOTTED  CRAKE. 


145 


beyond  the  Firth  of  Clyde.  In  the  Orkney  Islands,  accord¬ 
ing  to  Messrs.  Baikie  and  Heddle,  it  has  been  observed, 
though  rarely,  on  Sanda  ;  and  quite  recently  it  has  been 
recorded  from  the  Slietlands  (Zool.  1882,  p.  21).  In 
Ireland  it  appears  to  be  an  occasional  summer  visitant, 
probably  more  common  than  is  supposed :  nests  having 
been  found  in  Koscommon,  and  a  nestling  in  Kerry. 

Although  the  Spotted  Crake  has  twice  been  obtained  in 
Greenland, *  it  has  not  as  yet  been  recorded  from  Iceland, 
or  the  Faeroes.  It  breeds  sparingly  in  the  southern  dis¬ 
tricts  of  Scandinavia  and  of  Finland,  and  Messrs.  Alston 
and  Harvie-Brown  obtained  both  adults  and  young  near 
Archangel.  Throughout  Russia,  Poland,  Germany,  Den¬ 
mark,  Holland,  and  Belgium,  it  is  abundant  in  suitable 
localities  during  the  summer  months  ;  visiting  Heligoland 
on  both  migrations,  although  more  abundantly  in  that  of 
May.  Numerous  in  the  marshy  districts  of  France,  espec¬ 
ially  those  of  Grenoble,  the  Camargue,  and  the  Landes,  it 
visits  Switzerland,  principally  on  migration,  and  breeds  in 
the  swampy  districts  of  Italy  and  Sicily.  In  the  Spanish 
Peninsula  it  chiefly  occurs  on  migration  or  in  winter  ;  but 
in  the  other  countries  bordering  on  the  Mediterranean  it  is 
in  a  great  measure  a  resident.  In  Southern  Germany,  and 
Southern  Russia  as  far  as  the  Caucasus,  it  is  not  uncommon. 
It  has  been  obtained  in  the  Canary  Islands,  and  it  appears 
to  be  a  resident  or  a  winter  visitant  along  the  whole  line  of 
Northern  Africa  as  far  south  as  Abyssinia,  beyond  which  it 
has  not  yet  been  recorded. 

It  winters  in  Asia  Minor,  and  breeds  occasionally  in 
Turkestan,  crossing  the  Karakoram  range  at  an  elevation  of 
16,000  feet,  where  Dr.  Henderson  obtained  it  in  September 
on  its  passage  southwards  to  India  ;  and  Dr.  Scully  found 
that  a  few  pairs  bred  about  Gilgit  (Ibis,  1881,  p.  590).  In 
Eastern  Siberia,  China,  or  Japan  it  has  not  been  discovered 
by  recent  travellers. 

Compared  with  the  Land  Rail,  the  Spotted  Rail  is  much 
less  numerous  as  a  species,  and  more  aquatic  in  its  habits  ; 

*  Reinhardt,  ‘Ibis,’  1861,  p.  12. 


VOL.  III. 


LT 


146 


RALLIM. 


frequenting  the  sides  of  streams  and  lakes  which  are 
covered  with  thick  reeds  or  rushes,  among  which  it  con¬ 
ceals  itself,  and  from  the  security  afforded  by  the  dense  and 
luxuriant  vegetation  of  marshy  grounds  birds  are  seldom 
moved  without  the  assistance  of  a  good  dog,  accustomed  to 
them  and  their  haunts.*  In  ditches  arched  over  by  a 
tangled  growth  of  brambles,  the  Editor  has  seen  them  climb 
and  flutter  up  into  the  branches,  and  only  take  wing  when 
pressed  by  the  dog  from  below,  and  fairly  thrashed  out  from 
above.  In  all  these  Rails  the  bodies  of  the  birds  are 
compressed,  by  which  they  are  enabled  to  make  their  way 
through  dense  herbage  with  facility ;  their  toes  are  also  long 
in  proportion  to  the  size  of  the  bird,  affording  them  a  firm 
footing  over  mud  or  weeds,  from  the  extent  of  surface  they 
cover,  and  enabling  them  also  to  swim  with  ease. 

The  Spotted  Crake  breeds  in  marshes  that  are  overgrown 
with  reeds  and  sedges ;  the  nest,  built  on  the  wet  ground, 
very  frequently  in  a  tussock  surrounded  by  water,  is  formed 
of  coarse  aquatic  plants,  lined  with  finer  materials  within. 
Eight  or  ten  eggs  are  deposited,  of  an  ochreous  ground¬ 
colour,  spotted  and  speckled  with  dark  reddish-brown  ;  they 
measure  about  1*3  by  *9  in.  The  young,  which  are  at  first 
covered  with  lustrous  greenisli-hlack  down,  take  to  the  water 
very  soon  after  they  are  hatched.  In  the  autumn  this  bird 
is  considered  to  he  in  the  best  condition  for  the  table,  and, 
as  an  article  of  food,  is  in  great  estimation,  particularly  in 
France,  where  it  is  considered  equal  to  the  Land  Rail. 

The  call-note  of  this  species  is  a  peculiar  wlmit,  whuit, 
generally  uttered  in  the  evening.  Its  food  consists  of 
worms,  aquatic  insects,  and  slugs,  with  some  soft  vegetable 
substances.  One  bird,  kept  by  Montagu  in  confinement,  fed 
on  worms,  and  bread  and  milk. 

In  the  male,  the  beak  is  yellowish-brown,  tinged  with 
reddish-yellow  at  the  base ;  the  irides  hazel-brown  ;  top  of 
the  head  hazel-brown,  mottled  with  black  in  the  centre  ; 

,r  In  the  south  of  Europe  this  and  the  other  small  Rails  are  familiarly  known 
l»y  the  names  of  Tue-chien,  Mata-perros,  Cansa-perros,  &c. ,  owing  to  the  employ¬ 
ment  they  give  to  the  best  of  dogs. 


SPOTTED  CRAKE.  147 

slate-colour  above  the  eyes ;  cheeks,  sides  and  back  of  the 
neck  olive-brown,  spotted  with  white ;  back,  dark  olive- 
brown,  each  feather  black  in  the  centre,  and  streaked  longi¬ 
tudinally  with  some  narrow  lines  of  white ;  rump,  upper 
tail-coverts,  and  tail-feathers  black  in  the  middle,  margined 
with  clove-brown,  and  spotted  with  white ;  wing-coverts 
olive-brown,  spotted  with  white ;  quill-featliers  dark  brown, 
with  a  white  streak  to  the  outer  web  of  the  first,  and  faint 
white  mottlings  on  that  of  the  second;  tertials  transversely 
streaked  with  narrow  lines  of  white ;  chin,  slate-brown ; 
neck  and  breast  dull  brown,  spotted  with  white ;  belly  and 
vent  dirty  white ;  under  tail-coverts  buff ;  sides,  flanks, 
and  under  wing-coverts,  greyish-brown,  barred  with  white  ; 
legs  and  toes  yellowish-green  ;  the  claws  brown. 

The  female  is  slightly  smaller,  and  duller  in  colour.  The 
young  have  the  sides  of  the  head,  the  throat,  and  the  abdo¬ 
men  much  marked  with  white,  and  the  spots  are  smaller  and 
less  defined,  on  a  generally  duller  ground.  The  whole 
length  of  an  adult  bird  is  about  nine  inches.  From  the 
carpal  joint  to  the  end  of  the  longest  quill-feather  four 
inches  and  a  half. 

A  variety  in  the  collection  of  the  late  M.  Hardy,  of  Dieppe, 
had  the  front  portion  of  the  neck  suffused  with  a  bright 
rose-colour. 

A  specimen  of  the  Carolina  Crake  ( Porzana  Carolina), 
shot  by  Mr.  H.  S.  Eyre,  in  October,  1864,  on  the  banks  of 
the  Kennet,  near  Newbury,  Berks,  was  exhibited  at  the 
meeting  of  the  Zoological  Society,  February  14th,  1865,  by 
Professor  Newton,  who  remarked  upon  the  powers  of  endur¬ 
ance  in  their  flight  of  various  members  of  the  family 
Hallidce,  and  upon  the  occurrence  of  this  species  on  a  single 
occasion  in  Greenland  (P.  Z.  S.  1865,  p.  196,  and  Zool. 
p.  9540).  The  adult  American  representative  may  be  dis¬ 
tinguished  from  the  European  bird  by  its  black  face.  On 
the  strength  of  a  single  occurrence  it  seems  inexpedient  to 
add  this  species  to  the  list  of  British  birds. 


148 


RALLIDjE. 


FULICABIjE.  BALL!  DM. 


PORZANA  PARYA  (Scopoli  #.) 

THE  LITTLE  CRAKE, 

OR  OLIVACEOUS  GALLINULE. 

Crex  pusilla. 

The  first  example  of  this  species  made  known  in  this 
country  was  shot  near  Ashburton  in  Devonshire,  in  1809, 
and  was  figured  and  described  in  Montagu’s  Supplement  to 
his  Ornithological  Dictionary,  under  the  name  of  Little 
Gallinule.  It  appears  to  be  a  female,  hut  the  sex  was  not 
noted.  The  next  specimen,  recorded  b}^  Montagu,  is  Mr. 
Foljambe’s  bird,  obtained  in  the  shop  of  a  London  poulterer, 
in  May,  1812,  said  to  have  been  received  from  Norfolk  : 
this  is  also  figured  and  described  under  the  name  of  the 
Olivaceous  Gallinule  in  the  Appendix  to  his  Supplement, 

*  Rallus  parvus,  Scopoli,  Ann.  i.  Hist.  Nat.  p.  108  (1769). 


149 


LITTLE  CRAKE. 

and  is  considered  to  be  an  adult  male.  About  the  same 
time  Mr.  Plasted,  of  Chelsea,  obtained  a  similar  bird,  shot 
on  the  banks  of  the  Thames  near  that  place,  and  which,  after 
passing  into  the  possession  of  Mr.  Leadbeater,  was  trans¬ 
ferred  to  the  collection  of  the  late  Mr.  Lomhe,  who  resided 
near  Norwich.  The  next  record,  attributed  in  former  Editions 
to  this  species,  namely,  that  by  Mr.  W.  Fothergill,  in  Tr. 
Linn.  Soc.  xiv.  p.  583,  and  in  Whitaker’s  Richmondshire,  i. 
p.  416  (1823),  is  considered  by  Mr.  W.  E.  Clarke  (Hbk.  of 
Yorkshire  Vertebrates,  p.  64)  to  apply  in  all  probability  to 
Baillon’s  Crake.  In  March,  1826,  a  female  of  this  species 
was  caught  at  Barnwell,  near  Cambridge,  which  was  in  the 
collection  of  Dr.  Thackeray,  the  Provost  of  King’s  College; 
and  the  figure  of  the  bird  in  the  front  of  the  illustration 
here  given,  as  also  the  description,  were  taken  from  this  bird, 
which  was  most  kindly  lent  me  for  my  use  in  this  work. 

In  the  Magazine  of  Natural  History  for  the  year  1829, 
page  275,  it  is  mentioned  that  Mr.  James  Hall  caught  a 
specimen  of  the  Olivaceous  Gallinule  alive  in  a  drain  in 
Ardwick  meadows,  near  Manchester,  in  the  autumn  of  1807. 
In  the  same  work,  but  for  the  year  1834,  page  53,  the  late 
Mr.  Hoy  has  recorded  that  a  Little  Gallinule  was  shot  near 
Yarmouth.  Mr.  W.  Borrer  sent  me  notice  that  a  Little 
Crake  was  taken  alive  on  the  banks  of  the  Adur,  at  Beeding 
chalk-pit,  near  Slioreham,  in  October,  1835  ;  and  Mr.  W. 
C.  Williamson  recorded  (P.  Z.  S.  1836,  p.  77)  that  an 
Olivaceous  Gallinule  had  been  killed  near  Scarborough. 

Its  occurrence  has  also  been  recorded  at  Seaford  in  March, 
1848  (Zool.  p.  2148)  ;  near  Hastings,  in  April,  1859  (Zool. 
p.  6527)  ;  near  Pevensey,  in  March,  1862  (Zool.  p.  8330) ; 
in  Somersetshire,  in  October,  1870  (Zool.  s.s.  p.  2386)*  ;  in 
Cornwall  (Zool.  1878,  p.  214)  ;  near  Eordinbridge  in  Hamp¬ 
shire  ;  in  Cambridgeshire  (Zool.  p.  9118)f ;  in  Yorkshire,  on 
three  occasions  (W.  E.  Clarke,  Yorkshire  Verteb.  p.  64) ; 
and  in  Oxfordshire,  by  Messrs.  Aplin  (B.  of  Banbury,  p.  22). 

*  This  subsequently  proved  to  be  Baillon’s  Crake  :  cf.  Zool.  s.s.  p.  4334. 

1  The  sternum  of  this  individual  was  described  in  the  above  volume, 
pp.  9285-9289,  by  Mr.  W.  W.  Boulton. 


150 


RALLID/E. 


In  addition  to  the  above,  Mr.  Stevenson  (B.  of  Norfolk,  ii. 
pp.  896-399),  cites  no  less  than  twelve  authenticated  occur¬ 
rences  in  the  county  of  Norfolk  alone  ;  most  of  them  killed  in 
March,  April,  and  May;  one  in  August ;  and  one  seen,  but  not 
obtained,  in  October.  Since  then  another  has  been  obtained 
in  the  second  week  of  November,  1882  ^Zool.  1882,  p.  374). 
He  argues  that,  judging  from  the  fact  that  so  many  speci¬ 
mens  have  actually  been  obtained  of  a  bird  whose  skulking 
habits  and  small  size  renders  it  so  difficult  of  observation, 
the  Little  Crake  can  hardly  he  considered  as  merely  an  acci¬ 
dental  visitor ;  and  he  considers  that  both  this  species,  and 
Baillon’s  Crake,  may  fairly  be  classed  with  the  birds  of 
passage  which,  for  a  time  at  least,  periodically  frequent  our 
marshes.  In  Lincolnshire,  again,  Mr.  Cordeaux  states  that 
he  flushed  one  in  October,  1870 ;  and  the  bird  is  probably, 
as  Mr.  Stevenson  suggests,  a  far  more  regular  visitor  than 
is  generally  supposed. 

The  authority  for  the  solitary  occurrence  of  the  Little 
Crake  in  Scotland  is  Mr.  Thomas  Edward,  of  Banff,  who 
states  (Zool.  p.  6968)  that  a  specimen  was  found  dead  at 
Thornton,  on  the  banks  of  the  Isla,  in  March,  1852.  From 
Ireland,  Canon  Tristram  (Zool.  p.  4298)  received  a  specimen 
in  the  flesh,  shot  at  Balbriggan,  on  the  lltli  March,  1854; 
and,  more  recently,  Sir  R.  Payne- Gallwey  records  a  specimen 
obtained  by  Mr.  Reeves,  shot  at  Capard,  Queen’s  County,  in 
April,  1871.* 

Other  examples  have,  no  doubt,  been  killed  in  various 
parts  of  England,  hut  it  must  he  considered  a  somewhat 
rare  bird,  and,  perhaps,  is  not  always  clearly  distinguished 
from  the  species  next  to  be  described. f 

The  Little  Crake  has  occurred  in  the  south  of  Sweden, 
and  was  even  found  breeding  there  on  the  17tli  June,  1862  ;  j 
but  it  is  more  common  in  Denmark.  In  Northern  Germany 
it  has  been  ascertained  to  breed  in  Holstein,  Mecklenburg, 

*  ‘  The  Fowler  in  Ireland,’  p.  252. 

f  For  instance,  a  bird  recorded  as  a  Little  Crake  by  Capt.  W.  H.  Hadfield 
(Zool.  p.  5280),  as  shot  by  him  near  Ramsey,  Isle  of  Man,  in  1847,  is  subse¬ 
quently  referred  by  him  to  Baillon’s  Crake  (Zool.  s.s.  p.  3272). 

1  Westerlund,  Petermann’s  Mittheilungen,  1870,  p.  374. 


LITTLE  CRAKE. 


151 


Pomerania ;  and,  continuing  along  the  Baltic,  in  Courland 
and  in  Livonia ;  also,  according  to  Sabanaeff,  in  the  Biazan 
Government  in  Central  Russia.  Elsewhere  between  these 
lines  it  is  principally  known  as  a  migrant.  Its  best  known 
breeding  quarters  appear  to  be  to  the  southward,  in  Wur- 
temberg,  Bavaria,  Bohemia,  Silesia,  and  in  fact  throughout 
the  Austro-Hungarian  Empire,  where  the  localities  are  suit¬ 
able.  On  Heligoland  it  has  once  occurred  on  the  spring 
migration  ;  it  is  a  rare  visitant  to  Holland  and  Belgium ; 
and  its  appearances  are  irregular  in  the  north  of  France, 
whilst  in  the  south,  and  especially  about  Grenoble,  and  the 
Bouclies  du  Rhone,  it  breeds  in  some  numbers.  In  Spain 
it  has  not  yet  been  proved  to  nest,  but  it  occurs  in  tolerable 
abundance  in  the  neighbourhood  of  Valencia,  Murcia,  and 
Malaga ;  on  the  spring  migration  at  the  two  former,  and 
on  the  autumn  passage  at  the  latter.  An  occasional 
breeder  in  Savoy  and  Switzerland,  it  nests  in  Italy  down 
to  Sicily,  but  in  the  islands  and  on  the  coasts  of  the 
Mediterranean  it  mainly  occurs  on  passage,  and  it  appears 
to  winter  in  Greece.  Seldom  observed  in  Turkey,  it  breeds 
plentifully  in  South  Russia,  and  is  not  uncommon  in  the 
Caucasus ;  eastward  it  occurs  in  Armenia,  Turkestan,  and 
as  far  as  the  broads  or  ‘  dhunds  ’  of  Sind,  to  the  west  of 
the  Indus,  beyond  which  Mr.  Hume  thinks  that  its  place  is 
taken  by  Baillon’s  Crake.  He  was  assured  by  his  boatmen 
that  the  Little  Crake  bred  in  Sind,  but  he  considers  that 
this  requires  confirmation.*  The  species  recorded  under 
this  name  by  Mr.  Hodgson,  as  found  in  Nepaul,  and  by 
Temminck,  from  Japan,  appears  to  be  Baillon’s  Crake,  and 
up  to  the  present  the  most  eastern  authenticated  locality 
for  the  Little  Crake  is  Gilgit,  where  Hr.  Scully  obtained 
three  examples  on  passage  between  5tli  October  and  2nd 
November.f 

In  Africa  it  is  not  as  yet  recorded  from  Morocco,  but 
Loche  says  that  it  is  resident  in  Algeria,  and  recently  Mr. 
Dixon  shot  a  specimen  from  a  small  pool  at  Biskra,  where  it 

*  Game  Birds  of  India,  ii.  p.  209. 

t  Ibis,  1881,  p.  590. 


152 


RALLIDiE. 


was  evidently  breeding  (Ibis,  1882,  p.  578).  Beyond  this 
point  its  African  range  is  unknown. 

In  its  food  and  general  habits  this  Olivaceous  Crake 
resembles  the  Spotted  and  other  Crakes,  but,  according  to 
Mr.  Hume’s  experience,  its  tastes  are  more  exclusively  insec¬ 
tivorous  than  those  of  Baillon’s  Crake.  The  same  observer 
states  that  he  never  flushed  birds  of  this  species  from  sedge 
or  reed,  but  found  them  running  about  over,  or  swimming 
from  leaf  to  leaf  of  the  lotus  and  water-lily,  exhibiting  far 
less  timidity  than  the  smaller  species.  He  also  saw  one 
bird  voluntarily  diving  several  times,  apparently  in  search 
of  food,  and  not  for  safety. 

Naumann  says  that  the  Little  Crake  is  more  partial  to  open 
patches  of  water  than  Baillon’s  Crake,  and  will  even  boldly 
show  itself,  uttering  its  loud  defiant  call-note,  kik,  kik,  kik. 
Hr.  Kutter,  who  found  several  nests  of  this  species  on  a 
pond  near  Cottbus,  Nieder-Lausitz,  describes  one  as  well 
concealed,  rather  flat  in  form,  carefully  constructed  of  dry 
flag-leaves,  and  raised  about  a  foot  above  the  surface  of  the 
water ;  a  second,  rather  rudely  built  on  dead  aquatic 
herbage,  was  only  a  few  inches  from  the  water ;  whilst  a 
third  was  composed  of  dry  sedge-grass.'1'  The  eggs  appear 
to  be  seven  or  eight  in  number,  of  an  oval  form,  rather 
larger  and  paler  than  those  of  Baillon’s  Crake  :  light-olive 
brown  in  colour,  flecked  with  darker  brown,  and  measuring 
about  1*1  by  *85  in. 

In  the  adult  male  the  beak  is  green,  but  red  at  the  base ; 
the  irides  red ;  top  of  the  head,  back  of  the  neck,  and 
upper  surface  of  the  body  generally,  olive-brown ;  the 
centre  of  the  back  broadly  flecked  with  black,  with  a  very 
few  white  marks,  but  no  white  marks  on  the  wing-coverts 
or  quill-feathers  ;  the  primaries  dark  clove-brown  on  both 
webs  (without  any  white  outer  margin  to  the  first,  as  in 
P.  bailloni )  ;  the  tertials  dark  brownish-black  in  the  centre, 
with  broad  olivaceous  margins ;  upper  tail-coverts  and  tail- 
feathers  dark  brown  ;  the  chin  grey;  sides  of  the  head,  the 
neck  in  front,  the  breast  and  belly,  uniform  slate-grey ;  the 
*  Journal  fiir  Ornithologie,  1865,  pp.  334-341. 


LITTLE  CRAKE. 


153 


feathers  of  the  flanks  dark  brown  ;  those  of  the  thighs,  vent, 
and  the  under  tail-coverts  slate-grey,  spotted  with  white ; 
legs  and  toes  green.  The  whole  length  is  about  eight  inches. 
From  the  carpal  joint  to  the  end  of  the  wing  four  inches 
and  one-eighth  ;  the  second  and  third  quill-feathers  nearly 
equal  in  length,  and  much  longer  than  the  first. 

The  female  is  smaller  than  the  male,  and  differs  in  having 
the  space  round  the  eye  pearl-grey  ;  top  of  the  head,  sides 
and  back  of  the  neck,  pale  brown ;  the  chin  white ;  the 
neck  in  front,  breast  and  belly,  fulvous  huff*  colour ;  flanks 
and  under  tail-coverts  greyish-brown,  with  white  spots  form¬ 
ing  hands.  The  young  are  still  paler  on  the  under  parts, 
and  more  streaked  on  the  flanks. 

The  chicks  are  at  first  covered  with  black  down.  The 
young  bird  figured  below  was  presented  by  Captain  Bond. 


VOL.  III. 


x 


154 


11AL  RULE. 


FUL1CA  RIAt. 


RA  LLJDJZ. 


PORZANA  13AILL0NI  (Vieillot*). 

BAILLON’S  CRAKE. 

C'rex  Baillonii. 

One  of  the  earliest  notices  of  the  occurrence  of  this  bird 
is  published  in  the  Zoological  Journal,  vol.  ii.  page  279,  on 
the  exhibition  of  a  specimen  at  the  Zoological  Club  of  the 
Linnean  Society,  which  belonged  to  Dr.  Thackeray,  the 
Provost  of  King’s  College,  Cambridge,  and  which  was 
caught  alive  upon  some  ice  at  Melbourne,  about  nine  miles 
south  of  Cambridge,  in  January,  1829.  In  the  same 
Journal,  vol.  iii.  p.  493,  Mr.  G.  T.  Fox,  of  Durham,  has 
recorded  another  specimen  of  this  bird,  which  was  killed 
within  three  miles  of  Derby,  in  November,  1821.  The  next 
record  is  of  its  occurrence  near  Deccles,  and  also  at  Nacton 
in  Suffolk  (Tr.  Linn.  Soc.  xv.  p.  48).  In  September,  1840, 

*  Rallus  baiUoni ,  Yieillot,  Nouv.  Diet,  xxviii.  p.  548  (1819). 


155 


baillon’s  crake. 

Mr.  Francis  Edwards,  of  Brislington,  near  Bristol,  sent  up, 
for  the  use  of  this  work,  an  adult  female  of  this  species  killed 
on  some  marshy  ground  near  Weston-super-mare  ;  and  two 
more  have  occurred  in  Somersetshire  since  1869.  Mr.  Bodd 
states  (B.  of  Cornwall,  p.  185)  that  it  has  occurred  at  least 
three  times  in  that  county,  and  it  has  probably  visited  at 
irregular  intervals  the  majority  of  the  southern  districts. 

It  might  naturally  he  expected  that  this  species  would  be 
most  abundant  in  Norfolk,  but  Mr.  Stevenson  states  that  he 
finds  the  records  of  its  occurrences  far  more  rare  than  those 
of  the  Little  Crake.  He  enumerates  three  examples  shot 
on  Barton  Fen,  and  one  at  Dilham,  originally  recorded  by 
the  late  Mr.  Lubbock  ;  one  near  Yarmouth,  on  23rd  August, 
1842,  recorded  by  and  in  the  possession  of  Mr.  J.  H. 
Gurney ;  tw7o  obtained  in  October,  1840,  and  an  adult  female 
on  2nd  June,  1874  (Zool.  s.s.  p.  4292).  As  regards  the 
discovery  of  the  supposed  nest  and  eggs  of  this  bird 
in  Norfolk,  in  the  summer  of  1866,  which  was  first 
announced  in  the  4  Zoologist  ’  for  that  year  (p.  389) 
by  Mr.  J.  Overend,  of  Yarmouth,  Mr.  Stevenson  gives 
the  following  particulars  from  further  inquiries  at  the 
time,  and  communications  received  from  Mr.  R.  Upcher, 
Mr.  Crowfoot,  and  Mr.  Frere,  of  Yarmouth  : — “  It  appears 
that  the  four  eggs  mentioned  by  Mr.  Overend  as  purchased 
on  the  9tli  of  June,  were  taken  on  that  day  on  Heigham 
Sounds,  near  Hickling,  by  a  labouring  man,  who  sold 
them  to  a  lad  named  John  Smith,  at  Yarmouth,  who 
had  been  in  the  habit  of  collecting  eggs  for  Mr.  Crow¬ 
foot.  The  former  was  of  course  ignorant  as  to  what 
they  were  ;  but  as  soon  as  their  rarity  wras  known,  it  was 
elicited  from  the  man  who  took  them  that  he  had  seen  the 
parent  birds  near  the  nest,  which  was  placed  in  a  parcel 
of  reeds  growing  in  water  about  a  foot  in  depth.  It  was 
very  small  and  loosely  made,  composed  of  dry  rushes.  A 
few  days  later  Smith  paid  a  visit  to  the  spot  with  the  hope 
of  securing  the  nest,  but  found  that  the  reeds  had  been  cut 
and  the  nest  spoiled,  and  no  doubt  the  man  who  discovered 
it  was  employed  in  reed- cutting  at  the  time.  Five  eggs 


156 


RALLID/E. 


procured  on  the  7tli  of  July  were  also  taken  in  the  same 
locality ;  hut  of  these,  unfortunately,  three  were  broken. 
What  became  of  the  nest  I  cannot  say  ;  but  the  two  were 
most  likely  constructed  by  the  same  pair  of  birds.”*  The 
earliest  account  of  the  breeding  of  this  Crake  in  England 
is,  however,  that  given  by  Mr.  Sealy  (Zool.  p.  6329),  who 
describes  the  finding  of  two  nests  in  Cambridgeshire,  in 
June  and  in  August,  1858,  and  some  further  details  are 
given  by  Mr.  F.  Bond  in  Gould’s  ‘Birds  of  Great  Britain.’ 

Proceeding  northwards,  the  occurrences  of  Baillon’s 
Crake  become  rarer;  nevertheless  Mr.  W.  E.  Clarke  re¬ 
cords  (Yorkshire  Verteb.  p.  64)  three  examples  from  that 
county ;  and  Capt.  Hadfield  mentions  it  as  having  visited 
the  Isle  of  Man.  In  Scotland,  one  is  stated  by  Sir  William 
Jardine  to  have  been  killed  near  Lockerbie,  Dumfries-sliire  ; 
and  Mr.  K.  Gray  cites  another  in  Caithness.  In  Ireland,  one 
is  recorded  by  Thompson,  as  obtained  near  Youglial,  on  30th 
October,  1845  ;  one  has  occurred  near  Kanturk,  co.  Cork  ; 
and  a  third  near  Waterford  (Zool.  1882,  p.  113). 

On  the  Continent  its  distribution  appears  to  be  somewhat 
irregular,  owing  probably  to  insufficient  information.  In 
certain  districts  of  Holland  it  breeds  in  some  numbers ; 
also  in  many  of  the  marshy  parts  of  France ;  in  a  few 
localities  in  Switzerland  ;  somewhat  capriciously  in  Ger¬ 
many  ;  and  in  the  Italian  provinces  of  Lombardy,  Venetia, 
and  Tuscany.  The  above  countries  are  frequented  from 
spring  to  autumn,  but  in  the  Spanish  Peninsula  Baillon’s 
Crake  is  to  a  great  extent  resident,  breeding  in  the  marshes 
of  Andalucia  and  Valencia,  where  the  Little  Crake,  so  far  as 
is  known  at  present,  only  occurs  on  migration.  A  regular 
visitant  to  Hungary,  the  range  of  Baillon’s  Crake  can  he 
traced  to  Greece,  where  it  is  but  little  known  ;  and  to 
Southern  Russia  as  far  as  the  Ural,  although  not  included 
by  Bogdanow  among  the  species  of  the  Caucasus  ;  thence, 
eastward,  through  Turkestan  and  Persia,  to  Gilgit,  Kashmir, 
Nepal,  and  India,  especially  the  North-West  Provinces. 
Mr.  Hume  states  that  it  is  abundant  near  Simla  up  to  an 

*  Birds  of  Norfolk,  ii.  pp.  401  403. 


157 


baillon’s  crake. 

elevation  of  4,000  feet,  and  he  took  a  nest  near  Etawah, 
finding  this  species  in  localities  where  the  Little  Crake 
was  not  observed.  It  is  recorded  by  Captain  Legge  as  a 
rare  visitor  to  Ceylon  ;  Mr.  Davison  obtained  it  in  the 
Andaman  Islands ;  and  it  has  occurred  on  the  west 
coast  of  Borneo.  Passing  northwards,  it  is  found  in  the 
eastern  provinces  of  China,  breeding  near  Pekin  ;  in  Japan  ; 
in  Southern  Siberia ;  and  in  Dauria,  where  Dybowski 
found  it  breeding.  A  straggler  to  Madeira  on  migra¬ 
tion,  Baillon’s  Crake  appears  to  be  scarce  in  Morocco, 
although  tolerably  abundant  and  partially  resident  in 
Algeria;  and,  again,  it  is  of  local  distribution  in  Egypt, 
although  found  as  far  as  Khartoum.  Dr.  Barboza  du 
Bocage  has  only  once  received  it  from  Angola,  but  Anders- 
son  found  it  resident  and  plentiful  in  the  marshes  of 
Damara  Land ;  Layard  obtained  it  in  Cape  Colony ;  it 
breeds  in  the  Transvaal  and  Natal ;  Mr.  E.  Newton  re¬ 
cords  it  from  Antananarivo,  Madagascar,  and  Mr.  Seebohm 
has  specimens  from  the  centre  of  that  island. 

Baillon’s  Crake  appears  to  be  less  partial  to  meres  and 
open  water  than  the  Little  Crake ;  on  the  contrary,  it  fre¬ 
quents  the  smaller  marshes  and  swamps,  especially  where 
there  is  a  surrounding  of  tamarisk  and  other  bushes. 
Evening  and  daybreak  are  almost  the  only  times  when  it 
is  to  be  seen,  unless  very  much  pressed  by  a  dog,  and 
even  then  it  is  loth  to  take  wing.  Its  call-note  is  said 
to  be  similar  to  that  of  the  Little  Crake.  The  nest, 
concealed  amongst  the  aquatic  vegetation,  is  composed  of 
dry  flags  and  sedge  ;  the  eggs,  numbering  from  six  to  eight, 
are  of  an  olive-brown,  marked  with  darker  blotches  and 
streaks,  occasionally  almost  umber-brown  in  colour,  and 
measure  about  1  by  -8  in.  The  food  of  this  species  appears 
to  consist  of  insects  and  their  larvae,  especially  gnats,  and 
small  mollusks,  with  a  little  vegetable  matter. 

In  the  adult  male  the  beak  is  green,  the  base  red;  irides 
red ;  top  of  the  head  and  back  of  the  neck  clove-brown  ; 
centre  of  the  back  and  the  scapulars  brown,  thickly  streaked 
with  black,  and  thinly  with  white  ;  wing-coverts  and  tertials 


158 


RALLTD/E. 


clove-brown,  spotted  with  white  ;  primaries  dark  brown,  the 
*  outer  web  of  the  first  quill-feather  edged  with  white ;  upper 
tail-coverts  and  tail-feathers  clove-brown  ;  throat,  cheeks, 
sides,  and  front  of  the  neck,  breast,  and  belly,  uniform 
lead-grey  ;  flanks,  vent,  and  under  tail-coverts  boldly  banded 
and  spotted  with  black  and  white ;  legs  and  toes  dull  olive. 

The  female  has  the  chin  nearly  white,  and  the  under  parts 
generally  paler ;  the  tertials  more  streaked  and  barred  with 
white,  and  even  the  tips  of  the  primaries  are  faintly  spotted. 

The  whole  length  is  six  inches  and  a  half.  From  the 
carpal  joint  to  the  end  of  the  wing  four  inches  ;  the  second 
and  third  feathers  equal  in  length,  and  the  longest  in  the 
wing  ;  the  length  of  the  tarsus  one  inch  and  one-eightli ; 
the  length  of  the  middle  toe  and  claw  one  inch  and  five- 
eighths. 

The  young  male  which  belonged  to  Dr.  Thackeray  was  killed 
in  the  month  of  January,  and  was  to  all  appearance  a  bird 
of  the  previous  season,  not  having  quite  attained  the  mature 
plumage,  the  chin  being  still  greyish-white,  and  the  lead- 
grey  colour  of  the  front  of  the  neck,  breast,  and  belly  being 
varied  with  patches  of  pale  huffy  brown  and  bars  of  greyish- 
white.  In  still  younger  birds,  before  their  first  autumn 
moult,  the  neck,  breast,  and  under  parts  are  pale  buffy 
white  mixed  with  light  brown. 

As  particular  marks  of  distinction  between  the  two 
small  species,  it  may  be  mentioned,  that  the  Little  Crake 
exhibits  but  a  few  white  marks  on  the  centre  of  the  back, 
and  sometimes  on  the  scapulars,  but  never  on  the  wing- 
coverts  ;  in  Baillon’s  Crake,  on  the  contrary,  these  white 
marks  are  very  numerous,  occupying  several  distinct  situa¬ 
tions,  namely,  the  central  space  on  the  back,  the  scapulars, 
wing-coverts,  and  tertial  feathers  on  both  sides:  in  Baillon’s 
Crake,  also,  the  outer  web  of  the  first  primary  is  white, 
or  mottled  white ;  in  the  Little  Crake  it  is  unvaried  brown, 
except  when  the  feather  itself  is  impoverished  by  age  and 
atmospheric  influences. 


WATER  RAIL. 


159 


RULICARIJE. 


RALLIDJi. 


Rallus  aquaticus,  Linnaeus.* 
THE  WATER  RAIL. 
liallus  aquaticus. 


Rallus,  Brisson  f. — Beak  longer  than  the  Lead,  slender,  slightly  decurved, 
compressed  at  the  base,  cylindrical  at  the  punt ;  upper  mandible  grooved  at  the 
sides.  Nostiils  lateral,  pierced  longitudinally  in  the  lateral  groove,  partly 
covered  by  a  membrane.  Legs  long  and  strong,  with  a  small  naked  S|  ace  above 
the  joint  ;  three  toes  before,  and  one  behind  ;  the  anterior  toes  divided  to  their 
origin,  the  hind  toe  articulated  upon  the  tarsus.  Wings  moderate,  rounded  ; 
the  first  quill-feather  much  shorter  than  the  second,  the  third  and  fourth  quill- 
feathers  the  longest  in  the  wing. 


The  Water  Rail,  though  well  known  as  a  species,  appears 
to  he  less  abundant  than  it  really  is  :  the  habits  of  the  bird, 
and  the  nature  of  the  localities  it  frequents,  increasing  the 
difficulty  of  observation.  It  is  found  in  the  marshy  districts 
of  this  country,  and  delights  to  dwell  among  the  rank  vege¬ 
tation  of  fens,  shallow  pools,  and  watercourses,  from  which 
it  can  scarcely  he  driven  to  take  wing.  If  obliged  to  fly,  to 
save  itself  from  being  caught  by  an  eager  dog  in  close 

*  Syst.  Nat.  i.  p.  262  (1766). 


f  Orniihologie,  v.  p.  151  (1760). 


160 


RALLIDzE. 


pursuit,  its  progress  through  the  air  is  slow,  with  the  legs 
hanging  down  ;  and  it  drops  again  in  the  nearest  bed  of 
reeds,  flags,  or  rushes,  that  is  likely,  from  its  size  or  density, 
to  afford  sufficient  security.  The  compressed  form  of  its 
body  enables  it  to  pass  easily  through  the  thickest  herbage  ; 
while  its  lengthened  toes  assist  it  to  swim,  and  even  to  dive 
when  necessary  for  its  safety. 

Generally  distributed  throughout  England,  Water  Rails 
are  naturally  more  abundant  in  such  localities  as  those 
afforded  by  the  Norfolk  broads  and  their  vicinity.  Although 
many  are  resident  throughout  the  year,  yet  a  considerable 
portion  of  those  bred  in  this  country  are  stated  by  Mr. 
Stevenson  to  move  southward  in  autumn,  their  places  being 
taken  by  migratory  flights  from  the  north  ;  and  Mr.  Han¬ 
cock’s  experiences  in  Northumberland  and  Durham  are  of 
a  similar  nature.  In  Scotland  Water  Rails  are  said  by 
Mr.  R.  Gray  to  he  found  in  suitable  localities  both  on  the 
mainland  and  in  the  remotest  islands ;  and  in  Shetland, 
where  they  are  rather  scarce,  Dr.  Saxhy  found  that  when  the 
frost  set  in  they  would  visit  enclosed  places,  even  venturing 
into  corn-yards,  although  he  never  discovered  corn  in  their 
stomachs  even  in  the  most  severe  winter.  In  Ireland  this 
species  is  also  resident,  although  both  there  and  elsewhere 
it  is  more  frequently  remarked  in  winter,  when  the  herbage, 
which  at  other  times  conceals  it,  is  scanty,  and  when  it  is 
frozen  out  of  the  wet  marshes. 

A  regular  visitant  to  the  Faroes,  it  is,  according  to  Pro¬ 
fessor  Newton,  apparently  a  resident  in  Iceland,  although  a 
rare  species  there ;  hut  it  is  not  as  yet  recorded  from  Green¬ 
land.  In  Norway  it  is  only  partially  resident,  breeding  as 
far  north  as  Trondlijemsfiord ;  and  in  Sweden,  where  the 
winters  are  colder,  it  is  only  a  summer  visitor,  except  in  the 
south-western  districts.  Hardly  known  in  Finland,  where 
the  nature  of  the  country  is  unsuitable,  it  is  found  locally, 
and  principally  as  a  migrant,  in  Baltic  Russia  ;  but  in 
Central  Russia  and  Poland  it  passes  the  summer.  In 
Northern  Germany,  Denmark,  and  even  in  Holland,  it 
appears  to  be  either  comparatively  rare  or  else  is  overlooked 


WATER  RAIL. 


161 


as  a  breeding  species  ;  but  in  Belgium,  France,  and  Southern 
Germany  it  is  a  well-known  resident,  as  well  as  a  partial 
migrant.  It  breeds  in  considerable  numbers  in  the  Spanish 
Peninsula,  and  stretches  eastward  through  Italy  and  the 
islands  of  the  Mediterranean  to  Greece,  Turkey,  and 
Southern  Russia,  being  found  in  the  Caucasus  up  to  a  con¬ 
siderable  elevation.  In  Morocco,  where  it  occurs  on  migra¬ 
tion,  it  probably  breeds,  as  it  certainly  does  in  the  marshes 
of  Algeria,  where  Canon  Tristram  found  it  as  far  as 
Laghouat ;  but  in  Egypt  it  is  principally  a  winter  visitant, 
seldom  passing  south  of  the  delta  of  the  Nile,  although  it 
has  been  recorded  from  Abyssinia.  In  South  Africa  it  is 
replaced  by  R.  ccerulescens. 

The  Water  Rail  occurs,  and  probably  breeds,  in  the 
marshes  of  the  Persian  shores  of  the  Caspian,  in  Western 
Turkestan,  Afghanistan,  Kashgar,  Yarkand,  Gilgit,  where 
Dr.  Scully  found  it  on  the  spring  migration,  down  to  what 
Mr.  Hume  calls  the  Sub-Himalayan  district.*  South  of 
this  limit,  down  to  Ceylon,  it  is  replaced  by  a  very  closely 
allied  form,  also  a  migrant — Rallus  indicus — which  is 
slightly  larger,  has  a  dusky  streak  reaching  not  only  through 
the  lores,  but  also  extending  to  the  ear-coverts,  and  is  also 
paler  and  more  buff-tinted  on  the  under  parts  than  the 
European  bird.  These  differences  are  not  always  strongly 
defined  in  a  large  series  of  skins ;  but  if  the  specific  validity 
of  these  and  some  minor  points  be  admitted,  it  would  then 
appear  that  Rallus  indicus  is  the  representative  form  from 
India  to  China  and  Southern  Siberia,  and  also  in  Japan  ; 
some  ornithologists,  however,  maintain  the  specific  distinct¬ 
ness  of  R.  japonicus ,  Sclilegel. 

Like  other  members  of  the  family,  the  Water  Rail  is 
capable  of  long  flights.  The  Rev.  Robert  Holdsworth  wrote 
me  word  that  a  bird  of  this  species  alighted  on  the  yard  of  a 
man-of-war,  about  five  hundred  miles  to  the  westward  of 
Cape  Clear,  and  at  the  same  distance  from  any  known  land. 
An  officer  of  the  ship  caught  it,  and  took  care  of  it,  and 
carried  it  with  him  to  Lisbon,  feeding  it  with  bits  of  raw 

*  Game  Birds  of  India,  ii.  p.  261. 


VOL.  III. 


Y 


162 


RALLIDiE. 


meat.  In  a  day  or  two  it  became  perfectly  tame,  and  would 
eat  out  of  his  hand.  More  recently  Mr.  F.  D.  Godman  ob¬ 
tained  a  specimen,  taken  in  October,  1867,  in  46°  48'  N.  lat., 
and  11°  30'  W.  long.,  or  well  outside  the  line  of  the  Bay  of 
Biscay. 

The  food  of  this  species  is  worms,  snails,  slugs,  with 
some  vegetables.  Dr.  Fleming  mentions  having  seen  the 
stomach  of  one  that  was  filled  exclusively  with  the  young 
snails  of  Helix  lucicla.  One  of  these  birds,  which  Mr. 
Selby  kept  for  some  time,  was  fed  entirely  with  earth-worms, 
upon  which  it  continued  to  thrive,  till  an  accident  put  an  end 
to  its  life.  It  refused  bread  and  the  larger  kinds  of  grain. 
In  confinement  this  bird  is  observed  to  jerk  its  tail  up  while 
walking,  like  the  Common  Moor-lien  ;  and  I  have  heard  of 
one  that  had  so  far  conquered  its  timidity  as  to  have  become 
pugnacious. 

During  the  nesting-season  the  birds  are  very  noisy,  utter¬ 
ing  a  loud  and  somewhat  explosive  cry.  The  nest,  which  is 
well  concealed,  is  made  of  sedge  and  coarse  grass,  amongst 
the  thickest  aquatic  plants  ;  sometimes  in  willow  beds.  The 
eggs  are  of  a  cream-coloured  white,  with  small  specks  of 
ash-grey  and  reddish-brown,  measuring  about  1*4  by  1  in. 
The  usual  complement  appears  to  be  about  seven  ;  but 
clutches  of  ten  and  even  eleven  eggs  have  been  found. 
Mr.  A.  H.  Evans  obtained  eggs,  which  were  slightly 
incubated,  from  East  Norfolk  so  early  as  April  8th 
(Zool.  1879,  p.  268) ;  and  on  the  1st  May,  1863,  Mr.  H. 
Stevenson  was  shown  three  young  Water  Rails  in  black 
down  ;  nests  with  eggs  are  also  frequently  found  in  June 
and  July,  so  that  it  appears  probable  that  two  broods  are 
produced  in  the  season. 

The  beak  of  the  adult  male  is  red,  one  inch  and  three- 
quarters  in  length ;  the  irides  hazel ;  top  of  the  head,  neck, 
back,  wing-coverts,  and  upper  surface  of  the  body  generally 
olive-brown  :  each  feather  nearly  black  in  the  centre,  with 
broad  brown  margins  ;  primaries  dusky ;  tail-feathers  also 
dusky,  with  olive-brown  margins  ;  cheeks,  chin,  sides  and 
front  of  the  neck,  and  the  breast,  lead-grey ;  the  sides  and 


WATER  RATE. 


163 


flanks  very  dark  slate,  barred  with  white ;  vent  buff  colour ; 
under  tail-coverts  dull  white  ;  legs  and  toes  brownish  flesh 
colour.  The  whole  length  is  eleven  inches  and  a  half. 
From  the  carpal  joint  to  the  end  of  the  wing  four  inches 
and  three-quarters. 

The  sexes  do  not  differ  much  in  plumage,  but  the  female 
generally  exhibits  some  white  bars  on  the  wing-coverts,  the 
tail-feathers  are  somewhat  browner,  the  bill  is  often  a  trifle 
shorter,  and  the  colour  less  bright. 

Young  birds  have  the  under  parts  of  a  dull  buff-white, 
with  brownish- grey  bars,  narrow  above,  and  broader  on  the 
flanks,  forming  transverse  bars  ;  the  flanks  and  thighs  not 
so  dark  in  colour,  and  without  the  white  bands.  The  nest¬ 
lings  are  covered  with  black  down. 

Isabelline  varieties  of  the  Water  Rail  are  occasionally 
taken,  and  pure  white  examples  are  not  unknown. 


164 


RALLIDvE. 


FULTCAR1/E. 


RA  LLI  DAE . 


Gallinula  chloropus  (Linnaeus*). 

THE  MOOR-HEN, 

OR  WATER-HEN. 

Ga  llinula  ch  lor  op  us. 

Gallinula,  Brisson  +. — Bill  thick  at  the  base,  compressed,  slightly  swollen 
towards  the  tip,  subconic,  as  short  as  the  head.  Upper  mandible  convex,  with 
the  culmen  extended  and  dilated,  forming  a  naked,  oblong  frontal  plate  or 
shield  ;  lateral  furrow  wide  ;  mandibles  of  nearly  equal  length  ;  angle  of  the 
lower  one  ascending.  Nostrils  lateral,  pervious,  pierced  in  the  membrane  of 
the  furrow  in  the  middle  of  the  bill  ;  longitudinal  and  linear.  Wings  short, 
concave,  rounded,  armed  with  a  small,  sharp,  recumbent  spine.  Legs  strong, 
naked  for  a  short  space  above  the  tarsal  joint  ;  scutellated  in  front ;  reticulated 
behind  ;  feet  four-toed,  three  before  and  one  behind ;  toes  long,  divided  and 
bordered  through  their  whole  length  by  a  narrow  entire  membrane. 

The  Moor-hen  is  one  of  those  well-known,  half-domesti¬ 
cated  species  which  afford  interesting  opportunities  for  ob¬ 
servations  on  habits.  Hr.  William  Turner,  writing  in  1544, 
calls  this  bird  a  Water-hen,  or  a  Mot-hen  ;  and  Pennant  says, 
that  in  the  days  of  moated  houses  they  were  very  frequent 

*  Fulica  chloropus,  Linnaeus,  Syst.  Nat.  Ed.  12,  i.  p.  258  (1766). 
f  Ornithologie,  vi.  p.  3  (1760). 


MOOR-HEN. 


165 


about  the  moats.*  They  are  found  also  on  ponds  which  are 
covered  with  aquatic  herbage,  old  watercourses  grown  up 
with  vegetation,  and  among  the  rushes,  reeds,  and  willows 
of  slow  rivers.  They  can  swim  and  dive  with  great  facility, 
assisted  by  an  expansion  of  the  membrane  along  the  sides 
of  their  toes.  Moor-liens  are  commonly  to  be  seen  on  the 
surface  of  the  water,  swimming  along  with  a  nodding 
motion  of  the  head,  picking  up  vegetable  substances,  first 
on  one  side,  then  on  the  other,  and  feeding  generally  on 
aquatic  plants,  small  fishes,  insects,  worms,  and  slugs,  for 
some  of  which  they  may  be  seen  early  in  the  morning,  and 
again  in  the  evening,  walking  over  meadows  near  their 
haunts,  diligently  searching  among  the  grass,  particularly 
after  a  shower  of  rain  in  summer ;  jerking  up  their  tails  as 
they  walk  along,  and  showing  the  white  under  tail-coverts. 
Selby  mentions  that  he  has  several  times  known  this 
bird  to  have  been  taken  on  a  line  baited  with  an  earth¬ 
worm,  intended  for  catching  eels  and  trout ;  and  infers, 
therefore,  that  it  was  by  diving  they  obtain  the  larger 
coleopterous  water  insects,  aquatic  worms,  and  the  larvae 
of  dragon-flies,  upon  which  they  are  known  to  feed. 

When  suddenly  disturbed,  they  will  sometimes  take  a 
short  flight,  with  their  legs  hanging  down,  and  will  occa¬ 
sionally  perch  in  a  tree ;  they  are,  however,  capable  of 
more  extended  exertion  on  the  wing,  but  appear  to  prefer 
the  security  afforded  by  thick  rushes. 

Slienstone  refers  to  the  hiding  habits  of  the  Coot  and 
Moor-hen  in  the  following  lines  : — 

- “  to  lurk  the  lake  beside 

Where  Coots  in  rushy  dingles  hide, 

And  Moorcocks  shun  the  day.” 

The  nest  is  generally  placed  among  reeds  on  the  ground ; 
sometimes  among  stumps,  roots,  or  long  grass,  on  a  bank 
at  the  edge  of  the  water ;  and  the  bird  has  been  known  to 

*  Morish  or  moorish  was  formerly  used  for  marsby,  thus  Spenser  : — 

“  The  morish  Cole  and  the  soft-sliding  Breane.  ” — 

Faerie  Queene,  Bk.  iv.  c.  xi.  st.  xxix. 
And  again  —  “  A  huge  great  serpent  all  with  speckles  pide, 

To  drench  himself  in  moorish  slime  did  trace.” — Virgil's  Gnat. 


166 


RALLID/E. 


fix  its  nest  on  the  branch  of  a  tree  which  rested  upon  the 
surface  of  a  deep  still  water.  Another  built  her  nest  in  the 
branch  of  a  fir-tree  which  overhung  a  river,  a  few  feet 
above  the  water,  and  was  seen  to  fly  down  with  two  of 
her  young  brood,  one  in  each  foot,  from  the  nest.  The 
editor  of  the  ‘  Naturalist  ’  mentions  an  instance  where  “  the 
nest  of  a  Moor-lien  floated  on  the  water  without  having 
any  attachment  whatever  with  the  islet  which  it  adjoined  ; 
but  was  enclosed  on  all  sides  by  sticks,  &c.  Thus  situated, 
the  careful  parents  hatched  their  eggs  in  perfect  safety ; 
though,  had  the  water  risen  to  an  unusual  height,  the  case 
might  have  been  otherwise.”  The  nest  has  also  been  found  in 
trees  at  an  elevation  of  twenty  feet  or  more  from  the  ground. 

An  interesting  account  of  Moor-liens  moving  their  eggs  to 
make  an  addition  to  their  nest,  is  thus  related  by  Selby 
in  the  printed  ‘  Proceedings  of  the  Berwickshire  Naturalists’ 
Club  ’ : — “  During  the  early  part  of  the  summer  of  18B5, 
a  pair  of  Water-hens  built  their  nest  by  the  margin  of  the 
ornamental  pond  at  Bell’s  Hill,  a  piece  of  water  of  con¬ 
siderable  extent,  and  ordinarily  fed  by  a  spring  from  the 
height  above,  but  into  which  the  contents  of  another  large 
pond  can  occasionally  be  admitted.  This  was  done  while 
the  female  was  sitting ;  and  as  the  nest  has  been  built 
when  the  water  level  stood  low,  the  sudden  influx  of  this 
large  body  of  water  from  the  second  pond  caused  a  rise 
of  several  inches,  so  as  to  threaten  the  speedy  immersion 
and  consequent  destruction  of  the  eggs.  This  the  birds 
seem  to  have  been  aware  of,  and  immediately  took  pre¬ 
cautions  against  so  imminent  a  danger ;  for  when  the 
gardener,  upon  whose  veracity  I  can  safely  rely,  seeing 
the  sudden  rise  of  the  water,  went  to  look  after  the  nest, 
expecting  to  find  it  covered  and  the  eggs  destroyed,  or  at 
least  forsaken  by  the  hen,  he  observed,  while  at  a  distance, 
both  birds  busily  engaged  about  the  brink  where  the  nest 
was  placed  ;  and,  when  near  enough,  he  clearly  perceived 
that  they  were  adding,  with  all  possible  dispatch,  fresh 
materials  to  raise  the  fabric  beyond  the  level  of  the  in¬ 
creased  contents  of  the  pond,  and  that  the  eggs  had,  by 


MOOR-HEN. 


167 


some  means,  been  removed  from  the  nest  by  the  birds, 
and  were  then  deposited  upon  the  grass,  about  a  foot  or 
more  from  the  margin  of  the  water.  He  watched  them 
for  some  time,  and  saw  the  nest  rapidly  increase  in  height ; 
but  I  regret  to  add,  that  he  did  not  remain  long  enough, 
fearing  he  might  create  alarm,  to  witness  the  interesting 
act  of  the  replacing  of  the  eggs,  which  must  have  been 
effected  shortly  afterwards ;  for  upon  his  return,  in  less 
than  an  hour,  he  found  the  hen  quietly  sitting  upon  them 
in  the  newly-raised  nest.  In  a  few  days  afterwards  the 
young  were  hatched,  and,  as  usual,  soon  quitted  the  nest 
and  took  to  the  water  with  their  parents.  The  nest  was 
shown  to  me  in  situ  very  soon  afterwards,  and  I  could  then 
plainly  discern  the  formation  of  the  new  with  the  older 
part  of  the  fabric.” 

The  eggs  are  usually  seven  or  eight  in  number,  of  a 
reddish-white  colour,  thinly  spotted  and  speckled  with 
orange-brown,  measuring  1*65  by  1*2  in.  Incubation  lasts 
three  weeks,  and  two,  if  not  three  broods  are  produced  in 
a  season,  the  first  of  which  is  generally  hatched  by  the  end 
of  May.  Lord  Lilford  says  that  he  has  several  times 
observed  young  birds  of  the  first  brood  assisting  their 
parents  in  building  a  second  nest ;  and  Mr.  J.  M.  Boultbee 
mentions  an  instance  in  which  the  chicks  of  the  second 
hatch  left  the  old  birds,  and  were  adopted  by  the  young 
ones  of  the  first  hatch,  who  each  took  care  of,  and  fed  one 
of  the  chicks,  leaving  only  one  young  one  with  the  old  hen. 

In  winter,  during  hard  frost,  when  ponds  are  frozen 
over,  Moor-liens  resort  to  running  streams,  and  harbour  in 
plantations,  hedgerows,  and  thick  bushes  ;  roosting  in 
firs,  thorn-trees,  and  others  that  are  covered  with  ivy, 
feeding  probably  on  the  berries.  On  the  disappearance  of 
the  ice,  they  return  to  the  ponds.  When  the  bird  is  in 
good  condition,  the  flesh  is  considered  by  some  people  to 
be  well-flavoured,  but  to  the  majority  it  is  distasteful. 
The  Moor-hen  is  very  pugnacious,  both  as  regards  its 
own  species,  and  also  with  respect  to  other  water-fowl, 
which  it  will  attack  and  drive  from  their  food ;  it  will 


168 


RALLIM. 


also  kill  and  devour  their  young,  and  is  on  that  account  a 
dangerous  neighbour.  Its  usual  food  is  aquatic  insects  and 
their  larvas,  slugs,  beetles,  worms,  grass-shoots,  and  grain, 
when  procurable.  The  call-note  is  a  loud  crek-rek-rek 
several  times  repeated,  and  especially  towards  evening. 

The  Moor-hen  is  generally  distributed  throughout  the 
British  Islands,  and  as  a  rule  is  resident,  but  in  the  colder 
districts  of  the  north  it  migrates  southward  in  winter.  An 
irregular  visitant  to  the  Faeroes,  it  breeds  sparingly  in 
Norway  and  Sweden ;  nor  does  it  range  far  north  in 
Russia  ;  but  south  of  the  Baltic  it  appears  to  be  generally 
distributed  where  localities  are  suitable,  breeding  throughout 
Northern  and  Central  and  Southern  Europe  down  to  the 
Mediterranean,  and  also  on  the  African  side,  where,  how¬ 
ever,  the  migrants  are  in  the  majority.  In  the  Canaries, 
Madeira,  and  the  Azores  it  is  resident,  and  its  course  can 
be  traced  down  the  West  Coast  of  Africa  to  Cape  Colony, 
and  round  that  continent  by  Mozambique  and  the  islands  of 
Reunion  and  the  Seychelles,  up  to  Abyssinia,  and  so  back 
to  Egypt.  Eastward  it  is  generally  diffused  throughout 
Asia  as  far  north  as  Darasun  and  Kultuk,  where  Dybowski 
obtained  both  eggs  and  birds ;  and  southwards  throughout 
India,  Ceylon,  the  Philippines,  China,  and  Japan  up  to 
the  North  Island,  being  generally  resident  and  partially 
migratory,  according  to  the  influences  of  cold  at  the 
loftier  elevations,  or  the  want  of  suitable  moist  localities 
in  the  hot  low  countries.  Upon  this  subject  Mr.  H. 
Parker  (Ibis,  1883,  p.  195)  has  contributed  the  results 
of  some  interesting  observations  made  in  the  Mannar 
district  in  North-western  Ceylon,  tending  to  show  that 
the  migration  thither  for  breeding  purposes  is  the  result 
of  the  food-supply  produced  by  the  establishment  of  tanks 
about  2,000  years  ago.  In  considering  the  birds  resi¬ 
dent  over  this  wide  area  as  belonging  to  the  same  species, 
it  must  be  mentioned  that  there  are  certain  local  races  of 
the  Moor-hen,  and  that  both  the  Indian  and  the  African 
forms  are  slightly  shorter  in  the  wing  than  examples 
from  Western  Europe  :  the  frontal  plate  is  also  larger  in 


MOOR-HEX. 


169 


Eastern  birds.  In  Madagascar  is  found  a  representative 
form,  which  lias  been  distinguished  by  Professor  Newton 
under  the  name  of  G.  pyrrhorrhoa,  and  which  has  a  larger 
frontal  plate,  yellow  legs,  buff  under  tail-coverts,  and  a 
different  note  ;  and  in  America  a  closely-allied  species,  G. 
galeatci,  occurs  throughout  the  temperate  and  tropical  portions 
of  that  continent.  In  the  Hawaiian  Islands  a  well-defined 
species,  G.  sandvicensis,  is  found  ;  and  a  remarkable  island 
form,  G.  nesiotis,  occurs  in  the  Tristan  d’Acunha  group. 

The  male  has  the  beak  yellowish  ;  the  base  of  it,  and 

the  naked  patch  on  the  forehead,  red ;  irides  reddish- 

hazel  ;  the  back,  wings,  rump,  and  tail,  rich  dark  olive- 
brown  ;  head,  neck,  breast,  and  sides,  uniform  dark  slate- 
grey  ;  outside  of  the  thighs  and  the  flanks  streaked  with 
white ;  belly  and  vent  greyisli-wliite ;  under  tail-coverts 

white;  above  the  tarsal  joint  a  garter  of  red;  legs  and 

toes  greenish-yellow  ;  the  claws  dark  brown. 

Length  about  thirteen  inches.  From  the  carpal  joint  to 
the  end  of  the  wing  six  inches  and  three-quarters. 

The  female  is,  as  a  rule,  rather  larger,  and  more  vividly 
coloured  than  the  male. 

The  young  are  at  first  covered  with  black  hairy  down. 
Their  after-plumage  is  white  on  the  throat ;  front  and 
cheeks  a  mixture  of  brown  and  white  ;  breast  and  sides 
ash-grey,  tinged  with  brown  ;  the  belly  paler ;  the  flanks 
streaked  with  yellowish-brown  ;  under  tail-coverts  cream- 
yellow  ;  upper  parts  dark  grey,  tinged  with  oil- green  ;  beak 
and  legs  dull  green ;  the  frontal  patch  small,  and  partly 
concealed  by  feathers. 

The  Piev.  Mr.  Lubbock  mentions  a  curious  variety  of  the 
Moor-lien,  in  which  the  back  and  wings  were  mottled  with 
white,  and  sandy-coloured  specimens  have  been  obtained  in 
Norfolk  and  near  Nottingham. 

The  vignette  represents  the  breast-bone  of  the  Moor-lien 
of  the  natural  size,  in  two  points  of  view,  one  from  the  side, 
the  other  as  seen  from  below ;  the  latter  serves  to  illustrate 
the  flattened  form  of  the  body  which  belongs  to  the  Crakes, 
Gallinules,  and  Piails. 


VOL,  III. 


170 


RALLID2E. 


The  Purple  Gallinule  ( Porphyrio  cceruleus),  and  the 
Green-backed  Gallinule  (P.  smaragdonotus) ,  have  both  been 
captured  several  times  in  the  British  Islands.  The  former 
inhabits  the  swamps  of  North  Africa,  the  Caspian,  and  the 
marshes  of  the  islands  and  the  northern  shores  of  the 
Mediterranean,  and  has  once  occurred  in  Germany ;  the 
latter  is  essentially  an  African  species,  and  a  doubtful 
straggler  even  to  Sardinia  and  Sicily.  Both  species  are 
frequently  kept  in  confinement  in  this  country,  and  as  many 
of  the  individuals  captured  can  be  clearly  proved  to  have 
escaped,  it  seems  reasonable  to  assume  that  the  others  were 
not  genuine  migrants. 

The  Martinique  Gallinule  ( Porphyrio  martinicus),  a 
common  species  in  Tropical  America,  is  stated  by  Thompson 
(Ann.  and  Mag.  Nat.  Hist,  xviii.  p.  811),  to  have  once 
occurred  on  the  south-west  coast  of  Ireland. 


COMMON  COOT. 


171 


FUL1CARI/E. 


R  ALU  DM. 


Fulica  atra,  Linnaeus.* 

THE  COMMON  COOT. 

Fulica  atra. 

Fulica,  Brissonf. — Beak  of  medium  size,  shorter  than  the  head,  strong, 
conical,  straight,  compressed  at  the  base,  higher  than  broad,  superior  basal  por¬ 
tion  extending  up  the  forehead,  and  dilated,  forming  a  naked  patch  ;  points  of 
both  mandibles  compressed,  of  equal  length  ;  the  upper  one  slightly  curved,  the 
inferior  mandible  with  an  angle  underneath  at  the  symphysis.  Nostrils  lateral, 
pierced  longitudinally  about  the  middle  of  the  beak,  partly  closed  by  a  mem¬ 
brane.  Legs  long,  slender,  naked  above  the  tarsal  joint ;  three  toes  in  front, 
one  behind ;  all  the  toes  long,  united  at  the  base,  furnished  laterally  with  an 
extension  of  the  membrane,  forming  round  lobes.  Wings  of  moderate  size  ;  the 
first  feather  shorter  than  the  second  or  third,  which  are  the  longest  in  the  wing. 
Tail  short. 

The  Coot  is  a  generally  distributed  species  throughout 
the  British  Islands,  upon  large  ponds,  lakes,  and  slow 
rivers ;  it  also  frequents  the  level  shores  of  some  parts  of 

*  Syst.  Nat.  Ed.  12,  i.  p.  257  (1766).  +  Ornithologie,  vi.  p.  23  (1760). 


172 


llALLID/E. 


the  coast,  where  extensive  mud-flats  are  laid  hare  at  each 
retiring  tide,  preferring,  however,  open  waters,  and  does  not, 
except  in  the  breeding-season,  so  much  seek  the  sheltered 
reed-grown  situations  frequented  by  the  Moor-lien  ;  the 
extreme  watchfulness  of  the  Coot  enabling  it  to  avoid 
danger. 

Owing  to  successive  drainage  of  its  breeding  haunts  in 
this  country,  Coots  are  gradually  diminishing  in  number, 
and  of  late  years  the  species  has  become  scarcer  and 
more  localized  in  many  of  our  English  counties.  On 
the  other  hand,  upon  the  Nene,  in  Northamptonshire,  Lord 
Lilford  says  that  it  has  become  much  more  abundant.  The 
Norfolk  broads,  Southampton  Water,  Poole,  and  other 
parts  of  Dorsetshire,  and  Slapton  Ley,  in  Devonshire,  are 
places  where  this  species  is  still  plentiful ;  although  the 
days  have  passed  when  a  fen -man,  in  answer  to  Mr.  Lub¬ 
bock’s  question  as  to  the  number  of  Coots  visible  on  Hick- 
ling  Broad,  could  estimate  them  at  “  about  an  acre  and  a 
half”;  or  a  shoal  reaching  two  miles  in  length  by  half  a 
mile  across,  be  seen  upon  the  Manningtree  river  in  Essex. * 
Large  numbers  are  still,  however,  killed  annually  at  the 
battues,  especially  on  some  of  the  “  broads,”  and  at  Slapton 
Ley.  As  a  rule  the  Coot  is  resident,  but  in  the  colder  dis¬ 
tricts,  when  the  inland  lakes  and  streams  are  closed  by  the 
frost,  it  migrates  partially,  and  with  reluctance  (generally 
in  the  evening),  to  the  salt  water.  This  takes  place  more 
particularly  in  the  northern  and  north-eastern  districts,  but 
in  the  milder  west  it  remains  throughout  the  winter,  even  in 
the  Hebrides  and  the  Orkneys  ;  occasionally  visiting  Shet¬ 
land  at  that  season.  In  Ireland  it  is  permanently  resident, 
and  generally  distributed  where  the  localities  are  suitable. 

A  very  rare  straggler  as  far  as  the  south-west  of  Iceland, 
the  Coot  is  a  tolerably  regular  visitor  to  the  Faeroes.  On 
the  coast  of  Norway,  which  is  warmed  by  the  Gulf  Stream, 
it  has  been  known  to  occur  as  far  as  70°  N.  lat.,  and  it 
breeds  in  the  southern  districts  of  that  country,  and  of 
Sweden.  South  and  east  of  the  Baltic  it  is  generally  dis- 
*  Stevenson’s  1>.  of  Norfolk,  ii.  p.  429. 


COMMON  COOT. 


173 


tributed  throughout  the  Continent  down  to  the  shores  of 
the  Mediterranean,  where,  owing  to  the  arrival  of  migrants 
from  the  north,  it  occurs  in  vast  numbers  in  winter.  In  the 
south  of  France,  especially  in  Provence,  it  is  known  by  the 
name  of  Macreuse,  elsewhere  applied  to  the  Scoter  Duck, 
and  its  flesh  being  allowed  to  be  eaten  in  convents  on  jours 
maigres,  large  battues  were  formerly  organized  in  order  to 
obtain  supplies.  Parties  for  the  purpose  of  sport  still  take 
place  annually,  and  more  than  a  thousand  Coots  sometimes 
fall  in  a  single  day.  Similar  bags  have  been  made  at  the  great 
lake  of  Albufera  near  Valencia,  in  Spain,  in  which  country 
the  Coot  also  breeds  in  some  numbers  in  suitable  localities, 
especially  in  Andalucia ;  but  in  Italy,  the  islands  of  the 
Mediterranean  and  Greece,  comparatively  few  remain  to  nest. 
It  occurs  in  Turkey,  and  along  the  Black  Sea  as  far  as  the 
foot  of  the  Caucasus,  and  it  appears  to  be  resident  in  Asia 
Minor  and  Palestiue.  Eastward  it  ranges  across  Persia  and 
Turkestan  to  Kashmir,  where  it  breeds  in  small  numbers, 
and  it  visits  Northern  India,  especially  the  lakes  of  Sind, 
where  it  is  found,  according  to  Mr.  Hume,  in  hundreds  of 
thousands  during  the  cold  season.  In  other  parts  of  India 
its  distribution  is  somewhat  irregular,  but  it  was  obtained 
by  Capt.  R.  Wardlaw-Ramsay  in  Burmali,  and  a  form  of 
doubtful  specific  value  occurs  in  Java.  To  the  north  of  the 
great  Central  Asian  range  it  appears  to  be  principally  a 
spring  and  summer  visitant :  it  breeds  in  Manchuria,  and 
many  parts  of  China,  and  a  slightly  larger  race  is  a  resident 
in  Japan.  In  Australia,  a  form  with  a  somewhat  slenderer 
bill  is  met  with. 

Returning  to  the  west,  our  Coot  is  found  in  the  Azores, 
Madeira,  and  the  Canaries  ;  it  occurs  upon  the  lakes  and 
rivers  of  North  Africa,  swarming  in  Lower  Egypt  in  winter, 
and  ranges'  as  far  south  as  the  Blue  Nile.  In  Southern 
Spain,  however,  and  in  Morocco,  it  meets  with  its  near 
congener,  the  Crested  Coot  ( Fidica  cristata),  which  has  two 
bright  red  caruncles  on  the  frontal  plate,  and  this  species 
replaces  it  throughout  the  greater  part  of  Central  and 
Southern  Africa. 


174 


RALLID/E. 


A  solitary  example  is  recorded  by  Reinhardt  as  having 
straggled  to  Greenland  in  1876,  and  that  Peninsula  has 
also  been  visited  by  the  North  American  representative, 
Fulica  americana,  which  may  be  distinguished  from  the 
European  bird  by  its  white  lateral  under  tail-coverts. 

Colonel  Hawker,  in  his  Instructions  to  Young  Sportsmen, 
says,  “If  a  gentleman  wishes  to  have  plenty  of  wild-fowl 
on  his  pond,  let  him  preserve  the  Coots,  and  keep  no  tame 
Swans.  The  reason  that  all  wild-fowl  seek  the  company  of 
the  Coots  is  because  these  birds  are  such  good  sentries,  to 
give  the  alarm  by  day,  when  the  fowl  generally  sleep.” 

The  Coot  is  seldom  seen  on  dry  land,  and  its  power  of 
active  progression  on  shore  has  been  doubted ;  but  instead 
of  being  awkward  on  land,  it  is  fully  as  lively  as  in  the 
water,  standing  firmly  and  steadily,  and  without  any  totter¬ 
ing  or  waddling  in  its  gait,  and  running  with  amazing 
rapidity  on  the  ooze.  It  picks  up  grain  with  surprising 
alacrity,  even  much  quicker  than  any  of  our  domestic 
poultry.  If  deprived  of  water  on  which  to  pass  the  night, 
it  will  roost,  as  other  land  birds,  upon  any  elevated  situa¬ 
tion,  and  it  will  ascend  a  tree  with  the  activity  of  a  Wren. 
In  reference  to  the  power  of  its  claws,  the  sportsman’s  book 
already  referred  to  contains  the  following  caution  : — “  Beware 
of  a  winged  Coot,  or  he  will  scratch  you  like  a  cat.” 

Coots  feed  on  aquatic  insects,  worms,  slugs,  and  various 
portions  of  vegetable  matter.  They  breed  in  many  parts 
of  England,  forming  a  nest  of  flags,  among  reeds,  upon  the 
margins  of  lakes,  ponds,  and  rivers.  Hewitson  says  that 
“  he  has  had  opportunities  of  examining  many  of  their 
nests.  They  are  large,  and  apparently  clumsy  at  first  sight, 
but  are  amazingly  strong  and  compact ;  they  are  sometimes 
built  on  a  tuft  of  rushes,  but  more  commonly  amongst  reeds  ; 
some  are  supported  by  those  that  lie  prostrate  on  the  water, 
whilst  others  have  their  foundations  at  its  bottom,  and  are 
raised  till  they  become  from  six  to  twelve  inches  above  its 
surface,  sometimes  in  a  depth  of  one  and  a  half  or  two  feet. 
So  firm  are  some  of  them,  that,  whilst  up  to  the  knees  in 
water,  they  afforded  me  a  seat  sufficiently  strong  to  support 


COMMON  COOT. 


175 


my  weight.  They  are  composed  of  flags  and  broken  reeds, 
finer  towards  the  inside,  and  contain  from  seven  to  ten  eggs.” 
These  are  stone  colour,  speckled  over  with  nutmeg-brown, 
and  measure  about  2*08  by  1*5  in.  Bewick  mentions  that  a 
Bald  Coot  built  her  nest  in  Sir  W.  Middleton’s  lake,  at 
Belsay,  Northumberland,  among  the  rushes,  which  were 
afterwards  loosened  by  the  wind,  and,  of  course,  the  nest 
was  driven  about,  and  floated  upon  the  surface  of  the  water, 
in  every  direction ;  notwithstanding  which,  the  female  con¬ 
tinued  to  sit  as  usual,  and  brought  out  her  young  upon  her 
movable  habitation.  Some  broods  appear  towards  the  end 
of  May,  others  in  June.  The  young  quit  the  nest  soon 
after  they  are  hatched,  and  leave  it  entirely  after  three  or 
four  days,  to  follow  their  parents,  who  are  very  careful  of 
them. 

Sir  Thomas  Browne,  of  Norwich,  when  writing  of  British 
Birds,  about  1685,  says,  “  Coots  are  in  very  great  flocks  on 
the  broad  waters.  Upon  the  appearance  of  a  Kite  or  Buz¬ 
zard,  I  have  seen  them  unite  from  all  parts  of  the  shore  in 
strange  numbers;  when,  if  the  Kite  stoop  near  them,  they 
will  fling  up,  and  spread  such  a  flash  of  water  with  their 
wings,  that  they  will  endanger  the  Kite,  and  so  keep  him  oft* 
again  and  again  in  open  opposition.”  In  confirmation  of 
this  Lord  Lilford  writes  :  “  It  is  very  common  in  winter 
on  the  lakes  of  Epirus,  in  which  country  I  have  several 
times  observed  the  singular  manner  in  which  a  flock  of  these 
birds  defend  themselves  against  the  White-tailed  Eagle. 
On  the  appearance  over  them  of  one  of  these  birds,  they 
collect  in  a  dense  body,  and  when  the  Eagle  stoops  at  them 
they  throw  up  a  sheet  of  water  with  their  feet  and  com¬ 
pletely  baffle  their  enemy ;  in  one  instance,  on  a  small  lake 
near  Butrinto,  they  so  drenched  the  Eagle  that  it  was  with 
difficulty  that  he  reached  a  tree  on  the  shore,  not  more  than 
a  hundred  yards  from  the  spot  where  he  attacked  them. 
They  seemed  to  take  very  little  notice  of  the  Spotted  Eagles, 
Harriers,  Buzzards,  &c.,  but  on  the  appearance  of  Bonelli’s 
Eagle  would  scatter  off  to  the  covert  of  the  reeds  with  which 
most  of  the  lakes  are  thickly  fringed.  I  never,  however, 


176 


HALLUX®. 


observed  any  bird  of  prey  attack  them  except  the  White- 
tailed  Eagle  and  Peregrine  Falcon,  which  latter  would  occa¬ 
sionally  cut  one  down  as  they  flew  over  the  land.” 

Of  their  habits  in  autumn  and  winter,  when  pursued  by 
the  sportsman  or  the  fowler,  Colonel  Hawker  says  :  “  Coots 
found  in  rivers  are  scarcely  thought  worth  firing  at ;  yet  they 
are  in  great  requisition  when  they  arrive  for  the  winter  on 
the  coast,  from  the  immense  number  that  may  be  killed  at  a 
shot,  as  they  roost  on  the  mud-banks.  Coots,  when  on  the 
coast,  usually  travel  to  windward,  so  that  a  west  wind  brings 
them  to  the  west,  and  an  easterly  wind  to  the  east,  instead 
of  the  contrary,  as  with  other  fowl.  The  plan  that  I  have 
found  best  for  slaughtering  the  Coots  by  wholesale  is,  either 
to  listen  for  them  before  daylight,  and  rake  them  down  at 
the  grey  of  a  white  frosty  morning,  or  watch  them  at  some 
distance  in  the  afternoon,  and  set  into  them  as  late  in  the 
evening  as  you  can  see  to  level  your  gun,  taking  care,  if 
possible,  to  keep  them  under  the  western  light.  Coots, 
instead  of  drawing  together  before  they  fly,  like  geese  and 
many  other  fowl,  always  disperse  on  being  alarmed ;  and, 
as  they  generally  fly  to  windward,  the  gentleman’s  system  of 
wild-fowl  shooting  answers  well,  which  is,  to  embark  with  a 
party,  sail  down  on  them,  and,  as  they  cross,  luff  up,  and 
fire  all  your  barrels.  When  a  beginner  at  wild  sport,  I  used 
to  be  mightily  pleased  with  this  diversion.  When  on  the 
coast,  you  may  easily  distinguish  Coots  from  w7ild-fowl  by 
the  scattered  extent  of  their  line,  their  high  rumps,  their 
rapid  swimming,  and  their  heads  being  poked  more 
forward. 

“  They  are  generally  sold  for  eighteen-pence  a  couple, 
previously  to  which  they  are  what  is  called  cleaned.  The 
recipe  for  this  is,  after  picking  them,  to  take  oft"  all  the 
black  down,  by  means  of  powdered  resin  and  boiling  water, 
and  then  to  let  them  soak  all  night  in  cold  spring  water  ; 
by  which  they  are  made  to  look  as  white  and  as  delicate  as  a 
chicken,  and  to  eat  tolerably  well ;  but,  without  this  process, 
the  skin  in  roasting  produces  a  sort  of  oil,  with  a  fishy  taste 
and  smell ;  and  if  the  skin  he  taken  off,  the  bird  becomes 


COMMON  COOT. 


177 


dry,  and  good  for  nothing.  A  Coot  shot  in  the  morning, 
just  after  roosting,  is  worth  three  killed  in  the  day  when  full 
of  grass,  because  he  will  then  be  whiter,  and  milder  in 
flavour.  A  Poole  man  is  very  particular  about  this,  as  the 
sale  of  his  Coots  much  depends  on  it.” 

Coots  have  a  very  powerful  flight  when  once  on  the  wing, 
and  fly  with  their  legs  stretched  out  behind,  acting  the  part 
of  a  tail,  in  the  manner  of  a  Heron. 

The  beak  is  of  a  pale  rose-red,  or  flesh  colour ;  the  patch 
on  the  forehead  naked,  and  pure  white ;  hence  the  name  of 
Bald  Coot*;  the  irides  crimson  ;  below  the  eye  a  small  half¬ 
circular  streak  of  white ;  the  whole  of  the  plumage  above 
and  below  sooty  black,  tinged  with  dark  slate-grey ;  the  head 
rather  darker  than  the  body ;  primaries  nearly  pure  black ; 
secondaries  tipped  with  white,  forming  a  line  or  narrow  bar 
across  the  wing ;  legs,  toes,  and  membranes,  dark  green, 
the  garter  above  the  tarsal  joint  orange. 

The  whole  length  is  eighteen  inches.  From  the  carpal 
joint  to  the  end  of  the  wing,  about  eight  inches. 

The  adult  bird,  from  its  more  decided  dark  colour,  was 
formerly  considered  distinct,  and  called  F.  aterrima  by 
Linnaeus ;  but  we  have  only  one  species.  The  young  birds 
of  the  year  are  smaller  than  the  parent,  the  naked  frontal 
patch  is  also  smaller,  the  throat  is  nearly  white,  and  the 
under  parts  of  the  plumage  are  of  a  lighter  grey.  Young 
chicks  on  emerging  from  the  egg-shell  are  covered  with 
black  down,  with  some  lighter-coloured  filaments  about  the 
upper  parts. 

Varieties  entirely  white,  and  others  only  partially  white, 
have  occurred  in  Norfolk  and  Lincolnshire,  and  on  the 
Continent.  • 

*  Thus  Drayton  in  his  ‘  Poly-olbion,’  25th  Song  : — 

“  The  Coot ,  bald,  else  clean  black,  that  whitenesse  it  doth  beare 
Upon  the  forehead  starr’d,  the  Water-hen  doth  wear 
Upon  her  little  tayle,  in  one  small  feather  set.” 


VOL.  III. 


A  A 


178 

.4  LECTORI  DES. 


GRUIDiE. 


GRU1DJE. 


Grus  communis,  Beclistein.* 

THE  COMMON  CEANE. 

Grus  cinereci. 

Grus,  Bechsteinf. — Beak  longer  than  the  head,  straight,  strong,  compressed, 
and  pointed.  Nostrils  placed  longitudinally  in  a  furrow,  large,  pervious,  closed 
posteriorly  by  a  membrane.  Legs  long,  strong,  naked  above  the  joint ;  three 
toes  in  front  ;  middle  toe  united  to  the  outer  toe  by  a  membrane  ;  hind  toe 
articulated  high  up  on  the  tarsus.  Wings  moderate,  rounded  in  form  ;  the 
first  quill-feather  shorter  than  the  second  ;  the  third  the  longest  in  the  wing. 

*  Yog.  Deutschl.  iii.  p.  60  (1793).  +  loc  cit. 


CRANE. 


179 


In  former  Editions  of  this  work  the  Crane  was  classed  in 
the  same  order  with  the  Herons ;  but  it  is  now  generally 
admitted  by  modern  systematists  that  the  Gruida  have  no 
real  affinity  to  the  Ardeidce.  The  young  of  the  Herons 
and  Storks  are  nearly  naked  and  helpless  when  hatched, 
whereas  the  young  of  the  Cranes  are  covered  with  a  close 
down,  and  they  are  able  to  run  about  soon  after  emerging 
from  the  shell,  like  those  of  the  Kails,  the  Bustards,  and  the 
Plovers.  In  the  structure,  and  also  in  the  external  colora¬ 
tion  of  the  shell,  the  eggs  of  some  of  the  Cranes  have  con¬ 
siderable  resemblance  to  those  of  the  Bustards  ;  and  the  two 
families  of  the  Gruiclce  and  the  Otididce  are  now  generally 
placed  in  the  Order  Alectorides. 

Though  at  the  present  time  only  an  occasional  and  rare 
visitor  to  the  British  Islands,  the  Crane  was  formerly  much 
more  frequent.  In  a  letter  addressed  to  Boniface,  Bishop 
of  Mayence,  who  died  in  755,  the  Saxon  King  Ethelbert 
requested  him  to  send  over  two  Falcons  suitable  for  flying  at 
the  Crane  in  Kent :  i.e.  Gyrfalcons.  Giraldus  Cambrensis, 
who  travelled  in  Ireland  in  1183—86,  in  company  with 
Prince  John,  states  that  Cranes  were  then  so  numerous 
that  as  many  as  a  hundred  or  thereabouts  might  often  be 
seen  in  one  flock ;  and  similar  testimony  is  given  by  Kanul- 
plius  Higden  ( circa  1350).  After  the  accession  of  John  to 
the  throne,  the  entries  in  the  court-rolls  of  his  expenses 
show  that  he  was  in  the  habit  of  flying  Gyrfalcons  at  this 
bird  on  his  various  journeys :  seven  Cranes  having  been 
obtained  in  this  manner  at  Asliwell  in  Cambridgeshire,  in 
December  1212,  and  nine  in  Lincolnshire  on  another  occa¬ 
sion.^  Leland,  in  his  Collectanea,  includes  in  the  hill  of  fare 
at  the  feast  of  Archbishop  Neville  (temp.  Edward  IV.),  two 
hundred  and  four  Cranes ;  and,  according  to  Sir  David 
Lindsay,  Cranes  were  also  served  at  a  grand  hunting  enter¬ 
tainment  given  by  the  Earl  of  Athol  to  James  V.  of  Scot¬ 
land  and  the  Queen  Mother,  in  Glen  Tilt.  In  the  ‘  Household 
Book’  of  the  fifth  Earl  of  Northumberland  (1512),  occurs 

*  J.  E.  Harting,  ‘The  Field,’  December  23rd,  1882,  in  a  very  interesting 
article  on  the  early  records  of  this  bird. 


180 


GRU1M. 


the  entry :  ‘‘It  is  thought  that  Cranys  muste  be  liadcle  at 
Crystynmas  and  other  principall  feestes  for  my  Lordes  owne 
Mees,  so  they  he  boglit  at  xvjcZ.  a  pece,”  equivalent  to  about 
eight  shillings  of  our  money.  In  the  Norfolk  ‘  Household 
Book  ’  of  the  L’Estranges  of  Hunstanton,  already  quoted 
(p.  95),  there  are  five  references  to  Cranes,  and  by  one  of 
these,  in  1583,  “the  xxyjtli  weeke  [after  the  29tli  March, 
i.e.  about  September  26tli],  the  price  paid  appears  to  have 
been  only  vj d.  Later,  in  the  same  year,  occurs  the  ominous 
record  :  “  The  xxxviijth  weke,  Tewysdaye,  Itm.  a  Cranne 
kylld  wt.  the  gun.”  By  Dugdale’s  Origines  Juridiciales, 
we  learn  that  by  1555  the  price  charged  for  a  Crane  at  a 
banquet  in  the  Inner  Temple  Hall  in  October,  had  already 
risen  to  xs.,  the  same  as  for  a  Swan  or  Bustard.  Previous 
to  this  date,  by  an  Act  passed  in  1534,  the  taking  of  eggs 
of  the  Crane  and  of  the  Bustard  had  been  prohibited  under 
the  same  maximum  penalty  of  20tL  for  every  egg ;  showing 
that  although  becoming  scarcer  than  in  former  times, 
Cranes  were  still  numbered  amongst  birds  which  bred  in 
this  country ;  principally,  no  doubt,  in  the  marshes  of  the 
Eastern  counties.  It  was,  probably,  of  that  district  that 
Hr.  William  Turner,  who  although  a  Northumbrian  by 
birth,  lived  nearly  fifteen  years  at  Cambridge,  wrote,  “  Apud 
Anglos  etiam  nidulantur  grues  in  locis  palustribus,  et  earum 
pipiones  ssepissime  vidi,  quod  quidam  extra  Angliam  nati, 
falsum  esse  contendunt.”  *  Half  a  century  later,  Dr.  Thomas 
Muffet,  of  Bui  bridge,  near  Wilton,  Wiltshire,  who  died  in 
1590,  confirms  the  statement  that  the  Crane  still  bred  in 
the  fens.f 

Drayton,  describing  Lincolnshire,  says  : 

“  There  stalks  the  stately  Crane,  as  though  he  marched  in  warre,”+ 

*  Avium  Historia,  Colonise,  1544. 

I  “  Health’s  Improvement :  or,  Rules  comprising  and  discovering  the  Nature, 
Method  and  Manner  of  Preparing  all  Sorts  of  Food  used  in  this  Nation. 
Corrected  and  enlarged  by  Christopher  Bennet,  Ph.D.,  1655.”  The  learned 
Doctor  considers  “  the  flesh  [of  the  Crane]  distinctly  unfit  for  sound  men’s  tables, 
and  much  more  unmeet  for  them  that  be  sick  ;  yet  being  young,  killed  with  a 
Goshawk,  and  hanged  two  or  three  daies  by  the  heels,  eaten  with  hot  galentine, 
and  drowned  in  Sack,  it  is  permitted  unto  indifferent  stomachs.” 

+  “  Poly-olbion,”  25th  Song,  line  93  (1622). 


CRANE.  181 

And  about  1667  Sir  Thomas  Browne,  of  Norwich,  is  found 
writing :  “  Cranes  are  often  seen  here  in  hard  winters, 

especially  about  the  champian  (sic)  and  fieldy  part.  It 
seems  they  have  been  more  plentiful,  for  in  a  bill  of  fare, 
when  the  Mayor  entertained  the  Duke  of  Norfolk,  I  met 
with  Cranes  in  a  dish.”*  In  1678  Willughhy,  in  his 
Ornithologia,  was  still  able  to  say,  “  They  come  to  us  often 
in  England,  and  in  the  fen-countries  in  Lincolnshire  and 
Cambridgeshire  there  are  great  flocks  of  them  ;  but  whether 
or  no  they  breed  in  England,  I  cannot  determine,  either  of 
my  own  knowledge,  or  from  the  relation  of  any  credible 
person.”  Ray  adds  no  original  information  respecting  this 
bird.  It  may  fairly  be  assumed  that  the  Crane  has  ceased 
to  breed  in  this  country  for  nearly  three  centuries,  and  that 
with  the  dying  out  of  the  immediate  descendants  of  those 
individuals  which  used  to  nest  in  our  marshes,  a  gradual 
decrease  took  place  even  in  the  number  of  those  annual 
visitants  which  were  impelled  by  the  cold  of  the  Continent 
to  seek  their  food  in  the  milder  and  more  open  fens  of  these 
western  islands.  With  the  drainage  of  their  former  haunts, 
the  increase  of  population,  and  the  general  use  of  fire-arms, 
even  these  periodical  visits  ceased ;  and,  in  the  present  cen¬ 
tury,  the  Crane  can  only  be  considered  a  rare  and  irregular 
straggler  to  our  shores,  generally  in  autumn  and  winter  : 
although  sometimes,  on  the  spring  migration.  Cornwall, 
Devon,  Somerset,  Dorsetshire,  Hampshire,  Sussex,  Kent, 
Oxfordshire,  Suffolk,  Norfolk,  Lincolnshire — the  latest  near 
Spalding  on  the  25th  October,  1882  (Zool.  1882,  p.  468) — 
Gloucestershire,  and  Yorkshire,  are  amongst  the  counties 
visited  ;  the  years  1865  and  1869  having  been  unusually 
productive  in  arrivals. 

In  Scotland,  two  occurrences  are  cited  by  Mr.  R.  Gray  in 
Ross-shire  ;  one  in  Aberdeenshire  ;  and  one  near  Hawick,  in 
Jedburghsliire  ;  whilst  in  the  Orkneys  a  good  many  examples 
are  on  record,  and  even  more  in  the  Shetland  Islands — one, 
evidently  on  migration,  having  been  obtained  in  Unst  so 
recently  as  the  end  of  May,  1869.  In  Ireland,  the  occur- 

*  Wilkin’s  Edition,  vol.  iv.  p.  314.  Pickering,  1835. 


182 


GRUIDiE. 


rence  of  “some  few  Cranes  ”  is  recorded  by  Smith  in  his 
Histories  of  the  Comities  of  Waterford  and  of  Cork,  during 
the  great  frost  of  1739,  “  hut  not  since  or  before  in  any 
person’s  memory”;  Thompson  only  mentions  one  shot  in 
the  county  of  Galway,  and  another  in  Tralee  Bay  ;  and  two 
have  been  obtained  in  Kerry.* 

The  Crane  is  an  occasional  straggler  on  migration  to 
the  Faeroes  and  to  the  northern  districts  of  Norway,  and 
breeds  in  the  large  morasses  in  the  interior  of  the  latter 
country  and  of  Sweden  :  in  Lapland,  Finland,  and  in  suit¬ 
able  localities  throughout  the  greater  part  of  Russia  and 
Poland.  Owing  to  the  drainage  of  the  marshes,  it  no 
longer  nests  regularly  in  Denmark,  but  it  still  does  so  in 
many  districts  of  Northern  Germany ;  and  even  in  those 
parts  of  the  Continent  in  which  it  does  not  take  up  its  abode, 
the  loud  trumpet-like  clanging  note,  often  heard  at  night 
when  the  utterer  is  invisible,  is  a  familiar  announcement 
of  the  spring  passage.  In  Northern  Europe  this  is  gene¬ 
rally  about  the  beginning  of  April,  and  the  return  takes 
place  in  September  ;  but  in  France,  where  it  is  not  known 
to  breed,  the  spring  migration  in  the  south-western  districts 
commences,  according  to  the  Editor’s  observations,  early  in 
March.  In  some  portions  of  the  Spanish  Peninsula  it  is 
abundant  in  autumn  and  during  the  winter — a  tolerable 
number  remaining  to  breed  in  some  of  the  marshes  of  Anda- 
lucia.f  In  the  islands,  and  on  both  the  northern  and 
southern  shores  of  the  Mediterranean,  it  is  principally  a 
migrant  or  a  winter  resident ;  but  although  very  abundant 
in  North  Africa,  Palestine,  and  Persia  during  the  latter 
season,  it  is  not  known  to  nest  in  those  countries.  East- 

*  The  above  remarks  undoubtedly  refer  to  the  bird  under  consideration,  but 
it  should  be  remembered  that  at  the  present  time,  in  Ireland,  Wales,  on  the 
Scottish  Border,  and  in  many  parts  of  England,  the  name  of  Crane  is  frequently 
applied  to  the  Heron,  and  sometimes  to  the  Cormorant  and  other  long-necked 
birds. 

t  The  Editor  found  it  nesting  there  early  in  May,  1868,  but  owing  to  the 
prevalent  belief  at  that  time  that  its  breeding  places  were  confined  to  the  North, 
his  statements  were  received  in  some  quarters  with  an  incredulity  which  was 
only  dissipated  by  the  exhibition  of  its  unmistakable  eggs. 


CRANE. 


183 


wards,  the  Crane  ranges  across  Siberia  to  Kamscliatka,  the 
Amoor  and  Japan,  breeding  in  the  morasses  to  the  north  of 
the  principal  watersheds,  and  wintering  in  China  and  in 
India,  where,  especially  in  the  Punjaub  and  North-West 
Provinces,  immense  flocks  are  sometimes  to  be  seen  in  the 
grain  fields.*  On  its  migrations  it  has  been  observed  cross¬ 
ing  the  lofty  ranges  of  Central  Asia,  and  Prjevalski,  when  at 
the  height  of  10,600  feet,  observed  flock  following  flock 
during  the  whole  day  at  such  an  enormous  altitude  that  they 
could  hardly  be  seen. 

In  mild  climates,  the  Crane  commences  nidification  about 
the  end  of  April,  but  in  the  north  eggs  are  hardly  to  be 
found  before  the  middle  of  May.  The  nest  is  invariably 
placed  on  the  ground,  on  the  drier  portions  of  marshes,  and 
the  eggs  are  as  a  rule  two  in  number,  although  Meves 
has  known  as  many  as  three :  of  a  pale  greenish-olive 
ground  colour,  blotched  and  spotted  with  reddish-brown 
surface-markings  and  pale  brown  underlying  shell-spots ; 
they  measure  about  3*8  by  2*6  in.  The  best  and  earliest 
circumstantial  account  of  the  nesting  of  the  Crane  is, 
undoubtedly,  that  given  by  the  late  Mr.  John  Wolley,  in  ‘The 
Ibis,’  1859,  pp.  191-198.  Since  that  date  several  British 
ornithologists  have  made  the  acquaintance  of  the  Crane  in 
its  breeding-haunts,  and  the  charm  of  novelty  has,  perhaps, 
so  far  passed  away  that  naturalists  of  the  present  and  of 
succeeding  generations  may  marvel  at  the  thrill  of  en¬ 
thusiasm  communicated  to  Wolley ’s  contemporaries  by  the 
narrative  of  his  discovery ;  yet  the  fact  remains  that  no  one 
of  his  successors  has  ever  rivalled  his  description,  which, 
with  a  prosaic  adherence  to  facts,  is  at  the  same  time 
steeped  in  the  poetic  feeling  of  the  true  lover  of  nature. 
It  is  much  to  be  regretted  that  only  a  portion  can  here  be 
quoted : — 

“  It  was  on  the  15th  June,  1853,  that  I  entered  the  marsh 

*  The  late  Mr.  E.  Blyth  (Monograph  of  the  Cranes,  pp,  59  and  61)  considered 
that  the  oriental  race  which  visited  India  during  the  cold  season,  and  which  is 
presumably  identical  with  the  Japanese  bird,  was  distinguishable  from  the  occi¬ 
dental  race. 


184 


GRUIDiE. 


which  the  well-known  Pastor  Lsestadius  had  told  me  was  the 
most  northern  limit  in  Lapland  of  the  breeding  of  the  Crane. 
It  is  in  Swedish  territory,  being  on  the  west  side  of  the 
frontier  river,  opposite  the  Finnish  (Russian)  village  of  Yli 
Muonioniska,  in  about  lat.  68°,  that  is,  some  distance 
within  the  Arctic  Circle.  This  great  marsh,  called  ‘  Iso 
uoma ,’  is  mostly  composed  of  soft  hog,  in  which,  unless 
where  the  Bog-bean  grows,  one  generally  sinks  up  to  the 
knees,  or  even  to  the  middle  ;  hut  it  is  intersected  by  long 
strips  of  firmer  hog-earth,  slightly  raised  above  the  general 
level,  and  hearing  creeping  shrubs,  principally  of  sallow  and 
dwarf  birch,  mixed  in  places  with  Ledum  palustre,  Vac- 
cinium  uliginosum,  Andromeda  polifolia ,  Ilub us  chamce- 
morus,  besides  grasses,  carices ,  mosses,  and  other  plants. 
There  were  also  a  few  bushes  or  treelets  of  the  common 
birch,  and  these  quite  numerous  in  some  parts  of  the  marsh. 
Walking  along  one  of  these  strips,  in  a  direction  where 
the  pair  of  Cranes  was  said  to  be  often  heard,  I  came  upon 
a  nest  which  I  was  sure  must  be  a  Crane’s.  I  saw  one  hit 
of  down.  The  nest  was  made  of  very  small  twigs  mixed 
with  long  sedgy  grass ;  altogether  several  inches  in  depth, 
and  perhaps  two  feet  across.  In  it  were  two  lining-mem¬ 
branes  of  eggs,  and  on  searching  amongst  the  materials 
of  the  nest  I  found  fragments  of  the  shells.  We  had  not 
gone  many  yards  beyond  this  place,  when  I  saw  a  Crane 
stalking  in  a  direction  across  us  amongst  some  small  birch- 
trees,  now  appearing  to  stoop  a  little,  and  now  holding  its 
head  and  neck  boldly  up  as  it  steadily  advanced.  Presently 
the  lads  called  out  to  me  that  they  had  found  some  young 
Cranes.  As  I  ran  towards  them,  a  Crane,  not  the  one  I  had 
previously  seen,  rose  just  before  me  from  among  some 
bushes  which  were  only  two  or  three  feet  high,  and  not 
twenty  yards  from  the  place  where  the  lads  had  been  shout¬ 
ing  at  least  for  a  minute  or  two.  It  rose  into  the  air  in  a 
hurried,  frightened  way.  There  was  nothing  just  at  the 
spot  where  it  got  up,  neither  eggs  nor  young.  I  then  went 
up  to  where  the  two  little  Cranes  were  found.  They  were 
standing  upright,  and  walking  about  with  some  facility,  and 


CRANE. 


185 


making  a  rather  loud  ‘  cheeping  ’  cry.  They  seemed  as  if 
they  could  have  left  such  eggs  as  Cranes  were  supposed  to 
lay  only  a  very  few  days.  I  say  supposed,  for  in  England 
wre  know  nothing  of  the  eggs  which  are  called  Cranes’,  but 
which  may  have  come  from  any  part  of  the  world.  They 
were  straightly  made  little  things,  short  in  the  beak,  livid  in 
the  eye,  thick  in  the  knees,  covered  with  a  moderately  long 
chestnut  or  tawny-coloured  down,  darker  on  the  upper  parts, 
softening  away  into  paler  underneath.  As  I  fondled  one  of 
them  it  began  to  peck  playfully  at  my  hands  and  legs,  and 
when  at  length  I  rose  to  go  away,  it  walked  after  me,  taking 
me,  as  I  supposed,  for  one  of  its  long-legged  parents.  I  had 
only  just  before  been  plucking  from  it  some  hits  of  down  to 
keep ;  for,  valuable  as  I  knew  it  to  be  in  a  natural-history 
point  of  view,  I  could  not  make  up  my  mind  to  take  its  life. 
As  soon  as  I  saw  its  inclination  to  follow,  I  took  to  double- 
quick  time,  and  left  it  far  behind.  Its  confidence  was  the 
more  remarkable,  as,  all  the  time  we  were  with  it,  the  old 
Cranes  were  flying  round  near  the  ground  at  some  distance 
from  us,  their  necks  and  feet  fully  stretched  out  as  usual, 
but  with  a  remarkable  sudden  casting  up  of  the  wings  in  a 
direction  over  the  hack  after  each  downward  stroke,  in  place 
of  the  ordinary  steady  movement.  At  the  same  time  they 
were  making  a  peculiar  kind  of  low  clattering  or  somewhat 
gurgling  noise,  of  which  it  is  very  difficult  to  give  an  in¬ 
telligible  description  ;  and  now  and  then  they  broke  out  into 
a  loud  trumpeting  call  not  unlike  their  grand  ordinary  notes, 
which,  audible  at  so  great  a  distance,  gladden  the  ears  of 
the  lover  of  nature.  As  we  went  away  I  saw  one  of  the 

Cranes  alight  where  we  had  left  the  young . 

“  The  following  year,  1854,  on  the  20th  of  May,  I  went 
with  Ludwig,  my  servant  lad,  to  look  for  the  Crane’s  nest  in 
‘  Iso  uoma .’  We  saw  no  birds  ;  and  the  spot  where  the  nest 
had  been  the  preceding  year  was  not  easy  to  find  in  so 
extensive  a  marsh.  So  we  quartered  our  ground,  working 
carefully  up  one  strip  of  harder  hog  and  down  the  next. 
After  some  hours  of  heavy  walking  I  saw  the  eggs — joyful 
sight ! — on  an  adjacent  slip  in  a  perfectly  open  place.  The 
VOL.  III. 


B  B 


GRUIM. 


186 

two  eggs  lay  with  their  long  diameters  parallel  to  one 
another,  and  there  was  just  room  for  a  third  egg  to  he 
placed  between  them.  The  nest,  about  two  feet  across,  was 
nearly  flat,  made  chiefly  of  light-coloured  grass  or  hay 
loosely  matted  together,  scarcely  more  than  two  inches  in 
depth,  and  raised  only  two  or  three  inches  from  the  general 
level  of  the  swamp.  There  wTere  higher  sites  close  by  ;  and 
many  of  them  would  have  seemed  more  eligible. 

“It  was  just  at  the  lowest  edge  of  the  strip,  but  so  much 
exposed,  that  I  thought  I  should  he  able  to  see  even  the 
eggs  themselves  from  a  spot  at  a  considerable  distance,  to 
which  I  proposed  to  go.  There  was  a  common  story 
amongst  the  people  of  the  country,  that  a  Crane,  if  its  nest 
were  disturbed,  would  carry  off  its  eggs  under  its  wing  to 
another  place ;  so  I  purposely  handled  one  of  the  eggs,  and 
hung  up  a  bit  of  birch  hark  on  a  birch-tree  beyond  the  nest, 
as  a  mark  by  which  to  direct  my  telescope.  Then  I  went 
with  Ludwig  to  a  clump  of  spruce  growing  on  some  dry 
sandy  land  which  rose  out  of  the  midst  of  the  marsh.  Here 
I  made  a  good  ambuscade  of  spruce  houghs,  crept  into  it, 
got  Ludwig  to  cover  me  so  that  even  the  Crane’s  eye  could 
not  distinguish  me,  and  sent  him  to  make  a  fire  to  sleep  by 
on  the  far  side  of  the  wood,  with  strict  orders  on  no  account 
to  come  near  my  hiding-place.  I  kept  my  glass  in  the 
direction  of  the  nest;  but  it  was  long  before  I  saw  anything 
stir.  In  the  meantime  the  marsh  was  by  no  means  quiet ; 
Ruffs  were  holding  something  between  a  European  ball  and 
an  East-Indian  nautcli.  Several  times  ‘  keet-koot,  keet-koot,’ 
to  use  the  words  by  which  the  Finns  express  the  sound,  told 
where  the  Snipes  were.  A  cock  Pintail  dashed  into  a  hit  of 
water  calling  loudly  for  its  mate.  The  full  melancholy 
wailing  of  the  Black-throated  Diver  came  from  the  river ; 
watch-dogs  were  barking  in  the  distance ;  I  heard  the  sub¬ 
dued  hacking  of  wood  and  the  crackling  of  Ludwig’s  fire. 
It  was  already  about  midnight;  Fieldfares  were  chasing 
each  other  through  the  wood  :  one  came  pecking  about  my 
feet ;  and  another,  settling  on  the  branches  that  covered  my 
back,  almost  made  my  ears  ache  with  the  loudness  of  its 


CRANE. 


187 


cries.  I  often  heard  the  waft  of  known  wings  ;  but  three 
times  there  sounded  overhead  the  sweeping  wave  of  great 
wings  to  which  my  ears  were  unaccustomed.  I  could 
scarcely  doubt  it  was  the  Cranes’ ;  but  I  dare  not  turn  up 
my  eye  :  I  even  once  or  twice  heard  a  slight  chuckle  that 
must  have  been  from  them.  At  length,  as  I  had  my  glass 
in  the  direction  of  the  nest,  which  was  three  or  four  hundred 
yards  off,  I  saw  a  tall  grey  figure  emerging  from  amongst 
the  birch-trees,  just  beyond  where  I  knew  the  nest  must  be  ; 
and  there  stood  the  Crane  in  all  the  beauty  of  nature,  in  the 
full  side-light  of  an  Arctic  summer  night.  She  came  on 
with  her  graceful  walk,  her  head  up,  and  she  raised  it  a 
little  higher  and  turned  her  beak  sideways  and  upwards  as 
she  passed  round  the  tree  on  whose  trunk  I  had  hung  the 
little  roll  of  bark.  I  had  not  anticipated  that  she  would 
observe  so  ordinary  an  object.  She  probably  saw  that  her 
eggs  were  safe,  and  then  she  took  a  beat  of  twenty  or  thirty 
yards  in  the  swamp,  pecking  and  apparently  feeding.  At 
the  end  of  this  beat  she  stood  still  for  a  quarter  of  an  hour, 
sometimes  pecking  and  sometimes  motionless,  but  showing 
no  symptoms  of  suspicion  of  my  whereabouts,  and,  indeed, 
no  manifest  sign  of  fear.  At  length  she  turned  back  and 
passed  her  nest  a  few  paces  in  the  opposite  direction,  but 
soon  came  into  it ;  she  arranged  with  her  beak  the  materials 
of  the  nest,  or  the  eggs,  or  both ;  she  dropped  her  breast 
gently  forwards ;  and  as  soon  as  it  touched,  she  let  the  rest 
of  her  body  sink  gradually  down.  And  so  she  sits  with  her 
neck  up  and  her  body  full  in  my  sight,  sometimes  preening 
her  feathers,  especially  of  the  neck,  sometimes  lazily  pecking 
about,  and  for  a  long  time  she  sits  with  her  neck  curved 
like  a  Swan’s,  though  principally  at  its  upper  part.  Now 
she  turns  her  head  backwards,  puts  her  beak  under  the 
wing,  apparently  just  in  the  middle  of  the  ridge  of  the  back, 
and  so  she  seems  fairly  to  go  to  sleep.  While  she  sits,  as 
generally  while  she  walks,  her  plumes  are  compressed  and 

inconspicuous.  . . 

“  I  must  not  go  into  long  particulars  concerning  the  nest 
of  1854  in  Kharto  uoma.  I  found  the  two  eggs  on  the 


188 


GRUIDiE. 


22ncl  of  May,  in  a  spot  only  two  feet  from  the  nest  of  the 
preceding  year.  It  consisted  of  not  more  than  a  handful  or 
so  of  whitish  sedge  grass,  about  twenty  inches  across,  and 
two  or  three  inches  only  above  the  level  of  the  water  of  the 
submerged  parts  of  the  marsh,  close  to  the  edge  of  which  it 
was  situated.  There  was  a  kind  of  creeping  moss  about  it, 
and  one  or  two  very  low-lying  shoots  of  sallow. 

“  It  was  placed  in  an  open  part  of  the  middle  of  the 
south-east  wing  of  the  marsh.  I  have  a  memorandum  that 
there  was  not  then  a  leaf  unrolled,  the  only  visible  signs  of 
summer  being  a  kind  of  Carex  coming  into  flower  on  the 
hummocks  ;  and  yet  the  nights  were  quite  as  light  as  the 
day.  I  kept  watch  at  the  distance  of  nearly  half  a  mile ; 
but  unfortunately  the  smoke  of  my  fire  blew  towards  the 
nest.  I  saw  a  Crane  go  sailing  down,  and  afterwards  the 
pair  walking  together,  when  they  indulged  in  a  minuet  or 
some  more  active  dance,  skipping  into  the  air  as  the  Demoi¬ 
selles  sometimes  do  in  the  Zoological  Gardens.  Once  or  so 
I  saw  the  beak  of  one  pointed  perpendicularly  to  the  sky ; 
and  a  couple  of  seconds  afterwards  the  loud  trumpet  struck 
my  ear.  It  was  two  or  three  o’clock  in  the  morning  before 
a  bird  came  on  to  the  nest ;  and  even  then  she  was  soon  off, 
but  again  came  back,  sitting  always  with  her  head  up.  She 
left  it  very  wild  when  at  last  we  advanced  from  our  bivouac. 
In  this  watch  I  saw  and  heard  many  interesting  birds, 

*  amongst  them  a  Hen-Harrier  ( Circus  cy emeus).  Also  a  pair 
of  Goshawks  ( Astur  palumbarius)  dashed  into  a  tree  close 
over  my  head,  the  Crane  still  visible  in  the  distance.  These 
eggs  were  rather  smaller  than  the  pair  from  Iso  uoma ;  two 
other  nests  which  I  have  since  obtained  in  Lapland  have 
eggs  as  big  as  those  which  are  said  to  come  from  Germany, 
and  vary  as  they  do.  I  had  the  pleasure  in  August  1857  of 
showing  Mr.  Frederick  Godman  and  his  brother  Percy  a  nest 
near  Muonio-vaara,  from  which  eggs  were  taken  the  same 
year,  and  a  young  one  fledged,  from  the  same  marsh  at  least, 
if  not  from  the  same  nest  as  in  1856.  Their  wading  to  this 
nest,  known  to  be  empty,  amidst  swarms  of  greedy  gnats, 
was  a  satisfactory  proof  of  zeal.” 


CRANE. 


189 


The  Crane  having  a  strong  and  thick  muscular  stomach, 
feeds  largely  upon  grain,  fenny  seeds  and  bents  ;  and  in 
Spain  it  is  very  partial  to  the  large  sweet  acorns,  so  much 
so  that  in  the  Dehesa  de  Remonte,  in  Andalucia,  war  was 
declared  against  the  species,  owing  to  its  interfering  with  the 
fattening  of  the  swine  which  were  fed  there.  About  Swatow, 
in  Southern  China,  Mr.  Swinhoe  found  that,  during  their 
winter  sojourn,  the  Cranes  fed  chiefly  upon  the  tubers  of 
the  sweet  potato  ( Batatas  eclulis )  ;  and  in  the  sandy  plains 
of  the  Punjaub,  Mr.  Hume  has  observed  these  birds  boring 
into  the  water-melons.* 

Cranes,  when  taken  young,  become  amusing,  albeit  some¬ 
what  dangerous,  pets  ;  and  so  long  ago  as  1500,  we  find  in  an 
inventory  of  Serjeant  Keble’s  goods,  dated  6th  July  of  that 
year,  three  Cranes  valued  at  five  shillings  each.!  Their 
peculiar  habit  of  “  dancing  ”  is  well  known,  and  may  he 
frequently  observed  in  the  Gardens  of  the  Zoological  Society, 
although  this  species  appears  less  addicted  to  this  display 
than  some  of  its  congeners. 

The  singular  structure  of  the  windpipe  and  its  convolu¬ 
tions  lodged  between  the  two  plates  of  hone  forming  the 
sides  of  the  keel  of  the  sternum  in  this  bird  have  long  been 
known.  The  first  illustration  on  the  next  page  is  a  representa¬ 
tion  of  the  breast-bone  of  a  young  male  Crane,  in  which  the 
trachea,  or  windpipe,  quitting  the  neck  of  the  bird,  passes 
downwards  and  backwards  between  the  branches  of  the 
furcula,  or  merrythought,  towards  the  inferior  edge  of  the 
keel,  which  is  hollowed  out  to  receive  it ;  into  this  groove, 
formed  by  the  separation  of  the  sides  of  the  keel,  the  trachea 
passes,  and  is  firmly  bound  therein  by  cellular  membrane, 

*  On  the  27th  May,  as  the  Editor  was  studying  the  colours  of  the  soft  parts  in 
two  Cranes,  presumably  a  pair,  from  Lulea  in  Finland,  presented  in  1880  to  the 
Zoological  Gardens  by  Mr.  Norman  W.  Shairp,  the  darker  bird,  probably  the 
male,  was  observed  to  be  stalking  a  sparrow  in  the  enclosure.  The  drawn- in 
neck  shot  out  to  its  fullest  extent  :  there  was  a  snap  and  a  faint  squeak  ;  for  a 
minute  or  so  the  sparrow  was  battered  against  the  ground  and  then  swallowed 
whole.  The  other  bird  got  highly  excited  during  this  operation,  and,  after 
executing  a  wild  dance,  made  an  ineffectual  attempt  to  catch  another  sparrow  as 
it  flew  over. 

+  ‘  Gentleman’s  Magazine,’  vol.  38,  p.  257. 


190 


GRU1D/E. 


and  after  making  three  turns,  passes  again  forwards,  then 
upwards,  and  ultimately  backwards  to  he  attached  to  the  two 
lobes  of  the  lungs  by  the  bronchial  divisions. 


The  second  representation  is  taken  from  the  sternum  of 
an  old  female  Crane,  and  exhibits  the  trachea  still  farther 
extended,  and  occupying  nearly  the  whole  cavity  between 


the  two  bony  plates  forming  the  keel  :  a  portion  of  the 
plate  nearest  the  observer  in  both  these  illustrations  being 


CRANE. 


191 


represented  as  cut  away,  to  shew  the  character  and  depth 
of  the  insertion. 

It  will  be  observed  that  the  furcula,  or  merrythought,  is 
not  here  a  single,  slightly-attached  bone,  but  has  the  point 
of  union  of  the  two  branches  firmly  ossified  to  the  keel,  or 
may  be  considered  as  a  prolongation  of  the  anterior  portion 
of  the  keel  itself  extended  to  the  head  of  each  clavicle,  and 
affording  a  firm  support  to  the  wings. * 

In  the  adult  male,  the  beak  is  greenish-horn,  flesh-coloured 
at  the  base,  lighter  in  colour  towards  the  point ;  the  irides 
reddish  ;  the  forehead  black  ;  the  crown  red  and  warty  ;  nape 
and  upper  neck,  dark  bluish-ash  ;  chin,  throat,  and  front  of 
the  neck,  of  the  same  dark  colour,  but  descending  four  or  five 
inches  lower  in  front ;  from  the  eye,  over  the  ear-coverts,  and 
downwards  on  the  side  of  the  neck,  dull  white  ;  general  colour 
of  the  back,  wings,  rump,  tail-feathers,  and  all  the  under 
surface  of  the  body,  ash-grey ;  wing-primaries  black ;  the 
tertials  elongated,  the  webs  unconnected,  and  reaching 
beyond  the  ends  of  the  primaries.  The  well-known  plumes 
of  the  Crane  are  these  tertial  feathers,  with  their  uncon¬ 
nected  webs  forming  long  hair-like  filaments,  which  the  bird 
can  elevate  or  depress  at  pleasure.  They  were  formerly 
much  worn  as  ornaments  on  the  head.  These  and  the  tail- 
feathers  are  varied  and  tipped  with  bluish-black ;  under 
surface  of  wings  and  the  axillary  plume  light  grey ;  legs 
and  toes  bluish-black ;  claws  black. 

The  whole  length  of  the  bird  described  is  four  feet. 
From  the  carpal  joint  to  the  end  of  the  wing,  twenty-one 
inches  ;  the  first  quill-feather  a  little  shorter  than  the  fourth, 
but  a  little  longer  than  the  fifth ;  the  second  and  third 
feathers  nearly  equal  in  length,  and  the  longest  in  the  wing. 
The  beak  measures  four  inches  and  a  half ;  the  tarsus  nine 
inches,  the  bare  part  of  the  leg  above  it  four  inches. 

The  sexes,  when  old,  are  nearly  alike  in  plumage,  but  the 
males  are  larger  and  rather  darker  than  the  females.  Young 

*  For  important  observations  on  the  Convolutions  of  the  Trachea  in  the 
Gruidce.  and  in  some  other  families,  see  Mr.  W.  B.  Tegetmeier’s  Appendix  to 
Blyth’s  ‘Monograph  of  the  Cranes’  (1881). 


J  92 


GRUIDzE. 


birds  have  less  variation  in  colour  about  the  head ;  the 
ash-grey  plumage  of  the  body  is  mixed  with  dull  brown, 
and  the  elongated  plumes  of  the  hinder  parts  are  com¬ 
paratively  undeveloped.  They  do  not  breed  until  their 
third  year. 

A  male  example  of  the  Numidian  or  Demoiselle  Crane 
( Grus  virgo),  was  shot  at  Deerness,  East  Mainland,  Orkney, 
on  May  14th,  1868,  and  a  companion  bird  was  pursued,  but 
not  obtained  (Zool.  1863,  p.  8692).  The  above  specimen 
subsequently  became  the  property  of  Mr.  W.  Christy  Hors¬ 
fall,  of  Horsforth-Low  Hall,  near  Leeds.  In  ‘  Science 
Gossip  ’  of  March  1st,  1876,  is  the  brief  statement  that 
another  example  of  this  species  was  picked  up  dead  on  the 
banks  of  the  river  Cale,  near  Wincanton,  Somersetshire. 
The  Demoiselle  Crane  is  a  bird  which  has  a  wide  range 
through  Africa,  Asia,  and  Southern  Europe,  and  it  has  been 
recorded  as  having  occurred  during  the  last  half  century  : 
once  in  Silesia,  twice  in  Sweden,  and  once  in  Heligoland : 
it  is  also  a  species  frequently  kept  in  confinement,  and  there 
is  a  possibility  that  the  individual  in  question  may  have 
escaped.  The  late  Mr.  Gould  has  not  included  it  in  his 
‘  Birds  of  Great  Britain  ’ ;  and  it  has  been  placed  in 
brackets  by  the  Committee  of  the  British  Ornithologists’ 
Union,  entrusted  with  the  compilation  of  the  ‘  List  of 
British  Birds.’ 

A  specimen  of  the  Balearic  Crane  ( Balearica  pavonina) 
was  recorded  by  Mr.  R.  Gray  (Ibis,  1872,  p.  201),  who 
examined  the  specimen,  as  having  been  shot  near  Dairy,  in 
Ayrshire,  on  the  17tli  September,  1871.  This,  again,  is  a 
bird  often  kept  in  confinement,  and  which  even  as  a  strag¬ 
gler  has  seldom,  if  indeed  ever,  visited  the  northern  shores 
of  the  Mediterranean  ;  its  home  being  Northern  and  Western 
Africa. 


GREAT  BUSTARD 


193 


I  LECTORI DES.  OTIDTD/F. 


Otis  tarda,  Linnaeus.* 


THE  GREAT  BUSTARD. 

Otis  tarda. 

Otis,  Linnceus f . — Bill  moderate,  straight,  depressed  at  the  base,  the  point  of 
the  upper  mandible  curved.  Nostrils  a  little  removed  from  the  base,  lateral, 
oval,  and  open.  Legs  long,  naked  above  the  tarsal  joint.  Toes  three,  all  directed 
forward,  short,  united  at  the  base,  and  edged  with  membrane.  Wings  of  moder 
ate  length,  in  form  rather  rounded  ;  the  third  quill-feather  the  longest. 

Those  wlio  are  desirous  of  ascertaining  what  was  known 
of  the  Great  Bustard  in  more  ancient  times,  may  consult 
the  works  of  iElian,  Alhertus  Magnus,  Aldrovandus, 

#  Syst.  Nat.  Ed.  12,  i.  p.264  (1766).  f  loc.  cit. 

0  0 


VOL.  TIT 


194 


OTIDIDiE. 


Aristotle,  Atkenseus,  Belon,  Oppiau,  Pliny,*  and  Plutarch  ; 

but  for  the  purposes  of  the  present  work  it  will  suffice  to 

consider  more  recent  authorities,  especially  those  who  treat 

of  the  former  existence  of  this  magnificent  bird  in  our  own 

islands.  In  the  melancholy  task  of  tracing  the  gradual 

extirpation  of  the  largest  of  the  indigenous  British  species, 

recourse  has  been  had  to  the  stores  of  information  published 

hy  Mr.  AV.  E.  Clarke  (Handbk.  AMrkshire  A7ertebrates),  and 

particularly  by  Mr.  H.  Stevenson  (Birds  of  Norfolk,  ii.  pp. 

1-42),  and  the  latter  in  his  turn  has  availed  himself  of  the 

accumulated  experiences  of  Professor  Newton  and  others, 

who,  from  long  residence  in  the  Bustard-country,  "were 

familiar  with  the  bird  bv  tradition  and  observation. 

«/ 

AVith  the  comparatively  peaceful  times  ushered  in  by  the 
accession  of  the  Tudor  sovereigns,  the  cultivation  and  enclo¬ 
sure  of  waste  lands  made  rapid  strides  incompatible  with 
the  welfare  of  the  Great  Bustard,  hut  down  to  the  time  of 
Henry  Till.  it  inhabited  all  the  undulating  plains  and  wTolds 
from  the  British  Channel  to  the  Firth  of  Forth.  An  early 
reference  to  this  bird  appears  in  the  Earl  of  Northumber¬ 
land’s  regulations,  in  1512,  for  his  ‘  Castles  of  Wresill  and 
Lekinfield  in  IMrkshire,’  wherein  occurs  the  observation  : 
<f  Item,  Bustardes  for  my  Lordes  own  Mees  at  Principal 
Feestes  ande  non  other  tyme  Except  my  Lordes  comaund- 
ment  he  otherwyse.”  The  first  British  author  who  gave  any 
account  of  the  bird  wrote  of  it  at  the  northern  limit  of  its 
range,  for  it  is  Hector  Boethius,  who  says,  in  1526 : — 
“  Besides  these  we  have  moreover  another  foule  in  Mers  [the 
flat  land  between  the  Lammermuir  Hills  and  the  Tweed], 
more  strange  and  uncouth  than  all  these  afore  mentioned, 
called  a  Gustard,  fully  so  great  as  a  Swanne,  hut  in  colour 
of  feathers  and  taste  of  fleshe  little  differing  from  a  Partriche, 
howbeit  these  byrdes  are  not  verie  common,  neyther  to  be 
seene  in  all  places ;  suclie  also  is  their  qualitie,  that  if 

*  Pliny,  Hist.  Xat.  x.  cap.  29,  says,  “  Quas  Hispania  aves  tardas  appellat, 

•  jraecia  otidas.  ’’  The  name  Bistard,  or  Bustard ,  has  generally  been  accepted  as 
a  corruption  of  the  words  Avis  tarda,  indicative  of  the  bird’s  slowness  in  taking 
tligkt,  but  to  this  derivation  some  recent  authorities  object. 


GREAT  BUSTARD. 


195 


they  perceive  their  egges  to  have  bene  touched  in  theyr 
absence  by  man’s  hand  (which  lie  commonly  on  the  hare 
earth),  they  forsake  those  nestes  and  lay  in  other  places.'’* 
The  next  allusion  comes  from  the  latest  stronghold  of  the 
Bustard  in  this  country,  namely,  from  Norfolk ;  the  often 
quoted  Household  Books  of  the  L ’Estranges  of  Hunstan¬ 
ton  having  the  following  entries,  1527  :  “  The  xljst  Weke, 
Wedynsday.  It.  viij  malards,  a  bustard  and  j  hernsewe 
kylled  wl  ye  crosbowe  ” ;  and  in  1530,  “  Itm.  in  reward 
the  xxvth  day  of  July  to  Baxter’s  svnt  of  Stannewgh  for 
bryngyng  of  ij  yong  busterds  ijd.” 

In  1534  the  eggs  of  Bustards  were  specified  in  the  Act  for 
the  protection  of  Wild  Fowle  (25th  Henry  Till.),  the  penalty 
being  the  same  as  in  the  case  of  the  Crane,  already  men¬ 
tioned  ;  and  ten  years  later  Dr.  William  Turner  speaks  of 
the  Bustard  as  a  resident  species.  The  following  extracts 
from  Dugdale’s  Origines  Juridiciales,  as  exhibiting  the 
prices  of  various  kinds  of  game  provided  for  a  feast  given  in 
the  Inner  Temple  Hall  on  the  16th  of  October,  1555,  the 
third  year  of  Philip  and  Mary,  are  not  without  ornithologi¬ 
cal  interest: — namely,  Bustards,  10s.  each  ;  Swans,  10s.; 
Cranes,  10s.  ;  Pheasants,  4s.  ;  Turkeys,  4s.  ;  Turkey  chicks, 
4s. ;  Capons,  2s.  6cZ. ;  Pea  chickens,  2s.  ;  Partridges,  Is.  4d.  ; 
Plovers,  6cZ. ;  Curlews,  Is.  8 cl.  ;  Godwits,  2s.  6d. ;  Knots, 
Is. ;  Pigeons,  Is.  6d.  a  dozen  ;  Larks,  8 d.  a  dozen  ;  Wood¬ 
cocks,  7s.  8 d.  a  dozen  ;  Snipes,  2s.  a  dozen. 

The  Dr.  Thomas  Muffet,  previously  cited  when  treating  of 
the  Crane,  writing  in  Wiltshire  prior  to  1590,  makes  the 
following  quaint  remarks  : — 

“  Bistards  or  Bustards  (so  called  for  their  slow  pace  and 
heavy  flying),  or,  as  the  Scots  term  them,  Gusestards,  that  is 
to  say  Slow  Geese,  feed  upon  flesh,  Livers,  and  young  Lambs! 

*  The  Description  of  Scotlande,  in  Holinshed's  Chronicles,  1st  Ed.  i.  p.  10 
(1577). 

f  This  remark  evidently  arose  from  a  confusion — not  uncommon  at  the 
present  day — between  the  names  Bastard  and  Buzzard !  During  the  visitation 
of  1S70-71,  Bustards  were  mentioned  in  print,  in  Devonshire  and  elsewhere,  as 
‘Wild  Turkeys’ — a  pardonable  error;  but  the  climax  was  reached  at  Barnstaple, 


196 


OTIDIDJS. 


out  of  sowing  time,  and  in  harvest  time,  then  they  feed  upon 
pure  corn.  In  the  Summer,  towards  the  ripening  of  corn, 
I  have  seen  half  a  dozen  of  them  lie  in  a  Wheat-field  fatten¬ 
ing  themselves  (as  a  Deer  will  doe)  with  ease  and  eating.  .  . 
Cliuse  the  youngest  and  fattest  about  Allhalo w  tide  (for 
then  they  are  best),  and  diet  him  a  day  or  two  .  .  .  ; 
then  let  him  bleed  to  death  in  the  neck  veins,  and  having 
hung  three  or  four  days  in  a  cool  place  out  of  the  moonshine 
either  rost  or  bake  it  as  you  do  a  Turkic,  and  it  will  prove 
both  a  dainty  and  wholesome  meat.” 

Drayton  (Poly-olbion,  25tli  Song)  speaks  of 

“The  big  boan’d  Bustard  then  whose  body  bears  that  size 
That  he  against  the  wind  must  runne  ere  he  can  rise.” 

In  the  printed  catalogue  of  the  contents  of  the  Tradescant 
Museum,  preserved  at  South  Lambeth,  in  1656,  is,  “  The 
Bustard,  as  big  as  a  Turkey,  usually  taken  by  greyhounds 
on  Newmarket  Heath  ”  ;  and  Merrett,  in  his  Pinax  rerunn 
naturalium  Britannicarum ,  in  1667,  includes  the  Bustard  as 
taken  on  Newmarket  Heath  and  about  Salisbury. 

A  little  later  the  celebrated  Sir  Thomas  Browne  speaks  of 
“  Blstardce  or  Bustards,  not  unfrequent  in  the  champian 
and  fieldy  part  of  this  country  [Norfolk].  A  large  bird, 
accounted  a  dainty  dish,  observable  in  the  strength  of  the 
breast- bone  and  short  heel.  Lays  an  egg  much  larger  than 
a  turkey.”  (Wilkin’s  Ed.  iv.  p.  318.) 

Willughby,  in  Ray’s  Edition  of  the  ‘  Ornithology  ’ 
(1678),  says  that  “  on  Newmarket  and  Royston  Heaths,  in 
Cambridgeshire  and  Suffolk,  and  elsewhere  in  Wasts  and 
Plains,  they  are  found  with  us”  ;  and  in  reference  to  Bustards, 
as  formerly  inhabiting  that  part  of  the  country,  Addison’s 
Spectator,  No.  CCCX.,  for  Tuesday,  March  4tli,  1712,  con¬ 
tains  an  advertisement,  of  which  the  following  is  a  copy  : — 
“  Heyden  in  Essex,  near  Walden  and  Royston,  the  seat  of 
Sir  Peter  Soame,  Bart.,  deceased,  situate  on  a  gentle  hill,  with 
a  very  large  and  pleasant  prospect,  fair  gardens,  canals,  fish 

where  Mr.  Gatcombe  saw  a  man  with  seme  feathers  in  his  hat,  to  one  of  which 
the  owner  pointed  with  pride,  saying,  “This  here,  Sir,  belonged  to  one  of  them 
Turkey- buzzards  ”  !  (Zool.  s.s.  p.  2475.) 


GREAT  BUSTARD. 


197 


ponds,  dove  coate,  and  all  sorts  of  offices  without  door,  woods 
of  large  timber,  and  where  is  all  game  in  great  plenty,  even 
to  the  Bustard  and  Pheasant,  is  to  he  let,  furnished  or 
unfurnished,  for  16  years.  Enquire  at  Mr.  Chus,  in  Bartly 
Street,  Piccadily,  or  at  Mr.  Cooper’s,  at  the  Blue  Boar,  in 
Holborn.”  To  this  the  Author  may  add,  that  in  Melbourne, 
the  parish  next  below  Royston,  there  is  a  piece  of  land  which 
is  still  known  by  the  name  of  Bustard-Leys  ;  and  Dr.  George 
Thackeray,  the  Provost  of  King’s  College,  Cambridge,  sent 
him  word  that  Mr.  Townley,  the  father  of  Mr.  Greaves 
Townley,  of  Fulbourne,  told  him  that  for  some  years  after  he 
first  went  to  live  there,  Bustards  regularly  bred  on  his  estate. 

In  Morton’s  ‘  Natural  History  of  Northampton,’  p.  425 
(1712),  occurs  the  following: — “The  Bustard,  Otis,  sen 
Tarda  avis,  another  bird  of  the  poultry  kind,  is  so  uncommon 
with  us,  that  I  never  heard  of  more  than  two  of  them  here, 
one  of  which  was  shot  by  Captain  Saunders  in  Moulton 
Field.” 

By  the  end  of  the  last  and  the  beginning  of  the  present 
century,  Bustards  had  become  exceedingly  scarce  in  their 
southern  haunts.  In  Devonshire,  where  its  occurrence  has 
been  recorded  by  Montagu,  it  was  probably  a  straggler. 
White  of  Selborne,  in  that  portion  of  his  Journal  pub¬ 
lished  by  Mr.  Jesse  in  the  second  volume  of  his  ‘  Gleanings 
in  Natural  History,’  says,  “  Spent  three  hours  of  this  day, 
November  17,  1782,  at  a  lone  farm-house,  in  the  midst 
of  the  downs  between  Andover  and  Winton.  The  carter 
told  us  that  about  twelve  years  before  he  had  seen  a  flock 
of  eighteen  Bustards  on  that  farm,  and  once  since  only 
two.”  White  adds  in  another  place,  “  Bustards  when  seen 
on  the  downs  resemble  fallow  deer  at  a  distance.”  In 
Daniel’s  ‘Rural  Sports’  it  is  stated,  “  that  on  the  29tli  of 
September,  1800,  Mr.  Crouch,  of  Burford,  shot  a  hen 
Bustard  on  Salisbury  Plain.  This  bird  was  killed  at  the 
distance  of  forty  yards  with  a  common  fowling-piece,  and 
with  such  shot  as  is  generally  used  for  partridge- shooting. 
There  were  two  other  Bustards  in  company  with  the  one 
shot,  neither  of  which  appeared  to  be  hurt.” 


198 


OTIDIM. 


That  the  native  race  was  now  nearly  extinct  on  Salisbury 
Plain,  is  shown  by  the  following  letter,  written  in  1801-1802, 
and  communicated  by  Mr.  John  Britton  : — 

“  A  man,  about  4  o’clock  of  a  fine  morning  in  June, 
1801,  was  coming  on  horseback  from  Tinliead  to  Tilshead. 
While  at,  or  near,  an  enclosure  called  Asking’s  Penning, 
one  mile  from  the  village  of  Tilshead,  he  saw  over  his  head, 
about  sixty  yards  high,  as  near  as  he  could  estimate,  a  large 
bird,  which  afterwards  proved  to  be  a  Bustard.  The  bird 
alighted  on  the  ground  immediately  before  the  horse,  which 
it  indicated  a  disposition  to  attack,  and  in  fact  very  soon 
began  the  onset.  The  man  alighted,  and  getting  hold  of 
the  bird  endeavoured  to  secure  it ;  and  after  struggling  with 
it  nearly  an  hour  he  succeeded,  and  brought  it  to  Mr. 
J.  Bartley,  of  Tilshead,  to  whose  house  he  was  going.  Not 
knowing  the  value  of  such  a  bird,  he  offered  it  to  Mr. 
Bartley  as  a  present ;  but  Mr.  Bartley  declined  to  accept  it 
as  such,  though  he  much  wished  to.  have  it,  and  after 
repeated  solicitations  prevailed  on  the  man  to  receive  for  it 
a  small  sum,  with  which  he  was  perfectly  satisfied.  During 
the  first  week  that  Mr.  Bartley  had  this  bird  in  his  posses¬ 
sion  it  was  not  known  to  eat  anything ;  however,  at  length 
it  became  very  tame,  and  would  at  last  receive  its  food  from 
its  patron’s  hands,  but  still  continued  shy  in  the  presence  of 
strangers.  Its  principal  food  was  birds,  chiefly  sparrows, 
which  it  swallowed  whole  in  the  feathers  with  a  great  deal 
of  avidity.  The  flowers  of  charlock  and  the  leaves  of  rape 
formed  also  other  parts  of  its  food.  Mice  it  would  likewise 
eat,  and  in  short  almost  any  other  animal  substance.  The 
food  on  passing  into  the  stomach  was  observed  to  go  round 
the  back  part  of  the  neck. 

“  Mr.  Bartley  is  of  opinion  that  the  idea  of  the  Bustard’s 
drinking  is  erroneous ;  in  support  of  which  he  says,  that 
during  the  time  this  Bustard  was  in  his  possession,  which 
was  from  June  till  the  August  following,  it  had  not  a  drop 
of  water  given  it,  after  two  or  three  weeks  at  first.  This 
fact  he  considers  as  a  proof  that  the  generally-received 
opinion  of  a  Bustard’s  drinking  is  untrue.  This  bird  was 


GREAT  BUSTARD. 


199 


judged  to  weigh  upwards  of  20  lbs.,  and  to  measure  between 
tlie  extremities  of  its  wings,  when  extended,  about  5  feet, 
and  its  height  was  about  feet.  In  August  Mr.  Bartley 
sold  this  noble  bird  to  Lord  Temple  for  the  sum  of  thirty 
guineas. 

“  The  Bustard  inhabits  the  extensive  downs  of  Salisbury 
Plain  ;  but  its  race  is  now  almost  extirpated.  It  is  thought 
that  not  more  than  three  or  four  are  now  remaining.  Some 
time  in  the  last  summer  (viz.  1801),  while  Mr.  Bartley  bad 
this  bird  in  bis  possession,  a  nest,  supposed  to  belong  to  this 
bird,  or  at  least  to  bis  mate,  for  Mr.  Bartley’s  bird  was 
judged  to  be  a  male,  was  found  in  a  wheat-field  on  Market 
Lavington  Down.  It  contained  two  eggs ;  they  sometimes 
lay  three,  though  very  seldom ;  they  are  about  the  size  of 
those  of  a  goose,  of  a  pale  olive-brown,  with  small  spots  of 
a  darker  hue.  The  nest  was  made  upon  the  ground,  by 
scratching  a  hole  in  the  earth,  and  lined  with  a  little  grass. 
The  eggs  were  rotten,  and  had  probably  undergone  a  period 
of  incubation. 

“  An  instance  of  a  Bustard  attacking  a  human  being,  or 
even  a  brute  animal,  of  any  considerable  size,  was,  I  believe, 
never  before  heard  of;  and  that  two  instances  of  this  kind 
should  occur  so  nearly  together  may  be  considered  very 
remarkable.  About  a  fortnight  subsequent  to  the  taking  of 
this  bird,  Mr.  Grant,  a  respectable  farmer  of  Tilsliead,  was 
returning  from  Warminster  Market,  and  near  Tilsliead 
Lodge,  which  is  something  more  than  half  a  mile  from  the 
village,  was  attacked  in  a  similar  manner,  by,  as  it  is  thought, 
the  mate  of  the  same  bird.  Mr.  Grant’s  horse  being  rather 
high-mettled,  took  fright,  became  unmanageable  and  ran 
off,  and  consequently  Mr.  Grant  was  compelled  to  abandon 
his  design  of  endeavouring  to  capture  the  bird.”  * 

By  the  time  that  Montagu  wrote,  in  1818,  none  had  been 
seen  for  several  years ;  and  as  regards  both  Wiltshire  and 
Dorsetshire,  the  first  ten  years  of  this  century  probably  saw 
the  last  of  the  Bustards  indigenous  to  that  district.  They 

.ZElian,  Atkemeus,  Plutarch,  and  Oppian,  mention  the  affection  of  the 
Bustard  for  the  Horse. 


200 


OTIDI  DJE. 


head  already  disappeared  from  Hampshire ;  and  as  regards 
Sussex,  of  which  Gilbert  White,  writing  to  Haines  Barring¬ 
ton  on  the  8th  of  October,  1770,  from  Ringmer,  near  Lewes, 
says  : — “  There  are  Bustards  on  the  wide  Downs  above 
Briglithelmstone,”  the  native  race  must  shortly  afterwards 
have  become  extinct.  Mr.  Knox,  in  his  ‘  Systematic  Cata¬ 
logue  of  the  Birds  of  Sussex,’  published  in  1855,  says,  p.  222, 
“  I  have  met  with  some  very  old  people  who,  in  their  younger 
days,  have  seen  flocks  of  this  noble  bird  on  the  Downs.” 

From  the  downs  of  Berkshire,  Hertfordshire,  and  Cam¬ 
bridgeshire,  the  Great  Bustard  passed  away  unrecorded,  a 
male  killed  near  Ickleton  being,  perhaps,  the  last  of  the 
indigenous  birds  in  the  latter  county.  Nor  is  it  known 
when  it  vanished  from  the  Wolds  of  Lincolnshire.  In 
Boswell’s  ;  Life  of  Johnson,’  there  is  a  letter  from  the  great 
lexicographer  to  his  friend  Bennet  Langton,  of  Langton, 
near  Wragby,  in  that  county,  dated  9tli  January,  1758,  in 
which  he  says  : — “  I  have  left  off  house-keeping,  and  there¬ 
fore  made  presents  of  the  game  you  were  pleased  to  send  me. 
The  Bheasant  I  gave  to  Mr.  Richardson,  the  Bustard  to  Dr. 
Lawrence  ” ;  and  down  to  about  1825  it  appears  to  have 
bred  on  the  estate  of  Sir  Charles  Anderson  at  Hawold. 
Across  the  Humber,  it  would  appear,  from  the  investiga¬ 
tions  of  Mr.  W.  E.  Clarke,  who  has  carefully  collected 
and  sifted  the  evidence,  that  the  Bustard  continued  to 
exist  on  the  Eastern  Wolds  so  long  as  they  remained  as 
undulating  barren  sheep-walks.  The  southern  portion  was 
the  first  to  be  deserted,  and  the  extension  of  tillage,  the 
introduction  of  early  and  artificial  crops,  and  the  spread  of 
enclosures,  inevitablv  led  to  the  decrease  of  the  Bustards  in 
their  remotest  refuge  about  Flixton,  Hunmanby,  and  Reigh- 
ton.  It  is  believed  that  the  existence  of  the  indigenous 
Great  Bustard  in  Yorkshire  ceased  in  1882  or  1888,  when 
the  last  hen  bird  was  trapped  on  Sir  W.  Strickland’s  estate 
at  Boynton,  near  Bridlington/* 

Suffolk  and  Norfolk,  which,  strange  to  say,  had  hardly 
been  mentioned  by  authors  down  to  the  present  century, 

*  ‘Handbk.  Yorkshire  Vertebrates,’  pp.  65-68. 


GREAT  BUSTARD. 


201 


now  remained  the  last  two  counties  where  the  indigenous 
Bustard  maintained  a  footing.  In  the  former  the  head¬ 
quarters  of  one  “  drove  ”  were  on  the  open  country  lying 
between  Icklingham  Heath,  Brandon  and  Tlietford,  and 
from  the  latter  a  certain  amount  of  communication  appears 
to  have  been  kept  up  with  the  Norfolk  “  drove  ”  which 
frequented  the  neighbourhood  of  Swaffham.  In  the  Suffolk 
district,  North  Stow  Heath  and  Icklingham  Heath  seem 
to  have  been  the  chief  resorts ;  and  up  to  1812  the 
“  drove  ”  appears  to  have  consisted  of  some  thirty  or  forty 
individuals.  About  this  period  commenced  the  practice  of 
planting  long  belts  of  trees  with  the  object  of  sheltering  the 
arable  land  from  the  pernicious  effect  of  the  wind  acting 
upon  a  light  sandy  soil ;  and  the  result  of  this  agricultural 
improvement  was  soon  manifested  by  the  rapid  diminution 
in  the  numbers  of  the  Bustards.  Although  protected  by 
the  Duke  of  Grafton  at  Euston,  Mr.  Newton  at  Elveden,  and 
Messrs.  Gwilt  at  Icklingham,  other  proprietors  permitted  and 
even  encouraged  their  destruction,  and  a  keeper  was  even 
allowed  to  rig-up  a  masked  battery  of  duck-guns  concen¬ 
trated  upon  a  spot  strewn  with  turnips  :  a  cord  half  a  mile 
long  being  attached  to  the  triggers  of  the  guns,  and  the 
shepherds  and  farm-labourers  being  duly  instructed  in  the 
art  of  working  this  infernal  machine.  In  1832  a  nest,  be¬ 
lieved  to  be  the  last  in  Suffolk,  was  found  on  the  borders  of 
Tlietford  Warren,  and  recorded  by  the  late  Mr.  J.  D.  Hoy 
(Mag.  Nat.  Hist.  1833,  p.  150),  who  stated  that  the  old  bird 
carried  off  her  young  in  safety,  and  that  a  male  and  two 
females  were  subsequently  seen  together  on  the  same  heath. 
This  nest  was  situated  in  a  field  of  rye,  as  were  nearly  all 
the  nests  pointed  out  by  eye-witnesses. 

In  Norfolk  the  late  Mr.  J.  D.  Salmon  has  recorded  (Mag. 
Nat.  Hist.  1834,  p.  458)  that  “  in  the  spring  of  1832,  three 
females  resorted  to  Great  Massingham  Heath,  in  Norfolk, 
for  incubation.  Their  eggs  consisted  of  two  pairs  and  a 
single  one.  These  were  taken  away,  under  the  impression 
that  as  there  was  no  male  bird,  they  were  good  for  nothing ; 
but  the  male  is  said  to  live  apart  after  the  female  is  impreg- 

VOL.  III.  D  D 


202 


OTIDIDiE. 


nated.”  Mr.  William  Borrer,  of  Cowfold,  then  an  under¬ 
graduate  of  Peterliouse,  lias  a  very  fine  female,  which  was 
killed  on  the  26tli  of  January,  1888,  whilst  feeding  in  a 
turnip  field  at  Dersingham,  near  Castle  Rising.  The  base 
of  each  of  the  feathers  on  the  breast  of  this  bird  was  of  a 
delicate  rose  colour ;  a  hue  which  Belon  and  Graves  had 
already  noticed,  and  which  has  since  been  observed  in  many 
individuals  of  this  and  of  other  species.  In  the  same  year 
another,  and  probably  the  last  indigenous  British  bird,  was 
obtained,  and  was  thus  recorded  at  the  time  by  Mr.  J.  H.  Gur¬ 
ney: — “  May,  1888.  Great  Bustard.  A  specimen  of  this  bird 
was  lately  killed  at  Lexham,  near  Swaffham.  The  person  who 
brought  it  to  Norwich  said  there  were  several  more  female 
Bustards  in  the  neighbourhood,  but  no  male.  On  dissection 
the  stomach  was  found  to  contain  a  quantity  of  green  sub¬ 
stance  resembling  clover,  and  an  egg  was  found  in  the  ova¬ 
rium  (for  it  was  a  female),  nearly  the  full  size,  but  without  a 
shell ;  and  from  the  inflamed  state  of  that  organ  it  was  sup¬ 
posed  that  some  eggs  had  been  laid  already.  The  weight 
and  dimensions  of  the  bird  were  as  follows,  viz.: — Weight, 
10  lbs.  10  oz.  Length  2  ft.  9  in. ;  from  tip  to  tip,  5  ft.  10  in. ; 
of  tibia,  8  in. ;  of  tarsus,  measured  to  the  heel,  6  in.  The 
plumage  was  beautifully  freckled  on  the  back,  but  was  much 
worn,  so  that  the  bird  evidently  had  not  moulted  for  some 
time.  It  was  remarked  that  the  down  at  the  base  of  the 
feathers  was  of  a  beautiful  rose  colour”  (Zool.  s.s.  p.  4724). 
This  bird  now  forms  part  of  the  fine  series  of  Norfolk  Bus¬ 
tards  in  the  Norwich  Museum. 

It  is  supposed  that  during  these  latter  six  years  the  few 
remaining  hens  had  dropped  their  eggs  at  random,  without 
forming  nests ;  but  there  was  no  cock  bird  left,  and  thus  the 
indigenous  race  became  extinct.  The  previous  cause  of  the 
diminution  of  the  species  in  Norfolk  was,  however,  the  new 
system  introduced  into  agriculture.  To  quote  Mr.  Steven¬ 
son’s  own  words  : — “  The  hen  Bustard  nearly  always  laid 
her  eggs  in  the  winter- sown  corn,  which  in  former  days  was, 
almost  without  exception,  rye,  sown  broadcast  after  the  old 
fashion.  As  the  mode  of  tillage  improved,  wheat  was  grad- 


GREAT  BUSTARD. 


203 


ually  substituted  for  rye  ;  and,  at  the  price  that  grain  fetched 
in  those  days,  the  desire  of  not  using  more  seed  than  was 
absolutely  necessary  brought  about  the  invention  of  the  drill, 
by  means  of  which  corn,  thus  sown,  was  capable  of  being 
kept  free  from  weeds  with  much  greater  facility.  First, 
parties  of  children  were  sent  into  the  fields  to  perform  this 
operation,  and  then  speedier,  if  not  more  thorough,  execu¬ 
tion  was  obtained  by  the  use  of  the  horse-hoe.  Thus  every 
nest  made  by  a  Bustard  in  a  wheatfield  was  sure  to  be  dis¬ 
covered — perhaps  in  time  to  avert  instantaneous  destruction 
from  the  horses’  feet  or  the  hoe-blades,  perhaps  (and  this 
probably  much  the  more  often)  only  when  the  eggs  had  been 
driven  over  and  smashed  and  their  contents  were  pouring  out 
on  the  ground.  But  even  in  the  first  case,  instantaneous 
destruction  being  avoided,  the  eggs  were  generally  taken  up 
by  the  driver  of  the  hoe  (in  defiance  of  the  act  of  25tli 
Henry  VIII.,  which,  though  often  enforced  when  smaller  and 
less  valuable  species  were  concerned,  seems  in  the  case  of 
the  Bustard  to  have  been  regarded  as  a  dead  letter),  and 
carried  by  him  to  his  master  or  mistress.  If  they  were  not 
chilled  by  the  time  they  reached  the  farmhouse  they  were 
probably  put  under  a  sitting  hen  ;  for  all  persons  seemed  to 
imagine,  till  they  tried,  that  the  rearing  of  young  Bustards 
was  as  easy  as  the  rearing  of  young  Turkeys.  If,  however, 
there  was  no  hope  of  success  in  this  direction,  they  appear 
often  to  have  been  preserved  as  natural  curiosities,  to  lie, 
with  grotesquely  shaped  flints  and  petrified  Echini  (the 
‘  fairies’  loaves  ’  of  the  district),  on  the  parlour  mantelpiece 
or  bookshelf  till  they  met  with  the  usual  fate  of  such  fragile 
articles,  though  some  four  or  five  specimens  are  known  to 
have  escaped  all  such  risks  and  are  actually  still  in  existence. 
But  in  either  of  these  cases  the  result  was  the  same.  No 
young  birds  grew  up  to  fill  the  gaps  made  in  the  ranks  of 
the  old  ones  according  to  the  common  course  of  nature,  to 
say  nothing  of  those  caused  by  occasional  violent  deaths  ; 
for  although  Mr.  Hamond  (following  the  example  of  his 
father  before  him)  and  most  of  his  neighbours  allowed  no 
molestation  of  the  Bustards  on  their  estates,  yet  there  is 


204 


OTIDIDiE. 


little  doubt  that  every  now  and  then  one  fell  to  the  gun,  or 
was  caught  in  the  gin  of  a  depredator,  while  the  smaller 
proprietors  were  by  no  means  actuated  by  any  feelings  for 
the  perpetuation  of  the  stock,  and  a  few  of  the  larger  ones 
occasionally  wished  to  supply  themselves  or  their  friends 
with  specimens  for  their  collections  or  even  for  edible  pur¬ 
poses.  Not  a  thought  of  the  extermination  of  the  species 
seems  to  have  passed  through  their  minds.  Either  they 
were  entirely  indifferent  about  the  matter,  or  else  they  be¬ 
lieved  that  since,  as  long  as  they  could  remember,  there  had 
always  been  Bustards  on  their  brecks,  therefore  Bustards 
there  would  always  be.  It  is  to  be  remarked  that  cock  birds 
are  said  to  have  been  comparatively  scarce  in  this  drove, 
three  being  the  most  that  are  spoken  to  by  any  eye-witness, 
and,  as  has  just  been  stated,  when  the  numbers  of  the  drove 
were  much  diminished,  cocks  were  entirely  wanting.  These 
observations  probably  refer  to  the  old  cocks,  which  so  greatly 
surpass  the  hens  in  size  ;  for  it  must  be  remembered  that, 
as  is  known  through  foreign  observers,  the  male  Bustard  is 
several  years  in  attaining  its  full  growth,  and  until  then  it 
cannot  be  readily  distinguished  from  the  female  at  a  distance.” 

Very  full  particulars  are  given  by  Mr.  Stevenson  of  the 
specimens  of  birds  and  eggs  obtained  in  Norfolk  and  Suffolk, 
and  in  tracing  their  history  many  details  of  the  highest 
interest  are  recorded,  but  space  will  not  admit  of  further 
quotation.  The  finest  series  of  Norfolk,  or  indeed  of  British 
Bustards,  appears  to  be  in  the  collection  made  by  the  late 
Mr.  Robert  Elwes,  of  Congham  House,  near  Lynn.  As 
regards  the  date  of  extirpation,  it  may  be  added,  that 
although  1838  is  the  probable  one,  there  are  some  persons 
who  believe  that  a  bird  or  two  lingered  to  1843  or  even  1845. 

In  Scotland,  the  Great  Bustard  had  long  been  extinct, 
and  it  was  probably  a  mere  straggler  from  the  Continent 
which  was  shot  in  Morayshire,  in  1803,  where  another  was 
also  obtained,  as  recorded  by  the  Rev.  Mr.  Gordon  in  his 
‘  Fauna  of  Moray.’  As  regards  Ireland,  it  is  mentioned  by 
Smith,  in  his  ‘  History  of  Cork,’  in  1749,  but  there  appears 
to  be  no  other  evidence  of  its  existence  in  that  island. 


GREAT  BUSTARD. 


205 


Although  the  Great  Bustard  had  ceased  to  he  an  indige¬ 
nous  British  species,  stragglers  from  time  to  time  made 
their  appearance,  and  naturally,  in  the  majority  of  cases, 
were  observed  on  the  open  and  uncultivated  districts  suited 
to  their  habits.  In  March,  1843,  a  female  was  shot  on 
moorland  between  Helston  and  the  Lizard  ;  another,  also  a 
hen  bird,  was  shot  near  St.  Austell,  in  January,  1854,  and — 
to  continue  the  list  of  occurrences  in  Cornwall — yet  a  third 
female  was  captured  alive  near  Looe,  on  the  12th  December, 
1879.  One,  believed  by  its  size  to  be  a  female,  was  seen  on 
Salisbury  Plain  by  Mr.  G.  K.  Waterhouse,  of  the  British 
Museum,  in  the  month  of  August,  1849,  when  returning  to 
Salisbury  with  a  party  of  friends  from  a  visit  to  Stonehenge, 
the  bird  being  seen  several  times  on  the  wing  during  an 
interval  of  eight  or  ten  minutes  (Zool.  p.  2590).  A  second 
bird,  also  a  female,  was  shot  in  January,  1850,  at  Lydd, 
in  Bonin ey  Marsh,  and  passed  into  the  possession  of  Dr. 
Plomley  (Zool.  p.  2700).  The  third  was  shot  on  the  31st 
of  December,  1851,  at  Bratton  Clovelly,  in  North  Devon, 
and  became  the  property  of  Mr.  J.  G.  Newton,  of  Millaton 
Bridestow  (Naturalist,  1852,  p.  33)  ;  and  on  the  8th  of 
February,  1853,  one  was  killed  in  a  turnip  field  at  Lees 
Hill,  Lannercost,  Cumberland,  and  came  into  the  pos¬ 
session  of  Mr.  Joseph  Mowbray,  at  Brampton  (Zool.  p. 
4407). 

On  Thursday,  January  the  3rd,  1856,  as  a  boy,  about 
nine  years  of  age,  was  on  his  way  by  the  Salisbury  road, 
from  Hungerford,  in  Berkshire,  to  a  lone  farm  about  a  mile 
off,  with  his  brother’s  dinner  at  twelve  o’clock,  he  saw  a 
large  red  bird  on  the  ground,  fluttering  about  near  the  edge 
of  a  piece  of  turnips.  He  went  close  up  to  it,  and  observed 
that  it  had  a  broken  leg;  he  tried  to  lay  hold  of  it,  but  the 
bird  “  pecked  at  him,  bit  his  fingers,  and  put  out  his  great 
wings.”  He  caught  hold  of  one  of  them,  and  dragged  the 
bird  along  the  ground  by  it  for  nearly  a  quarter  of  a  mile  to 
the  farm,  where  a  farming  man  killed  it  for  him,  by  breaking 
its  neck,  that  the  boy,  as  he  said,  might  carry  it  easier. 
The  boy  says  the  bird  was  quite  clean  when  he  first  saw  it, 


206 


OT’IDIDJL 


but  that  he  made  it  dirty  by  dragging  it  along  the  field. 
The  bird  passed  by  sale  through  the  hands  of  two  or  three 
persons,  and  came  at  length  into  the  possession  of  Mr. 
W.  H.  Rowland,  of  Hungerford,  who  sent  it  to  Mr.  Lead- 
beater,  of  Brewer  Street,  to  be  preserved. 

Mr.  Rowland  called  upon  the  Author  on  Saturday,  the 
12tli  instant,  and  went  with  him  to  Brewer  Street,  to 
inspect  the  specimen.  Mr.  Leadbeater,  after  the  bird  was 
skinned,  had  examined  the  inside  of  the  body,  and  had 
saved  the  sexual  part  in  spirit,  which  showed  that  it  was 
a  young  male.  The  bird  appeared  to  be  about  eighteen 
or  twenty  months  old,  and  was  believed  to  be  a  bird  of  the 
season  of  1854.  The  fracture  of  the  bone  of  the  leg,  with 
the  skin  torn  through,  about  half  way  between  the  true  heel 
and  the  knee,  did  not  appear  as  if  produced  by  gun-shot,  nor 
was  there  a  single  perforation  in  any  other  part  of  the  skin 
of  the  bird.  The  wound  was  too  high  up  to  have  been 
caused  by  a  trap,  and  perhaps  the  accident  had  occurred  by 
the  Bustard  getting  his  leg  entangled  among  the  bars  of 
sheep  hurdles,  and  making  great  efforts  to  get  loose.  The 
wound  was  apparently  of  some  days’  standing,  and  had  bled 
considerably.  That  the  bird  was  wTeak  and  exhausted  may 
be  safely  inferred  from  its  allowing  a  boy  to  drag  it  along  the 
ground  by  the  wing,  so  bold  and  pugnacious  as  this  species 
is  known  to  be  when  in  health  ;  there  was,  moreover,  very 
little  blood  within  the  skin  where  the  neck  was  broken. 
The  soft  parts  had  been  irrecoverably  made  away  with,  or 
the  neck  would  have  been  examined  with  great  interest. 

In  the  same  year  (1856)  two  frequented  Burwell  Fen,  in 
Cambridgeshire,  from  the  end  of  January  to  the  1st  of  March 
(Zool.  pp.  5068,  5279) ;  a  young  male  was  killed  at  Romney 
in  1859  ;  a  female  on  Ruffortli  Moor,  near  York,  in  February, 
1861  (Zool.  p.  7507)  ;  and  another  female  was  picked  up 
dead,  but  still  warm,  near  Bridlington  Quay,  on  November 
11th,  1861  (Zool.  p.  9442).  Individuals  were  observed  in  Lin¬ 
colnshire  in  1866  and  a  few  years  previously  ;  and  in  January, 
1867,  one  was  fired  at  unsuccessfully  by  Captain  Rising,  in 
the  Horsey  marshes,  Norfolk.  Between  the  autumn  of 


GREAT  BUSTARD. 


207 


1870  and  the  spring  of  1871 — at  the  time  of  the  Franco-Ger¬ 
man  War,  and  a  winter  of  exceptional  severity  on  the  Con¬ 
tinent — a  considerable  number  of  Bustards  visited  Great 
Britain.  On  the  27tli  September,  whilst  travelling  from 
Bishops  Lydeard  to  Wells,  Mr.  J.  E.  Harting  saw  one  of 
these  birds  on  the  flat  country  by  Shapwick  (‘The  Field,’ 
14th  January,  1871) ;  and  three,  out  of  seven,  were  obtained  in 
the  following  December  at  Braunton,  North  Devon.  On  the 
28th  of  that  month  a  female  was  shot  at  Feltliam,  in  Middle¬ 
sex,  the  first  occurrence  on  record  in  that  small  county  (ibid. 
January  7th,  1871).  On  January  2nd,  1871,  a  female  was 
killed  at  Fenham  on  the  coast  of  Northumberland  (Zool. 
s.s.  p.  2510).  A  female,  weighing  only  lbs.,  was  shot  on 
January  2 3rd  on  Salisbury  Plain,  when  two  others  were  seen  ; 
and  a  bird,  presumably  one  of  the  latter,  weighing  15  lbs., 
was  obtained  on  the  26tli,  near  Devizes  (‘  The  Field,’  January 
28th  and  February  4tli).  In  August,  1873,  a  Bustard  was 
reported  as  frequenting  the  old  Suffolk  district,  on  the 
Wangford  and  Lakenheath  warrens.  On  the  14th  January, 
1876,  a  female  was  shot  on  the  Downs  of  Sussex,  near  East¬ 
bourne  (ibid.  January  22nd),  and  came  into  the  possession  of 
Mr.  T.  Monk,  of  Lewes ;  and  on  the  24th  of  the  same  month 
a  male  took  up  his  abode  in  a  piece  of  coleseed  on  a  fen 
belonging  to  Mr.  H.  M.  Upcher,  of  Feltwell,  near  Brandon, 
who  Wrote  as  follows  : — “  He  seemed  to  consider  this  field 
quite  as  private  property,  for  I  do  not  think  he  was  ever 
absent  for  a  whole  day  till  the  24th  of  February.  Lord  Lil- 
ford  most  kindly  sent  me  a  female  Bustard,  which  I  turned 
out  on  Thursday,  February  10th,  in  the  presence  of  Pro¬ 
fessor  Newton,  Messrs.  Harting,  Salvin,  E.  Newton,  and 
F.  Newcome.  The  male  flew  away  as  I  was  trying  to  drive 
the  very  tame  hen  up  the  field  towards  him.  He  returned 
before  we  left,  in  less  than  an  hour,  and,  although  not  close 
together,  we  left  them  in  the  same  field.  They  soon  made  it 
up,  and  Saturday  and  Sunday  they  spent  side  by  side,  the 
male  bird  strutting  round  the  hen,  and  traping  his  wings 
like  a  Turkey-cock.  The  fearful  weather  on  Sunday  night 
and  the  next  day  proved  too  much  for  the  tame  bird,  and  on 


208 


OTIDIDtE. 


Tuesday  slie  was  found  dead  in  a  ditch.  On  the  21st  Feb¬ 
ruary,  Lord  Lilford  sent  another  hen  :  it  was  a  very  stormy 
day,  so  I  dared  not  turn  her  out  after  the  fate  of  No.  1,  hut 
shut  her  up  in  a  little  hut  of  hurdles  and  straw,  which  I  had 
had  built  for  No.  1,  but  which  she  would  not  take  advantage 
of.  The  next  morning  the  male  was  not  far  from  the  hut, 
and  the  keeper  went  down  to  let  the  female  out,  hut  he  flew 
away.  In  the  afternoon  he  passed  over  the  field,  but  did  not 
alight,  and  went  on  to  Stockwold  ;  thence  to  Eriswell  and 
Elveden,  where  he  was  seen  in  the  park.  This  is  the  last 
place  where  I  can  hear  any  tidings  of  him  ”  (Zool.  s.s. 
p.  4882). *  On  the  29th  March  of  the  same  year  a  Bustard, 
weighing  9flbs.,  was  shot  near  Stronsay,  in  Orkney  (‘The 
Field,’  April  8th,  1876). 

In  the  winter  of  1879-1880,  besides  the  Bustard  already 
noted  as  obtained  in  Cornwall,  one  was  recorded  from  Jersey, 
one  from  Essex,  one  from  Cambridgeshire,  and  one  from 
Dorsetshire,  all  females ;  also  three  from  Kent,  one  of  which 
was  a  male  weighing  16  lbs.  A  similiar  visitation  occurred 
in  the  northern  and  central  provinces  of  France  (Zool.  1880, 
p.  252),  and  was  attributed  b}r  the  naturalists  and  sportsmen 
of  that  country  to  the  inclement  weather  which  prevailed  at 
that  season. 

The  Great  Bustard  is  now  a  rare  straggler  to  the  southern 
portions  of  Sweden,  where  it  was  formerly  a  partial  resident, 
and  its  occurrences  in  Denmark,  Holland,  and  Belgium  are 
merely  accidental ;  but  in  Northern  and  Central  Germany, 
especially  on  open  plains,  such  as  those  about  Leipsic,  it  is 
still  a  resident,  excepting  in  severe  winters.  In  France  its 
head-quarters  used  to  he  in  the  province  of  Champagne,  hut 
the  Editor  has  recently  been  informed  that  as  a  resident 
species  it  is  now  extirpated,  although  examples  are  annually 
obtained  in  the  country.  In  the  Spanish  Peninsula  the 
Great  Bustard  is  still  abundant  in  suitable  localities,  and 
Mr.  C.  A.  Nicholson,  of  Balrath  Kells,  Co.  Meath,  has  con¬ 
tributed  the  following  details  : — 

*  A  more  detailed  account,  by  Messrs.  Harting  and  Upcher,  and  illustrated  by 
woodcuts,  appeared  in  ‘The  Field  ’  of  April  8th,  1876. 


GREAT  BUSTARD. 


209 


“  You  will  perhaps  be  interested  by  the  following  few  re¬ 
marks  on  the  habits  of  the  Great  Bustard,  as  observed  by 
me  in  the  neighbourhood  of  Seville,  where  they  exist  in 
large  numbers. 

“  The  males  begin  to  arrive  in  the  cultivated  part  of  the 
country  at  the  beginning  of  February  ;  they  come  in  flocks, 
varying  from  seven  to  fifty-three,  the  smallest  and  largest 
numbers  I  have  seen  together  at  that  season  of  the  year. 
The  old  birds  always  go  together  ;  those  of  a  year  old,  which 
are  much  smaller,  never  mix  with  them.  The  young  birds 
have  neither  beard  nor  pouch. 

“  The  females  do  not  arrive  till  the  beginning  of  April, 
and  come  singly,  or  at  most  in  pairs  :  as  soon  as  they  arrive 
the  flocks  of  males  begin  to  break  up,  and  after  about  three* 
weeks  you  seldom  meet  more  than  three  or  four  old  males 
together,  they  being  very  frequently  to  be  met  with  singly. 
At  this  time,  on  a  fine  day,  they  spread  their  tails  like  Tur¬ 
key-cocks,  drooping  their  wings  and  expanding  their  pouches. 
Being  perfectly  white  under  the  tail,  they  can  be  seen  at  a 
great  distance  while  in  this  attitude  ;  I  have,  however,  never 
seen  a  female  near  a  cock,  as  apparently  they  live  quite 
separate.  During  the  month  of  May  the  cocks  entirely 
disappear  from  the  cultivated  lands,  leaving  the  hens  behind 
them  ;  they,  I  have  every  reason  to  believe,  go  down  to  the 
extensive  grass  marshes  which  stretch  along  the  banks  of  the 
Guadalquivir.  The  young  Bustards  are  hatched  in  the  large 
corn  plains  about  Seville,  and  are  able  to  take  care  of  them¬ 
selves  when  the  corn  is  cut  in  July.  At  the  end  of  that 
month,  when  all  the  corn  is  cut  and  no  cover  remains,  the 
young  birds  and  hens  follow  the  cocks  to  the  marisma,  as 
they  call  these  great  marshes  in  Spain. 

“  The  birds  are  very  difficult  to  shoot,  and  many  a  long 
day  I  have  spent  without  any  success  in  hunting  them 
about.  The  only  chance  is  to  hide  in  a  ravine  or  ditch,  and 
send  men  who  know  the  country  round  the  birds  to  try  and 
drive  them  over  you.  They  sometimes  succeed  in  this,  but 
not  very  often.  The  heaviest  bird  I  shot  weighed  28  lbs.  ; 
this  was  before  the  hens  came,  which  may  perhaps  account 

VOL.  III.  E  E 


OTTDID^l. 


210 

for  this  bird  being  two  pounds  heavier  than  any  I  shot  after¬ 
wards.  The  largest  bird,  from  tip  to  tip  of  wing,  measured 
7  feet  8  inches  ;  this  bird  weighed  26  lbs.  The  28  lbs.  bird 
measured  hut  7  feet  1  inch.* 

“  The  birds  of  a  year  old  weigh  from  8  to  10  lbs.,  and  are 
much  the  best  to  eat.  I  did  not  shoot  a  hen. 

“  All  the  birds  I  shot  had  their  stomachs  perfectly 
crammed  with  barley,  both  stalks  and  ears,  the  leaves  of  a 
large-leaved  green  weed,  and  a  kind  of  black  beetle.  The 
pouch  is  surrounded  by  a  layer  of  fat  fully  an  inch  thick. 
I  may  add  that  the  Bustards  when  flushed  generally  fly  two 
miles  or  more,  sometimes  at  least  a  hundred  yards  high. 
They  never  try  to  run ;  one  that  I  had  winged  making  the 
■nnost  awkward  attempt  possible  to  get  away  from  me,  and 
though  a  young  bird,  showing  much  more  disposition  to 
fight  than  to  get  away  by  running.  They  fly  with  a  regular 
flap  of  the  wings,  and  much  faster  than  they  appear  to  go. 
I  cannot  imagine  greyhounds  being  able  to  catch  Bustards, 
though  there  seems  to  be  good  authority  for  believing  they 
did.” 

To  Italy  and  to  the  islands  of  the  Mediterranean  the  Great 
Bustard  is  merely  a  straggler,  but  in  Greece  it  is  not  un¬ 
common,  and  on  the  plains  of  the  Danubian  Provinces,  the 
South  of  Russia,  and  Turkey  it  is  abundant,  crossing  to 
Asia  Minor  in  severe  weather ;  and  on  the  plains  of  Northern 
Syria  it  is  apparently  resident.  Its  visits  to  Morocco  are 
rare  and  irregular,  but  Loclie  says  that  it  was  formerly  com¬ 
mon  in  Algeria,  where  it  is  now  rare.  Passing  eastward,  it 
occurs  throughout  temperate  Asia,  as  far  as  China,  where 
Mr.  Swinhoe  obtained  it ;  and  Japan,  whence  Messrs.  Blakis- 
ton  and  Pryor  have  sent  specimens  to  Mr.  Seebolim.  The 
bird  found  in  Eastern  Siberia  has  been  distinguished  by 
M.  Taczanowski,  under  the  name  of  Otis  dybowskii,  and  is 
described  as  being  smaller  than  the  present  species,  but  with 
longer  moustaches.  Mr.  Hume  states  that  a  flock  of  five 
or  six  Great  Bustards  has  once  straggled  to  Murdan,  west 
of  the  Indus  (Ihis,  1871,  p.  404). 

*  Males  have  been  obtained  weighing  34  lbs.,  and  even  )nore. 


GREAT  BUSTARD. 


211 


The  Bustard  is  generally  supposed  to  be  polygamous,  and 
even  those  who  oppose  this  belief,  cannot  deny  that  in  num¬ 
bers  the  females  are  far  in  excess  of  the  males.  In  spring 
the  males  tight  furiously  for  the  possession  of  the  females, 
and  at  Elveden  a  shepherd,  prior  to  1820,  saw  two  cock 
birds  so  intent  on  the  combat  that  he  ran  up  and  killed  one 
with  his  staff.  The  males  afterwards  live  apart  from  the 
females,  forming  small  flocks  by  themselves.  The  female 
deposits  her  eggs  in  a  mere  scratching  in  the  ground  :  in 
April,  in  Spain  ;  in  May,  further  north ;  the  complement  is 
two  or  three,  and  the  exceptional  clutches  of  four  and  five 
which  have  occasionally  been  found,  were  probably  the  pro¬ 
duce  of  two  females.  The  eggs  are  olive-brown  in  colour, 
sparingly  and  indistinctly  blotched  with  greenish  broccoli- 
brown  ;  they  measure  about  3  in.  by  2*1  in.  Incubation 
lasts  rather  more  than  three  weeks,  and  the  young  are  soon 
able  to  run  and  secrete  themselves. 

The  birds  feed  on  green  corn,  grasses,  trefoil,  and  other 
vegetables  ;  they  also  kill  and  eat  small  mammals,  and, 
perhaps,  small  reptiles.  In  the  summer  they  conceal  them¬ 
selves  in  standing  corn,  generally  wheat  or  rye,  and  later  in 
the  season  in  large  fields  of  high  turnips  ;  they  also  frequent 
chalk-pits  when  they  are  partly  overgrown  with  bushes  or 
rank  vegetation. 

In  the  autumn,  so  far  as  East  Anglia  was  concerned,  the 
Bustards  used  to  disappear  for  a  time,  and  Mr.  Stevenson 
remarks  that  there  is  positively  no  precise  information  re¬ 
specting  their  appearance  during  the  months  of  October  and 
November. 

The  flesh  of  the  old  male  is  very  coarse  eating,  but  that 
of  a  fat  hen  or  of  a  young  bird  is  excellent.  During  the 
great  heat  of  August  and  September,  young  birds  are  some¬ 
times  run  down  by  horsemen  and  dogs  in  Spain,  as  after  two 
or  three  low  flights  they  become  exhausted,  being  at  that 
season  extremely  fat.  That  they  have  been  captured  under 
similar  circumstances  in  England  is  probable,  and  indeed 
one  case  is  recorded  by  Mr.  Lubbock  where  the  greyhounds 
came  suddenly  through  a  gate,  and  “  chopped  ”  a  Bustard  ; 


212 


OTIDIDiE. 


but  that  anything  like  real  and  successful  Bustard  coursing 
was  ever  habitually  pursued,  is  open  to  doubt,  in  spite  of  the 
statement,  dated  1656,  already  quoted  (p.  196).  However, 
in  ‘The  Naturalist’s  Pocket  Magazine,  or  Compleat  Cabinet  of 
Nature’  (1799-1800)  is  the  following: — “But  though  they 
cannot  be  reached  by  a  fowling-piece,  they  are  sometimes 
run  down  by  greyhounds.  Being  voracious  and  greedy,  they 
often  sacrifice  their  safety  to  their  appetites  ;  and  as  they 
are  generally  very  fat,  they  are  unable  to  fly  without  much 
preparation  ;  when  therefore  the  greyhounds  come  within  a 
certain  distance  the  Bustards  run  off,  clap  their  wings,  and 
endeavour  to  gather  under  them  enough  air  to  rise  ;  in  the 
meantime,  the  dogs  are  continually  gaining  ground,  till  at 
last  it  is  too  late  for  flight.  However,  notwithstanding  the 
sluggishness  of  their  usual  pace,  they  can,  when  in  danger, 
run  very  fast,  and  once  fairly  on  the  wing,  are  able  to  fly 
several  miles  without  resting.”  These,  or  similar  statements, 
have  been  popularized  by  Bewick’s  well-known  woodcut  of 
the  Great  Bustard  being  chased  by  a  horseman  and  a  grey¬ 
hound,  and  are  the  source  of  the  belief  entertained  by 
many,  that  this  kind  of  sport  was  pursued  by  our  ancestors. 
That  Bustards  have  on  rare  occasions  been  found  at  day¬ 
break  so  benumbed  by  a  frost  following  on  a  heavy  dew,  as 
to  be  unable  to  fly  with  ease,  seems  entitled  to  belief. 

Bustards  have  on  many  occasions  been  kept  in  confine¬ 
ment,  but  as  yet  they  have  seldom  been  known  to  breed  in  that 
state.  The  late  Mr.  George  Hardy,  who  was  house-surgeon 
to  the  Norfolk  and  Norwich  Hospital,  between  1798  and 
1826,  appears,  from  the  entries  in  his  journal,  to  have  re¬ 
ceived  at  various  times  a  good  many  eggs,  which  he  placed 
under  a  hen  ;  he  also  received  more  than  one  male  bird,  and 
it  is  remembered  by  Mr.  G.  S.  Kett,  a  former  treasurer  of 
the  hospital,  that  he  had  three  or  four  birds  alive  in  an 
enclosure  ;  but  as  to  the  actual  breeding  or  even  the  hatch¬ 
ing-out  of  any  of  these  particular  birds,  there  seems  to  be 
no  direct  evidence.  In  Tyrol,  however,  Dr.  Altliammer 
records  an  instance  (Bull.  Soc.  Imp.  Acclim.  1861,  p.  818) 
of  three  eggs  being  laid  in  August,  1860,  upon  which  the 


GREAT  BUSTARD. 


213 


lien-bird  sat,  and  after  twenty-five  days’  incubation  one  young 
one  was  hatched.  A  male  bird  which  Lord  Lilford  received 
alive  from  the  Continent,  and  which  he  kept  for  more  than 
four  years,  is  described  as  exceedingly  bold  and  tame,  ap¬ 
proaching  any  one  who  entered  the  aviary  quite  fearlessly, 
making  a  curious  guttural  noise.  He  ate  mice,  raw  meat, 
worms,  snails,  wheat,  barley,  turnip-tops,  lettuce  and  grass, 
and  lived  amicably  with  other  birds. 

As  regards  the  presence  of  the  much  discussed  gular 
pouch  in  the  male  Bustard,  the  following  was  communicated 
by  the  late  Professor  A.  Gfarrod,  Prosector  to  the  Zoological 
Society,  to  Mr.  H.  E.  Dresser,  for  ‘  The  Birds  of  Europe,’ 
and  by  his  permission  is  here  reproduced  : — 

“  The  different  points  connected  with  the  question  as  to 
the  existence  or  non-existence  of  a  gular  pouch  in  Otis  tarcla 
have  excited  a  degree  of  attention  and  a  diversity  of  opinion 
which  can  only  be  accounted  for  by  the  difficulty  that  there 
is  in  this  country  of  obtaining  a  sufficient  number  of  speci¬ 
mens  for  examination.  Several  authorities  have  recorded 
their  very  contradictory  results ;  and  Professor  Newton’s 
excellent  and  exhaustive  summary  (Ibis,  1862,  p.  107)  left 
the  question  as  undecided  as  ever.  Dr.  W.  H.  Cullen,  of 
Kustendjie,  in  Bulgaria,  was  led  from  Professor  Newton’s 
remarks  to  re-examine  the  point;  and  in  the  two  specimens 
of  the  bird  which  he  dissected,  the  pouch  was  well  developed. 
He  communicated  his  results,  with  drawings,  to  ‘  The  Ibis  ’ 
(1865,  p.  143) ;  and  Professor  Flower  has  also  examined 
and  described  his  specimens  (P.  Z.  S.  1865,  p.  747).  Dr. 
Murie  has  further  verified  the  existence  of  a  gular  pouch  in 
an  adult  specimen  which  belonged  to  the  Zoological  Society 
of  London  ;  and  a  very  good  sketch  of  the  open  mouth 
accompanies  his  paper.  The  same  author  also  proved  the 
existence  of  a  similarly  situated,  but  smaller,  pouch  in  Otis 
kori ;  and  he  shows  that  the  habits  of  Otis  australis  render 
it  certain  that  in  that  bird  the  same  structure  is  also  largely 
developed.  Through  the  kindness  of  Lord  Lilford  I  have 
had  the  opportunity  of  examining  a  specimen  taken  from  a 
Spanish  example  of  Otis  tarda,  in  which  the  very  capacious 


214 


OTIDIDiE. 


pouch  is  preserved  with  the  tongue,  trachea,  and  oesophagus. 
This  specimen  entirely  agrees  with  those  described  by  John 
Hunter  and  the  other  anatomists  who  have  since  found  it. 

“  From  the  facts  at  present  known  regarding  this  subject 
it  may  be  concluded  that  a  large  sublingual  air-pouch,  which 
runs  down  the  anterior  portion  of  the  neck,  is  present  in  the 
adult  of  Otis  tarcla  and  some  other  species  of  Bustards 
during  the  breeding-season,  that  in  young  birds  this  pouch 
is  not  developed,  and  that  during  the  non-breeding-time  this 
pouch  may,  and  perhaps  always  does,  contract  so  consider¬ 
ably  as  to  become  insignificant. 

“If,  as  it  seems  probable  to  me,  the  pouch  contracts  and 
almost  disappears  in  the  intervals  between  the  breeding- 
seasons,  the  discrepancies  in  the  different  accounts  may  be 
explained  on  the  supposition  that' the  birds  examined  were 
obtained  at  different  times  of  the  year.  In  a  specimen  now 
living  in  the  Zoological  Society’s  Gardens,  which  ‘  showed 
off  ’  well  during  last  summer  and  early  this  spring,  no  orifice 
can  be  felt  at  the  present  time  (June  24tli)  with  the  finger, 
under  the  tongue,  which  could  lead  into  any  pouch,  though 
the  floor  of  the  mouth  is  felt  to  be  carried  a  considerable 
way  further  back  than  usual.” 

Subsequently  Professor  Garrod  found  that  in  an  Australian 
Bustard  (. Eupodotis  australis)  examined  by  him,  there  was 
no  gular  pouch,  but  merely  an  oesophagus  dilatable  at  will, 
and  greatly  inflated  during  the  “  show-off.” 

The  adult  male  has  the  beak  clay-brown  ;  the  irides  hazel ; 
the  head  and  the  upper  part  of  the  neck  pale  grey ;  from 
the  chin,  passing  backwards  and  downwards  on  each  side, 
there  is  a  tuft  of  bristled  feathers,  about  seven  inches  long, 
directed  across  and  partly  concealing  a  vertically  elongated 
strip  of  bare  skin  of  a  bluish-grey  colour ;  the  lower  part  of 
the  neck  behind,  the  back,  and  upper  tail-coverts  of  an 
ochreous-yellow  or  pale  chestnut,  barred  transversely  with 
black ;  the  tail-feathers  reddish,  barred  with  black  and 
tipped  with  white  ;  the  wing-coverts  and  tertials  white ;  the 
primaries  greyish -brown,  with  white  shafts  ;  neck  in  front 
covered  with  long  tawny  feathers,  which  become  thicker  lower 


GREAT  BUSTARD. 


215 


down,  and  form  a  distinct  pectoral  band  of  a  rich  chestnut ; 
below,  and  partly  concealed  by  it,  a  grey  band ;  all  the  under 
surface  of  the  body,  the  thighs,  and  under  tail- coverts  white  ; 
under  surface  of  the  tail-feathers  barred  transversely  with 
dusky  grey  ;  legs,  toes,  and  claws,  brown. 

The  whole  length  of  the  male  bird  is  forty-five  inches. 
From  the  carpal  joint  to  the  end  of  the  wing,  tw^enty-four 
inches  and  a  half :  the  first  quill-feather  shorter  than  the 
second ;  the  second  shorter  than  the  third  or  the  fourth, 
which  are  the  longest  in  the  wing. 

The  whole  length  of  the  female  is  thirty-six  inches.  From 
the  joint  to  the  end  of  the  wing,  nineteen  inches  and  a  half. 
The  females  generally  do  not  exhibit  the  lateral  plumes  from 
the  chin,  nor  the  rufous  pectoral  band,  but  in  the  Transac¬ 
tions  of  the  Linnean  Society  of  Bordeaux,  M.  de  Roche- 
brune  has  remarked  that  when  the  female  has  arrived  at  her 
full  growth,  at  the  age  of  three  or  four  years,  she  has  the 
same  external  characters  as  the  male,  only  somewhat  less 
developed :  a  statement  not  confirmed  by  other  authors. 

The  young  at  a  month  old  are  covered  with  a  pale  buff- 
coloured  down,  barred  upon  the  back,  wings,  and  sides  with 
black. 

The  outline  below  is  drawn,  half  the  natural  size,  from 
the  breast-bone  of  a  female  of  the  Great  Bustard. 


21G 


0TIDID7E. 


ALECTORIDES. 


OT1D1BM. 


Otis  tetrax,  Linnaeus.* 

THE  LITTLE  BUSTARD. 

Otis  tetrax. 

The  Little  Bustard  can  only  be  considered  an  acci¬ 
dental,  and,  generally,  a  winter  visitor  to  this  country.  The 
male  has  never,  so  far  as  the  Author  and  the  Editor  are 
aware,  been  killed  here  in  the  plumage  assumed  during  the 
breeding- season  ;  nor  have  the  nest  and  eggs  been  found  ; 
and  most  of  the  specimens,  of  which  many  are  recorded, 

*  Otis  Tetrax ,  Linnaeus,  Syst.  Nat.  Ed.  12,  i.  p.  264  (1766). 


LITTLE  BUSTARD. 


217 


some  of  them  males,  have  occurred  in  the  winter  half-year, 
— that  is,  from  the  middle  of  autumn  to  the  middle  of 
spring  :  both  sexes,  during  that  period,  wearing  the  same 
livery. 

Bewick  mentions  two  British-killed  female  specimens  : 
one  of  them  from  the  vicinity  of  Newmarket ;  and  Latham 
cites  another,  also  a  female,  killed  near  Komsey,  in  January, 
1809.  Pennant  records  the  occurrence  of  one  in  Cornwall 
so  long  ago  as  1751,  and  since  that  date  about  a  dozen  have 
been  killed  in  that  county.'1'  Six  or  seven  instances  might 
be  enumerated  of  its  visits  to  Devonshire  :  two  of  them  so 
recently  as  December,  1881 ;  and  it  has  occurred  with  more 
or  less  frequency  in  Hampshire,  Sussex,  Kent,  Essex, 
Oxfordshire,  Cambridgeshire,  and  Suffolk.  As  regards 
Norfolk,  owing  to  the  careful  manner  in  which  the  orni¬ 
thology  of  that  county  has  been  worked  out  by  Mr.  H. 
Stevenson  and  others,  about  a  dozen  examples  are  on 
record :  all  in  winter  plumage.  There  is,  however,  an  example 
now  in  the  collection  of  the  British  Museum  to  which  espe¬ 
cial  interest  attaches  owing  to  its  being  a  male  in  breeding 
plumage,  and,  consequently,  an  exception  to  the  statement 
made  above  ;  but  Mr.  Stevenson’s  investigations  shew  that 
there  is  no  evidence  to  prove  that  it  was  killed  in  Norfolk, 
or  even  in  Britain  (Birds  of  Norfolk,  ii.  p.  48).  Proceeding 
northwards,  two  Little  Bustards  are  found  to  have  visited 
Lincolnshire ;  about  a  dozen  have  occurred  in  various  parts 
of  Yorkshire ;  a  few  in  Nottingham  and  other  Midland 
counties  f;  three  in  Northumberland;  and,  probably,  a 
good  many  others  in  counties  not  specially  enumerated 
here.  An  unusual  number  were  obtained  in  the  winter  of 
1874-75.  In  Scotland  four  examples  have  occurred:  all 

*  In  Fox’s  ‘Synopsis  ’  (p.  254),  H.  Mewburn  writes  from  St.  Grerman’s,  under 
date  of  7th  March,  1826,  that  in  July,  1816,  he  obtained  a  male,  which  he  sent 
to  Bewick  ;  but  nothing  is  said  of  its  plumage. 

|  A  male  and  a  female,  the  former  in  breeding  plumage,  purchased  at  the 
sale  of  the  late  Mr.  Footit,  are  now  in  the  collection  of  Mr.  J.  Whitaker,  of 
Rainworth  Lodge,  near  Mansfield.  It  might  be  assumed  that  these  are  the  two 
examples  which  were  shot  near  Newark-on-Trent  ;  but  Mr.  Footit  left  no  evi¬ 
dence  on  the  point. 


VOL.  III. 


F  F 


218 


OTIDIDiE. 


on  the  eastern  side  of  the  island ;  and  in  Ireland  two  were 
seen,  and  one  obtained  in  1888,  so  unusually  early  in  the 
year  as  the  23rd  August.  Altogether,  between  sixty  and 
seventy  have  been  recorded  in  the  British  Islands. 

On  the  Continent  the  Little  Bustard  is  only  a  straggler 
to  the  Northern,  and  even  to  many  of  the  Central,  districts, 
being  rare  in  localities  where  the  Great  Bustard  is  not 
unfrequent.  In  France,  however,  especially  in  the  district 
between  Chalons-sur-Marne  and  Troyes  in  the  province 
of  Champagne,  in  the  plains  of  the  Nivernais,  Berry,  and 
in  La  Vendee,  the  Little  Bustard  has  greatly  increased  in 
numbers  of  late  years.  It  arrives  there  in  small  flocks 
about  the  end  of  March  or  beginning  of  April,  at  which 
season  it  is  common  on  migration  over  a  much  larger  extent 
of  country,  and  takes  its  departure  in  September.  It  is 
abundant  in  those  portions  of  the  Spanish  Peninsula  where 
the  plains  are  somewhat  broken  and  undulating  in  character. 
In  Italy  it  is  principally  a  migrant,  but  it  is  resident  in 
some  parts  of  Sicily  and  Sardinia,  and  to  a  certain  extent  in 
Greece.  In  the  southern  part  of  Bussia,  and  on  the  plains 
of  the  Danube,  it  is  still  resident,  although  in  decreasing 
numbers,  owing  to  the  spread  of  cultivation.  Eastwards  it 
is  found  in  suitable  localities,  through  Asia  Minor  and 
Northern  Persia  to  Afghanistan  and  Baluchistan,  where  it 
is  said  to  breed  ;  and  thence,  crossing  the  Pamir  range,  to 
the  North-western  Provinces  of  India,  which  it  visits  with 
regularity  in  winter.  Beyond  the  Tian  Shan  range  it  has  not 
yet  been  traced.  On  the  southern  side  of  the  Mediterranean 
it  is  found  in  tolerable  abundance  in  Morocco,  and  in  Algeria 
north  of  the  Sahara,  where  it  is  known  by  the  name  of  “Poule 
de  Carthage”;  becoming  somewhat  rare  in  Lower  Egypt. 

The  male  assumes  his  breeding  plumage  in  April,  at 
which  time  he  selects  a  spot,  generally  about  three  feet  in 
diameter,  near,  or  upon  which,  he  passes  three  or  four  hours 
each  day.  He  may  be  seen  with  his  head  and  neck  thrown 
back,  wings  somewhat  extended  and  drooping,  his  tail  erect, 
pouring  forth  his  peculiar  cry  of  prut,  prut,  jumping  up  at 
the  conclusion  of  each  strain,  or  call,  and  striking  the  ground 


LITTLE  BUSTARD. 


219 


in  a  peculiar  manner  on  his  descent.*  At  this  season  his 
throat  is  said  to  become  dilated.  The  males  fight  for  the 
possession  of  the  females,  but  instead  of  uniting  in  flocks 
whilst  the  latter  are  incubating,  each  male  is  to  be  found  in 
the  vicinity  of  a  hen  :  that  is  to  say,  the  birds  are  in  pairs, 
which  looks  as  if  the  species  was  not  polygamous. 

The  nest  is  on  the  ground,  among  herbage  which  is  suffi¬ 
ciently  high  to  hide  the  bird ;  the  eggs,  three  to  four,  and 
rarely  five,  in  number,  are  of  a  very  glossy  olive-brown, 
clouded  with  darker  patches,  sometimes  zoned  with  rufous, 
and  occasionally  of  a  pale  greenish  ground-colour ;  they 
measure  about  1*95  by  1-5  in.  The  first  clutch  is  laid 
about  the  end  of  May,  and  a  second  is  frequently  produced 
in  the  latter  part  of  July. 

The  food  of  this  species  consists  of  herbs,  grain,  and 
insects ;  in  a  specimen  killed  at  Harwich,  the  body  of  which 
wTas  examined,  the  stomach  contained  parts  of  leaves  of  the 
white  turnip,  lungwort,  dandelion,  and  a  few  blades  of  grass. 
The  flesh  had  the  appearance  and  flavour  of  that  of  a  young 
hen  Pheasant.  The  young  eat  insects,  slugs,  and  small 
snails,  and  even  frogs  and  field-mice  with  avidity,  and  the 
diet  of  the  adult  is  by  no  means  exclusively  vegetable, 
although  necessarily  so  in  the  winter  season,  at  which  the 
birds  visit  this  country.  The  males  rise  with  a  loud  clatter 
of  wings,  but  the  females  sit  remarkably  close.  In  the 
autumn  the  birds  unite  and  form  large  flocks,  which  after¬ 
wards  break  up  into  smaller  parties. 

The  adult  male,  when  in  the  plumage  peculiar  to  the 
breeding-season,  has  the  beak  brown ;  the  irides  golden- 
yellow  ;  the  top  of  the  head  sandy-brown,  mottled  with 
black ;  cheeks,  ear-coverts,  the  front  and  sides  of  the  neck, 
bluisli-grey,  deepening  into  a  border  of  black  passing  to  the 
back  of  the  neck ;  below  this  a  narrow  white  ring  all  round 
the  neck,  and  below  this  a  broad  collar  and  gorget  of  black, 
followed  by  a  band  of  white  and  another  of  black  at  the 
bottom  of  the  neck  in  front ;  shoulders,  back,  scapulars, 

*  The  latter  portion  of  the  French  name  Ccinepetiere,  is  generally  supposed 
to  refer  to  this  peculiar  seasonal  note. 


220 


OTIDID/E. 


tertials,  and  upper  tail-coverts,  pale  cliestnut-brown,  streaked 
irregularly  with  numerous  narrow  lines  of  black ;  all  the 
wing-coverts,  and  the  base  of  the  primaries,  white,  the  distal 
half  of  the  primaries  greyish-black  ;  the  secondaries  patched 
with  black  and  white  ;  the  base  of  the  tail-feathers  white, 
the  ends  mottled  with  black  and  buffy-white,  crossed  with 
two  narrow  bars  of  black,  the  extreme  tips  white ;  the 
breast,  and  all  the  under  surface  of  the  body,  white  ;  legs, 
toes,  and  claws,  clay-brown.  The  total  length  is  about 
seventeen  inches.  From  the  carpal  joint  to  the  end  of  the 
wing,  nine  inches  and  three-quarters. 

The  males  that  are  killed  in  the  winter  half-year  have  the 
feathers  of  the  neck  of  sandy-brown  streaked  with  black, 
like  the  same  part  in  the  female,  which  does  not  change  with 
the  season. 

The  adult  female  is  of  the  same  size  as  the  male,  and  has 
the  head  and  neck  mottled  and  streaked  with  black  on  a 
ground  of  sandy-brown ;  the  chin  white ;  the  neck  below 
without  any  appearance  of  transverse  bars  at  any  season  ; 
the  wing-coverts  have  less  white  than  those  of  the  males ; 
the  white  feathers  on  the  breast,  sides,  and  flanks  are 
marked  with  short  transverse  bars  of  black.  Females  in 
other  respects  resemble  the  males.  In  recently  killed 
examples,  the  bases  of  the  feathers,  excepting  those  of  the 
head  and  neck,  are  frequently  suffused  with  a  delicate,  and 
evanescent,  rose  tint,  similar  to  that  which  has  been  men¬ 
tioned  as  occurring  in  the  previous  species. 

A  bird  in  down  obtained  in  the  department  of  Seine-et- 
Marne  has  the  upper  parts  fawn-coloured  with  broad  patches 
of  blackish-brown ;  from  the  base  of  the  bill  to  the  auricle 
a  reddish-brown  streak,  and  a  white  streak  from  the  bill  to 
the  eye ;  throat  and  upper  part  of  neck  pure  white,  with 
rusty  yellow  markings  so  disposed  as  to  indicate  faintly  the 
outlines  of  the  collar  and  gorget  afterwards  borne  by  the 
male  only ;  breast  and  abdomen  dull  white. 


macqueen's  bustard 


221 


A  LECTORIDES.  0T1  DID  JR. 


Otis  macqueeni,  J.  E.  Gray.* 
MACQUEEN’S  BUSTARD. 

Otis  Macqueeni. 

« 

The  interest  which  attaches  to  this  bird  is  greatly  en¬ 
hanced  by  its  being  added  to  the  list  of  European  species, 
and  to  the  Fauna  of  our  own  island;  a  fine  specimen,  in 
the  Museum  of  the  Philosophical  Society  at  York,  having 
been  shot  by  Mr.  G.  Hunsley  in  a  stubble-field  on  Kirton 

*  Illustrations  of  Indian  Zoology,  ii.  pi.  47  (1833-35). 


222 


otididj:. 


Cliff,  Kirton-in-Lindsey,  Lincolnshire,  on  the  7th  of  October, 
1847  (Zool.  pp.  1969,  2065,  2146).  This  is  the  only 
specimen  obtained  in  Great  Britain  down  to  the  present 
time. 

On  the  Continent  the  visits  of  this  Asiatic  bird  have 
been  more  frequent,  although  there  is  difficulty  in  identify¬ 
ing  some  of  the  earlier  occurrences,  owing  to  this  species 
having  been  formerly  confused  with  the  closely  allied  African 
representative  0.  undulata.  Modern  research,  wherever 
practicable,  renders  it,  however,  tolerably  certain  that  the 
five  “  Houbara  Bustards  ”  recorded  as  having  occurred  in 
Northern  Germany  between  the  years  1800  and  1847,  were 
all,  or  nearly  all,  examples  of  0.  macqueeni.  In  Belgium 
three  genuine  examples  of  this  species  have  been  obtained  : 
viz.,  one  in  September,  1842  ;  one  near  Louvain,  in  Decem¬ 
ber,  1844 ;  and  one  near  Brussels,  on  the  18th  December, 
1845.  In  February,  1847,  one  was  killed  on  the  Swedish 
island  of  Oeland ;  on  the  12tli  November,  1857,  an  adult 
female  was  shot,  out  of  a  flock  of  six  individuals,  near  Flens- 
burg,  in  Schleswig ;  in  December,  1860,  one  was  captured 
alive  in  the  district  of  Ilza,  in  Poland  ;  on  September  19th, 
1861,  one  was  obtained  near  Helsingfors,  in  Finland;  and 
recently,  one  was  shot  in  the  latter  part  of  September,  1880, 
in  Livonia  (Zool.  Garten,  1881,  p.  156).  In  Italy,  where  the 
African  form  might  rather  have  been  expected  to  occur,  two 
females  of  the  Asiatic  species  were  obtained  near  Borne,  in 
November  and  December,  1859,  and  are,  respectively,  in  the 
Museum  at  Florence  and  that  of  the  Lhhversity  of  Borne. 
These  examples  were  referred  to  0.  unclulata  by  Dr.  Salva- 
dori,  who  had  not  seen  them,  but  Professor  Giglioli  identifies 
them  with  the  Asiatic  bird  ;  and,  apparently,  the  rare  occur¬ 
rences  of  the  African  Buffed  Bustard  in  Europe  are  limited 
to  Malta  and  Southern  Spain. 

Captain  Hutton  states  that  Macqueen’s  Bustard  is  common, 
and  remains  all  the  year  on  the  stony  plains  of  Afghanistan, 
where  it  is  sometimes  seen  in  small  packs  of  five  or  six 
together.  It  flies  heavily,  and  for  short  distances,  soon 
alighting  and  running.  Severtzow  obtained  it  on  migration 


MACQUEEN’S  BUSTARD. 


223 


on  17th  September  in  the  Pamir  range,  and  it  appears  to  be 
resident  between  the  Caspian  and  Yarkand,  ranging  as  far  as 
the  Altai  range  to  the  north-east,  and  perhaps  to  Mongolia, 
as  both  Prjevalski  and  the  Abbe  David  observed  a  small 
species  of  Bustard,  which  they  were  unable  to  procure. 
Throughout  Persia  it  is  common  down  to  the  Gulf,  on  some 
of  the  islands  of  which  it  is  supposed  to  have  bred  ;  and  the 
highlands  of  Baluchistan  are  also  believed  to  be  its  breed¬ 
ing-grounds.  In  the  cold  season  it  straggles  as  far  as  the 
Jumna,  but  it  is  only  to  be  found  in  any  numbers  in  the 
sandy,  semi-desert  country  of  Sind,  especially  in  the  Sirsa 
and  Kurachee  districts,  in  the  latter  of  which  about  fifty 
have  been  known  to  fall  to  one  gun  in  a  single  day.  It  ap¬ 
pears  in  September,  and  leaves  again  in  March  or  April.* 
To  the  west  of  Persia  it  becomes  difficult  to  trace  the  range 
of  this  species,  for  De  Filippi,  who  brought  home  no  skins, 
affirms  that  it  is  the  African  form  which  occurs  in  Armenia, 
nor  did  Canon  Tristram  bring  back  specimens  of  the  Buffed 
Bustard  which  he  observed  in  Palestine. 

Mr.  Hume  states  that  he  has  never  remarked  any  pre¬ 
ponderance  of  females  over  males.  Macqueen’s  Bustard 
frequents  the  fields  which  yield  the  oil- seeds  of  commerce, 
and  feeds  largely  on  the  small  fruits  of  the  Ber,  the  berries 
of  the  Grevia,  and  the  young  shoots  of  the  lemon-grass  : 
occasionally  picking  up  a  grasshopper  or  a  beetle.  The 
specimen  killed  in  Lincolnshire  had  its  craw  filled  with 
caterpillars  of  the  Common  Yellow  Underwing  Moth,  small 
shelled  snails,  beetles,  &c. 

An  egg  of  this  species  obtained  by  the  collector  of  Herr 
Tancre,  in  the  Altai  range — presumably  on  the  elevated 
plains — is  in  the  collection  of  Mr.  IT.  Seebohm,  and  is 
figured  in  his  ‘  History  of  British  Birds,  with  Coloured 
Illustrations  of  their  Eggs,’  Pt.  II.  pi.  21.  It  is  of  a 
somewhat  olivaceous-brown  colour,  with  darker  blotches, 
and  measures  2’ 6  by  1*85  in. 

The  male  has  the  forehead,  sides  of  the  head,  upper  part  of 
the  back  of  the  neck,  pale  buff,  pencilled  with  black  ;  crest 
*  Hume  and  Marshall,  ‘Game  Birds  of  India,’  i,  pp.  17-21. 


224 


OTIDID/E. 


feathers  white  at  the  base,  and  black  for  the  remainder  of 
their  length ;  nape  and  base  of  the  neck,  whitish  ;  on  the 
sides  of  the  neck,  a  series  of  plumes  gradually  increasing  in 
length,  the  upper  two-thirds  of  which  are  black ;  of  the  re¬ 
mainder  some  are  white,  others  black,  and  some  both  black 
and  white ;  upper  surface  sandy-buff,  minutely  pencilled 
with  black,  the  pencillings  increasing  in  breadth  and  inten¬ 
sity  here  and  there  so  as  to  form  irregular  bars  across  the 
feathers,  these  darker  markings  becoming  larger  and  more 
conspicuous  as  they  proceed  posteriorly  ;  rump  without  these 
darker  pencillings ;  upper  tail-coverts  and  tail  similarly 
marked  and  crossed  by  bands  of  grey,  which  increase  in  size 
towards  the  tip ;  the  tail  is,  moreover,  washed  with  rufous, 
and  terminated  with  huffy- white  ;  wing-coverts  huffy-white, 
pencilled  with  black ;  first  five  primaries  white  at  the  base, 
and  black  for  the  remainder  of  their  length ;  the  other 
primaries  and  the  secondaries  black,  with  a  transverse  mark 
of  white  at  the  tip  ;  throat  white  ;  neck  and  breast  light 
grey ;  under  surface  of  the  wing  and  abdomen  white  ;  lower 
part  of  the  flanks  and  under  tail-coverts  white,  pencilled  and 
barred  with  blackish-brown  ;  irides  yellow ;  bill  blackish- 
horny,  except  at  the  base,  which  is  yellowish  ;  legs  greenish- 
yellow. 

The  female  is  a  little  lighter  in  colour,  and  has  the 
crest  and  ruff  less  developed  than  the  male.  The  basal 
portion  of  most  of  the  body  feathers  is  suffused  with  a 
vinaceous  tint,  similar  to  that  already  noticed  in  the  Great 
and  the  Little  Bustards.  Total  length  of  either  sex  about 
twenty-six  inches  ;  from  the  carpal  joint  to  the  end  of  the 
wing  fifteen  and  a  half  inches. 

The  figure  here  given  represents  the  male  bird  in  his 
breeding  plumage,  and  is  taken,  by  permission,  from  Mr. 
Gould’s  ‘  Birds  of  Asia.’ 

In  the  African  0.  undulata,  the  ground-colour  of  the 
upper  parts  is  more  rufous,  the  vermiculations  are  much 
coarser,  the  tail  is  broadly  crossed  with  five  bars  of  bluisli- 
grey,  and  the  elongated  feathers  of  the  crest,  and  on  the 
lower  throat,  are  white. 


STONE-CURLEW 


225 


L1MICOLE.  (ED1CNEMIDE. 


(Edicnemus  scolopax  (S.  G.  Gmelin*). 
THE  STONE-CURLEW, 


THICKNEE,  OR  NORFOLK  PLOVER. 

(Edicnemus  crepitans. 

(Edicnemus,  Temminchf. — Beak  stout,  strong,  and  straight,  a  little  depressed 
at  the  base  ;  ridge  of  the  upper  mandible  elevated,  under  mandible  with  an 
angle  at  the  symphisis.  Nostrils  placed  in  the  middle  of  the  beak,  extending 

*  Charadrius  scolopax ,  S.  G.  Gmelin,  Reise  Russland,  iii.  p.  87,  pi.  xvi. 
(1774). 

t  Manuel  d’ornithologie,  p.  322  (1815).  The  name  (Edicnemus ,  from  oidos 
a  swelling,  and  nvtjfxr]  leg,  was  first  applied  by  Pierre  Belon,  ‘L’histoire  de 
la  nature  des  oyseaux,’  p.  240  (1555).  Temminck  adopted  it  as  a  generic  term, 
adding  the  specific  designation  crepitans,  which  is  both  inappropriate,  and  con¬ 
siderably  antedated  by  an  excellent  description  and  illustration. 

VOL.  III. 


G  G 


226 


CEDICNEMULE. 


longitudinally  as  far  forward  as  the  horny  portion,  open  in  front,  pervious. 
Legs  long,  slender  ;  three  toes  only,  directed  forwards,  united  by  a  membrane 
as  far  as  the  second  articulation.  Wings  moderate  ;  second  quill-feather  the 
longest  in  the  wing.  Tail  graduated. 


The  Stone-Curlew,  Thicknee,  or  Norfolk  Plover, 
names  referring  to  qualities  or  habits  in  this  species,  is  a 
summer  visitor  to  this  country,  arriving  here  in  April,  and 
leaving  again  at  the  end  of  September  or  in  October,  and, 
like  other  summer  visitors,  coming  to  us  from  the  south. 
It  is  essentially  a  lover  of  dry  and  uncultivated  lands  during 
the  breeding-season,  and  although  it  occurs  as  a  straggler 
on  migration  in  a  good  many  counties  of  England,  a  glance 
at  a  geological  map  will  shew  that  its  general  distribution 
in  this  country  coincides  broadly  with  that  of  the  cretaceous 
formation,  the  chalk  downs  being  especially  suited  to  its 
habits.  In  Cornwall,  according  to  the  late  E.  H.  Rodd,  the 
Stone- Curlew  is  only  a  winter  visitant,  and  it  would  appear 
that,  from  the  mildness  of  the  climate,  that  south-western 
county  forms  the  northern  boundary  of  the  winter  quarters 
of  the  species.  The  same  probably  holds  good  of  Devonshire, 
where  Montagu  records  an  occurrence  so  early  as  February 
in  the  year  1807  ;  and  also  of  Somersetshire,  where  it  is 
very  rare.  On  entering  upon  the  chalk  downs  of  Dorsetshire 
it  is  to  he  found  breeding  regularly  ;  also,  subject  to  the 
hostile  influences  of  enclosure  and  cultivation,  in  Wiltshire  ; 
Hampshire  (visiting  the  Isle  of  Wight  on  passage  and  in 
winter) ;  Sussex ;  Kent,  especially  on  the  hills  above  Rom¬ 
ney  Marsh ;  Berkshire,  Oxford  and  Bucks,  straggling  into 
Middlesex  ;  Bedfordshire  and  Hertfordshire,  notably  on  the 
chalk  hills  about  Tring  ;  and  so  on,  through  Cambridgeshire, 
to  Suffolk  and  Norfolk,  where  it  finds  the  conditions  more 
congenial  than  anywhere  else  in  these  islands.  On  either 
side  of  these  main  lines  the  Stone-Curlew  appears  to  be  a 
straggler  ;  but  it  is  found  breeding  in  small  numbers  in 
Rutland  and  Nottingham,  and  the  late  E.  Blyth  obtained  its 
young  in  Worcestershire.  It  is  still  found  on  the  Wolds  of 
Lincolnshire,  and  across  the  Humber  it  continues  to  breed, 
although  in  decreasing  numbers,  in  a  few  localities  in  the 


STONE-CURLEW. 


227 


East  Riding,  but  to  West  Yorkshire  it  is  only  a  straggler  ; 
and  in  Lancashire,  Cheshire,  and  Wales  its  occurrence  is 
very  rare,  if  not  absolutely  unknown.  North  of  Yorkshire 
a  specimen  of  the  Stone-Curlew  was  obtained  in  February, 
1864,  near  South  Shields;  and  another,  killed  on  the  27th 
January,  1858,  near  St.  Andrew’s,  Fife,  is  in  the  Museum 
of  that  University.  In  Ireland  only  three  authenticated 
occurrences — all  of  them  in  winter — are  enumerated  by 
Thompson,  and  since  he  wrote  about  as  many  more  have 
been  recorded. 

At  the  present  day  the  headquarters  of  the  Stone- Curlew 
are  upon  the  open  ‘  brecks  ’  and  warrens  of  Norfolk  and 
Suffolk.  The  late  J.  D.  Hoy,  in  a  letter  to  the  Author,  says, 
“  there  is  no  part  of  England  where  the  Gaelic nemus  crepi¬ 
tans  so  abounds  as  upon  the  sandy  plains  of  Norfolk ;  great 
numbers  have  been  caught  in  most  seasons  by  the  Sub¬ 
scription  Heron  Hawks  at  Didlington  Hall,  Norfolk  ;  they 
have  been  known  to  take  refuge  in  a  rabbit  burrow  when 
pursued  by  the  Hawk.” 

The  late  J.  D.  Salmon,  then  of  Thetford,  says  of  this 
species,  “  that  it  is  very  numerously  distributed  over  all 
our  warrens  and  fallow  lands  during  the  hreeding-season, 
which  commences  about  the  second  week  in  April,  the 
female  depositing  its  pair  of  eggs  upon  the  hare  ground, 
without  any  nest  whatever ;  it  is  generally  supposed  that 
the  males  take  no  part  in  the  labour  of  incubation  ;  this  I 
suspect  is  not  the  case  :  wishing  to  procure  for  a  friend,  a 
few  specimens  in  their  breeding  plumage,  I  employed  a  boy 
to  take  them  for  me  ;  this  he  did  by  ensnaring  them  on  the 
nest,  and  the  result  was  that  all  those  he  caught  during  the 
day  proved,  upon  dissection,  to  be  males.  They  assemble 
in  flocks  previous  to  their  departure,  which  is  usually  by 
the  end  of  October  ;  but  should  the  weather  continue  open, 
a  few  will  remain  to  a  much  later  period  ;  I  started  one  as 
late  as  the  9tli  of  December,  in  the  autumn  of  1884.” 

These  birds  are  usually  seen  in  unenclosed  countries  or 
where  the  fields  are  large,  and  they  frequent  sheep-walks, 
fallow  lands,  heaths,  and  warrens.  The  late  Mr.  Lubbock 


228 


GEDICNEMIDiE. 


mentions  their  partiality  for  new  plantations  made  in  the 
open  country,  on  the  improved  plan  of  double-trenching  the 
soil.  The  loosened  ground  affords  better  means  of  obtaining 
worms  and  beetles,  and  the  birds  appear  particularly  to 
delight  in  the  partial  concealment  which  the  young  trees 
afford  in  the  first  year  or  two.  When  the  trees  attain  any 
size  the  attraction  generally  ceases,  but  Professor  Newton 
states  that  a  pair  of  birds  resorted  to  a  spot  in  the  warren- 
covert  at  Elveden,  which  extends  over  more  than  three 
hundred  acres,  long  after  it  had  become  the  centre  of  a 
flourishing  wood.'1'  The  eggs,  generally  two  in  number,  are 
deposited  on  the  bare  ground  ;  they  are  pale  clay-brown, 
blotched,  spotted,  and  streaked  with  asli-blue  and  dark 
brown;  measuring  about  2*1  by  1*5  in.  So  closely  do  these 
eggs,  and  also  the  chicks  in  their  downy  covering,  assimilate 
in  colour  with  the  soil  and  the  stones  around  them,  that 
they  are  both  very  difficult  to  find.  Eggs  have  been  observed 
as  late  as  September. 

The  large  and  prominent  eye  in  this  species  indicates  a 
bird  that  moves  and  feeds  by  twilight  or  later.  Their  food 
is  worms,  slugs,  and  insects  ;  they  also  devour  small 
mammals,  and  especially  field-mice  and  reptiles.  The  late 
Mr.  Newcome  told  Mr.  Stevenson  that  the  warreners  found 
frogs  which  had  been  disgorged  by  the  Stone- Curlews  when 
caught  in  traps.  Mr.  Selby  and  the  Eev.  L.  Jenyns  found 
the  remains  of  large  coleopterous  insects,  of  the  genus 
Cardbus,  in  the  stomach  of  this  species  ;  and  these  beetles, 
it  will  be  recollected,  do  not  begin  to  move  about  till  the 
close  of  day.  Its  cry  is  loud  and  clear,  and  on  moonlight 
nights  especially  it  is  frequent. 

Denmark,  to  which  it  is  a  rare  straggler,  appears  to  be 
the  northern  limit  of  the  Stone- Curlew,  but  throughout 
the  greater  part  of  the  European  Continent  it  is  generally 
distributed  where  the  conditions  of  existence  are  favourable, 
and  in  the  south  it  is  to  a  great  extent  a  resident  through¬ 
out  the  year,  on  both  sides,  and  in  many  of  the  islands  of 
the  Mediterranean.  In  the  Canaries  also  it  has  been  found 

*  Stevenson,  ‘Birds  of  Norfolk,’  ii.  p.  55. 


STONE-CURLEW. 


229 


breeding,  and  it  visits  Madeira.  Passing  eastward,  it  is 
found  plentifully  in  Egypt,  where  Mr.  J.  H.  Gurney,  Junr., 
observed  it  perching  on  the  roof  of  an  old  building  at 
Damietta ;  and  Yon  Heuglin  states  that  it  is  resident  as  far 
south  as  Assouan,  and  the  coasts  of  the  Red  Sea.  In  the 
Somali  country  our  Stone-Curlew  is  represented  by  CE.  affinis, 
Riipp.,  a  form  which  is  very  closely  related  to  a  widely  dis¬ 
tributed  South  African  species,  CE.  capensis.  The  range  of 
the  Palsearctic  species  may  be  traced  through  Asia  Minor, 
Turkestan,  Persia,  and  Sind,  in  all  of  which  it  breeds,  down 
to  Ceylon,  where  it  is  found  in  sandy  districts  throughout 
the  year,  and  so  far  deviates  from  its  northern  habits  as  to 
be  found  in  the  cinnamon  gardens,  as  mentioned  by  Mr. 
Holdsworth.  As  a  rule  eggs  laid  in  these  southern  coun¬ 
tries,  on  arid  soils,  are  characterized  by  their  pale  sandy 
colour,  and  in  ’a  series  they  are  smaller  than  northern 
examples.  Burmali  appears  to  be  its  limit  in  South¬ 
eastern  Asia. 

Only  the  present  species  of  Stone -Curlew  is  known  in 
the  Palsearctic  region,  but  there  are  four  other  species  or 
representative  forms  in  Africa.  In  America  CE.  bistriatus 
ranges  from  Southern  Mexico  to  Guiana  :  a  distinct  form, 
CE.  super ciliar is,  occurring  in  the  Peruvian  Andes  ;  and  in 
Australia  the  genus  is  represented  by  CE.  grallarius. 

In  the  adult  bird,  the  beak  is  black  at  the  point,  the  base 
greenish-yellow  ;  the  irides  golden-yellow  ;  the  top  of  the 
head  and  back  of  the  neck  pale  wood-brown,  each  feather 
with  a  streak  of  black  in  the  centre ;  from  the  base  of  the 
upper  mandible  a  light-coloured  streak  passes  backward 
under  the  eye  to  the  ear-coverts  ;  from  the  base  of  the  lower 
mandible  a  brown  streak  passes  below  the  light-coloured  one 
to  the  ends  of  the  ear-coverts  ;  the  feathers  of  the  back, 
wing-coverts,  tertials,  and  upper  tail-coverts,  pale  brown, 
each  feather  with  a  dark  brownish-black  longitudinal  streak 
in  the  line  of  the  shaft ;  wing-primaries  almost  black,  the 
first  and  second  with  a  white  patch  towards  the  end  ;  the 
tail-feathers  with  the  basal  halves  mottled  with  two  shades 
of  brown,  the  third  portion  white,  the  ends  black ;  the  out- 


230 


cedicnemidj:. 


side  tail-feathers  shorter  than  those  in  the  middle.  The 
chin  and  throat  white ;  the  neck  and  breast  pale  hrownisli- 
wliite,  each  feather  streaked  along  the  centre  with  blackish- 
brown  ;  belly,  sides,  and  flanks  almost  white,  with  long 
narrow  longitudinal  streaks  ;  vent  and  under  tail-coverts 
buffy-white,  without  streaks ;  legs  and  toes  yellow  ;  the 
claws  almost  black. 

The  whole  length  is  seventeen  inches.  The  wing  from 
the  carpal  joint  to  the  end,  nine  inches  and  three-quarters  ; 
the  first  and  second  quill-feathers  nearly  equal  in  length, 
and  the  longest  in  the  wing. 

The  plumage  in  the  two  sexes  is  nearly  similar. 

In  young  birds  the  markings  of  the  plumage  are  less 
distinct,  and  the  oedematous  swelling  at  the  joints,  which 
has  originated  the  name  Thicknee,  is*  then  apparent,  but 
afterwards  disappears.  In  the  nestling  the  upper  parts  are 
stone-buff  with  brown  lines  ;  a  dark  stripe  down  the  centre 
of  the  crown,  and  similar  stripes  from  the  neck  to  the  rump 
and  along  the  sides ;  under  parts  pale  buff ;  legs  bluish-grey. 

The  breast-bone  of  this  species  is  here  figured. 


COLLARED  PRATINCOLE 


231 


LIMICOLJE.  GLAREOLIBJE. 


Glareola  pratincola  (Linnaeus*). 
THE  COLLARED  PRATINCOLE. 

Glareola  torquata. 


Glareola,  Brisson +. — Beak  short,  convex,  compressed  towards  the  point, 
the  upper  mandible  curved  throughout  the  distal  half  of  its  length.  Nostrils 
basal,  lateral,  pierced  obliquely.  Legs  bare  for  a  short  space  above  the  tarsal 
joint ;  long  and  rather  slender  ;  three  toes  in  front,  one  behind  ;  the  middle  toe 
united  by  a  short  membrane  to  the  outer  toe  ;  the  inner  toe  free  ;  the  hind  toe 
articulated  upon  the  tarsus;  claws  long  and  subulate.  Wings  very  long,  the  first 
quill-feather  the  longest. 

The  Pratincole  is  an  inhabitant  of  the  temperate  and 
warmer  parts  of  Europe,  Africa,  and  Asia,  and  occurs  in 
the  British  Islands  as  a  rare  straggler.  The  earliest  record 
is  perhaps  hy  Graves,  who  says  that  one  was  taken  at  Bold¬ 
ness,  in  Cumberland,  in  1807  ;  one  in  September,  1811, 
near  Truro,  in  Cornwall ;  and  one  on  Eude-waters,  in  Surrey, 
prior  to  1812. j  He  gives  a  coloured  illustration,  for  which 
he  says  he  is  indebted  to  Mr.  J.  Bullock,  of  the  London 

*  Hirundo  Pratincola,  Linnaeus,  Syst.  Nat.  Ed.  12,  i.  p.  345  (1766). 
t  Ornithologie,  v.  p.  141  (1760). 
t  British  Ornithology,  ii. ,  not  paged  (1813). 


232 


GLARE0LID2E. 


Museum,  of  a  specimen  which  was  shot  near  Ormskirk,  in 
Lancashire  :  in  October,  1809,  according  to  Graves,  hut 
respecting  this  and  another  example,  Bullock  himself 
writes  as  follows  (Trans.  Linn.  Soc.  xi.  p.  177)  : — 

“  The  first  instance  of  this  bird  having  been  killed  in 
Britain  occurred  in  1807,  when  one  was  shot  in  the  neigh¬ 
bourhood  of  Ormskirk,  in  Lancashire  :  it  was  preserved  by 
Mr.  J.  Sherlock,  of  that  place,  from  whom  I  purchased  it 
a  few  days  afterwards.*  On  the  16th  of  August  last  [1812] 

I  killed  another  specimen  of  this  bird  in  the  Isle  of  Unst, 
about  three  miles  from  the  northern  extremity  of  Britain. 
When  I  first  discovered  it,  it  rose  within  a  few  feet  and  flew 
round  me  in  the  manner  of  a  Swallow,  and  then  alighted 
close  to  the  head  of  a  cow  that  was  tethered  within  ten 
yards’  distance.  After  examining  it  a  few  minutes,  I 
returned  to  the  house  of  T.  Edmondson,  Esq.,  for  my  gun, 
and,  accompanied  by  that  gentleman’s  brother,  went  in 
search  of  it.  After  a  short  time  it  came  out  of  some 
growing  corn,  and  was  catching  insects  at  the  time  I  fired ; 
and,  being  only  wounded  in  the  wing,  we  had  an  oppor¬ 
tunity  of  examining  it  alive.  In  the  form  of  its  bill,  wings, 
and  tail,  as  well  as  its  mode  of  flight,  it  greatly  resembles 
the  genus  Hirundo ;  but,  contrary  to  the  whole  of  this 
family,  the  legs  were  long,  and  hare  above  the  knee,  agree¬ 
ing  with  Tringa ;  and,  like  the  Sandpipers,  it  ran  with  the 
greatest  rapidity  when  on  the  ground,  or  in  shallow  water, 
in  pursuit  of  its  food,  which  was  wholly  of  flies,  of  which 
its  stomach  was  full.  It  was  a  male,  and  weighed  2  oz. 

II  dwt.” 

The  bird  killed  near  Ormskirk  was  in  the  collection  of 
the  late  Earl  of  Derby.  The  other  remained  in  Mr.  Bul¬ 
lock’s  possession  till  the  sale  of  the  contents  of  his  museum 
in  1819  ;  when  the  Author  finds,  by  a  reference  to  his 
priced  catalogue,  that  this  specimen  from  Shetland  produced 
T8.  8s.,  and  was  transferred  to  the  British  Museum. 

Mr.  Joseph  Clarke,  of  Saffron  Walden,  sent  word  to  the 

*  Montagu,  apparently  alluding  to  the  same  specimen,  states  that  it  was 
shot  on  18th  May,  1804  ! 


COLLARED  PRATINCOLE. 


233 


Author  that  a  pair  of  Pratincoles  was  shot  on  the  Breydon- 
wall,  near  Yarmouth,  in  May,  1827,  by  John  Bessey,  a  fisher¬ 
man,  and  sold  to  Isaac  Harvey,  a  bird-preserver,  who  re-sold 
them  for  <£7.  The  occurrence  and  capture  of  this  pair  of 
Pratincoles  is  mentioned  in  the  Messrs.  Pagets’  *  Sketch  of 
the  Natural  History  of  Yarmouth  and  its  Neighbourhood  ’ 
(p.  10).  In  May,  1840,  another  was  shot  upon  the  shore 
of  the  harbour  of  Blakeney,  in  Norfolk,  by  Henry  Overton,  a 
fowler,  and  passed  into  the  possession  of  Mr.  John  Sparham, 
by  whom  it  was  presented  to  Mr.  Henry  Rogers,  solicitor,  at 
Thetford,  and  afterwards  became  the  property  of  Mr.  New- 
come,  of  Feltwell  Hall,  who  subsequently  obtained  another 
shot  in  his  neighbourhood  during  the  first  week  of  June, 
1868  (Zool.  s.s.  p.  1492). 

From  Mr.  F.  Holme,  the  Author  learned  that  a  Pratin¬ 
cole  was  shot  by  Mr.  Frederick  Oats,  of  Branston  Hall, 
near  Lincoln,  on  the  15th  of  August,  1827. 

The  Rev.  Leonard  Jenyns  sent  notice  of  a  Pratincole  shot 
in  Wilbraham  Fen,  Cambridgeshire,  on  21st  June,  1835, 
which  passed  into  the  collection  of  Mr.  J.  T.  Martin,  of  Quy 
Hall,  in  that  county. 

In  the  middle  of  November,  1842,  a  specimen  of  this  rare 
bird  was  shot  by  Mr.  Hussey,  at  Tilshead,  in  the  bleakest 
part  of  Salisbury  Plain,  and  is  now  in  the  collection  of  the 
Rev.  A.  C.  Smith,  at  Yatesbury  Rectory,  Caine,  Wilts. 

In  May,  1844,  one  was  shot  on  Staxton  Wold,  near 
Scarborough,  in  company  with  a  flight  or  ‘  trip  ’  of  Dotterel, 
as  recorded  by  the  late  Sir  William  Milner,  Bart.  (Zool. 
p.  2023)  ;  one  now  in  the  collection  of  Mr.  J.  H,  Gurney, 
Junr.,  was  said  to  have  been  shot  at  Bridlington,  in  the 
same  county,  in  February,  1850;*  and  a  third,  obtained 
near  Whitby,  in  October,  1871,  is  in  the  Museum  of  that 
town. 

On  the  7th  September,  1851,  a  pair  was  observed  on  a 
sand-bank  at  the  mouth  of  the  river  Exe,  where  their  move- 

*  This  example  was  originally  assigned  to  Bedlington,  in  Northumberland, 
but  this  is  admitted  to  be  an  error :  cf.  Hancock,  N.  H.  Trans.  Northumb.  and 
Durham,  vi.  p.  96,  note. 


VOL.  III. 


H  H 


234 


GLAREOLIDtE. 


ments  on  the  sand  very  much  resembled  those  of  the  Kinged 
Plover  (Zool.  p.  3710) ;  and  the  late  Mr.  Koss  informed 
Mr.  Gatcombe  that  he  once  saw  two  on  the  Warren  Sands, 
near  Exmouth  (Rowe’s  B.  of  Devon,  p.  32).  Mr.  J.  C. 
Mansell-Pleydell  states  (B.  of  Dorset,  p.  25)  that  one  which 
is  in  the  collection  of  Viscount  Portman  was  shot  at  Bryan- 
ston,  on  the  banks  of  the  Stour,  some  years  ago ;  and  he 
mentions  two  others  as  having  been  seen  in  the  county. 

In  October,  1864,  a  maimed  or  weary  bird  was  knocked 
over  with  shingle  on  the  beach  of  Stokes  Bay,  near  Gosport 
(Zool.  s.s.  p.  2944).  In  June,  1874,  the  late  E.  H.  Kodd 
obtained  a  male  Pratincole  in  the  flesh,  which  had  been  shot 
when  apparently  hawking  for  insects  over  a  pool  on  the 
Lizard  downs  (Zool.  s.s.  p.  4077)  ;  and  Mr.  E.  C.  Phillips 
states  that  one  was  observed  some  time  since  by  two  com¬ 
petent  observers  near  Hay,  in  Breconshire  (Zool.  1882, 
p.  213).  An  example  is  cited  by  the  Rev.  M.  A.  Mathew 
(Zool.  1881,  p.  309)  as  having  been  killed  on  the  Mendips, 
in  Somersetshire  ;  and  there  are  probably  several  unrecorded 
specimens  in  existence. 

In  Ireland  a  Pratincole  is  stated  to  have  been  shot  by  the 
Rev.  Joseph  Stopford,  at  Castlefreke,  Co.  Cork,  in  the 
month  of  October,  a  few  years  previous  to  1843,  but  the 
specimen  was  not  preserved.* 

The  Pratincole  is  only  a  straggler  to  Denmark,  German}^, 
Belgium,  and  the  northern  portion  of  France,  but  in  the 
south-eastern  districts  of  the  latter  country  it  breeds, 
especially  in  the  Gard.  In  Savoy  and  Switzerland  it  is  only 
a  rare  visitant,  but  along  the  coast  of  Italy,  where  it  is 
known  as  the  Pernice  di  mare,  it  is  a  tolerably  regular 
migrant  of  short  stay ;  and  in  Sicily  it  is  to  a  certain  extent 
resident,  breeding  abundantly  in  the  southern  districts.  In 
the  Spanish  Peninsula  it  is  very  numerous  in  suitable  locali¬ 
ties,  such  as  are  afforded  by  the  great  plains  or  marisma 
along  the  Guadalquivir,  where  it  breeds  in  hundreds.  It 
also  breeds  in  the  Balearic  Islands,  but  in  Sardinia  it 
appears  to  be  a  somewhat  irregular  visitant,  and  in  Malta 

*  J.  R.  Harvey,  ‘Fauna  of  Cork,’  p.  11  (1843). 


COLLARED  PRATINCOLE. 


235 


Mr.  C.  A.  Wright  found  it  only  as  a  migrant.  In  Greece 
and  the  neighbouring  islands  it  is  most  numerous  in  winter, 
and  on  passage,  hut  Mr.  H.  Seebohm  found  it  breeding  on 
the  islands  of  the  Lagoons  of  Missolonghi.  He  also  found 
it  breeding  near  Smyrna,  as  Canon  Tristram  did  in  Pales¬ 
tine;  hut  along  the  eastern  side  of  the  Black  Sea,  in  Turkey, 
and  Southern  Russia,  and  up  to  56°  N.  lat.  in  the  latter, 
this  species  appears  to  he  replaced  by  a  closely  allied  form, 
Glareola  melanoptera,  which  is  rather  darker,  and  has  the 
under  wing-coverts  and  axillaries  black,  instead  of  chestnut- 
red.  Both  were  obtained  by  Dr.  Finsch  at  Ala-Kul,  in 
South-western  Siberia  ;  hut  in  Turkestan  Severtzoff  found 
G.  pratincola  and  a  form  intermediate  between  it  and  G. 
melanoptera,  which  he  identifies  with  G.  limbata ,  Brehm. 

In  Morocco  the  Pratincole  is  now  well  known  as  a 
common  species,  hut  when  the  former  Editions  of  this  work 
were  published,  great  store  was  set  upon  two  skins  and  an 
egg  of  what  was,  then,  an  exceedingly  rare  bird,  obtained  by 
Colonel  Drummond-Hay  near  Tangiers,  and  presented  to 
the  Zoological  Society.  In  Algeria  it  breeds  in  abundance, 
and  it  is  numerous  in  Egypt,  from  whence  it  can  be  traced 
to  Abyssinia,  and  as  far  as  Natal  on  the  one  side ;  and 
Damara-land  on  the  west ;  but  the  common  form  in  winter 
in  South  Africa  appears  to  he  G.  melanoptera.  In  Persia 
Mr.  W.  T.  Blanford  obtained  our  species,  which  breeds  in 
Sind,  and  also  occurs  sparingly  in  the  northern  parts  of 
India,  but  throughout  the  central  and  southern  districts  of 
that  country,  South-eastern  Asia,  and  Malaysia,  down  to 
Australia,  the  prevailing  and  representative  form  is  G.  ori- 
entalis,  which  is  smaller,  has  a  less  forked  tail,  and  lacks  the 
white  tips  to  the  secondaries.  The  latter  race  was  the  only 
one  found  by  the  Abbe  David  in  Mongolia,  and,  according 
to  Taczanowski,  by  Radde  on  the  Argun.  The  family 
Glareolidce  is  restricted  to  the  Old  World. 

Before  having  had  an  opportunity  of  examining  a  speci¬ 
men,  Linnaeus  had  classed  the  Pratincole  with  the  Swal¬ 
lows  in  the  genus  Hirundo ;  but  when  he  had  received  one 
sent  by  the  Rev.  John  White  from  Gibraltar,  he  writes 


236 


GLAREOLIDiE. 


from  Upsala,  under  date  of  3rd  July,  1774  : — “  Pratin- 
colam  antea  non  yidi ;  ad  Grallas  spectat,  et  proprii  generis 
est.”  Sundevall  placed  it  among  the  Caprimulgidce ,  but 
no  other  recent  systematist  of  any  note  has  removed  it 
from  the  Plovers,  to  which  it  has  strong  affinities.  In  its 
flight  it  is  also  very  Tern-like,  especially  when  hovering 
with  extended  wings  ;  hut  when  on  the  ground  it  runs  with 
a  great  rapidity.  The  note  when  the  breeding-grounds  are 
invaded  is  a  shrill  kia,  kia,  kiaia,  and  the  birds  are  very 
fearless,  swooping  close  to  the  intruder’s  head:  then,  after 
settling  on  the  ground  for  a  time,  they  recommence  their 
evolutions ;  hut  they  have  also  a  way  of  cowering  over  the 
ground  with  extended  wings  which  by  no  means  indicates 
the  proximity  of  eggs  or  young.  The  eggs,  which  in  Spain 
may  he  found  from  the  beginning  of  May,  although  later  in 
some  other  localities,  are  frequently  only  two,  hut  sometimes 
three  in  number,  and  are  deposited  with  their  axes  parallel 
upon  the  dry  mud.  The  shell  is  thin  ;  the  form  very  oval ; 
the  ground-colour  of  a  huff  or  grey,  mottled  with  spots  of 
dark  brown,  sometimes  in  the  form  of  an  irregular  zone, 
and  measuring  about  1*15  by  *9  in.  In  one  instance  Mr. 
Seebohm  found  a  clutch  of  four  eggs,  but  the  case  is  quite 
exceptional ;  and  the  fourth  egg  was  probably  the  produce 
of  another  female.  The  young,  specimens  of  which  were 
obtained  by  Lord  Lilford,  and  figured  in  Gould’s  ‘  Birds  of 
Great  Britain/  run  as  soon  as  they  leave  the  egg ;  they  are 
white  on  the  under  parts,  and  clove-brown,  with  slight 
mottlings,  on  the  upper.  The  food  of  this  species  is  gene¬ 
rally  obtained  on  the  wing,  although  sometimes  on  the 
ground,  and  consists  of  insects :  especially  beetles,  grass¬ 
hoppers,  and  locusts. 

The  beak  is  curved,  and  almost  black,  and,  in  the  living 
bird,  the  edges  of  both  mandibles,  and  the  base  of  the  lower 
one,  are  bright  scarlet-orange ;  the  irides  light  brown ; 
the  head,  hind-neck,  back,  scapulars,  wing-coverts,  and 
tertials,  nearly  uniform  clove-brown ;  primaries  nearly 
black ;  upper  tail-coverts  white  ;  tail  very  much  forked,  the 
feathers  white  at  the  base,  the  other  part  dark  brownish- 


COLLARED  PRATINCOLE. 


237 


black  :  the  outer  feather  on  each  side  as  long  again  as  those 
in  the  middle  ;  the  chin  white  ;  the  throat  pale  buff,  with  a 
crescentic  line  of  black  ascending  to  each  eye ;  breast 
brownish-buff ;  belly,  thighs,  and  under  tail-coverts,  huffish  - 
wliite ;  axillaries  and  under  wing- coverts  ruddy  chestnut ; 
the  legs  reddish  purple-brown. 

In  the  young  bird  the  clove-brown  feathers  of  the  back, 
and  the  wing-coverts,  secondaries  and  tertials,  have  pale 
rufous  margins  ;  the  tail-feathers  are  shorter,  and  much 
less  forked  ;  throat  pale  brown,  the  crescentic  collar  indi¬ 
cated  by  dark  brown  spots ;  breast  varied  with  two  shades 
of  brown  ;  belly,  and  under  surface  of  the  body,  and  tail- 
feathers,  greyish- white. 

Females  resemble  the  males.  The  whole  length  of  an 
adult  bird  is  ten  and  a  half  inches.  From  the  carpal  joint 
to  the  end  of  the  first  quill-featlier,  seven  and  a  half  inches. 

The  outline  below  represents  the  breast-bone  of  the 
Pratincole,  and,  in  the  double  emargination  on  each  side  of 
the  keel,  it  will  be  found  to  resemble  the  breast-bones  of  the 
Bustards  and  Plovers. 


238 


CHARADRIIDiE. 


LI  MI  CO  LJI  CHA  RA  DRIIDjE. 


Cursorius  gallicus  (G-melin*). 
THE  CREAM-COLOURED  COURSER. 
Cursorius  Europcens. 


Cursorius,  Latham-f .  — Beak  a  trifle  shorter  than  the  head,  straight  to  the 
end  of  the  nasal  sinus,  then  decurved  to  the  tip,  which  is  pointed.  Nostrils 
oval.  Tarsi  long  and  slender  ;  toes,  three  only,  all  in  front,  middle  toe  almost 
as  long  again  as  the  lateral  toes.  Wings  long,  rather  pointed  ;  the  first  and 
second  quill-feathers  the  longest  in  the  wing. 

The  Cream-coloured  Courser  was  first  described  by 
Buffon  from  a  specimen  killed  in  France,  and  to  this  cir¬ 
cumstance  it  owes  its  specific  name  ;  but  neither  to  France, 
nor  indeed  to  any  of  the  countries  north  of  the  Mediter¬ 
ranean,  can  the  bird  be  considered  as  otherwise  than  an 
irregular  visitant,  although  it  is  naturally  more  frequent  in 
Southern  than  in  Northern  Europe. 

*  Char adrius  gallicus,  Gmelin,  Syst.  Nat.  i.  p.  692  (1788). 
t  Ind.  Ora.  ii.  p.  751  (1790). 


CREAM-COLOURED  COURSER. 


239 


The  earliest  occurrence  on  record  of  the  Cream-coloured 
Courser  in  England  appears  to  be  that  of  the  specimen  shot 
in  1785  by  William  Hammond,  Esq.,  of  St.  Alban’s  Court, 
near  Wingham,  in  East  Kent,  who  presented  the  specimen 
to  Latham,  with  the  following  account: — “He  first  met 
with  it,  running  upon  some  light  land  ;  and  so  little  fearful 
wras  it,  that  after  he  had  sent  for  a  gun,  one  was  brought  to 
him,  which  having  been  charged  some  time,  did  not  readily 
go  off,  and  in  consequence  he  missed  his  aim.  The  report 
frightened  the  bird  away ;  but  after  making  a  turn  or  two,  it 
again  settled  within  a  hundred  yards  of  him,  when  he  was 
prepared  with  a  second  shot,  which  despatched  it.  It  was 
observed  to  run  with  incredible  swiftness,  and,  at  intervals, 
to  pick  up  something  from  the  ground ;  and  was  so  bold  as 
to  render  it  difficult  to  make  it  rise  from  the  ground,  in 
order  to  take  a  more  secure  aim  on  the  wing.  The  note 
was  not  like  that  of  any  kind  of  Plover,  nor,  indeed,  to  be 
compared  with  that  of  any  known  bird.”*  (Synop.  Birds, 
Supp.  I.  p.  254,  pi.  cxvi.)  This  example,  which  the  plate 
shews  to  be  an  immature  bird,  passed  into  the  Leverian 
Museum,  and  having  subsequently  been  purchased  by  Dono¬ 
van  for  eiglity-three  guineas,  it  found  its  way  to  the  British 
Museum. 

The  next  instance  is  that  of  the  bird  mentioned  by 
Montagu  (Supp.  Orn.  Diet.)  as  having  been  shot  in  North 
Wales  in  1793,  by  Mr.  George  Kingston  of  Queen’s  College, 
Oxford,  and  preserved  in  the  collection  of  the  late  Professor 
Sibthorp  of  that  city.  A  third  specimen,  recorded  in  Atkin¬ 
son’s  ‘  Compendium  of  British  Ornithology,’  was  shot  on 
some  dry  fallow  ground  near  Wetherby,  in  Yorkshire,  in 
April,  1816  ;  a  fourth  is  said  by  Gould  (B.  of  Gt.  Britain) 
to  have  been  killed  in  the  same  county  in  1825  by  one  of 
Lord  Harewood’s  keepers ;  and  a  fifth  is  stated  to  have 
been  obtained  at  Holme,  near  Market  Weighton,  in  the 

*  The  date  is  not  mentioned,  but  from  the  tenor  of  Latham’s  letter,  dated 
12th  December,  1785,  acknowledging  the  gift  (communicated  to  Mr.  Gould  by 
Mr.  W.  0.  Hammond,  the  grandson  of  the  donor),  it  would  appear  that  the  bird 
was  killed  a  short  time  previously. 


240 


CHARADRIIDiE. 


East  Riding,  in  1828  (W.  E.  Clarke,  Hbk.  Yorkshire 
Vertebrates,  p.  70). 

A  sixth  example,  recorded  by  Mr.  George  T.  Fox,  of  Dur¬ 
ham  (Zoological  Journal,  iii.  p.  492),  was  shot  on  the  15tli 
of  October,  1827,  under  Timberwood  Hill,  in  Charnwood 
Forest,  Leicestershire,  by  a  tenant  of  Mr.  T.  Gisborne,  of 
Charley  Mill,  near  that  place,  and  became  the  property  of 
the  Rev.  T.  Gisborne,  of  Yoxall  Lodge,  Staffordshire,  to 
whose  ornithological  taste  his  son  knew  the  possession  of  it 
would  be  a  subject  of  congratulation.  He  liberally  furnished 
the  use  of  it  to  Mr.  Selby  and  Mr.  Bewick,  for  the  purpose  of 
engraving  figures  of  it  for  their  works  on  British  Ornithology, 
and  the  representation  of  this  Cream-coloured  Courser  was 
the  last  bird  engraved  by  the  latter.^ 

Another  example  is  recorded  by  Mr.  E.  Acton  (Mag.  Nat. 
Hist.  iv.  p.  163)  as  shot  at  Friston,  near  Aldborough,  in 
Suffolk,  on  the  3rd  of  October,  1828,  and  this  specimen  is 
believed  by  Dr.  Bree  to  be  the  one  preserved  in  the  late  Mr. 
J.  D.  Hoy’s  collection  at  Boyle’s  Court,  near  Brentwood,  as  it 
is  labelled  “  killed  in  1828.”  Mr.  Cordeaux  informs  the 
Editor  that  the  collection  of  the  late  Rev.  J.  Mossop,  of 
Covenham,  contained  one  which  had  been  captured  in  an 
exhausted  state  near  Marsh  Chapel,  on  the  coast  of 
Lincolnshire,  about  1840.  In  the  ‘  Proceedings  of  the 
Berwickshire  Naturalists’  Club  for  1847,’  it  is  recorded  that 
a  young  male  was  shot  near  Cheswick,  in  Northumberland, 
on  the  9th  November,  1846,  during  a  strong  gale  from  the 
south,  being  chased  by  Gulls,  and  this  is  preserved  in  Mr. 
Brodrick’s  collection.  The  evidence  of  competent  observers 
led  Mr.  Stevenson  (B.  of  Norfolk,  ii.  p.  49)  to  believe 
that  an  example  of  the  Cream-coloured  Courser  was  seen 
near  Blakeney  in  the  autumn  of  1847,  and  another  near 
Westacre,  at  the  same  season,  in  the  year  1855  or  1856. 

An  adult  specimen  of  this  bird  was  shot  by  Mr.  Walter 
Langton,  on  East  Down,  Salisbury  Plain,  on  the  2nd  of 
October,  1855.  Mr.  Langton  was  following  a  wild  covey 

*  A  coloured  figure  of  this  specimen  is  given  in  the  Appendix  to  Potter’s 
History  of  Charnwood  Forest  (1842). 


CREAM-COLOURED  COURSER. 


241 


of  Partridges  which  had  settled  on  the  open  downs,  when 
his  pointers  stood  at  this  bird  ;  it  got  up,  flew  about  a  hun¬ 
dred  yards,  and  pitched  again ;  he  kept  it  in  sight,  and  shot 
it  on  the  ground.  The  bird  was  sent  for  preservation  to  the 
late  Mr.  Gardner,  of  Oxford  Street,  who  gave  the  Author  the 
body,  when  skinned,  for  examination.  It  was  a  male,  the 
stomach  membranaceous,  the  contents  a  dozen  skins  of 
caterpillars,  apparently  of  the  Garden  White  Butterfly,  one 
wireworm,  one  small-shelled  snail,  Helix  ericitorum,  and 
many  fragments  of  the  hard  portions  of  small  beetles.  Its 
breast-bone  is  now  figured. 

Mr.  J.  C.  Mansell-Pleydell  states  (B.  of  Dorset,  p.  25) 
that,  “  in  the  year  1853,  the  present  Lord  Digby,  while 
following  the  hounds,  observed,  with  the  practised  eye  of  a 
sportsman,  a  strange  bird  on  Batcombe  Hill.  The  late  Earl 
of  Ilchester  next  day  sent  his  keeper  Walton  (still  living) 
in  search  of  it,  who  killed  it.  The  bird  proved  to  he  the 
Cream-coloured  Courser,  and  is  in  the  possession  of  the 
present  Earl.” 

In  October,  1856,  two  were  seen  on  Braunton  Burrows  in 
North  Devon,  and  one  was  shot  (Zool.  p.  5346) ;  and  two 
are  recorded  by  Mr.  Gervase  F.  Mathew  as  having  been  seen 
in  the  same  place  in  March,  1860  (Zool.  p.  6980).  In 
1858,  on  the  19tli  October,  a  female  was  obtained  in 
Hackney  Marshes,  Middlesex  (Zool.  p.  6309).  Mr.  F.  S. 
Mitchell,  of  Clitlieroe,  writes  to  the  Editor  that  he  has 
examined  a  Courser  which  was  shot  in  the  autumn  of  1860, 
among  a  flock  of  Peewits,  near  St.  Michaels-in-Wyse,  Lan¬ 
cashire.  In  October,  1864,  an  example,  recorded  and 
acquired  by  the  late  Mr.  Allis,  of  York,  was  killed  at  Allonby, 
near  Maryport,  in  Cumberland  (Zool.  p.  9418)  ;  and  early 
in  the  same  month  of  the  year  1866  one  appears  to  have 
been  shot  near  Sandwich  in  Kent  (Zool.  s.s.  p.  523). *  On 
the  8tli  October,  1868,  a  male  was  shot  by  Mr.  Charles 

"  With  reference  to  that  county,  it  may  be  mentioned  that  Mr.  J.  E.  Harting 
lias  furnished  the  Editor  with  the  following  note  :  “  October  20th,  1868.  Saw 
to-day  a  specimen  from  the  sale  of  the  Margate  Museum,  said  to  have  been 
obtained  at  Westbrook,  near  Margate,  November  1849.” 

VOL.  III.  II 


242 


CHARADRIID/E. 


Walker  near  Lanark  (Zool.  s.s.  p.  1459),  the  only  occur¬ 
rence  as  yet  recorded  in  Scotland :  and  was  dissected  by 
Mr.  J.  H.  Gurney,  Junr.,  who  contributed  the  following 
notes  :  “  In  the  throat  was  a  small  fly  undigested  ;  the 
tongue  is  narrow,  with  the  appearance  of  bristles  at  its  base, 
acute,  and  seven-eighths  of  an  inch  in  length  ;  the  oesopha¬ 
gus  three  and  a  half  inches  long,  its  width  inconsiderable, 
the  proventriculus  three-quarters  of  an  inch  long.  The 
stomach  is  of  the  ordinary  shape,  compressed,  an  inch  long, 
and  seven-eighths  in  breadth  ;  inner  coat  full  of  wrinkles. 
The  intestine  only  fourteen  inches  long  ;  it  varies  in  width. 
The  caeca,  which  arise  at  a  short  distance  from  the  end,  are 
about  two-and-a-quarter  inches  in  length.  The  sternum 
closely  resembles  that  of  a  redshank.”*  Mr.  Gurney  also 
mentions,  but  without  any  particulars  of  capture,  a  speci¬ 
men  of  the  Cream-coloured  Courser  obtained  by  Mr.  Hart, 
the  well-known  bird-stuffer  of  Christchurch,  Hants,  in  the 
vicinity  (Zool.  s.s.  p.  1512). 

In  the  first  week  of  November,  1870,  an  eighteenth  example 
was  killed  on  the  sea-sliore  at  Goswick,  opposite  Holy  Island, 
Northumberland  (Zool.  s.s.  pp.  2522,  2562),  and  is  now  in 
the  Berwick  Museum  ;  and  with  it,  the  list  of  visitants 
closes  for  the  present.  It  will  be  observed  that,  with  one 
exception,  all  the  occurrences  where  the  date  is  known,  have 
been  in  the  autumn,  and  in  one  case  it  is  on  record  that  the 
wind  was  southerly. 

On  the  Continent  the  Cream-coloured  Courser  has  once 
straggled  to  Holland,  and  on  three  or  four  occasions  to 
Northern  and  Central  Germany.  To  the  north  of  France  it 
is  also  an  irregular  visitant,  nor  is  its  appearance  at  all  fre¬ 
quent  in  the  southern  provinces,  where  the  conditions  of  soil 
and  climate  might  appear  to  invite  its  presence.  In  Spain 
the  Editor  only  knows  of  a  few  occurrences ;  and  to  Italy 
its  visits  are  very  irregular,  although  less  so  in  Sicily  ;  and 
the  same  may  be  said  of  Malta,  where  Mr.  C.  A.  Wright 
has  examined  specimens  shot  in  March,  April,  and  May. 
To  the  southern  districts  of  Russia  it  is  also  a  straggler. 

*  In  R.  Gray’s  ‘  B.  West  of  Scotland,’  p.  250. 


CREAM-COLOURED  COURSER. 


243 


The  true  home  of  the  Cream-coloured  Courser  commences 
at  the  Canary  Islands  in  the  west,  where  Dr.  C.  Bolle 
found  it  tolerably  common,  and,  upon  the  arid  plains,  even 
numerous.  In  Morocco,  according  to  the  late  M.  Favier  of 
Tangier,  whose  interesting  notes  are  published  by  Col. 
Irby,*  individuals  appear  annually  during  July  on  some 
plains  not  far  from  Tangier  :  the  duration  of  their  stay  and 
their  numbers  varying  with  the  abundance  of  insect  food 
and  with  the  temperature,  and  they  leave  in  August  or  Sep¬ 
tember.  They  doubtless  retire  to  a  warmer  climate,  for 
Canon  Tristram  only  once  saw  them  during  the  winters  of 
1856-57  in  the  Algerian  Sahara,  as  far  south  as  30° — 31° 
N.  lat.  ;  but  in  the  summer  of  1856,  and  towards  the  end  of 
June,  1857,  they  were  observed  in  small  flocks  on  the  elevated 
table-lands  about  Biskra,  Batna,  Constantine,  and  Laghouat. 
In  Egypt  this  species  does  not  appear  to  be  common  :  at 
least  not  in  winter ;  Yon  Heuglin  found  it  resident  in 
Arabia  Petrea,  the  coasts  of  the  Bed  Sea,  and  Kordofan  ; 
Mr.  Blanford  obtained  it  in  Persia  and  in  Baluchistan  ;  and 
thence  it  occurs  through  Sind  and  the  north  and  western 
districts  of  the  Punjab,  where  Mr.  Hume  found  it  breeding. 

The  egg  of  the  Cream-coloured  Courser  was  figured  by 
the  late  W.  C.  Hewitson  (Ibis,  1859,  pi.  ii.  fig.  3)  from  a 
specimen  brought  from  Algeria  by  Canon  Tristram,  who 
contributed  notes  to  the  effect  that  it  was  taken,  with  two 
others,  by  the  keeper  of  the  caravansary  of  Ain  Oosera  in 
the  Western  Sahara,  who  said  that  the  eggs  were  deposited 
in  the  bare  soil  in  the  most  arid  plains,  and  that  the  com¬ 
plement  usually  consisted  of  three.  Viera,  however,  told  Bolle 
that  in  the  Canaries  only  two  were  deposited  ;  Favier  be¬ 
lieved  that  two  was  the  usual  number  ;  and  in  India  neither 
Mr.  Hume  nor  his  collectors  appear  to  have  found  more  in 
the  same  clutch.  North  African  eggs  are  generally  of  a 
broad  oval  shape,  of  a  stone-buff  ground  colour,  marbled 
with  purplish-grey  under-shell  markings  and  brown  surface 
blotches  :  the  one  figured  by  Hewitson  measures  P3  by 
1*08  in.  Mr.  Hume,  who  has  obtained  a  large  series  in 

*  Orn.  Str.  Gibraltar,  pp.  155-158. 


244 


CHARADRIIDiE. 


the  Sirsa  district  of  the  Punjab,  states  that  his  are  rather 
smaller  and  darker  in  appearance ;  the  hulk  of  them  were 
obtained  in  July,  hut  the  laying  season  varies,  according  to 
the  rains,  from  March  to  August.*  Most  of  the  eggs  of  the 
Cream-coloured  Courser  in  European  collections  are  the  pro¬ 
duce  of  a  bird  brought  to  Favier  in  August,  1851,  and  then 
in  immature  plumage.  In  1858,  after  exhibiting  much 
sexual  passion,  and  making  a  noise  resembling  ‘  rererer ,’ 
the  bird  laid  eight  eggs — the  first  on  the  15th,  the  second 
on  the  16th,  the  third  on  the  30th  May ;  the  fourth  on  the 
1st,  the  fifth  on  the  lltli,  the  sixth  on  the  14tli,  the  seventh 
on  the  23rd,  and  the  eighth  on  the  25th  of  June.  In  1854 
she  laid  again,  with  the  same  irregularity,  twelve  eggs — the 
first  on  the  17tli  of  May,  the  last  on  the  28th  of  July. 
Though  in  perfect  health,  treated  and  fed  in  the  same  way, 
she  did  not  lay  in  1855,  but  in  1856  laid  two  eggs  on  the  6th 
and  7th  of  July.  In  1857  she  again,  at  irregular  intervals, 
laid  ten  more  eggs — the  first  in  May,  the  last  in  July.  In 
1858  none  wrere  laid.  In  1859  she  produced  four  more  eggs 
— the  first  two  on  the  6th  and  7th  of  July,  the  others  on  the 
9tli  and  10th  of  August. 

As  regards  the  habits  of  this  species,  Favier  says  : — ■ 
“  Their  food  is  entirely  insects  or  larvae,  particularly  Penta- 
toma  torquata,  and  different  sorts  of  grasshoppers.  They 
are  met  with  in  small  lots,  usually  frequenting  dry  arid 
plains,  where  they  spread  out  in  all  directions,  running 
about  after  insects,  and  are  very  wary  and  difficult  to  get  a 
shot  at.  Their  cry  of  alarm  is  much  like  that  of  the 
Plover.  They  rest  and  sleep  in  a  sitting  position,  with  their 
legs  doubled  up  under  them.  Should  they  not  fly  away 
when  approached,  they  run  off'  with  astonishing  swiftness, 
manoeuvring  to  get  out  of  sight  behind  stones  or  clods  of 
earth  ;  then,  kneeling  down  and  stretching  the  body  and 
head  flat  on  the  ground,  they  endeavour  to  make  themselves 
invisible,  though  all  the  time  their  eyes  are  fixed  on  the 
object  which  disturbs  them,  and  they  keep  on  the  alert 
ready  to  rush  off  again  if  one  continues  to  approach  them.” 

*  ‘Nests  and  Eggs  of  Indian  Birds,’  pp.  565-567. 


CREAM-COLOURED  COURSER. 


245 


The  beak  is  nearly  black  at  the  point,  brown  at  the  base  ; 
the  irides  hazel ;  the  top  of  the  bead  buff-colour,  the  binder 
part  grey  tipped  with  black ;  above  the  eye,  and  passing 
from  thence  over  the  ear- coverts  to  the  nape  of  the  neck,  is 
a  white  streak ;  below  this,  from  the  eye,  a  black  streak, 
both  meeting  behind  :  the  neck,  back,  and  all  the  upper 
surface  of  the  body  and  wings,  pale  wood-brown,  tinged  with 
reddish-buff ;  wing-primaries  black ;  the  tail-feathers  have 
an  angular  black  spot  near  the  end,  increasing  in  size  toward 
the  feather  on  each  outside,  in  which  the  spot  is  the  largest. 
The  chin  white ;  the  front  of  the  neck,  the  breast,  and 
under  surface  of  the  body,  buffy-wliite,  palest  on  the  vent 
and  under  tail-coverts ;  legs  and  toes  cream  colour  ;  the 
claws  brown. 

The  whole  length  is  ten  inches  and  one-quarter.  From 
the  carpal  joint  to  the  end  of  the  wing,  six  inches  :  the 
form  of  the  wing  pointed,  the  first  and  second  quill-featliers 
being  nearly  of  equal  length,  and  the  longest  in  the  wing  ; 
length  of  tarsus  two  inches. 

The  sexes  in  plumage  resemble  each  other ;  but,  as  usual 
in  such  cases,  the  young  birds  of  the  year  differ.  These 
have  the  feathers  clouded  with  two  shades  of  pale  brown, 
with  dark,  irregular  transverse  lines  of  dusky  ash-colour,  as 
shewn  in  the  representation  ;  the  lines  round  the  back  of 
the  head  as  yet  not  very  conspicuous ;  the  dark  feathers  of 
the  wing  edged  on  the  inner  web  with  buff  colour.  At  the 
end  of  the  second  year  they  assume  the  plumage  of  the 
adult. 


■1 


246 


CHARADRIIDiE 


LIM1C0LJE. 


CIIARADRIITJjE. 


Eudromias  morinellus  (Linnaeus*). 

THE  DOTTEREL. 

Charadrius  morinellus. 

Eudromias,  C.  L.  Brehmf.- — Bill  rather  slender,  compressed,  shorter  than 
the  head  ;  nasal  furrow  extending  about  half  the  length  of  the  upper  mandible, 
which  is  horny  and  slightly  decurved  to  the  tip.  Nostrils  subbasal,  lateral, 
linear.  Legs  of  moderate  length,  scutellate,  rather  slender,  naked  for  a  short 
distance  above  the  tarsal  joint.  Toes  three  only,  all  directed  forwards  :  the 
outer  and  the  middle  connected  at  the  base  by  a  slight  web ;  claws  short,  curved, 
slender.  Tail  rather  long,  slightly  rounded.  Wings  of  moderate  length,  pointed ; 
the  first  quill-feather  the  longest  ;  the  inner  secondaries  very  nearly  as  long  as 
the  primaries. 


The  Dotterel  is  only  a  summer  visitor  to  this  country, 
making  its  appearance  in  the  south-eastern  counties  of 
England  towards  the  end  of  April,  and  does  not  seem  to 
go  in  any  numbers  far  to  the  westward.  It  seldom  makes 

*  Charadrius  Morinellus,  Lin  incus,  Syst.  Nat.  Ed.  12,  i.  p.  254  (1766). 
t  Handb.  Naturg.  Yog.  Deutschlands,  p.  544  (1831). 


DOTTEREL. 


247 


its  appearance  in  Cornwall  and  Devonshire,  and  but  little 
oftener  in  Dorsetshire.  In  Wiltshire,  Berkshire,  Sussex, 
Hertfordshire,  Cambridgeshire,  Suffolk,  and  Norfolk,  small 
flocks,  or  “  trips”  as  they  are  called,  of  Dotterel  are  seen  in 
the  spring  on  their  way  to  their  breeding-ground,  which,  in 
many  instances,  is  very  far  north,  and  those  or  others  are  again 
seen  in  the  autumn  on  their  return,  their  numbers  then  re¬ 
inforced  by  the  addition  of  the  young  birds  of  the  year. 
On  the  chalk  hills  about  Boyston  on  the  borders  of  Hertford¬ 
shire  and  Cambridgeshire,  these  birds  have  been  observed 
for  many  years  to  make  their  appearance  during  the  last 
wTeek  of  April  and  the  first  week  in  May ;  they  are  seen  for 
about  ten  days,  some  probably  moving  on  to  the  northward, 
and  their  places  being  supplied  for  a  time  by  other  arrivals 
from  the  south ;  but  during  the  past  fifty  years  there  has 
been  a  gradual  and  marked  diminution  in  their  numbers  in 
the  above  locality,  partly  owing  to  enclosure.  They  are 
found  generally  on  the  fallows,  or  newly-ploughed  lands 
near  the  edges  of  the  downs,  or  sheep-walks,  where  they 
appear  to  feed  on  worms,  slugs,  insects,  and  their  larvae. 
From  these  counties  the  birds  pass  on  to  more  northern 
localities,  and  are  seen  in  Suffolk,  Norfolk,  Lincolnshire, 
Derbyshire,  Yorkshire,  Lancashire,  Westmoreland,  Cumber¬ 
land,  Northumberland,  and  various  parts  of  Scotland,  always 
inhabiting  high  ground.  In  the  neighbourhood  of  the 
English  lakes  it  is  believed  that  a  few  pairs  still  nest, 
although  in  numbers  sadly  diminished  since  the  late  T.  C. 
Heysham  contributed  the  following,  and  now  classic,  account 
of  the  habits  of  this  species  at  its  breeding- ground*  : — 

“  I  will  now  narrate,”  says  this  gentleman,  “  as  suc¬ 
cinctly  as  possible,  what  has  fallen  under  my  own  obser¬ 
vation  relative  to  the  habits  and  economy  of  this  bird. 


*  The  principal  causes  of  the  decrease  of  the  Dotterel  in  the  Lake  district  have 
been  the  demand  for  its  feathers  for  artificial  flies  by  the  local  anglers,  and  the 
temptation  offered  to  the  miners  by  the  presence  in  their  immediate  vicinity  of  a 
bird  so  good  to  eat,  or  so  certain  to  fetch  its  price  from  the  fly-dresser.  The 
greed  of  the  ornithologist  or  of  the  egg-collector,  so  often  stigmatized,  has,  in 
this  case,  exercised  no  appreciable  effect  upon  its  numbers. 


248 


CIIARADRIIDyE 


In  tlie  neighbourhood  of  Carlisle,  Dottrels  seldom  make 
their  appearance  before  the  middle  of  May,  about  which 
time  they  are  occasionally  seen  in  different  localities,  in 
flocks  which  vary  in  number  from  five  to  fifteen,  and  almost 
invariably  resort  to  heaths,  barren  pastures,  fallow  grounds, 
&c.,  in  open  and  exposed  situations,  where  they  continue,  if 
unmolested,  from  ten  days  to  a  fortnight,  and  then  retire  to 
the  mountains  in  the  vicinity  of  the  lakes  to  breed.  The 
most  favourite  breeding-haunts  of  these  birds  are  always 
near  to  or  on  the  summits  of  the  highest  mountains,  par¬ 
ticularly  those  that  are  densely  covered  with  the  woolly 
fringe-moss,  Trichostomum  lanuginosum,  Hedw.,  which, 
indeed,  grows  more  or  less  profusely  on  nearly  all  the  most 
elevated  parts  of  this  alpine  district.*  In  these  lonely 
places  they  constantly  reside  the  whole  of  the  breeding- 
season,  a  considerable  part  of  the  time  enveloped  in  clouds, 
and  almost  daily  drenched  with  rain  and  wetting  mists,  so 
extremely  prevalent  in  these  dreary  regions  :  and  there  can 
be  little  doubt  that  it  is  owing  to  this  peculiar  feature  in 
their  economy,  that  they  have  remained  so  long  in  obscurity 
during  the  period  of  incubation.  The  Dottrel  is  by  no 
means  a  solitary  bird  at  this  time,  as  a  few  pairs  usually 
associate  together,  and  live,  to  all  appearance,  in  the  greatest 
harmony.  These  birds  do  not  make  any  nest,  hut  deposit 
their  eggs,  which  seldom  exceed  three  in  number,  in  a  small 
cavity  on  dry  ground  covered  with  vegetation,  and  generally 
near  a  moderate-sized  stone,  or  fragment  of  rock.  In  early 
seasons  old  females  will  occasionally  begin  to  lay  their  eggs 
about  the  26tli  of  May  ;  hut  the  greater  part  seldom  com¬ 
mence  before  the  first  or  second  week  in  June.  It  would 
appear,  however,  from  the  following  facts,  that  they  vary  ex¬ 
ceedingly  in  this  respect.  On  the  19tli  July,  1833,  a  perfect 
egg  was  taken  out  of  a  female,  which  had  been  recently 


*  ‘  ‘  The  favourite  breeding-stations  of  the  Dottrel  are  frequently  called 
‘  smittle  places,’  by  some  of  the  guides  and  anglers  at  Keswick.”  [The  Editor 
is  informed  by  Mr.  F.  Nicholson,  who  has  been  in  the  habit  of  exploring  these 
mountains  for  the  last  thirty  years,  and  has  found  a  good  many  Dotterels’  eggs, 
that  ‘smittle’  is  merely  a  Cumberland  word  meaning  ‘  likely’  or  ‘  well  adapted.  ’] 


DOTTEREL. 


249 


killed  on  Robinson  ;  and  on  the  26tli  of  May,  1884,  I 
received  four  Dottrels  from  Keswick,  which  had  been  shot 
on  Great  Gavel  [Gable]  the  day  before.  In  the  ovary  of 
one  of  them  I  found  an  egg  almost  ready  for  exclusion, 
being  a  difference  of  nearly  eight  weeks.  So  great  a  dis¬ 
crepancy  in  all  probability  is  of  very  rare  occurrence  ;  yet  it 
will  subsequently  appear  that  eggs  recently  laid,  and  a  young- 
bird,  a  few  days  old,  were  found  on  the  same  day,  at  no 
great  distance  from  each  other.  The  males  assist  the 
females  in  the  incubation  of  their  eggs.  How  long  incu¬ 
bation  continues  I  have  not  yet  been  able  to  ascertain  ;  but 
I  am  inclined  to  think  that  it  rarely  lasts  much  longer  than 
eighteen  or  twenty  days.  A  week  or  two  previous  to  their 
departure,  they  congregate  in  flocks,  and  continue  together 
until  they  finally  leave  this  country,  which  takes  place  some¬ 
times  during  the  latter  part  of  August,  at  others  not  before 
the  beginning  of  September.  A  few  birds  no  doubt  are 
occasionally  seen  after  this  period ;  but  they  are  either  late 
broods,  or  birds  that  are  returning  from  more  northern 
latitudes.  This  autumn  I  visited  several  breeding- stations 
on  the  25th  of  August,  and  again  on  the  2nd  of  September, 
but  in  neither  instance  could  I  observe  a  single  individual. 

“  Anxious  as  I  have  been  for  several  years  past  to  procure 
the  eggs  of  the  Dottrel  for  the  purpose  of  adding  un¬ 
doubted  specimens  of  so  rare  an  egg  to  my  cabinet,  as 
well  as  to  prove  beyond  all  doubt  that  this  bird  breeds  in 
Cumberland ;  yet  it  was  not  until  the  present  year  that  I 
had  the  gratification  of  accomplishing  an  object  which  I 
have  had  so  long  in  view.  After  repeated  excursions 
through  the  lake  district  this  summer  for  the  express 
purpose,  I  was  so  fortunate  as  to  obtain  their  eggs  in 
two  different  localities, — namely,  three  on  Whiteside,  con¬ 
tiguous  to  Helvellyn,  on  the  29th  of  June,  and  two  on  the 
5th  of  July  on  Robinson,  in  the  vicinity  of  Buttermere. 
The  former  had  been  incubated  twelve  or  fourteen  days  ; 
the  latter  were  only  recently  laid ;  and,  in  both  instances, 
the  birds  were  seen  to  leave  their  eggs  :  one,  on  quitting 
them,  immediately  spread  out  its  wings  and  tail,  which  it 

VOL.  III. 


K  Iv 


250 


CHARADRinm 


trailed  on  the  ground  a  short  distance,  and  then  went 
away  without  uttering  a  single  note.  On  this  day,  5tli 
of  July,  1885,  a  young  bird,  a  few  days  old,  was  also 
captured. 


“  Having  spent  a  considerable  portion  of  several  days  on 
Robinson,  in  company  with  a  very  able  assistant,  searching 
for  the  eggs  of  the  Dottrel,  I  had,  of  course,  ample  oppor¬ 
tunities  of  observing  their  manners  ;  and  I  flatter  myself 
that  the  following  particulars  will  he  interesting  to  some  of 
my  ornithological  readers.  On  the  3rd  of  July  we  found 
three  or  four  pair  near  the  most  elevated  part  of  this 
mountain  ;  and  on  all  our  visits  thither,  whether  early  in 
the  morning  or  late  in  the  afternoon,  the  greater  part  were 
always  seen  near  the  same  place,  sitting  on  the  ground. 
When  first  discovered,  they  permitted  us  to  approach  with¬ 
in  a  short  distance,  without  showing  any  symptoms  of 
alarm  ;  and  frequently  afterwards,  when  within  a  few  paces, 
watching  their  movements,  some  would  move  slowly  about 
and  pick  up  an  insect,  others  would  remain  motionless,  now 
and  then  stretching  out  their  wings,  and  a  few  would  occa- 


DOTTEREL. 


251 


sionally  toy  with  each  other,  at  the  same  time  uttering  a  few 
low  notes,  which  had  some  resemblance  to  those  of  the 
Common  Linnet.  In  short,  they  appeared  to  he  so  very  in¬ 
different  with  regard  to  our  presence,  that  at  last  my  assistant 
could  not  avoid  exclaiming,  ‘What  stupid  birds  these  are!’ 
The  female  that  had  young,  nevertheless,  evinced  consider¬ 
able  anxiety  for  their  safety,  whenever  we  came  near  the 
place  where  they  were  concealed,  and  as  long  as  we  remained 
in  the  vicinity  constantly  flew  to  and  fro  above  us,  uttering 
her  note  of  alarm. 

“  As  soon  as  the  young  birds  were  fully  feathered,  two 
were  killed  for  the  purpose  of  examining  their  plumage  in 
this  state ;  and  we  found  that  after  they  had  been  fired  at 
once  or  twice,  they  became  more  wary,  and  eventually  we 
had  some  little  difficulty  in  approaching  sufficiently  near 
to  effect  our  purpose.  The  moult  appears  to  commence 
somewhat  early  in  old  birds ;  a  male  that  was  killed  on 
the  25th  of  July  was  completely  covered  with  pen-feathers, 
and  the  belly,  from  incubation,  almost  entirely  bare.  The 
stomachs  I  dissected  were  all  filled  with  the  elytra,  and 
remains  of  small  coleopterous  insects,  which,  in  all  proba¬ 
bility,  constitute  their  principal  food  during  the  breeding 
season.* 

“  These  birds,  I  understand,  are  getting  every  year  more 
and  more  scarce  in  the  neighbourhood  of  the  lakes  ;  and 
from  the  number  that  are  annually  killed  by  the  anglers 
at  Keswick  and  the  vicinity, — their  feathers  having  long 
been  held  in  high  estimation  for  dressing  artificial  flies,- — it 
is  extremely  probable  that  in  a  few  years  they  will  become 
so  exceedingly  rare,  that  specimens  will  be  procured  with 
considerable  difficulty.” — (Cliarlesworth’s  Mag.  Nat.  Hist., 
ii.  pp.  300-803.) 

The  maximum  number  of  eggs  appears  to  be  three  :  at 
least  four  must  be  of  rare  occurrence,  and  in  records  fur¬ 
nished  to  the  Editor  extending  from  1849  to  1874  the  former 

*  In  the  stomach  of  a  bird  shot  in  Lincolnshire  on  5th  May,  Mr.  Harting 
found  remains  of  coleoptera,  four  wireworms,  wings  of  diptera,  larvae  of  lepi- 
doptera  ( Polyoclon ),  and  small  particles  of  grit;  and  another  killed  on  7th  May, 
in  Cambridgeshire,  contained  sixty-three  wireworms  and  two  beetles. 


252 


CHARADRIIDiE. 


number  lias  never  been  exceeded.  Mr.  Nicholson  informs 
the  Editor  that  whenever  he  has  been  told  of  a  clutch  of 
four  Dotterel’s  eggs,  they  have  invariably  proved  to  be  those 
of  the  Golden  Plover.  The  nest  is  a  mere  shallow  hollow, 
pressed  down,  not  scraped,  and  the  eggs  are  placed  points 
inwards.  They  are  of  a  yellowish-olive  colour,  blotched  and 
spotted  with  brownish-black,  and  measure  about  1*6  by 
1*1  in. 

In  the  time  of  Montagu,  it  appears  possible  that  the  Dot¬ 
terel  may  have  bred  on  the  Mendip  Hills  in  Somersetshire ; 
but  there  is  no  evidence  that  it  does  so  at  the  present  day, 
although  young  birds  are  frequently  shot  there  in  September. 
In  Wales  it  is  of  very  rare  occurrence  at  any  season,  and  it 
is  uncommon  in  Shropshire,  and,  in  fact,  anywhere  to  the 
west  of  the  Pennine  range  of  hills.  In  the  Eastern 
Counties,  Dotterels  occur  on  both  spring  and  autumn 
migrations ;  but  in  Lincolnshire,  Mr.  J.  Cordeaux  informs 
the  Editor  that  they  are  rare  there  on  the  return  south¬ 
wards.  In  spring  they  still  pass  with  tolerable  regularity, 
although  in  far  smaller  numbers  than  formerly  ;  and  they 
are  remarkable  for  their  steady  predilection  for  certain 
restricted  areas :  even  visiting  the  same  fields  year  after 
year.  On  their  first  arrival  in  the  last  week  of  April  they 
frequent  the  wolds  for  a  few  days,  after  which  they  descend 
to  the  marshes  on  the  Lincoln  and  Yorkshire  coasts,  and 
remain  there  till  about  the  end  of  the  third  week  in  May, 
when  they  leave  for  their  breeding-grounds.  In  Lancashire, 
Westmoreland,  and  Cumberland,  the  Editor  is  informed 
that  they  make  their  earliest  appearance  on  the  sea-coast 
marshes,  and  thence  proceed  to  the  higher  grounds.  It  is 
believed  that  a  few  pairs  remain  to  breed  on  the  Cheviot 
hills,  along  which  the  “  trips  ”  pass  on  their  way  north¬ 
wards  in  the  spring  ;  and  it  appears  probable  that  on  some 
of  the  unfrequented  Scotch  mountains  it  is  more  numerous 
than  is  generally  supposed.  Mr.  J.  A.  Harvie-Brown  and 
Major  H.  W.  Feilden  have  furnished  some  interesting 
details  respecting  the  nesting  of  this  species  on  the  borders 
of  Perth  and  Inverness  (Pr.  N.  H.  Soc.  Glasgow,  ii.  pp. 


DOTTEREL. 


253 


237-241);  Mr.  Bateson  found  it  breeding  in  Boss-sliire  ; 
and  Mr.  D.  Bruce  lias  recently  published  (Macmillan’s 
Mag.  1881,  p.  347)  an  account  of  finding  its  nest  on  the 
Grampians,  whence,  many  years  ago,  the  Author  obtained 
an  egg.  It  probably  breeds  in  several  other  counties  in 
Scotland,  and  in  the  Orkneys,  where  the  nest  was  found  in 
1850  ;  but  to  the  Shetlands  it  is  only  a  rare  visitant.  In 
Ireland  the  Dotterel  is  certainly  uncommon,  and  of  late 
years  there  has  been  no  evidence  to  strengthen  Thompson’s 
supposition  that  it  might  be  found  breeding  upon  the 
mountains  of  Tipperary. 

Dotterels  are  well  known  as  most  excellent  birds  for  the 
table ;  those  that  in  spring  and  autumn  are  sent  to  the 
London  market  used  to  find  ready  sale  at  seven  or  eight 
shillings  a  couple.  They  were  more  numerous  than  usual 
there  during  the  spring  of  the  year  1845,  when  the  Author 
counted  seventeen  couple  at  the  shop  of  a  poulterer  at 
one  time.  Their  sale  during  close-time  being  now  pro¬ 
hibited  by  law,  it  is  to  be  hoped  that,  with  the  protection 
afforded  them  on  the  spring  migration,  their  numbers  may 
increase. 

Outside  the  British  Islands  the  Dotterel  has  been  observed 

A 

in  Novaya  Zemlya,  and  has,  perhaps,  occurred  as  a  strag¬ 
gler  in  Spitsbergen.  It  breeds  in  considerable  numbers  on 
the  Fells  of  Norway  and  Sweden,  and  in  some  parts  of  the 
Ural  mountains  ;  but  over  the  rest  of  the  Continent,  with 
the  exception  of  the  highlands  of  Styria,  Bohemia,  and 
Transylvania,  on  which  its  eggs  and  young  have  been  taken, 
it  appears  to  be  only  a  migrant.  On  August  22nd,  1882,  with 
a  south-west  wind,  a  great  many  crossed  the  island  of  Heli¬ 
goland  ;  and  on  September  4tli  a  flock,  going  from  east  to 
west,  took  ten  minutes  to  pass.  In  Northern  Africa,  Egypt, 
and  Palestine,  which  appear  to  constitute  its  principal  winter 
quarters,  its  numbers,  according  to  Canon  Tristram,  are 
astonishing.  It  has  occurred  in  Persia,  and  it  ranges 
through  Turkestan  to  Siberia,  breeding  on  the  Byrranga 
mountains  in  the  Taimyr  Peninsula,  in  74°  N.  lat.,  and  on 
the  elevated  ground  whence  the  waters  of  the  Irkut  descend. 


254 


CHARADRIIM. 


In  Mongolia  it  was  not  found  by  the  Abbe  David,  and 
Messrs.  Blakiston  and  Pryer  do  not  include  it  in  tlieir  latest 
list  of  the  Birds  of  Japan,  but  Cassin  identified  specimens 
obtained  at  Hakodadi  on  the  cruise  of  the  U.S.  ship 
£  Portsmouth  ’  (Pr.  Ac.  Nat.  Sc.  Pliilad.  1858,  p.  195),  and 
the  Editor  has  seen  examples  obtained  by  Nordenskiiold  at 
Koljutscliin,  close  to  Behring’s  Straits. 

The  earliest  mention  of  the  Dotterel  appears  to  be  in 
the  Northumberland  ‘  Household  Book  ’  ( circa  1512),  in 
which  the  entry  occurs  :  “  Item  Dottrells  to  be  bought  for 
my  Horde  when  tliay  ar  in  season  and  to  be  had  at  jd.  a 
pece.”  Gresner,  in  his  ‘  Historiae  Animalium,’  lib.  III.  p.  615 
(1585),  cites  a  description  sent  to  him  by  Dr.  Key,  and  Wil- 
lugliby  renders  the  passage  as  follows  : — “  It  [the  Dotterel] 
is  taken  in  the  night  time  by  the  light  of  a  candle  by  imitat¬ 
ing  the  gesture  of  the  Fowler:  For  if  he  stretches  out  an 
Arm,  that  also  stretches  out  a  Wing  ;  if  he  a  Foot,  that  like¬ 
wise  a  Foot  :  In  brief,  whatever  the  Fowler  doth,  the  same 
doth  the  Bird  ;  and  so  being  intent  upon  mens  gestures  it  is 
deceived,  and  covered  with  the  Net  spread  for  it.  I  call  it 
Morinellus  for  two  reasons,  first  because  it  is  frequent  among 
the  Morini  (Flemmings) ;  and  next  because  it  is  a  foolish  Bird 
even  to  a  Proverb,  we  calling  a  foolish  dull  person  a  Dotterel.”* 
Willughby  goes  on  to  quote  an  account  given  to  “  his  very 
good  friend  Mr.  Peter  Dent,  of  Cambridge,”  by  a  gentleman 
of  Norfolk,  who  told  him  that  “  to  catch  Dotterels  six  or 
seven  persons  usually  go  in  company.  When  they  have 
found  the  Birds,  they  set  their  Net  in  an  advantageous 
place  ;  and  each  of  them  holding  a  stone  in  either  hand, 
get  behind  the  Birds,  and  striking  their  stones  often  one 
against  another,  rouse  them,  which  are  naturally  very  slug¬ 
gish  ;  and  so  by  degrees  coup  them  and  drive  them  into  the 
Net.  The  Birds  being  awakened  do  often  stretch  them¬ 
selves,  putting  out  a  Wing  or  a  Leg,  and  in  imitation  of 
these,  the  men  that  drive  them  thrust  out  an  Arm  or  a  Leg 
for  fashion  sake,  to  comply  with  an  old  custom.  But  he 

*  Ornithology,  p.  309.  In  the  original  of  Gresner,  Dr.  Key  also  gives  the 
derivation  of  morinellus  from  pup'o?,  dull. 


DOTTEREL. 


255 


thought  that  this  imitation  did  not  conduce  to  the  taking  of 
them,  for  they  seemed  not  to  mind  or  regard  it.”  To  this 
superstition  Drayton  alludes  (Polyolbion,  25th  Song)),  where 
he  says  : — 

“The  Dotterell ,  which  we  thinke  a  very  daintie  dish, 

Whose  taking  makes  such  sport,  as  man  no  more  can  wish. 

For  as  you  creepe,  or  cowere,  or  lye,  or  stoupe,  or  goe, 

So  marking  you  (with  care),  the  Apish  bird  doth  doe  ; 

And  acting  everything,  doth  never  marke  the  net, 

Till  he  be  in  the  Snare,  which  men  for  him  have  set.” 

And  he  expresses  the  same  idea  in  some  ‘  Panegyricke 
Verses,’  prefixed  to  £  Coryat’s  Crudities’  (1611). 

It  also  appears  that  the  bird  was  taken  with  Hawks.  Mr. 
Harting  has  contributed  to  Stevenson’s  ‘  Birds  of  Norfolk  ’ 
(ii.  p.  82)  some  interesting  extracts  from  a  curious  MS. 
diary  kept  by  Hans  Jacob  Wurmser  v.  Vendenlieym,  who 
accompanied  the  Duke  of  Wurtemberg  to  England  in  1610, 
and  found  King  James  I.  at  Thetford,  on  the  7th  May,  hare¬ 
hunting  and  hawking.  The  next  day,  “  apres  que  son 
Excellence]  eut  disne  avecq  sa  Mate,  le  Due  de  Lenox  qui 
l’estoit  venu  visiter  devant  disne  le  menu  a  la  chasse  ou  Ton 
courrut  le  lievre,  fit  voller  un  espervier  et  prirent  des  Doter- 
elles,  oiseau  qui  se  laisse  prendre  par  une  estrange  maniere 
ainsy  que  nous  avons  veu.  Et  qui  se  peult  mieulx  dire 
qu’escripre.”  With  reference  to  the  predilection  of  James  I. 
for  this  mild  form  of  sport,  an  amusing  anecdote  will  be 
found  in  Hone’s  £  Every-Day  Book,’  1826,  p.  645,  under  date 
of  May  10th,  which  used  to  be  known  in  the  borders  of 
Hertford  and  Cambridgesliires  as  £  Dotterel-day.’  As  regards 
the  action  of  stretching  out  a  wing  alternately,  it  is  not 
peculiar  to  Dotterel,  or  even  to  members  of  the  Plover  tribe  ; 
many  birds  do  it  after  being  in  repose  for  some  time,  and  in 
Hawks  it  is  called  ££  mantling  ”  by  falconers. 

The  adult  bird,  in  its  summer  plumage,  has  the  beak 
black  ;  the  irides  dark  brown ;  the  top  of  the  head  and 
nape  of  the  neck,  blackish-brown,  bounded  on  the  side  and 
behind  by  a  band  of  pure  white ;  the  ear-coverts,  the  neck, 
and  back,  ash  colour ;  the  scapulars,  wing-coverts,  and 


2  56 


CH  ARADRIIDiE. 


tertials,  ash-brown  edged  with  buff ;  wing-primaries  ash- 
grey,  the  first  with  a  broad  white  shaft ;  tail-feathers  greyish- 
brown  ;  those  in  the  middle  tipped  with  dull  white,  the 
three  outside  feathers  with  broad  ends  of  pure  white  ;  the 
chin  and  sides  of  the  neck  white ;  the  front  and  sides  of  the 
neck  below  ash-grey ;  from  shoulder  to  shoulder,  across  the 
breast,  is  a  band  of  white,  margined  above  and  below  with  a 
dark  line  ;  breast  rich  fawn  colour,  passing  to  chestnut;  belly 
black ;  vent  and  under  tail-coverts  white,  tinged  with  buff ; 
under  wing-coverts  and  axillary  plume  greyisli-wliite  ;  legs 
and  toes  greenisli-clay  colour;  the  claws  black.  Willughby 
has  remarked,  and  subsequent  observers  have  confirmed  his 
statement,  that  the  females  are  larger  and  more  brightly 
coloured  than  the  males.  In  younger  birds  the  top  of  the 
head,  neck,  and  mantle  are  streaked  and  mottled  with  buff. 

The  whole  length  is  nine  inches  and  a  half.  From  the 
carpal  joint  to  the  end  of  the  wing,  six  inches ;  the  wing 
in  form  pointed ;  the  first  quill-feather  the  longest ;  the 
average  weight  about  four  ounces  :  but  the  Author  has  seen 
one  example  that  weighed  six  ounces  and  a  half. 

Mr.  Hey  sham’s  description  of  a  young  female,  three 
weeks  or  a  month  old,  killed  on  Robinson  July  25tli,  1835, 
is  as  follows: — “  Forehead,  throat,  and  sides  of  the  face, 
cream-yellow,  covered  with  small  spots  and  fine  streaks  of 
greyish-brown.  Crown  of  the  head,  occiput,  and  also  the 
feathers  on  the  back,  dark  brown,  all  more  or  less  broadly 
edged  with  buff-orange.  Scapulars  and  wing-coverts  olive- 
green,  deeply  edged  with  reddish- white  ;  tail  the  same,  finely 
margined  with  white,  the  centre  feathers  broadly  tipped  with 
reddish- white,  and  the  three  lateral  ones  on  each  side  ending 
in  a  large  irregular  whitish  spot.  Sides  of  the  neck,  flanks, 
and  a  broad  band  above  each  eye,  buff-orange,  the  former 
finely  streaked  with  greyish-brown.  Breast  cinereous, 
slightly  tinged  with  reddish-white,  and  marked  on  each  side 
with  large  spots  of  olive-green.  Belly  white,  finely  spotted 
here  and  there  with  greyish-brown.  Bill  black.  Irides 
dark  brown.  Legs  pale  olive-green  ;  soles  bright  yellow.” 


RINGED  PLOVER 


257 


L 1MICOLJE.  ciia  ra  driidar. 


TEgialitis  hiaticula  (Linnaeus*). 

THE  RINGED  PLOVER. 

Charadrius  hiaticula. 

^Egialitis,  Boie f. — Bill  much  shorter  than  the  head,  rather  slender,  straight 
to  the  end  of  the  nasal  furrow,  which  extends  beyond  the  middle  of  the  bill, 
then  slightly  raised,  but  bent  downwards  at  the  tip;  nostrils  small,  and  linear. 
Legs  moderately  long,  slender,  bare  for  a  short  distance  above  the  tarsal  joint  : 
tarsi  reticulated.  Toes  three  only,  slightly  webbed  at  the  base.  Tail  broad, 
slightly  minded.  Wings  long,  pointed;  the  first  quill  the  loDgest ;  the  inner 
secondaries  attaining  the  tip  of  the  third  primary. 

This  prettily-marked  Plover  is  found  throughout  the 
year  on  most  of  the  shores  of  the  British  Islands,  but  more 
particularly  frequents  hays  and  flats  along  the  coast  where 

*  Charadrius  Hiaticula ,  Linnteus,  Syst.  Nat.  Ed.  12,  i.  p.  253  (1766). 
t  Isis,  1822,  pp.  558  and  559. 

VOL.  III. 


L  L 


258 


CHARADRIIDiE. 


the  sea  at  its  ebb  retires  to  a  distance,  leaving  extensive 
surfaces  of  sand  or  shingle.  This  bird  also  frequents  the 
sides  of  large  rivers,  and  is  not  unfrequently  found  about 
the  margin  of  inland  lakes  and  large  ponds.  The  observa¬ 
tions  of  Scales,  Hoy  and  Salmon,  have  long  since  established 
the  fact  of  its  breeding  on  the  sandy  warrens  of  Norfolk  and 
Suffolk,  at  a  considerable  distance  from  the  sea  ;  and,  from  the 
more  recent  and  interesting  experiences  of  Professor  Newton 
and  bis  brother  published  in  Mr.  Stevenson’s  ‘  Birds  of  Nor¬ 
folk,’  it  appears  that  the  7tli  February  is  the  earliest,  and 
the  1st  September  the  latest,  date  on  which  the  birds  were 
observed  on  Thetford  Warren,  where  an  egg  has  been  taken 
so  early  as  the  23rd  March.  By  the  middle  of  April  laying 
has  become  general,  and  there  can  be  little  doubt  that  the 
same  bird  lays  more  than  once  in  the  same  season,  even  when 
she  has  not  been  deprived  of  the  first  clutch.  Incubated 
eggs  and  freshly-hatched  young  have  been  found  by  the 
Editor  so  late  as  the  first  week  in  August.  In  the  north  of 
England,  and  in  Scotland,  where  the  species  is  exceedingly 
abundant,  and  breeds  on  the  shores  of  the  inland  lakes,  as 
well  as  by  the  sea,  nesting  takes  place  somewhat  later  ;  and 
the  same  remarks  will  apply  to  a  great  part  of  Ireland. 

The  nest  is  only  a  slight  hollow  in  the  sand,  in  which  its 
four  eggs  are  deposited ;  but  sometimes  this  cavity  is  lined 
or  covered  with  a  number  of  small  stones  about  the  size  of 
peas,  upon  which  the  eggs  are  laid,  and  this  habit  has 
gained  for  the  Ringed  Plover  in  some  counties  the  provincial 
name  of  Stone-hatch.*  Many  deposit  their  eggs  in  any  acci¬ 
dental  depression  on  a  bank  of  sand,  broken  shells,  or 
shingles  above  high-water  mark.  The  eggs,  which  measure 
about  1-4  by  1  inch,  are  of  a  pale  buff  or  cream-colour, 
spotted  and  streaked  with  ash  blue  and  black.  This  bird 
has  been  known  to  lay  four  eggs  four  times  iu  succession  in 
the  same  season — each  set,  when  completed,  being  taken 
away  ;  the  later  ones  were  smaller  than  usual,  and  altered 
in  form  and  markings,  a  natural  consequence  of  exliaus- 

*  It  is  frequently  called  the  Ringed  Dotterel  :  a  name  which,  shortened  to 
Dotterel,  has  often  given  rise  to  misunderstandings. 


RINGED  PLOVER. 


259 


tion.  The  parents  are  greatly  attached  to  their  young,  and 
practise  various  devices  to  draw  off  any  intruder  from  their 
charge,  while  from  the  great  similarity  in  colour  to  the 
surrounding  materials,  either  the  eggs  or  the  young  are  very 
difficult  to  find.  The  latter  can  run  as  soon  as  they  emerge 
from  the  shell.  They  feed  on  worms,  spiders,  beetles,  and, 
when  at  the  edge  of  the  sea,  on  the  various  species  of  the 
thinner-skinned  Crustacea,  as  shrimps,  sand-hoppers,  &c., 
and,  with  these,  are  taken  particles  of  grit  to  aid  digestion. 
The  note  of  this  bird  is  a  melodious  whistle,  and  when 
alarmed  resembles  the  word  pen-y-et ;  but  during  the  pair¬ 
ing  time  the  male  has  a  distinct  love-call. 

In  the  autumn  those  birds  which  have  frequented  the 
inland  localities  come  down  to  the  coasts,  and  a  partial  migra¬ 
tion  southward  takes  place ;  the  gaps  being  filled  by  arrivals 
from  other,  and  chiefly  northern,  latitudes.  In  spring  they 
return,  but  whereas  the  birds  which  are  more  or  less  resident, 
and  also  the  visitors  from  the  north,  belong  to  a  large  and 
comparatively  bullet-headed  form  with  a  dull-coloured  mantle ; 
they  are  followed  in  May  by  numerous  individuals  of  a 
small  size,  more  slender  form,  darker  mantle  and  more 
sharply  defined  coloration.  This  form  has  even  been  given 
specific  rank  under  the  name  of  sE.  intermedia  (Menetries), 
for  which,  however,  there  do  not  seem  to  be  sufficient 
grounds.  Apparently  the  smaller  race  is  a  southern  form, 
which  only  visits  our  shores  during  the  spring  migration, 
nor  is  it  easy  to  say  where  its  members  go  on  leaving,  as  they 
do  after  a  short  stay :  with  perhaps  a  few  exceptions  on  the 
south  coast,  particularly  in  Sussex,  where  they  are  believed 
to  breed.  Individuals  of  this  smaller  race  have  frequently 
been  recorded  as  Little  Binged  Plovers  (/E.  curonica),  but 
this,  which  will  next  be  treated,  is  a  perfectly  distinct  species 
and  one  whose  apparitions,  even  in  our  southern  districts, 
are  exceedingly  rare  and  irregular. 

Malmgren  states  that  a  brood  of  the  Binged  Plover  was 
found,  and  had  probably  been  bred,  on  the  Seven  Islands  in 
lat.  80°  45'  N.,  and  the  bird  appears  to  have  been  obtained  in 
Spitsbergen.  It  breeds  in  Iceland  and  Greenland,  and  on  the 


260 


CHARADRIID/E. 


late  Arctic  Expedition,  Major  Feilden  obtained  a  female  which 
had  apparently  been  nesting  in  lat.  78°  48'  N.  in  Buchanan 
Strait,  Smith  Sound ;  but  birds  from  other  and  more  western 
localities  in  Arctic  America  have  either  been  proved,  or  may 
fairly  be  supposed  to  be,  examples  of  an  allied  species, 
jE.  semipalmata.  The  latter  is  smaller  than  our  bird,  and 
has  no  white  patch  above  and  behind  the  eye  :  the  pectoral 
band  is  narrower,  and  the  middle  and  outer  toes  are  united 
at  their  base  by  a  very  distinct  web.  Tracing  the  arctic 
range  of  the  Ringed  Plover  eastward,  the  species  is  found  in 
summer  along  the  whole  northern  line  of  the  Old  World 
from  the  North  Cape,  and  Novaya  Zemlya,  to  the  winter 
quarters  of  the  “  Vega,”  close  to  Behring’s  Straits. 

Throughout  Europe  the  Ringed  Plover  is  generally  dis¬ 
tributed  in  suitable  localities,  becoming  rarer  in  the  interior 
of  compact  countries  like  Russia,  and  more  abundant  in 
those  which  present  a  varied  coast  line,  or  large  rivers.  In 
the  northern  regions  it  is  a  migrant,  but  in  the  temperate 
portions  it  is  resident,  and  some  of  the  largest  individuals 
are  to  be  found  amongst  those  which  permanently  inhabit 
the  British  Islands,  and  the  opposite  coasts  of  France  and 
Holland.  In  the  southern  portions  of  Europe  the  smaller 
race  predominates,  and  to  this,  in  all  probability,  belong  the 
birds  which  are  found  in  Madeira,  the  Canaries,  and 
northern  Africa,  and  which  range  in  winter  to  the  southern 
extremity  of  that  continent.  In  Egypt,  Captain  Shelley 
obtained  none  but  the  smaller  individuals,  but  it  is  tolerably 
certain  that  some  of  the  larger  race  also  go  as  far  as  the  Red 
Sea.  In  Turkestan  it  is  said  to  breed  ;  but  in  China  it 
appears  to  be  replaced  by  JE.  placida,  Gray,  which  has  also 
occurred  in  India,  and  has  been  recorded  in  error  as  our 
bird.  A  single  specimen  of  the  Ringed  Plover  was,  however, 
obtained  by  Dr.  Scully  at  Gilgit,  and  one  been  recorded  by 
Mr.  Hume  from  Sultanpur,  about  thirty  miles  south  of  Delhi. 
(Str.  Feath.  viii.  p.  197.)  The  late  Mr.  Gould  has  stated  that 
he  possessed  an  undoubted  specimen  from  Port  Stevens,  in 
Australia. 

The  male  in  summer  has  the  beak  black  at  the  point, 


EINGED  PLOVER. 


261 


orange-yellow  at  the  base  ;  the  irides  brown  ;  forehead  white, 
with  a  black  band  above  it  reaching  to  the  eyes  on  each  side  ; 
lore,  space  under  the  eyes,  and  the  ear-coverts,  black ;  top  of 
the  head  and  nape  of  the  neck  liair-brown  ;  below  this,  and 
all  round  the  neck  a  collar  of  white,  followed  by  a  gorget  of 
black  ;  the  back,  wing-coverts,  and  tertials,  hair-brown  ;  the 
wing-coverts  tipped  with  white,  forming  a  continuous  bar  of 
that  colour,  which  is  conspicuous  when  the  bird  is  on  the 
wing ;  the  primaries  almost  black,  the  distal  portion  of  each 
quill- shaft  white ;  upper  tail-coverts  and  the  base  of  the  tail- 
feathers  hair-brown,  passing  into  greyish  black  towards  the 
end,  the  middle  pair  the  longest,  the  next  four  on  each  side 
tipped  with  white ;  the  outer  feather  on  each  side  entirely 
white  in  the  fully  adult,  but  spotted  in  others ;  chin  and 
throat  white ;  across  the  neck  a  broad  collar  of  black  ; 
breast,  belly,  vent,  and  under  tail-coverts,  white ;  under 
wing-coverts  and  the  axillary  plume  white  ;  legs  and  toes 
orange  ;  the  claws  black. 

The  whole  length  of  the  adult  bird  is  seven  inches  and 
three-quarters.  From  the  carpal  joint  to  the  end  of  the 
wing,  five  inches  and  a  half :  the  wings  pointed  in  shape  ; 
the  first  quill-feather  the  longest. 

Adult  females  in  summer  have  the  black  bands  and  collar 
narrower  than  in  the  males,  and  the  colours  not  quite  so 
decided  ;  both  sexes  in  winter  have  the  black  and  the  white 
less  pure  in  colour. 

Young  birds  of  the  year  have  the  beak  almost  entirely 
black  ;  they  have  no  black  band  over  the  white  one  on  the 
forehead ;  the  lore,  ear-coverts,  and  the  collar  round  the 
lower  part  of  the  neck  are  only  dusky  brown  ;  legs  and  toes 
pale  yellow. 

Varieties  of  this  species  are  not  common,  but  Mr.  F. 
Bond  has  one,  shot  in  Orkney,  which  is  nearly  white  with 
dusky  markings ;  and  Mr.  J.  Whitaker,  of  Rain  worth 
Lodge,  Notts,  has  one  with  a  stone-buff  mantle. 


262 


CIIARADRIIDJE. 


LIMICOLJi. 


CHAR  A  DR11DAF.. 


aEgialitis  curonica  (Gmelin*). 

THE  LITTLE  RINGED  PLOVER. 

Charadrius  minor. 

Of  this  rare  visitant  to  Britain,  the  late  Mr.  Gould  wrote 
in  the  ‘Birds  of  Europe,’  “We  are  indebted  to  our  friend 
Mr.  Henry  Doubleday,  of  Epping,  for  the  loan  of  an  example 
of  this  elegant  little  Plover,  which  he  informs  us  was  taken 
at  Shoreham,  in  Sussex;”  and  it  would  appear  that  this 
specimen  was  correctly  identified.  As  regards  the  late 
Mr.  Lubbock’s  statement  in  his  Fauna  of  Norfolk,  that 
“  two  specimens  of  this  bird  in  the  Norwich  Museum  were 
believed  by  Mr.  Denny,  the  curator,  to  have  been  killed  in 
the  county;  but  the  fact  was  not  noted  down  at  the  time;” 
Mr.  Stevenson  writes  that  only  one  of  these  is  now  in 
existence,  and  the  evidence  is  too  vague  to  justify  its 
claim  to  be  considered  a  Norfolk  bird. 

*  Charadrius  curonicus ,  Gmelin,  Syst.  Nat.  i.  p.  684  (1788).  So-called 
because  it  inhabits  Curonia  (Courland). 


LITTLE  RINGED  PLOVER. 


263 


The  late  Mr.  E.  H.  Rodd  obtained  a  specimen  shot  on 
the  23rd  October,  1863,  at  Trescoe,  in  the  Scilly  Islands,  by 
his  nephew,  Mr.  F.  R.  Rodd,  who  wrote  as  follows  : — “  It 
rose,  and  its  note  was  a  single  sharp  whistle,  not  like  that 
of  the  Common  Ringed  Plover,  and  shorter  in  duration. 
Its  flight  was  remarkably  Stint-like,  which  it  also  resembled 
in  its  tameness.”  On  the  30tli  August,  1864,  Mr.  J.  E. 
Harting  shot  an  immature  male  example  at  Kingsbury 
Reservoir,  in  Middlesex,  and  took  it  in  the  flesh  to  Mr. 
Gould,  together  with  an  adult  female  of  the  Common  Ringed 
Plover  shot  at  the  same  time  and  place.  Accurate  measure¬ 
ments  and  weights  of  each  were  taken,  and  their  sternums 
were  subsequently  compared,  the  results  being  given  in 
detail  by  Mr.  Harting  in  the  ‘  Birds  of  Middlesex  ’  (p.  152). 
He  was  afterwards  informed  by  Mr.  R.  H.  Mitford,  of 
Hampstead,  that  he  also  shot  an  immature  Little  Ringed 
Plover  on  the  20th  August  of  the  same  year,  at  the  same 
piece  of  water,  hut  that  owing  to  an  unfortunate  mistake,  it 
was  not  preserved.  Mr.  W.  Borrer,  of  Cowfold,  Sussex, 
has  also  an  undoubted  example  shot  near  the  mouth  of 
Chichester  Harbour  in  May,  some  years  ago.* 

Besides  these  genuine  examples,  a  number  of  ‘  Little 
Ringed  Plovers  ’  have  been  from  time  to  time  recorded  in 
the  pages  of  ‘  The  Zoologist  ’  and  elsewhere,  without  any 
evidence  being  adduced  to  show  that  they  were  not  speci¬ 
mens  of  the  small  race  of  the  Common  Ringed  Plover,  and 
such  in  fact  some  of  them  are  now  candidly  admitted  to  be 
by  their  owners.  The  real  Little  Ringed  Plover  may, 
however,  be  distinguished  from  JR.  Jiiaticula ,  by  its  smaller 
size  and  slenderer  form,  being  one-fourth  lighter  in  weight ; 
but  especially  by  the  colour  of  the  shafts  of  the  'primaries, 
which  are  all  dusky,  except  the  outer  one,  which  alone 
is  white  throughout.  In  the  larger  species  there  are  flecks 
of  white  crossing  the  whole  of  the  primaries,  and  forming 

*  Mr.  Knox,  in  the  3rd  Edition  of  his  ‘  Ornithological  Rambles  in  Sussex,  ’ 
p.  224  (1855),  states,  without  further  details,  that  three  adult  and  two 
immature  examples  of  the  Little  Ringed  Plover,  were  killed  near  Shoreham, 
in  September,  1853. 


264 


CHARADRIIM. 


when  the  wing  is  extended,  a  very  visible  band.  These 
points  should  suffice  to  distinguish  the  two  species  at  any 
age. 

The  Little  Ringed  Plover  also  exhibits  some  difference 
in  its  habits,  preferring  the  sides  of  rivers  rather  than  the 
shores  of  the  sea.  On  this  point  the  late  Mr.  Hoy,  who  had 
attended  to  the  distinguished  peculiarities  of  this  species  on 
the  Continent,  remarks,  “  The  Little  Plover  appears  to  be 
very  rarely  found  on  the  sea  coast ;  but  frequents  in  pre¬ 
ference  the  banks  of  rivers,  where  it  breeds.  It  lays  its 
eggs  on  the  sand,  not  a  particle  of  grass,  or  other  material 
being  used.  It  is  very  partial  to  sand  banks  forming 
islands,  which  are  often  met  with  in  some  of  the  larger 
rivers  of  the  Continent.  It  may  also  frequently  be  found 
during  the  breeding-season  upon  those  large  extents  of  sand 
which  are  met  with  at  some  little  distance  from  the  borders 
of  rivers,  overgrown  in  part  with  a  coarse  wiry  grass.”  The 
eggs  are  generally  four  in  number,  and  measure  1*15 
by  *85  in.,  of  a  pale  yellowish  stone  colour,  with  numerous 
small  spots  of  dark  brown,  without  the  bold  blotches  found 
in  the  egg  of  the  Ringed  Plover. 

The  food  is  similar  to  that  of  the  preceding  species. 
The  usual  note  is  rendered  by  Naumann  as  clia  or  dea, 
uttered  very  quickly,  but  the  love  call  is  a  much  more 
prolonged  trill. 

It  is  somewhat  remarkable  that  the.  Little  Ringed  Plover 
should  so  rarely  be  obtained  on  our  shores,  inasmuch  as  it  is 
a  common  species  in  summer  in  the  northern  portions  of  the 
Continent.  It  breeds  in  Scandinavia,  Russia,  the  greater 
part  of  Germany,  and  in  Belgium,  although  in  Holland  it 
appears  to  be  a  bird  of  passage  ;  and  it  nests  regularly  in 
some  parts  of  France,  Spain,  Italy,  and  along  all  the  northern 
side  of  the  Mediterranean.  Principally  a  winter  visitant  to 
North  Africa,  it  descends  that  continent  to  the  Gaboon  on 
the  west,  and  to  Mozambique  on  the  east ;  and  has  also 
occurred  in  Mauritius.  The  most  northern  locality  on 
record  is  probably  Ust  Zylma,  on  the  Petchora,  where  a 
solitary  specimen  was  obtained  by  Messrs.  Seebohm  and 


LITTLE  RINGED  PLOVER. 


265 


Harvie-Brown ;  but  south  of  that,  it  occurs  throughout 
Siberia  and  Turkestan,  where  it  breeds  up  to  an  altitude 
of  4,000  feet ;  and  in  China  and  Japan,  where  it  also 
breeds.  It  can  be  traced  from  Palestine,  through  Persia 
and  Afghanistan,  to  Kashgar,  where  Dr.  Scully  obtained  it 
at  an  elevation  of  12,000  feet,  and  procured  a  young  bird 
in  the  month  of  December  ;  it  visits  the  Mekran  coast  and 
the  greater  part  of  India  in  winter  ;  in  Ceylon  it  is  said  to 
be  resident ;  and  it  ranges  onwards  from  Burmah  to  the 
Philippines  and  the  Moluccas. 

A  small  Plover,  said  to  have  been  obtained  at  San 
Francisco,  and  described  as  a  new  species  by  Mr.  Ridgway, 
under  the  name  of  JEgialitis  microrhyncha ,  was  subse¬ 
quently  identified  by  him  with  jE.  curonica,  but  Mr.  Ridg¬ 
way  now  considers  it  very  doubtful  whether  the  locality  given 
on  the  label  was  correct. 

In  the  adult  bird  the  beak  is  black,  except  at  the  base  of 
the  lower  mandible,  where  it  is  yellow ;  the  irides  dark 
brown ;  eye-lids  bright  yellow ;  the  forehead  white,  with 
a  black  patch  above  it  extending  to  the  eye  on  each  side  ; 
top  of  the  head  and  the  occiput  ash-brown  ;  lore  and  ear- 
coverts  black ;  nape  of  the  neck  white  ;  below  this  a  collar 
of  black  ;  back,  scapulars,  wing-coverts,  tertials,  rump,  and 
upper  tail-coverts,  asli-brown  ;  primary  and  secondary  wing- 
feathers  dusky  brown ;  these  and  the  greater  wing-coverts 
edged  with  white  ;  the  first  primary  quill-featlier  only  with 
a  broad  white  shaft ;  tail-feathers  ash-brown  at  the  base, 
darker  towards  the  end ;  the  five  outer  tail-feathers  on 
each  side  white  at  the  end,  this  colour  increasing  in  extent 
on  each  lateral  feather,  the  outer  one  on  each  side  having 
only  a  dusky  spot  on  the  inner  web,  but  this  appears  to 
be  constant  at  all  ages :  chin  and  throat  white,  this  colour 
extending  from  the  latter  round  the  nape  of  the  neck ; 
below  this  and  above  the  breast  is  a  collar  of  black ;  the 
breast  itself,  the  belly,  vent,  and  under  tail-coverts,  pure 
white  ;  legs  and  toes  dull  yellow ;  the  claws  black. 

Adult  specimens  generally  measure  six  inches  and  one- 
quarter.  From  the  carpal  joint  to  the  end  of  the  wing, 

VOL.  III.  M  M 


266 


CHARADRIIDiE- 


four  inches  and  tliree-eighths  ;  the  first  quill-feather  but 
very  little  longer  than  the  second,  and  the  longest  in  the 
wing. 

Adult  females  have  the  white  and  black  frontal  hands 
narrower  than  the  males,  and  these  markings  are  also  less 
perfectly  defined. 

Young  birds  of  the  year  want  all  the  decided  black 
markings  which  distinguish  old  birds,  and  the  ash-brown 
feathers  of  the  back  and  wing-coverts  have  buff-coloured 
margins. 

A  mounted  specimen  of  the  American  Killdeer  Plover, 
Mgialitis  vocifera,  was  shewn  to  Mr.  P.  L.  Sclater  in  1862, 
by  Mr.  J.  R.  Wise,  who  stated  that  it  was  shot  about  a 
mile  from  Christchurch,  in  Hampshire,  in  April,  1857,  and 
taken  in  the  flesh  to  Mr.  Hart,  the  bird-stuffer,  who  sold 
it  to  its  then  owner,  Mr.  Tanner.  In  recording  the  above 
(Ibis,  1862,  pp.  275-277),  Mr.  Sclater  remarked  that  some 
corroborative  evidence  of  the  bird  having  been  brought  to 
Mr.  Hart  “in  the  flesh”  would  still  be  desirable;  but  he 
saw  nothing  very  improbable  in  the  alleged  facts,  as  other 
American  species  of  less  extended  range  and  more  limited 
powers  of  flight  have  already  occurred  in  this  country.  The 
Killdeer  Plover  ranges  from  Arctic  America  to  Mexico  and 
Guatemala,  and  visits  the  Bermudas  regularly  from  Novem¬ 
ber  to  March,  but  there  is  no  other  instance  on  record  of 
its  occurrence  in  Europe. 


KENTISH  PLOVER. 


267 


L1M1C0LJE.  C II All  ADR!  ID  jE. 


^Egialitis  cantiana  (Latham*). 

THE  KENTISH  PLOVER. 

Char adr ius  C antianus. 

The  Kentish  Plover  was  first  described  and  named  by 
Latham,  from  specimens  sent  to  him  by  Dr.  Boys,  which 
were  killed  at  Sandwich,  in  Kent,  in  the  years  1787  and 
1791.  It  is  a  species  with  a  broken  or  interrupted  pectoral 
band,  therein  differing  from  the  preceding  species,  and 
arrives  on  the  shores  of  England  in  April  and  departs  in 
August,  but  in  Scotland  it  is  as  yet  unknown.  Bridlington, 
on  the  Yorkshire  coast,  is  at  present  the  most  northern 
locality  from  which  it  has  been  recorded ;  and  it  is  of  rare 
occurrence  in  Lincolnshire,  f  In  Norfolk,  Mr.  Stevenson 
informs  the  Editor  that  it  is  a  more  frequent  visitant  on 

*  Charadrius  Cantianus,  Latham,  Suppl.  ii.  to  Gen.  Synop.  p.  lxvi.  (1801). 

+  Cordeaux,  ‘Birds  of  Humber  District,’  p.  93. 


268 


CHARADRI1M. 


migration  than  was  formerly  supposed,  when  the  bird  was 
recognized  by  few  ;  but  it  is  not  until  the  shores  of  Kent 
and  Sussex  are  reached  that  the  species  is  to  be  found 
breeding  even  in  moderate  numbers.  The  shingle  between 
Rye  Harbour  and  Dungeness  was  once  a  favoured  locality, 
but  sad  havoc  has  been  made  there  by  collectors.  In  Devon¬ 
shire,  as  Mr.  Gatcombe  informs  the  Editor,  two  were  killed 
at  Plymouth  breakwater  in  May  some  years  ago,  and  another 
was  shot  in  autumn  in  the  Hamoaze ;  and  in  Cornwall, 
Mr.  Rodd  only  records  two  occurrences  in  the  month  of 
April,  and  one  in  August.  In  the  Channel  Islands  it  is 
not  uncommon,  especially  on  Guernsey,  and  the  neighbour¬ 
ing  islets.  *  In  Ireland  it  is  of  very  rare  occurrence. 

With  the  exception  of  a  recent  occurrence  in  Norway, 
recorded  by  Mr.  Collett,  the  Kentish  Plover  has  not  been 
found  beyond  the  southern  districts  of  Sweden,  nor  is 
it  at  all  common  on  the  Baltic  coast  of  Germany,  but 
westwards  it  is  fairly  distributed  from  Denmark  to  the 
extremities  of  France.  On  the  coast  of  the  Spanish  Penin¬ 
sula  and  for  a  short  distance  inland,  it  is  abundant,  and 
although  somewhat  irregularly  distributed,  it  is  found  breed¬ 
ing  throughout  the  islands  and  northern  shores  of  the 
Mediterranean.  In  the  interior  of  the  Continent  it  is 
almost  unknown,  for  of  the  three  species,  this  is  by  far  the 
most  partial  to  salt  water.  On  the  shores  of  the  Black 
Sea  it  is  very  numerous,  except  in  winter,  and  in  Asia 
Minor  it  appears  to  be  resident ;  in  fact  its  line  of  resi¬ 
dence  reaches  along  the  coast  of  North  Africa  to  the 
Canaries,  Madeira  and  the  Azores.  Some  individuals  go  as 
far  south  as  Damaraland,  and  even  to  Cape  Colony.  From 
Turkestan,  where  it  breeds  at  a  considerable  altitude,  it 
can  be  traced  to  the  salt  lakes  of  Dauria  and  Mongolia, 
and  to  the  coasts  of  China  and  Japan  j* ;  and  it  is  found 
along  the  coasts  and  on  the  large  rivers  of  India  down  to 
Ceylon,  where  the  resident  race  becomes  somewhat  small. 

*  Cecil  Smith,  ‘  Birds  of  Guernsey,’  pp.  125-127. 

+  In  Southern  China  and  the  Malay  Archipelago  there  is  a  closely-allied 
resident  form,  u¥Z.  peronii  (Temm. ),  and  JE.  dealbata  (Swinhoe),  distinguished 
by  its  yellow  tarsi  and  yellow  base  to  the  bill. 


KENTISH  PLOVER. 


269 


In  Burmah  it  is  abundant  in  winter  ;  it  has  occurred  in 
the  island  of  Mindanao ;  and  Messrs.  Finsch  and  Hartlaub 
record  it  from  the  Pelew  Islands.  In  America  this  widely 
ranging  bird  is  replaced  by  a  closely-allied  species,  EE. 
nivosa,  which  in  breeding- plumage  has  the  lores  white,  and 
not  black. 

The  habits  and  food  of  this  little  Plover  resemble  those 
of  the  Binged  Plover.  The  female  makes  little  or  no  nest  ; 
but  lays  her  eggs  in  a  small  hollow  in  the  sand,  or  amongst 
fine  shingle  and  broken  shells.  Mr.  K.  H.  Mitford,  who 
has  examined  a  considerable  number  of  clutches,  writes  to 
the  Editor  that  he  never  found  them  to  consist  of  more 
than  three,  even  when  the  eggs  were  incubated ;  and  the 
Editor’s  experience  of  the  average  is  similar ;  still  he  has 
found  four,  both  in  Spain  and  in  the  Channel  Islands. 
In  a  clutch  of  four  mentioned  by  Mr.  Cecil  Smith,  the  eggs 
were  nearly  upright  in  the  sand,  the  small  end  being  buried, 
and  the  thick  end  just  shewing  above  the  sand.  They 
are  of  a  rather  rough  texture,  of  a  yellowish  stone-colour, 
spotted  and  scrawled  with  black  and  measure  1*2  by  *9  in. 
Mr.  Dombrain  (Zool.  1880,  p.  138)  says  that  occasionally 
they  are  deposited  on  a  heap  of  sea-weed  thrown  up  by  a 
very  high  tide.  If  put  off  the  eggs,  the  bird  will  retire  to 
a  short  distance,  and  utter  a  plaintive  whistle,  run  a  few 
yards,  then  fly  a  little,  then  drop  and  run  again.  As  soon, 
however,  as  the  young  are  hatched  its  manner  changes :  it 
will  then  fly  closely  round,  accompanying  each  stroke  of 
the  wings  by  a  sharp  whistle,  then  drop  suddenly,  and 
cower,  with  expanded  wings  and  tail.  Each  pair  appears 
to  frequent  a  limited  area,  and  when  disturbed,  fly  but  a 
short  distance,  returning  quickly  to  their  starting  point. 

The  adult  male  in  summer  has  the  beak  wholly  black ; 
the  irides  brown ;  the  forehead  white,  the  same  colour  being 
continued  over  the  eye  and  a  little  beyond  it  over  the  ear- 
coverts  ;  above  the  white  on  the  forehead  is  a  patch  of 
black,  which  extends  only  to  the  edge  of  the  white,  not  to 
the  eye-lid  :  top  of  the  head  and  the  occiput  rich  reddish- 
brown  ;  from  the  base  of  the  beak  to  the  eye  a  black  streak  ; 


270 


CHARADRIIDiE. 


ear-coverts  also  black ;  nape  of  the  neck  white ;  back, 
scapulars,  wing-coverts,  tertials,  upper  tail-coverts,  and  the 
base  of  the  tail-feathers  ash-brown  or  light  hair-brown  ;  the 
wing-primaries  dusky  black ;  the  distal  part  of  the  shafts  of 
the  quill-featliers  white  ;  the  two  middle  tail-feathers  the 
longest,  and  dusky  black  at  the  end ;  the  two  outer  tail- 
feathers  on  each  side  wholly  white  ;  chin,  cheeks,  sides  of 
the  neck  and  the  throat,  pure  white ;  just  in  advance  of  the 
carpal  joint,  or  point  of  the  wing,  on  each  side,  is  a  patch  of 
black,  not  continued  round  the  front ;  the  breast,  belly,  vent, 
and  under  tail-coverts  white  ;  under  wing-coverts  and  axillary 
plume  white  ;  legs,  toes,  and  claws  dark  slate-colour. 

The  whole  length  is  almost  seven  inches.  From  the 
carpal  joint  to  the  end  of  the  wing,  four  inches  and  one- 
quarter  :  the  wing  pointed  ;  the  first  quill-feather  the 
longest. 

In  the  adult  female  the  dark  colour  on  the  head  and  neck 
is  less  decidedly  black,  and  occupies  a  smaller  surface. 

Young  birds  of  the  year  have  no  black  colour  above  the 
white  on  the  forehead  ;  and  the  lore,  as  well  as  the  ear- 
coverts  and  the  patch  in  front  of  the  bend  of  the  wing  are 
dusky-brown  ;  the  beak,  legs,  and  toes,  black.  The  young 
in  down  may  be  distinguished  from  those  of  the  Ringed 
Plover  by  their  more  rufous  tint. 

The  illustration  represents  an  adult  male  killed  in  summer, 
and  a  young  bird  of  the  year  killed  in  autumn. 


GOLDEN  PLOVER 


271 


LIMICOLAR. 


CHARADRIIDJE . 


Charadrius  pluvialis,  Linmeus.^ 
THE  GOLDEN  PLOVER. 


YELLOW  PLOVER.  GREEN  PLOVER. 

Cliaraclrius  pluvialis. 

Charadrius,  Linnceusf. — Bill  shorter  than  the  head,  straight,  rather  slender, 
the  upper  mandible  straight  to  the  end  of  the  nasal  furrow,  then  slightly  raised, 
and  decurved  to  the  pointed  tip  ;  nostrils  subbasal  and  linear.  Legs  of  moderate 
length,  slender,  bare  for  a  short  distance  above  the  tarsal  joint :  tarsi  reticulated. 
Toes  three  only,  all  directed  forwards,  slightly  webbed  at  the  base.  Wings 
long,  pointed  in  shape  ;  the  first  quill-feather  the  longest  ;  inner  secondaries 
much  shorter  than  in  Eudromias ,  and  somewhat  shorter  than  in  sfigialitis. 

The  Plovers  of  the  germs  Charadrius,  as  now  restricted, 
are  remarkable  for  assuming  in  the  spring,  and  retaining 

Charadrius  Pluvialis,  Linmeus,  Syst.  Nat.  Ed.  12,  i.  p.  254  (1766). 
f  tom.  cit.  p.  253. 


CHARADRIIM. 


272 

during  summer,  a  plumage  differing  considerably  from  that 
which  distinguishes  them  from  the  time  of  the  autumn 
moult  through  the  winter  till  the  following  spring.  This 
alteration  of  colour,  which  is  common  to  both  sexes,  consists, 
in  the  Golden  Plover,  of  a  decided  change  from  a  dull 
greyish-white  to  black,  which  pervades  the  whole  of  the 
under  surface  of  the  bird  from  the  chin  to  the  belly.  Some 
new  feathers,  which  are  obtained  in  the  spring,  are  black, 
whilst  the  old  white  feathers  of  winter  may  be  seen  in 
change  to  black,  some  of  them  bearing  almost  every  possible 
proportion  of  well-defined  black  and  white  on  the  same 
feathers,  the  colouring  secretions  having  equal  influence 
over  the  old  as  well  as  the  new  feathers.  Such  birds  are 
said  to  be  subject  to  a  double  moult,  but  that  of  the  spring 
is  only  partial,  not  affecting  the  strong  feathers  of  the  wings 
and  tail ;  the  entire  moult,  including  the  flight  and  tail 
feathers,  only  occurs  in  these  birds  once  in  each  year, 
and  that  in  the  autumn.*  This  latter  moult  begins  in 
September  and  is  generally  completed  by  November ;  the 
partial  spring  change  commences  in  February  and  is  over 
by  the  middle  of  May.  Male  birds  are  generally  observed 
to  have  acquired  an  alteration  in  the  colour  of  their  feathers 
more  rich  and  perfect  than  that  of  the  females  ;  but  this  is 
not  always  the  case,  as  the  extent  of  the  change  appears  to 
depend  upon  the  constitutional  vigour  and  powers  of  the 
individual  bird,  whether  male  or  female,  and  specimens  of 

the  latter  sex  are  occasionally  seen  in  a  summer  dress  as 

rich  and  as  perfect  as  that  of  the  finest  male. 

In  the  ‘  Fabliaux  ’  of  the  xiiith  Century  we  read  of 

“  Ploviers  et  corliex  [Curlews]  en  hastis  ”  [i.e.  on  spits]  ; 
and  Belon,  in  1555,  writing  of  the  Pluvier  and  the  Guillemot, 
hy  which  he  means  the  adult  and  the  young  of  this  species, 
says,  “  II  semble  qu’il  est  ainsi  nomine  [Pluvier]  pource 
qu’on  le  prend  mieux  en  temps  pluvieux  qu’en  nulle  autre 
saison.”  As  a  delicacy  it  has  long  been  esteemed  for  the 

*  See  observations  on  the  laws  which  appear  to  influence  the  assumption  and 
changes  of  plumage  in  birds  in  the  Transactions  of  the  Zoological  Society,  vol.  i. 
page  13  ;  also  ‘The  Zoologist,’  1879,  pp.  81-89. 


GOLDEN  PLOVER. 


273 


table,  and  in  the  L’ Estrange  “  Household  Book  ”  for  1520, 
the  price  of  Golden  Plovers  appears  to  have  been  as  high  as 
about  2d.  each. 

The  Golden  Plover  is  found  during  summer,  breeding  on 
the  high  hills  and  swampy  grounds  of  Great  Britain  and 
Ireland.  In  England  it  is  believed  to  breed  sparingly  in 
Devonshire,  and  perhaps  in  Somerset,  and  it  is  known  to  do 
so  in  Breconshire  and  some  other  counties  of  Wales  and 
its  borders.  From  Derbyshire  onwards  it  becomes  more 
abundant  as  a  nesting  species,  and  in  Scotland  it  is  generally 
distributed  ;  being  especially  numerous  in  Sutherlandshire. 
It  is  a  familiar  bird  on  the  moors  of  the  Orkney  and 
Shetland  Islands,  and  in  the  Hebrides  the  numbers  which 
descend  to  the  sandy  pastures  and  shores  are  said  by 
Macgillivray  to  be  astonishing.  Throughout  Ireland  it  is 
to  be  found  breeding  in  suitable  localities ;  and  early  in 
autumn  enormous  flocks  or  ‘  stands  ’  visit  the  lowlands  and 
coasts  of  that  island.  Sir  B.  Payne- Gallwey  says  that  it  is 
the  universal  custom  of  the  Irish  fowler  to  call  the  Golden 
Plover  the  ‘  Grey,’  whilst  the  true  Grey  Plover  is  frequently 
alluded  to  as  the  ‘White  Plover’  or  ‘Sea-Cock.’*  The 
largest  assemblages  on  the  coast  are  to  be  witnessed  at  the 
time  when  the  moonlight  enables  them  to  feed  at  night. 

The  Golden  Plover  lays  four  eggs,  which  are  large  in 
proportion  to  the  size  of  the  bird,  and  very  handsome  :  of  a 
yellowish  stone-colour,  blotched  and  spotted  with  brownish- 
black,  measuring  2  by  1*4  in.  About  the  middle  of  May,  in 
this  country,  but  earlier  in  some  parts  of  the  Continent, 
the  females  begin  to  lay,  making  but  little  artificial  nest, 
a  small  depression  in  the  ground  amidst  the  heath  being 
generally  taken  advantage  of,  and  lined  with  a  few  dry 
fibres  and  stems  of  grass.  The  male  sometimes  takes  part 
in  the  duties  of  incubation,  for  Mr.  R.  Collett  shot  one  from 
four  eggs  on  the  19tli  June,  1872,  in  the  valley  of  the 
Maalselv,  in  Norway,  the  female  not  being  observed.  The 
young,  when  excluded,  are  covered  with  a  beautiful  parti¬ 
coloured  down  of  orange- tinted  yellow  and  brown  ;  they  quit 

*  The  Fowler  in  Ireland,  p.  174. 


VOL.  III. 


N  N 


274 


CHARADRIIDiE. 


the  nest  as  soon  as  hatched,  and  follow  their  parents  till  able 
to  fly  and  support  themselves,  which  is  in  the  course  of  a 
month  or  five  weeks,  and  during  that  period  the  old  birds 
display  great  anxiety  in  protecting  their  young  brood,  using 
various  stratagems  to  divert  the  attention  of  an  enemy. 
They  have  only  one  brood  in  the  season. 

The  usual  food  of  this  species  appears  to  he  worms, 
slugs,  beetles,  and  larvae  ;  and,  when  on  the  sea-coast,  of 
small  testaceous  mollusca  of  the  genera  Rissoa,  Littorina, 
and  Lacuna ,  together  with  the  fry  of  the  common  mussel ; 
a  little  vegetable  food  is  also  to  be  found  in  the  gizzard  at 
times,  and  the  seeds  of  the  saline  Glaux  maritima  are  often 
swallowed,  as  well  as  numerous  particles  of  grit. 

The  note  is  a  clear  whistling  Tliii ;  hut  during  the 
courting-season  the  male  utters  a  prolonged  Talucll-taludl- 
taludl-taludl.  During  migration  the  cry  of  flocks  passing 
overhead  at  night  may  often  be  heard  over  large  towns,  and 
of  this  Mr.  Stevenson  (B.  of  Norfolk,  ii.  p.  70)  gives  some 
remarkable  experiences. 

In  autumn  the  various  broods  associate,  forming  flocks, 
and  descend  from  the  moors  to  the  lowlands  and  sea- shores. 
According  to  Mr.  Cordeaux  the  rule  of  migration  upon  the 
East  coast  is,  a  few  old  black-breasted  birds  early  in 
August:  often  in  company  with  Lapwings;  followed  by  flocks 
of  young  birds  in  September  and  early  October  ;  and  late 
in  October,  and  in  November,  immense  flights  of  old  birds. 
Later  in  the  year,  any  sharp,  cold  weather  drives  the  flocks 
to  the  south  and  west,  but  during  the  early  part  of  the 
season  their  line  of  migration  is  often  unaccountably  erratic. 
On  the  evening  of  the  22nd  August,  1880,  Major  P.  K. 
Seddon,  when  in  his  yacht  at  Spurn,  saw  thousands  of 
Golden  Plover  passing  north  along  the  sea-shore  in  detached 
flocks.  In  the  following  year,  on  the  6th  September,  Mr. 
W.  Eagle  Clarke  saw  a  long  waved  line,  extending  at  least 
three  or  four  miles,  passing  over  Spurn,  and  extending  far 
over  towards  the  Lincolnshire  coast,  with  direction  to  the 
north.  It  is  difficult  to  surmise  whence  these  large  flights 
started.  In  1882  young  Golden  Plovers  commenced  cross- 


GOLDEN  PLOVER. 


275 


ing  Heligoland  on  the  9th  of  August.  These  migrants 
constitute  a  large  proportion  of  the  numbers  which  frequent 
our  islands  from  autumn  to  spring,  and  by  the  beginning 
of  March  the  return  northwards  begins. 

The  late  Rev.  Richard  Lubbock,  in  his  Fauna  of  Norfolk, 
says  of  these  birds,  “  A  great  many  are  shot  in  the  marshes. 
The  early  dawn  is  the  time  at  which  our  fen- men  seek 
them ;  they  then  fly  about  in  close  bodies,  and  will  pass 
very  near  to  any  one  remaining  perfectly  still.  In  the 
middle  of  the  day  they  are  very  difficult  of  access.  They 
seem  to  divide  their  time  between  the  marshes  and  the 
uplands.  If  they  are  in  a  marsh  all  day  they  often  move 
off*  to  a  ploughed  field  just  as  it  is  dusk,  and  vice  versa ;  if 
upon  arable  land,  they  go  down  to  the  marsh  for  the  night, 
and  it  is  truly  called  'pluvialis,  from  its  restlessness  before 
bad  weather.  A  few  years  back,  one  day  in  the  end  of 
December,  I  stood  upon  an  eminence  overlooking  a  level  of 
marshes ;  the  day  was  beautifully  mild  and  bright.  I  was 
struck  by  the  perpetual  wheelings,  now  high,  now  low,  of 
large  flocks  of  this  bird  and  the  Peewit.  They  were  not 
still  for  a  moment,  and  yet  I  could  discover  no  cause  of 
disturbance.  Some  hours  afterwards  I  went  again  to  the 
same  hill,  and  found  them  in  the  same  perturbed  state.  I 
was  so  persuaded  that  this  restlessness  was  the  harbinger 
of  stormy  weather,  that  I  wrote  a  letter  excusing  myself 
on  that  plea  from  fulfilling  an  engagement  at  a  distance. 
The  next  morning  came,  calm  and  mild  as  the  preceding ; 
the  Plovers,  however,  had  all  departed,  not  one  was  to  be 
seen.  About  5  p.m.  the  wind  began  to  howl,  signs  of 
tempest  came  on,  and  before  morning  so  much  snow  fell, 
that  in  the  lanes  were  drifts  six  and  seven  feet  in  depth.” 

The  Golden  Plover  is  common  in  summer  in  Iceland,  and 
in  the  Faeroes,  and  is  generally  distributed  at  that  season 
throughout  Scandinavia,  Northern  Russia,  and  Northern 
Germany.  It  also  breeds  on  the  moors  of  Brabant  and 
Luxembourg,  but  in  France,  and  in  Central  and  Southern 
Europe  it  only  occurs  on  migration,  or  in  winter.  A 
straggler  to  Madeira,  it  can  be  traced  down  the  west  coast 


276 


CUARADRIIM. 


of  Africa  to  Cape  Colony ;  and  it  winters  in  the  northern 
portions  of  that  continent,  and  in  Asia  Minor. 

In  Siberia  Mr.  Seebohm  met  with  it  breeding  as  far  east 
as  the  tundras  near  the  mouth  of  the  Yenesei,  but  there  he 
found  in  the  predominance  an  allied  species,  the  Eastern 
Golden  Plover,  Charadrius  fulvus,  6m.  The  latter  may  easily 
be  distinguished  from  our  bird  by  its  smaller  size,  its  more 
naked  tibia,  and  especially  by  the  colour  of  the  axillaries, 
which  are  smoke-grey,  and  not  white  as  in  our  bird.  The 
Eastern  species  has  a  wide  range,  from  Siberia  through  East¬ 
ern  Asia  to  Polynesia,  Australia,  and  Southern  Africa,  and  as 
a  straggler  it  has  occurred  on  the  Red  Sea  ;  in  Malta,  twice ; 
at  Malaga,  once  ;  at  Lublin  in  Poland,  once  ;  and  in  Heligo¬ 
land,  thrice.  In  December,  1874,  an  example  was  found  in 
Leadenhall  Market  amongst  a  lot  of  Golden  Plovers,  and 
was  said  to  come  from  Norfolk  (Ibis,  1875,  p.  518),  but 
although  there  is  nothing  improbable  in  this  statement,  the 
evidence  appears  to  be  hardly  strong  enough  to  justify  the 
admission  of  this  species  as  a  British  bird.  Across  the 
entire  continent  of  North  America,  ranging  southwards  in 
winter,  is  found  Ch.  virginicus ,  a  form  which  seems  to 
differ  from  Ch.  fidvus  in  being,  on  the  average,  somewhat 
larger,  and  in  having  shorter  inner  secondaries.  To  this 
form  has  been  ascribed  a  bird  killed  on  Heligoland  (Ibis, 
1877,  p.  165)  ;  and  in  the  autumn  of  1882,  Mr.  J.  H. 
Gurney,  jun.,  found  in  Leadenhall  Market  an  example 
which  had,  no  doubt,  been  killed  somewhere  in  Western 
Europe  (Ibis,  1883,  p.  198).  To  complete  the  history  of 
the  range  of  our  Golden  Plover,  it  must  be  said  that  one 
was  shot  on  the  Noursoak  Peninsula,  Greenland,  in  breeding- 
plumage,  in  the  spring  of  1871,  and  Dr.  Einsch  believed 
that  this  species  bred  in  East  Greenland ;  it  has  also 
been  said  to  have  been  obtained  at  Godliavn,  and  in  Bellot 
Straits  (Ibis,  1860,  p.  166),  but  perhaps  it  was  not  accurately 
distinguished  from  its  American  congener. 

The  adult  bird  in  its  summer  plumage  has  the  beak 
black  ;  the  irides  very  dark  brown,  almost  black  ;  on  the 
forehead  a  band  of  white ;  top  of  the  head,  the  nape  of 


GOLDEN  PLOVER. 


277 


the  neck,  the  back,  wing-coverts,  tertials,  rump,  and  upper 
tail-coverts,  greyisli-hlack,  the  edges  of  all  the  feathers 
varied  with  triangular- shaped  spots  of  gamboge -yellow ; 
wing-primaries  almost  black  ;  tail-feathers  obliquely  barred 
with  shades  of  greyish-white  and  brownish-black ;  the  lore, 
chin,  sides  of  the  neck,  throat,  breast,  and  all  the  under 
surface  of  the  body  as  far  as  the  vent,  jet  black,  bounded 
on  the  sides  with  a  band  of  white  below  the  wing ;  axillary 
plume  elongated,  and  pure  white  ;  under  tail-coverts  white. 

In  winter  the  chin  is  white ;  front  of  the  neck  and  the 
breast,  white,  tinged  with  dusky,  and  spotted  with  dull 
yellow  ;  the  upper  surface  of  the  body  nearly  as  in  summer ; 
before  and  after  the  breeding-season  the  adult  birds  may  be 
seen  for  a  time  with  the  breast  of  a  mixed  plumage  of  black 
and  white. 

The  whole  length  of  an  adult  bird  is  rather  more  than 
eleven  inches.  From  the  carpal  joint  to  the  end  of  the 
wing,  seven  inches  and  three-quarters. 

The  plumage  of  adult  birds  of  both  sexes  is  nearly  alike 
at  the  same  season  of  the  year ;  but  young  birds  of  the 
year  during  their  first  autumn  have  the  breast  much  darker 
in  colour  than  the  same  part  of  the  old  birds  in  winter, 
and  may  be  distinguished  throughout  their  first  winter  from 
parent  birds  by  the  greater  proportion  of  dusky  grey  on  the 
breast  and  belly. 

The  outline  below  represents  the  breast-bone  of  the 
Golden  Plover. 


CHARADRIIDiE 


278 

LI MI  CO  LM. 


CIIARADRIID.fi. 


Squatarola  Helvetica  (Linnaeus*). 

THE  GEEY  PLOVEE. 

Squatarola  cinerea. 

Squatarola,  Leach t. — Bill  nearly  as  long  as  the  head,  rather  strong,  upper 
mandible  straight  to  the  end  of  the  nasal  groove  which  is  long  and  wide  :  then 
raised  and  decurved  to  the  tip  ;  nostrils  subbasal,  linear.  Wings  long,  pointed, 
the  first  quill-feather  the  longest.  Legs  of  moderate  length,  slender,  lower  part 
of  the  tibia  naked  :  tarsi  reticulated.  Toes  four  in  number  :  three  directed 
forward,  and  slightly  webbed  at  their  base,  the  fourth  behind,  rudimental, 
elevated. 

In  its  habits,  its  general  appearance,  and  in  its  double 
moult,  or  periodical  change  to  black  on  the  under  surface 

*  Tringa  helvetica ,  Linnaeus,  Syst.  Nat.  i.  Ed.  12,  p.  250  (1766),  ex  Brisson. 

f  Syst.  Cat.  M.  &  B.  Brit.  Mus.  p.  29  (1816). 


GREY  PLOVER. 


279 


of  the  body  during  the  breeding- season,  the  Grey  Plover 
very  closely  resembles  the  Golden  Plover,  hut  the  presence 
of  a  hind  toe,  though  small,  prevents  its  being  included  in 
the  genus  Charadrius.  It  is  a  larger  bird  than  the  Golden 
Plover,  with  a  more  robust  bill,  and  looks  whiter  about  the 
tail ;  its  most  distinguishing  characteristic  when  on  the 
wing  is,  however,  in  the  colour  of  the  axillary  plumes, 
which  are  black. 

The  Grey  Plover  is  by  no  means  so  abundant  as  the 
preceding  species,  and  is,  as  a  rule,  more  confined  to  the 
sea-coast  and  its  vicinity  during  its  visits,  which  extend 
from  early  autumn  to  late  spring.  A  few  old  black-breasted 
birds  return  from  their  northern  breeding- quarters  by  the 
end  of  July  or  beginning  of  August ;  the  young  arrive  in 
August  and  September  ;  and  the  bulk  of  the  old  birds  come 
in  October  and  November,  by  which  time  the  majority  have 
assumed  the  winter  garb,  although  a  black-breasted  specimen 
was  observed  at  Tetney  by  Mr.  Cordeaux  on  the  21st  October, 
1S73.  On  their  return  northwards,  they  may  be  observed 
on  the  sea-shore  and  mud  flats  in  flocks  of  from  twenty  or 
thirty  up  to  a  hundred  in  May,  by  which  time  they  have 
assumed  the  black  breast.  Some  may  be  seen  in  June,  and 
occasionally  in  July  :  doubtless  birds  which  are  not  breeding 
that  season,  for  there  is  no  proof  that  any  have  ever  nested 
in  this  country.  In  Ireland,  although  a  regular  visitant,  it 
is  less  numerous  than  in  England  and  Scotland,  in  which 
again  it  is,  where  localities  are  equally  suitable,  more  abundant 
on  the  east  than  on  the  west  coasts.  Mr.  Cordeaux  thinks 
that  of  those  which  arrive  on  the  Lincolnshire  coast  in  the 
spring,  comparatively  few  pass  to  the  north  of  the  Spurn  ; 
their  course  being  apparently  in  the  direction  of  the  Baltic. 

Mr.  Collett  is  inclined  to  believe  that  the  Grey  Plover 
breeds  on  some  of  the  fells  of  Norway,  but  absolute  proof 
appears  to  be  wanting.  Along  the  whole  of  the  coast  line  of 
Europe,  it  occurs  on  the  double  migration  ;  and  a  limited 
number  cross  the  Continent  by  way  of  the  valleys  of  the 
Rhine  and  the  ' Rhone,  which  lead  up  to  the  lakes  of  the 
Jura  district :  in  fact  the  specific  name  helvctica  is  owing 


280 


CHARADRIIDiE. 


to  the  accident  of  the  earliest  described  specimens  having 
been  procured  by  Reaumur  in  Switzerland.  In  Russia 
the  valley  of  the  Volga  seems  to  form  a  line  of  migration, 
by  which  the  flocks  pass,  in  all  probability,  to  the  valley  of 
the  Kama,  thence  to  the  head-waters  of  the  Petcliora,  and 
so  to  their  breeding-grounds  on  the  tundras.  Beyond 
the  Mediterranean,  where  birds  in  the  fullest  nuptial  dress 
have  been  observed  as  late  as  the  23rd  May,  the  range  of  the 
Grey  Plover  can  he  traced  to  the  Canaries  ;  and,  in  winter, 
all  down  both  the  west  and  the  east  coasts  of  Africa. 
Madagascar  and  the  neighbouring  islands  ;  India,  down  to 
Ceylon  ;  Malaysia ;  both  sides  of  Australia,  and  Tasmania 
are  also  visited.  On  the  coasts  of  China  and  Japan  this 
Plover  is  a  well-known  migrant ;  and  in  Kamtschatka  it 
probably  breeds,  as  it  is  found  there  in  summer ;  and  it  may 
fairly  he  assumed  that  it  nests  in  suitable  localities  across 
the  whole  of  Arctic  Siberia.  Passing  westward,  the  Grey 
Plover  is  found  in  summer  in  Greenland  where,  however,  it 
is  rare ;  and  Richardson  has  stated  that  its  eggs  were 
obtained  on  Melville  Peninsula.  Mr.  R.  MacFarlane,  when 
collecting  for  the  Smithsonian  Institution,  found  several 
nests  on  the  Barren  Grounds  east  of  Anderson  River,  in 
July,  1864,  and  others  have  since  been  obtained  in  Alaska. 
South  of  the  Arctic  circle  the  Grey  Plover  is  only  known 
in  America  as  a  migrant ;  and,  as  such,  this  cosmopolitan 
species  ranges  down  to  the  islands  of  the  West  Atlantic,  the 
Antilles,  and  the  coast  of  Guatemala. 

The  first  account  of  the  nesting  of  the  Grey  Plover  was 
given  by  Middendorf  (Sibirische  Reise,  ii.  p.  209*),  who  found 
it  in  the  year  1843,  breeding  on  the  Byrranga  Mountains, 
Taimyr  Peninsula,  in  74°,  and  also  on  the  Boganida,  in 
71°  N.  lat.,  where  it  was,  however,  less  abundant  than  the 
Golden  Plover.  On  the  26tli  June  he  took  a  clutch  of  four 
eggs,  which  he  describes,  and  one  of  them  is  figured  {op.  cit. 
pi.  xix.  fig.  1) ;  another  taken  on  the  Taimyr  on  1st  July, 
is  figured  by  Professor  Newton  (P.  Z.  S.  1861,  pi.  xxxix. 

*  Owing  to  a  printer’s  error  this  page  is  numbered  290,  and  has  been  quoted 
as  such. 


GREY  PLOVER. 


281 


fig.  2).  It  was  not  however  until  1875  that  any  detailed 
account  of  the  nidification  of  this  species  in  the  Old  World 
was  rendered  available  through  the  explorations  of  Messrs. 
Seebohm  and  Harvie-Brown  on  the  tundras  of  the  Petchora. 
Full  particulars  of  their  interesting  discovery  are  published 
in  4  the  Ibis  ’  1876,  pp.  222-280,  and  four  representative 
specimens  of  the  eggs  are  figured  (pi.  v.).  The  first  nest 
was  found  on  the  22nd  June  on  the  east  bank  of  the  river, 
nearly  opposite  Alexievka  ;  it  was  situated  on  a  dry  tussocky 
ridge  intersecting  the  dead  flat  boggy  moor,  and  was  a  mere 
hollow,  evidently  scratched,  perfectly  round,  somewhat  deep, 
and  containing  a  handful  of  broken  slender  twigs  and  rein¬ 
deer-moss,  upon  which  lay  four  eggs.  The  female  was  shot 
from  this,  and  from  many  other  nests,  and  by  the  12tli 
July  ten  identified  clutches  of  eggs  had  been  secured  :  those 
on  the  last  day  containing  live  chicks  which  were  hatched 
out  in  a  basket  filled  with  Bean-Goose  down.  The  eggs 
when  fresh  are  described  as  “  intermediate  in  colour  between 
those  of  the  Golden  Plover  and  the  Peewit,  and  subject  to 
variation,  some  being  much  browner  and  others  more  olive, 
none  quite  as  green  as  typical  Peewit’s  eggs,  or  as  orange 
as  typical  ones  of  the  Golden  Plover ;  but  the  blotching  is 
in  every  respect  the  same,  the  underlying  spots  equally 
indistinct,  the  surface  spots  generally  large,  especially  at  the 
larger  end,  but  occasionally  very  small  and  scattered.”  In 
size  they  vary  from  1*8  by  1*85  to  2* 02  by  PI  in. 

The  young  in  down,  obtained  as  above  mentioned,  are 
very  yellow,  spotted  with  black ;  colours  which  harmonize 
with  the  yellow-green  moss  on  the  edges  of  the  little  bogs 
close  to  which  the  nests  are  placed.  The  ground-colour 
appears  to  lack  the  orange  tint  noticeable  in  the  down  of  the 
young  of  the  Golden  Plover.  The  alarm  note  is  a  plaintive 
kdp  ;  there  is  a  double  call-note,  Klee-eep,  and  sometimes 
these  appear  to  be  combined.  When  on  our  coasts  it  may 
be  rendered  by  Tl-e-ih  in  a  much  sharper  key  than  the  note 
of  the  Golden  Plover.  The  food  of  the  Grey  Plover  consists 
of  worms,  marine  insects,  marsh  shells,  green  sea-weed,  and 
the  maggots  of  the  sea-weed  fly.  For  the  table  it  is  hardly 
vol.  hi.  o  o 


282 


CHARADRIID/E. 


so  much  esteemed  at  present  as  when  Dr.  Muffett  (temp. 
Elizabeth)  wrote — “  The  gray  Plover  is  so  highly  esteemed 
that  this  Proverb  is  raised  of  a  curious  and  male-contented 
stomach ;  A  gray  Plover  cannot  please  him.  Yet  to  some 
the  green  [Golden]  Plover  seemetli  more  nourishing,  and  to 
others  the  Lapwing,  which  indeed  is  savory  and  light  of 
digestion,  but  nothing  comparable  to  Plovers.” 

The  adult  bird  in  summer  plumage  has  the  beak  black  ; 
the  irides  very  dark  brown  ;  the  forehead  and  top  of  the 
head  white,  the  latter  slightly  speckled  with  greyish-black  ; 
nape  of  the  neck  a  mixture  of  dusky  grey  and  white ;  the 
whole  of  the  back,  scapulars,  wing-coverts,  tertials,  rump, 
and  upper  tail-coverts,  black  and  white,  the  base  of  each 
feather  being  black,  the  ends  white  ;  the  wing-primaries 
greyish- black,  the  shafts  white;  tail-feathers  white,  with 
numerous  greyish -black  transverse  bars ;  the  chin,  cheeks, 
throat,  sides  of  the  neck,  breast,  and  belly,  black ;  vent 
and  under  tail-coverts  white  ;  axillary  plume  elongated  and 
black  at  all  ages  and  seasons  ;  under  wing-coverts  white  ; 
legs,  toes,  and  claws  dark  slate. 

The  whole  length  is  twelve  inches.  From  the  carpal 
joint  to  the  end  of  the  wing  seven  inches  and  five-eighths  ; 
the  first  quill-feather  three-eighths  of  an  inch  longer  than 
the  second,  and  the  longest  in  the  wing. 

In  winter  the  feathers  on  the  upper  surface  of  the  body 
are  dusky  grey,  edged  with  dull  white  ;  the  throat,  breast, 
and  sides,  lighter  in  colour  than  the  back,  the  feathers  but 
slightly  streaked  with  dusky  grey ;  the  belly,  vent,  and 
under  tail-coverts,  dull  white,  with  few  or  no  marks. 

In  spring  the  black  feathers  begin  to  appear  on  the 
breast,  and  the  birds  may  be  observed  in  various  degrees 
of  change  from  white,  with  only  a  few  black  feathers,  to 
entire  and  perfect  black.  The  breeding-plumage  is  generally 
complete  by  the  end  of  May. 

Young  birds  of  the  year  in  autumn  are  much  spotted  with 
yellow,  giving  them  a  strong  superficial  resemblance  to  the 
Golden  Plover. 


LAPWING 


283 


L1MIC0LM. 


CHAR  A  DR1IDJR. 


Vanellus  vulgapjs,  Beclistein*. 
THE  LAPWING,  OB  PEEWIT. 
Vanellus  cristatus. 


Vanellus,  Bi'issonf. — Bill  shorter  than  the  head,  straight,  slightly  com¬ 
pressed  ;  the  points  of  both  mandibles  horny  and  hard.  Nasal  groove  wide, 
and  reaching  as  far  as  the  horny  tip.  Nostrils  basal,  linear,  pierced  in  the 
membrane  of  the  nasal  groove.  Legs  slender,  with  the  lower  part  of  the  tibiae 
naked.  Tarsi  reticulated  behind,  scutellated  in  front.  Feet  four-toed  ;  three 
before,  one  behind,  the  anterior  ones  united  at  the  base  by  a  membrane  ;  hind 
toe  very  short,  articulated  upon  the  tarsus.  Wings  large,  tuberculated  or 
spurred  in  front  of  the  carpal  joint  ;  the  first  and  second  quill-feathers  shorter 
than  the  third  and  fourth,  which  are  about  equal,  and  the  longest  in  the  wing. 


The  Lapwing,  or  Peewit,  is  one  of  the  best  known  among 
our  native  birds;  the  first  name  being  suggested  by  its  peculiar 

*  Ornithologisches  Taschenbuch,  ii.  p.  313  (1803). 

t  Ornithologie,  v.  p.  94  (1760).  The  name  was  formerly  spelt  Vannellus,  as 
the  diminutive  of  vannus,  a  fan.  See  Charleton,  *  Exeicitationes,  ’  p.  113  (1677). 


284 


CIIARADRIID/E. 


mode  of  flight, — a  slow  flapping  of  its  rounded  wings  ;  the 
second  name  having  reference  to  the  frequently-repeated 
note  of  the  bird,  which  the  sound  of  the  word  peeweet 
closely  resembles.  The  French,  in  imitation  of  the  sound 
of  its  note,  call  this  bird  clix-huit.  This  species,  like  the 
rest  of  the  Plovers,  inhabits  marshy  ground  near  lakes 
and  rivers,  wild  heaths  and  commons,  or  the  hills  of  an 
open  unenclosed  country.  In  such  localities  it  is  often  very 
numerous,  and  during  the  months  of  April  and  May  its 
eggs  are  sought  after  as  a  luxury  for  the  table  in  all  the 
districts  where  the  birds  are  common.  The  earliest  eggs 
fetch  such  fancy  prices  as  fifteen  shillings  apiece  :  and  a 
leading  West-End  poulterer  recently  informed  the  Editor 
that  if  he  were  assured  of  having  the  first  ten  eggs  he  would 
not  hesitate  to  give  £5  for  them.  As  the  supply  increases, 
the  value  falls  rapidly,  until  it  reaches  4.s.  6d.  per  dozen, 
which  is  the  average  London  price  in  the  season.  Pennant 
in  177G  quoted  them  at  three  shillings,  and  Daniel  in  1812 
at  four  shillings  a  dozen,  so  that,  considering  the  relative 
value  of  money,  the  price  is  now  lower  than  it  was  a  century 
ago.  The  marshes  of  Lincolnshire,  Norfolk,  Cambridge¬ 
shire,  Essex,  and  Kent,  afford  some  portion  of  the  quantity 
with  which  the  London  market  is  supplied ;  but  the  Con¬ 
tinent  furnishes  the  larger  part.  Selby  says,  “  The  trade  of 
collecting  them  continues  for  about  two  months  ;  and  great 
expertness  in  the  discovery  of  the  nests  is  shown  by  those 
accustomed  to  it ;  generally  judging  of  their  situation  by  the 
conduct  of  the  female  birds,  who  invariably,  upon  being 
disturbed,  run  from  the  eggs,  and  then  fly  near  to  the 
ground  for  a  short  distance,  without  uttering  any  alarm  cry. 
The  males,  on  the  contrary,  are  very  clamorous,  and  fly 
round  the  intruder,  endeavouring,  by  various  instinctive  arts, 
to  divert  his  attention.”  On  this  subject,  also,  J.  D.  Salmon 
observed,  “  So  expert  have  some  men  become,  that  they  will 
not  only  walk  straight  towards  a  nest,  which  may  be  at  a 
considerable  distance,  but  tell  the  probable  number  of  eggs 
it  may  contain,  previous  to  inspection  ;  generally  judging  of 
the  situation  and  number  of  eggs  by  the  conduct  of  the 


LAPWING. 


285 


female  bird.”  In  some  counties,  however,  all  the  most  likely 
ground  is  carefully  searched  for  eggs,  once  every  day,  by 
women  and  children,  without  any  reference  to  the  actions  of 
the  birds.  The  male  bird  generally  scratches  out  several 
shallow  holes,  in  one  of  which  the  female  deposits  her 
four  pear-shaped  eggs,  adding  a  few  dried  bents  as  incuba¬ 
tion  proceeds.  The  eggs  are  typically  of  an  olive-coloured 
ground,  blotched  and  spotted  nearly  all  over  with  blackish- 
brown,  but  a  pale  stone-coloured  ground  with  minute  spots 
is  not  uncommon  :  they  measure  about  1*6  by  1*3  in.  The 
usual  number  is  four,  but  occasionally  five  have  been  found ; 
in  a  clutch  of  this  number  found  by  Major  E.  A.  Butler, 
close  to  Lough  Larne,  on  the  22nd  April,  1883,  all  five  were 
fresh  and  so  similar  in  their  appearance  as  to  render  it 
probable  that  they  were  the  produce  of  the  same  bird.  The 
young,  when  hatched,  are  covered  with  a  yellowish  fawn- 
coloured  down,  mixed  and  spotted  with  brownish-black,  with 
a  light-coloured  collar  round  the  neck  and  a  broad  pectoral 
band.  They  soon  follow  the  parent  birds,  who  lead  them  to 
the  softer  parts  of  the  soil,  where  food  is  more  abundantly 
obtained.  They  feed  on  earth-worms,  slugs,  and  insects  in 
their  various  stages  ;  and  from  their  services  in  this  way,  Lap¬ 
wings  are  frequently  kept  in  gardens,  and  become  very  interest¬ 
ing  pets.  Latham  says,  “I  have  seen  this  bird  approach  a 
worm-cast,  turn  it  aside,  and  after  walking  two  or  three  times 
about  it,  by  way  of  giving  motion  to  the  ground,  the  worm 
come  out,  and  the  watchful  bird,  seizing  hold  of  it,  draw  it 
forth.  The  habit  of  the  Lapwing,  of  flying  and  scream¬ 
ing  over  the  head  of  any  one  who  happens  to  go  near 
their  eggs  or  young,  has  been  productive  of  very  opposite 
feelings  towards  them.  Charles  Anderson,  Esq.,  of  Lea, 
near  Gainsborough,  to  whom  the  Author  was  indebted  for 
many  notes  on  the  Birds  of  Lincolnshire,  sent  him  word 
that  a  very  ancient  Lincolnshire  family,  the  Tyrwhitts,  bear 
three  Peewits  for  their  arms*;  and  it  is  said,  from  a  tradi¬ 
tion,  that  it  was  in  consequence  of  the  founder  of  their  family, 
Sir  Hercules  Tyrwhitt,  having  fallen  in  a  skirmish,  wounded, 

*  The  arms  are  gules,  three  Peewits  or. 


286 


CHARADRIID/E. 


and  being  saved  by  his  followers,  who  were  directed  to  the 
spot  where  he  lay  by  the  cries  of  these  birds,  and  their 
hovering  over  him.  The  notice,  however,  so  frequently  given 
by  these  birds  was  sometimes  productive  of  very  different 
consequences.  Mr.  Chatto,  in  his  agreeable  Hambies  in 
Northumberland  and  the  Scottish  Border,  refers  to  “  the 
persecution  to  which  the  Covenanters  were  exposed  in  the 
reign  of  Charles  the  Second  and  his  bigoted  successor;” 
and,  quoting  Dr.  Leyden,  alludes  to  the  tradition  that 
“they  were  frequently  discovered  to  their  pursuers  by  the 
flight  and  screaming  of  the  Lapwing ;  in  consequence  of 
which  the  Lapwing  is  still  regarded  as  an  unlucky  bird  in 
the  south  of  Scotland.” 

In  the  autumn  they  collect  in  flocks,  and  from  that  time 
till  the  end  of  winter  are  excellent  birds  for  the  table.  For 
this  purpose  they  were  formerly  ‘  mewed  ’  (Fosbrooke,  Ency. 
Antiq.  ii.  p.  1028),  and  fattened  upon  liver,  as  apj^ears  by 
an  entry  in  the  Household  Book  of  Squire  Kitson,  of  Hen- 
grave,  Suffolk — printed  in  Gage’s  History  of  Hengrave, 
p.  102  : — “  1574,  July.  For  iij  livers  for  the  puets  and  the 
other  mewed  fowls  vjd.”  In  the  Northumberland  House¬ 
hold  Book  ‘  Wypes  ’  (Scandinavian  Wipa)  are  charged  one 
penny  each.  It  is  probable  that  the  ‘Egrets’  (French 
Aigrette,  a  tuft  or  crest),  to  the  number  of  one  thousand, 
stated  by  Leland  to  have  been  served  at  the  often-mentioned 
feast  on  the  entlironization  of  Archbishop  Nevill,  belonged 
to  this  species.  A  French  proverb  even  goes  so  far  as 
to  say — 

“Qui  n’a  mange  grive  ni  vanneau 
N’a  jamais  mange  bon  morceau;” 


but  the  Lapwing  is  not  equal  to  the  Golden  Plover. 

The  Peewit  is  common  and  resident  throughout  the  British 
Islands  ;  only  a  partial  migration  southwards  being  observ¬ 
able  in  severe  weather.  Owing  to  enclosure  of  waste  lands, 
drainage  and  unrestricted  egging,  its  numbers  have  consider¬ 
ably  decreased  of  late  years  during  the  breeding-season  in 
the  eastern  counties  of  England  ;  hut  immense  flocks  come 


LAPWING. 


287 


over  from  the  Continent  in  the  autumn,  and  the  spread  of 
cultivation  in  Scotland  seems  rather  to  have  favoured  its 
increase,  especially  in  Shetland,  where  it  was  formerly  a 
rare  bird.  In  Ireland  it  is  very  abundant,  but  Sir  R.  Payne- 
Gallwey  states  that  the  eggs  are  not  appreciated  or  collected 
there  as  they  are  in  England.  The  birds,  however,  are 
netted  in  large  numbers,  and  he  gives  an  interesting  account 
of  the  mode  of  making  and  setting  the  net  as  practised 
in  that  country,  remarking  upon  the  superior  wariness  of 
the  Lapwing,  which  takes  alarm  far  sooner  than  the  Golden 
Plover.* 

A  rare  straggler  to  Greenland,  and  only  a  visitor  to  the 
milder  districts  of  Iceland,  and  to  the  Faeroes,  the  Lapwing 
occurs  in  Europe  up  to  the  vicinity  of  the  Arctic  circle.  In 
Norway  and  Southern  Sweden  it  becomes  tolerably  abundant, 
although  about  Jsedren,  Mr.  Collett  says  that  it  has  decreased 
of  late,  owing  to  over-robbery  :  three  to  four  thousand  eggs 
having  been  shipped  in  a  year  from  Egersund.  From 
Northern  Russia,  and  the  cold  provinces  of  the  Baltic,  the 
Lapwing  migrates  southwards  in  winter,  hut  throughout  the 
temperate  portions  of  the  Continent  it  is  resident,  breeding 
in  suitable  localities  down  to  the  extreme  south  of  Spain. 
The  majority  of  the  eggs  sent  to  this  country  in  spring 
come  from  Holland  and  North  Germany,  where  they  are 
systematically  gathered  up  to  a  fixed  date,  after  which  their 
taking  is  prohibited  by  law.  The  Lapwing  is  a  winter  visitor 
to  the  Azores,  Madeira,  the  Canaries,  and  Northern  Africa, 
a  limited  number  remaining  to  breed  in  Morocco,  Algeria, 
and  Egypt ;  it  is  abundant  in  Asia  Minor  and  Palestine 
during  winter,  and  its  range  may  he  traced  along  the 
Euphrates  valley,  and  Persia,  to  Northern  India.  Severtzoff 
states  that  in  Turkestan  it  breeds  up  to  an  elevation  of 
10,500  feet,  and  it  reaches  across  the  temperate  portions  of 
Siberia  to  Mongolia,  China,  and  Japan. 

The  adult  in  breeding-plumage  has  the  beak  black  ;  the 
irides  hazel ;  forehead,  crown,  and  occiput,  black,  forming  a 
cap  or  hood,  which  ends  behind  in  a  tuft  of  six  or  seven 

*  The  Fowler  in  Ireland,  pp.  183-197. 


288 


CI1ARADRITD7E. 


elongated,  slender  feathers,  slightly  curved  upwards,  which 
the  bird  can  elevate  or  depress  at  pleasure  ;  behind  the  eye, 
on  the  cheeks  and  sides  of  the  neck,  and  reaching  to  the 
nape  beneath  the  plume,  white,  speckled  with  black ;  an 
oblique  streak  of  black  below  the  eye  ;  back,  scapulars,  wing- 
coverts,  and  tertials  green,  glossed  with  purple  and  copper- 
colour  ;  the  primaries  black,  the  first  three  in  each  wing 
greyisli-wliite  at  the  end ;  upper  tail-coverts  reddish-chest¬ 
nut  ;  the  basal  half  of  the  tail-feathers  white,  the  rest  black, 
the  proportion  of  white  greater  in  the  two  or  three  outer 
feathers,  the  extreme  outside  feather  almost  entirely  white ; 
chin,  throat,  and  upper  part  of  the  breast  shining  black; 
lower  part  of  the  breast,  belly,  and  vent,  white ;  under  tail- 
coverts  fawn-colour ;  legs  and  toes  dull  flesh-colour ;  claws 
black. 

In  winter  the  chin  and  throat  are  white,  the  change  to 
the  black  of  the  breeding- season  occurring  in  April.  The 
sexes  in  plumage  resemble  each  other,  but  the  female  has 
the  shorter  occipital  plume.  The  whole  length  is  a  little 
more  than  twelve  inches.  From  the  carpal  joint  to  the  end 
of  the  wing  nine  inches. 

In  young  birds  of  the  year  the  dorsal  feathers  are  edged 
with  buff. 

White,  cream-coloured,  and  mouse-coloured  varieties  of 
the  Peewit  have  occasionally  been  obtained. 


TURNSTONE. 


289 


LIMICOLJE.  CIIA  RA  DR1ID/E. 


Strepsilas  interpres  (Linnaeus*)* 

THE  TURNSTONE. 

Strepsilas  interpres. 

Strepsilas,  Illiger f.— Beak  as  short  as  the  head,  strong,  thick  at  the  base, 
tapering  gradually  to  the  point,  forming  an  elongated  cone  ;  upper  mandible  the 
longer,  rather  blunt  at  the  end.  Nostrils  basal,  lateral,  linear,  pervious,  partly 
covered  by  a  membrane.  Wings  long,  pointed,  the  first  quill-feather  the  longest. 
Feet  four-toed,  three  in  front,  one  behind ;  the  anterior  toes  united  by  a 
membrane  at  the  base,  and  furnished  with  narrow  rudimentary  interdigital 
membranes  ;  hind  toe  articulated  upon  the  tarsus,  and  just  reaching  the  ground. 

The  name  of  Turnstone  has  long  been  applied  to  this 
species  from  the  method  adopted  by  these  birds  of  searching 
for  food  by  turning  over  small  stones  with  their  strong 
beaks  to  get  at  the  marine  insects  that  lurk  under  them. 

Triruja  Interpres,  Linnteus,  Syst.  Nat.  Ed.  12,  i.  p.  248  (1766). 

+  Prodromus  Syst.  Mamm.  et  Av.  p.  263  (1811). 


VOL.  III. 


P  P 


290 


CHARADRIJDAE. 


The  habit  is  not  more  singular  than  the  species,  which 
belongs  to  a  genus  containing  only  one  other  member,  and 
is  remarkable  for  the  beauty  and  variety  of  its  plumage. 
It  inhabits  the  sea-sliore,  and  at  times  visits  the  margins  of 
lakes  and  large  rivers,  occasionally  associating  with  some  of 
the  smaller  Plovers,  and  feeds  on  the  smaller  Crustacea,  and 
the  soft-bodied  animals  inhabiting  thin  shells,  turning  over 
stones,  and  searching  among  sea-weed  for  its  food  :  whence 
its  appropriate  Norfolk  name  of  ‘  Tangle-picker  It  is  ob¬ 
served  to  dwell  longer  in  one  place,  if  not  disturbed,  than  the 
Plovers,. and  utters  a  loud  twittering  note  when  on  the  wing. 

By  the  latter  part  of  July  young  birds  make  their  appear¬ 
ance,  but  the  bulk  of  the  migrants  from  the  north  do  not 
arrive  until  August.  On  the  east  coasts  of  England  com¬ 
paratively  few  remain  after  the  autumn,  but  on  the  southern 
coasts,  and  especially  in  the  mild  climate  of  the  west,  many 
stay  throughout  the  winter.  By  the  middle  of  May  the 
return  migration  has  begun,  and  birds  in  breeding-plumage 
have  frequently  been  observed  on  our  coasts,  sometimes  in 
pairs,  all  through  the  summer  ;  nevertheless  the  breeding  of 
this  species  in  the  British  Islands,  although  several  times 
suspected,  does  not  appear  to  be  as  yet  fully  proved.  On 
the  28tli  May,  1861,  a  pair  rose  from  a  most  suitable 
locality  at  Lundy  Island,  and  the  male  unfortunately  fell 
to  a  hasty  shot  from  the  Editor’s  companion.  Mr.  T.  E. 
Buckley  has  seen  the  bird  on  the  west  coast  of  Harris  in 
July,  and  believes  that  it  breeds  there  ;  the  late  Dr.  Saxby 
saw  a  Turnstone  on  Unst,  the  most  northern  of  the 
Shetlands,  on  16tli  June,  and  found  three  eggs  which  he 
supposed  to  belong  to  it,  and  in  July,  1879,  the  Editor  saw 
a  pair  on  an  islet  in  the  same  neighbourhood ;  but  as  yet 
no  authenticated  eggs  seem  to  be  known  from  any  part  of 
the  PTnited  Kingdom.*  In  Scotland  the  species  is  more 


*  Mr.  Harting  has  one  of  the  eggs  stated  in  Gould’s  ‘  Birds  of  Great  Britain  ’ 
to  have  been  taken  on  the  Fame  Islands,  and  attributed  to  this  bird  ;  but,  in 
the  Editor’s  opinion,  it  resembles  the  egg  of  the  Purple  Sandpiper  more  than  that 
of  the  Turnstone,  and  Mr.  Hancock  is  not  cognisant  of  either  species  having 
bred  there. 


TURNSTONE. 


29  i 


abundant  than  in  England,  and  the  same  may  be  said  of 
Ireland,  especially  the  deeply  indented  and  sea-weed  covered 
coast  of  the  west. 

This  cosmopolitan  species  breeds  in  Greenland  and  in 
Iceland,  and  is  supposed  to  do  so  in  the  Faroes  ;  but  its 
best  known  and  most  accessible  breeding-haunts  are  on  the 
coasts  and  islands  of  Scandinavia.  It  has  occurred  on 
Spitsbergen  and  in  Novaya  Zemlya,  and  appears  to  be  found 
in  summer  along  the  northern  coast  of  both  European  and 
Asiatic  Siberia  as  far  as  Behring’s  Straits.  On  migration, 
it  is  found  on  all  the  coasts  and  islands  of  Europe,  and  has 
been  obtained  in  such  inland  districts  as  Savoy,  Bohemia, 
and  Central  Russia  ;  it  crosses  the  great  Asiatic  ranges  on 
its  way  from  Siberia  to  India,  where  a  small  number  winter  ; 
it  occurs  in  Japan,  and  it  visits  the  coast  of  China  during 
the  cold  season.  Southwards  it  is  found  ranging  throughout 
Malaysia,  down  to  the  south  of  Australia,  Tasmania,  and 
New  Zealand ;  it  has  occurred  in  many  of  the  islands  of 
Polynesia ;  and  along  the  west  coast  of  South  America 
from  the  Straits  of  Magellan  to  Mexico.  Between  the  latter 
and  Alaska  this  species  is  represented  by  Strepsilas  melano- 
cephalus,  in  which  the  dark  plumage  is  unrelieved  by  russet. 
On  the  east  coast  of  America  it  is  found  from  the  Arctic 
regions  in  summer,  to  the  Antilles  and  Guiana  in  winter  ;  in 
the  Atlantic  islands ;  and  down  both  coasts  of  Africa,  and 
on  the  great  inland  lake  Nyassa  ;  also  in  Madagascar.  It 
would,  indeed,  be  easier  to  say  where  it  has  not  occurred. 
In  the  Azores,  Mr.  Godman  shot  examples  in  breeding- 
plumage  at  Flores  in  June,  and  believes  that  the  species 
breeds  there  ;  and  Dr.  Bolle  is  of  the  same  opinion  with 
regard  to  some  of  the  Canary  Islands  :  Mr.  Layard  also 
thinks  that  it  breeds  near  Cape  Town,  but  as  yet  no  eggs 
are  known  to  have  been  obtained  in  the  Old  World  south  of 
the  shores  of  the  Baltic. 

The  late  Mr.  Hewitson  has  given  the  following  description 
of  his  experiences  when  on  the  coast  of  Norway  : — 

“We  had  visited  numerous  islands  with  little  encourage¬ 
ment,  and  were  about  to  land  upon  a  flat  rock,  bare  except 


292 


CHARADRIIDiE. 


where  here  and  there  grew  tufts  of  grass,  or  stunted  juniper 
clinging  to  its  surface,  when  our  attention  was  attracted  by 
the  singular  cry  of  a  Turnstone,  which,  in  its  eager  watch, 
had  seen  our  approach,  and  perched  itself  upon  an  eminence 
of  the  rock,  assuring  us,  by  its  querulous,  oft-repeated  note, 
and  anxious  motions,  that  its  nest  was  there.  We  remained 
in  the  boat  a  short  time,  until  we  had  watched  it  behind  a 
tuft  of  grass,  near  which,  after  a  minute  search,  we  succeeded 
in  finding  the  nest  in  a  situation  in  which  I  should  never 
have  expected  to  meet  with  a  bird  of  this  sort  breeding  ; 
it  was  placed  against  a  ledge  of  the  rock,  and  consisted  of 
nothing  more  than  the  dropping  leaves  of  the  juniper  bush, 
under  a  creeping  branch  of  which  the  eggs,  four  in  number, 
were  snugly  concealed,  and  admirably  sheltered  from  the 
many  storms  by  which  these  bleak  and  exposed  rocks  are 
visited,  allowing  just  sufficient  room  for  the  bird  to  cover 
them.  We  afterwards  found  several  more  nests  with  little 
difficulty.  All  the  nests  contained  four  eggs  each.  The 
time  of  breeding  is  about  the  middle  of  June.”  The  eggs 
measure  1*6  by  1*1  in.,  of  a  greenish-grey  colour,  spotted  and 
streaked  with  ash-blue  and  two  shades  of  brown. 

The  Turnstone  is  well  known  to  the  ornithologists  of  the 
United  States  ;  and  interesting  accounts  of  its  habits  will 
be  found  in  the  works  of  Wilson  and  Audubon  :  the  latter 
says,  “  My  worthy  friend,  Dr.  Bachman,  once  had  a  bird  of 
this  species  alive.  It  had  recovered  from  a  slight  wound  in 
the  wing,  when  he  presented  it  to  a  lady,  who  fed  it  on 
boiled  rice,  and  bread  soaked  in  milk,  of  both  of  which  it 
was  very  fond.  It  continued  in  a  state  of  captivity  upwards 
of  a  year,  but  was  at  last  killed  by  accident.  It  had 
become  perfectly  gentle,  would  eat  from  the  hand  of  its  kind 
mistress,  frequently  bathed  in  a  basin  placed  near  it  for  the 
purpose,  and  never  attempted  to  escape,  although  left  quite 
at  liberty  to  do  so.” 

The  adult  bird  in  summer  has  the  beak  black,  with  a 
fleshy  sheath  at  the  base  of  the  upper  mandible ;  the  irides 
dark  brown ;  the  forehead  black,  reaching  to  the  eye  on 
each  side ;  below  the  eye  a  black  patch,  which,  curving 


TURNSTONE. 


293 


forward  and  upward,  goes  to  the  base  of  the  lower  mandible, 
encircling  a  white  spot  at  the  base  of  the  upper  mandible ; 
top  of  the  head,  the  occiput,  and  back  of  the  neck,  white, 
streaked  with  black ;  sides  of  the  neck  and  the  scapulars 
rich  black  ;  interscapulars,  and  smaller  wing-coverts,  dark 
red ;  greater  wing-coverts  black,  edged  with  red ;  wing- 
primaries  greyish-black,  with  pure  white  shafts ;  tertials 
nearly  black,  tipped  and  spotted  with  red ;  the  back  white  ; 
rump  with  a  transverse  band  of  black ;  upper  tail-coverts 
and  the  base  of  the  tail-feathers  white,  the  other  part 
greyish-black :  all,  except  the  two  middle  ones,  tipped  with 
white ;  chin  white  ;  sides  of  the  neck,  the  throat,  and  upper 
part  of  the  breast,  rich  black ;  lower  part  of  the  breast, 
belly,  vent,  under  tail-coverts,  under  surface  of  the  wing, 
and  the  axillary  plume,  pure  white ;  legs  and  toes  rich 
orange-red  ;  claws  black ;  the  hind  toe  articulated  on  the 
inner  surface  of  the  tarsus,  and  directed  inwards  towards 
the  other  leg,  not  backwards  as  in  most  other  birds. 

The  whole  length  of  the  bird  is  nine  inches  and  a  half. 
From  the  carpal  joint  to  the  end  of  the  wing,  six  inches  ; 
the  first  quill-feather  a  little  longer  than  the  second,  and 
the  longest  in  the  wing. 

The  sexes  do  not  differ  much  in  plumage  ;  but  in  winter 
the  ferruginous  portions  of  the  plumage  are  not  so  rich  in 
colour,  and  the  legs  and  feet  are  much  paler. 

In  young  birds  of  the  year  the  whole  of  the  plumage  of 
the  upper  surface  of  the  body,  and  round  the  throat  in  front, 
is  dull  brownish- black ;  the  feathers  of  the  body  edged  with 
yellowish-white  ;  those  of  the  wing-coverts  and  tertials  edged 
with  reddish  buff-colour  ;  the  chin,  breast,  belly,  and  under 
tail-coverts,  white ;  the  legs  and  toes  pale  orange,  almost 
flesh-colour. 

The  young  in  down  is  dark  grey  above,  spotted  with 
black,  a  narrow  black  band  from  the  crown  to  the  forehead, 
and  another  from  the  gape  to  the  eye ;  the  underparts 
merging  from  greyish  to  white. 


294 


CHARADRI1D.E 


L1M1C0LJF..  CHAR  A  DRUB  JR. 


HjEmatopus  ostralegus,  Linnaeus.* 

THE  OYSTER-CATCHER, 

OR  SEA-PIE. 

Hcematopus  ostralegus. 

Hjematopus,  Linnaeus  j\ — Beak  longer  tlian  the  head,  straight,  strong,  the 
point  much  compressed,  forming  a  wedge  ;  culmen  of  the  anterior  part  slightly 
convex  ;  upper  mandible  with  a  broad  lateral  groove,  extending  one-half  the 
length  of  the  bill  ;  mandibles  nearly  equal  in  size  and  length,  with  the  thin  ends 
truncated.  Nostrils  basal,  lateral,  linear,  pierced  in  the  membrane  of  the 
mandibular  groove.  Legs  of  moderate  length,  naked  for  a  short  space  above  the 
tarsal  joint  ;  tarsi  strong.  Feet  with  three  toes  only,  all  directed  forward, 
united  at  their  bace  by  a  membrane;  claws  strong,  broad,  not  very  much 
pointed. 

*  Ilcemalopus  Ostralegus,  Linneeus,  Syst.  Nat.  Ed.  12,  i.  p.  257  (1766). 
f  loc.  cit. 


OYSTER-CATCHER. 


295 


The  Oyster- Catcher  is  well  known  on  the  shores  of 
Great  Britain  and  Ireland.  It  appears  to  prefer  sandy  hays 
and  wide  inlets  hounded  with  hanks  of  shingle,  as  favourable 
localities  for  the  production  of  the  various  mollusca  upon 
which  it  principally  subsists.  The  vertical  edge  of  its  trun¬ 
cated,  wedge-like  beak,  seems  admirably  adapted  for  insertion 
between  the  two  portions  of  a  bivalve  shell,  and  limpets  are 
detached  from  the  surface  of  a  rock  with  ease  ;  after  which 
the  animal  is  scooped  out  as  if  with  a  knife.  Its  food  con¬ 
sists  of  the  mollusca  generally,  worms,  and  marine  insects. 
The  Oyster-catcher  is  a  handsome  bird  when  seen  on  the 
wing,  from  the  well-marked  contrast  and  the  purity  of  the 
black  and  white  colours  of  its  plumage  :  whence  its  name 
Sea-Pie;  an  equally  appropriate  name  is  that  of  ‘  Mussel- 
Picker,’  and  in  Sussex  it  is  known  as  the  ‘  Olive.’  It  runs 
with  rapidity,  and  may  frequently  be  observed  to  swim  short 
distances  when  searching  for  its  food,  and  wounded  birds 
have  been  known  to  dive. 

Although  principally  found  on  or  near  the  coast,  it  is  a 
mistake  to  suppose  that  the  Oyster-catcher  does  not  straggle 
inland,  for  examples  have  been  killed  even  in  the  Midland 
Counties.  In  Scotland  many  pairs  breed  on  the  Don,  the 
Tay,  the  Spey,  the  Findhorn,  and  on  some  inland  lochs 
twenty  or  thirty  miles  from  the  sea. 

The  eggs  are  deposited  above  high-water  mark  on  the 
shingly  beach,  or  on  the  narrow  ledges  of  rocky  islets,  or, 
again,  amongst  the  sand-hills  :  they  are  frequently  laid  on  a 
pavement  of  small  fragments  of  shells,  or  on  a  tussock  of 
sea-pink.  Mr.  C.  M.  Adamson  says  that  he  once  found 
them  in  a  meadow  at  some  distance  from  the  sea ;  Mr. 
Collett  mentions  a  clutch  laid  in  a  cavity  on  the  top  of  a 
felled  pine-tree  near  the  Trondhjems  fiord ;  and  the  Editor 
has  found  them  occupying  the  previously-robbed  nest  of 
a  Herring-Gull.  Their  number  is  usually  three,  and  on  the 
rare  occasions  where  the  Editor  has  found  four,  three  of 
them  invariably  exhibited  a  family  likeness,  whilst  the  fourth 
was  different.  They  are  of  a  yellowish  stone-colour,  spotted 
and  scrolled  with  ash-grey  and  dark  brown  ;  and  measure 


296 


C  H  A  RAD  HI  I D  iE . 


about  2*2  by  1*5  in.  The  female  sits  about  three  weeks, 
during  which  the  male  keeps  watch,  and  becomes  clamorous 
on  the  approach  of  an  enemy ;  his  mate  attends  to  the 
signal,  leaves  her  nest  in  silence,  and  after  a  circuitous 
flight,  joins  him  in  his  endeavours  to  scold  or  decoy  away  the 
intruder.  On  the  rocky  coasts  where  suitable  localities  are 
scarce,  each  pair  possesses  a  certain  district,  but  on  sandy 
flat  shores,  such  as  those  of  Lincolnshire  and  Lancashire, 
considerable  numbers  may  be  found  associated ;  and  on  some 
of  the  Shetland  islands,  when  the  young  are  just  hatched, 
the  chatter  of  the  thirty  or  forty  pairs  of  birds  is  perfectly 
deafening. 

In  autumn  the  birds  which  have  bred  in  the  north  pass 
southwards,  and  a  certain  influx  of  visitors  from  the  Con¬ 
tinent  takes  place,  so  that  large  flocks,  generally  very  wary, 
may  be  seen  from  that  time  onwards  along  the  coasts.  As 
an  article  of  food  the  Oyster-catcher  can  hardly  be  eulogized, 
and  although  we  find  in  the  Northumberland  Household 
Book — “  Item,  See-Pyes  for  my  Lorde  at  Princypall  Feestes 
and  non  other  tyme,”  yet  the  L’Estranges  of  Hunstanton 
had  either  better  taste,  or  a  greater  choice  of  food,  for  the 
Sea-Pie  is  only  mentioned  once  in  their  Accounts,  and  then 
at  a  low  price. 

The  Oyster-catcher  is  a  rare  straggler  to  Greenland, 
but  in  Iceland  it  is  not  uncommon  in  summer,  and  is 
believed  to  remain  throughout  the  year  in  the  southern 
districts.  It  occurs  in  summer  on  all  the  coasts  of  Europe 
from  the  North  Cape  to  the  White  Sea,  and,  southward, 
to  the  Mediterranean  :  being  resident,  as  a  rule,  from 
the  Baltic  to  the  delta  of  the  Rhone  and  the  shores 
of  the  Adriatic.  Along  the  Spanish  Peninsula  and  the 
islands  and  shores  of  the  greater  part  of  the  Mediter¬ 
ranean  it  is  principally  known  as  a  migrant,  and  it  is  only 
on  comparatively  rare  occasions  that  it  is  found  traversing 
the  inland  portions  of  the  Continent,  except  where,  as  in 
Russia,  it  follows  the  course  of  large  rivers.  It  retreats  in 
winter  from  the  northern  shores  of  the  Black  Sea  and  the 
Caspian,  on  which  it  breeds  in  summer,  as  also,  to  a  limited 


OYSTER-CATCHER. 


297 


extent,  on  the  salt  lakes  of  the  Aral ;  and  thence  it  seems 
to  stretch  north-eastward  across  Siberia,  where  Dr.  Finscli 
found  it  at  Obdorsk,  close  to  the  Arctic  Circle.  Beyond  this 
there  is  a  break  in  its  distribution,  and  the  bird  found  by 
Shrenck  on  the  Ussuri,  a  tributary  of  the  Amoor,  and  also 
on  the  latter  river,  and  atNarim,  in  Eastern  Siberia,  belongs, 
according  to  Taczanowski,  to  the  somewhat  larger,  longer- 
billed  form,  with  less  white  on  the  primaries,  found  in 
China,  to  which  Swinlioe  gave  the  name  of  II.  oscidans. 
This  form  is  probably  the  one  obtained  by  Middendorf  in 
the  Sea  of  Okotsk,  and  by  Pallas  in  Kamtschatka  and  on 
the  Kurile  Islands,  and  which  is  supposed  to  occur  in  Japan, 
as  it  certainly  does  in  China  down  to  Swatow,  breeding  in 
Talien  Bay.  In  New  Zealand  and  Australia,  reaching  up 
to  Arracan,  China,  and  Japan,  is  found  II.  longirostris , 
which  has  a  very  long  bill,  and  no  white  on  the  primaries. 
In  India  our  Oyster-catcher  does  not  seem  to  have  occurred 
to  the  east  of  Burma,  and  both  on  the  mainland  and 
in  Ceylon  it  is  mainly  a  winter  visitant ;  on  the  coast  of 
Baluchistan  and  in  the  Persian  Gulf  it  is  not  uncom¬ 
mon  ;  and  Severtzoff  states  that  it  migrates  through  the 
Pamir  range.  It  is  found  during  the  cool  season  along 
the  coast  of  North  Africa  from  Morocco  to  Egypt,  and  can 
be  traced  down  the  Bed  Sea,  where  Yon  Heuglin  thinks  it 
is  resident,  to  Mozambique  on  the  east  side ;  whilst  on  the 
west  coast  of  Africa  it  is  recorded  from  Senegambia. 

The  beak  is  three  inches  long,  of  a  deep  orange  at  the 
base,  lighter  in  colour  towards  the  tip,  greatly  compressed, 
and  ending  in  a  thin  vertical  edge ;  the  irides  crimson  ;  the 
eyelid  reddish-orange,  with  a  white  spot  below  the  eye ;  the 
whole  of  the  head,  the  neck  all  round,  the  upper  part  of  the 
breast,  scapulars,  interscapulars,  smaller  wing-coverts,  quill- 
feathers,  and  the  distal  half  of  the  tail-feathers,  black ; 
the  back,  great  wing-coverts,  part  of  the  inner  web  of  the 
primaries,  upper  tail-coverts,  the  basal  half  of  the  tail- 
feathers,  the  lower  part  of  the  breast,  all  the  under  surface 
of  the  body,  under  surface  of  the  wings,  and  the  axillary 
plume,  pure  white  :  the  greater  coverts  forming  a  white  bar 
VOL.  in.  Q  Q 


298 


CHARADRIIDiE. 


on  tlie  wing ;  the  legs  and  toes  purplish  flesh-colour ;  the 
claws  black. 

The  whole  length  is  rather  more  than  sixteen  inches. 
From  the  carpal  joint  to  the  end  of  the  wing,  nine  inches 
and  three-quarters  :  the  first  quill-featlier  about  half  an 
inch  longer  than  the  second,  and  the  longest  in  the  wing. 

In  the  winter  half-year,  adult  birds  have  a  white  gorget 
round  the  front  and  sides  of  the  neck.  This  mark  is  assumed 
in  August,  and  borne  through  the  winter,  and  over  a  great 
portion  of  the  spring.  At  this  season  the  bill  becomes  horn- 
coloured  towards  the  tip. 

Young  birds  of  the  year  have  the  feathers  of  the  hack  and 
wings  margined  with  brown,  and  some  of  them  show  hut 
little  white  on  the  throat  during  the  first  winter. 

In  the  downy  nestling  the  upper  parts  are  dark  grey, 
tinged  with  buff ;  the  head  broadly  mottled  with  black,  the 
throat  sooty  ;  a  broad  line  of  black  down  each  side  of  the 
back,  and  a  broken  line  from  the  wings  to  the  rump ;  under¬ 
parts  white. 


AVOCET 


299 


LtMJCOLJE.  SCO  LOP  A  CIDM. 


Recurvieostra  avocetta,  Linnaeus*. 


THE  AYOCET. 

Reciirvirostra  avocetta . 

Recurvirostra,  Linnceusf. — Beak  very  long,  slender,  weak,  depressed 
throughout  its  whole  length,  flexible,  pointed,  and  curving  upwards  ;  the  upper 
mandible  grooved  along  the  upper  surface  ;  under  mandible  grooved  along  the 
side.  Nostrils  on  the  upper  surface  of  the  beak,  near  its  base,  linear,  long. 
Legs  slender,  long,  great  portion  of  the  tibia  naked  ;  three  toes  in  front,  hind 
toe  small,  articulated  high  up  on  the  tarsus,  the  anterior  toes  united  as  far  as 
the  second  articulation,  by  a  membrane,  the  margin  of  which  is  concave.  Wings 
pointed  ;  the  first  quill-feather  the  longest  in  the  wing. 

The  Ayocet  is  certainly  a  singular-looking  bird,  especially 
in  reference  to  its  beak,  which  is  curved  upwards,  and  is 

*  Recurvirostra  Avocetta,  Linnaeus,  Syst.  Nat.  Ed.  12,  i.  p.  256  (1766). 
t  loc.  cit. 


300 


SCOLOPACID/E. 


slender,  pointed,  and  flexible,  having  very  much  the  appear¬ 
ance  of  a  thin  piece  of  elastic  whalebone.  The  semi- 
palmated  feet  are  well  adapted  for  supporting  the  bird  on 
the  soft  mud  which  it  frequents  ;  but  it  is  a  mistake  to 
suppose  that  the  Avocet  cannot  swim  with  ease,  when  the 
occasion  requires,  and  it  frequently  wades  into  the  water  up 
to  its  belly.  Messrs.  Sheppard  and  Wliitear  say,  in  their 
Catalogue  of  Norfolk  and  Suffolk  Birds,  respecting  one 
which  they  saw  in  the  hreeding-season  of  1816  on  the 
marshes  of  Winterton,  and  which  had  young, — “  This  bird 
made  several  circles  round  us,  uttering  a  shrill  note,  and 
then  alighted  in  the  middle  of  a  pool  of  water,  on  which  it 
floated;  then  took  several  turns  on  wing,  and  again  alighted 
on  the  water,  where  it  sat  motionless.” 

The  Avocet  was  formerly  a  regular  visitor  to  our  shores, 
and  bred  in  considerable  numbers  in  suitable  localities. 
Sir  Thomas  Browne,  in  1668,  describes  it  as  “a  shoeing 
horn  or  barker,  from  the  figure  of  the  bill  and  barking  note  ; 
a  long  made  bird  of  white  and  hlackisli  colour ;  fin  footed  ; 
a  marsh  bird  ;  and  not  rare  some  times  of  the  year  in 
Marshland.”  Up  to  the  beginning  of  the  present  century 
the  bird  was  still  abundant  in  several  localities  on  the  east 
coast  of  England,  and  in  Gough’s  edition  (1806)  of  Cam¬ 
den’s  ‘  Britannia,’  enlarged  by  the  addition  of  notes  from 
Pennant  and  others,  is  a  statement  (ii.  p.  271)  that  “  oppo¬ 
site  Fosdyke  Wash  [Lincolnshire]  during  summer  are  vast 
numbers  of  Avosettas,  called  there  Yelpers,  from  their  cry 
as  they  hover  over  the  sportsman’s  head  like  Lapwings.” 
Mr.  Hugh  lleid,  of  Doncaster,  informed  Mr.  A.  G.  More, 
in  a  letter  dated  June  1st,  1861,  that  so  recently  as  about 
twenty  years  prior  to  that  date  an  Avocet’s  eggs  were  taken 
at  the  mouth  of  the  Trent,  where  that  river  divides  York¬ 
shire  from  Lincolnshire.  Drainage  of  the  marshes,  and  per¬ 
secution  by  gunners  and  egg-gatlierers,  did  their  work  in  the 
favourite  haunts  of  this  conspicuous  species,  both  in  Lin¬ 
colnshire  and  in  Norfolk,  and  the  occurrence  in  the  year 
1816  at  Winterton,  was  probably  the  last  date  of  the  breed¬ 
ing  of  the  Avocet  in  that  locality.  At  Horsey,  as  Mr. 


AVOCET. 


301 


Rising  informed  Mr.  Stevenson  (B.  of  Norfolk,  ii.  p.  238), 
Avocets  continued  to  breed  until  1819,  and  perhaps  a  year 
or  two  later  ;  and  at  Salthouse,  where  they  were  known  as 
“  Clinkers,”  they  do  not  appear  to  have  become  extinct 
until  1822  to  1825.  Since  that  period  they  have  occurred 
at  irregular  intervals,  mostly  in  May  and  June,  and  occa¬ 
sionally  in  autumn  ;  but  any  hope  of  the  re-establishment 
of  the  species  as  a  breeder  has  been  promptly  frustrated 
by  the  gun  of  the  local  collector ;  the  value  of  a  British- 
killed  specimen  being  far  greater  than  the  amount  of  any 
fine  imposed  on  conviction  under  the  Wild  Birds’  Preserva¬ 
tion  Act.  In  Suffolk  it  used  to  breed  near  Aldborough. 

Romney  Marsh,  in  Kent,  was  also  a  breeding-place  of  the 
Avocet  in  former  years  ;  and  Markwick,  in  his  Catalogue  of 
the  Birds  of  Sussex,  printed  in  1795,  says,  “This  bird  is 
not  uncommon  on  our  sea-coast  in  summer ;  but  whether  it 
is  to  be  found  here  in  winter  I  cannot  tell,  as  I  do  not  re¬ 
collect  to  have  ever  seen  it  at  that  season.  That  it  breeds 
here  I  have  been  an  eye-witness,  for  I  remember  that  several 
years  ago,  I  found  in  the  marshes  near  Rye  a  young  one  of 
this  species,  which  appeared  to  have  been  just  hatched,  and 
I  took  it  up  in  my  hands,  whilst  the  old  birds  kept  flying 
round  me.  I  have  also  seen  it  in  the  summer  on  the  sea- 
coast  at  Bexliill.”  Since  that  date  the  species  has  passed 
into  the  category  of  visitants  to  that  county,  and  Mr.  A. 
E.  Knox  says  it  is  of  rare  occurrence  there,  sometimes  in 
small  flocks,  but  generally  alone. 

The  Avocet  has  been  noticed  several  times  in  Cornwall, 
Devonshire,  Dorsetshire,  Gloucestershire,  Shropshire,  and 
some  other  counties,  becoming  rarer  towards  the  north. 
Mr.  Cordeaux  informs  the  Editor  that  he  has  only  seen  it 
once  on  the  Humber  flats  since  1872.  It  has  occurred  two 
or  three  times  at  Teesmouth  ;  once  at  Hartley  in  Durham  ; 
and,  in  Scotland,  in  Aberdeen  and  Fifesliire.  It  has  also 
been  obtained  at  Stornoway,  in  the  island  of  Lewis  ;  in  the 
Orkneys ;  and  once,  by  Dr.  Saxby,  at  Uyea  Sound,  Shetland, 
on  the  4th  March,  1871. 

In  Ireland,  according  to  Thompson,  it  is  a  very  rare 


302 


SCOLOPACID/F. 


visitor.  The  late  B.  S.  Ball,  of  Youghal,  stated  that  he 
shot  one  near  that  town ;  three  were  observed  on  the  marshy 
coast  of  Wexford,  and  one  was  obtained  near  Castletown; 
two  were  shot  in  Cork  Harbour  in  January,  1848,  in  which 
month  one  was  seen  on  the  Dublin  coast  by  the  late  R.  J. 
Montgomery ;  and  more  recently,  as  recorded  by  Mr.  Pt. 
Warren  (Zool.  1877,  p.  288)  one  was  shot  on  the  estuary  of 
the  Moy  by  Captain  Dover. 

On  the  coasts  of  Norway  and  Sweden  the  Avocet  can  only 
be  considered  a  straggler,  but  it  still  breeds  in  diminishing 
numbers  in  certain  localities  in  Denmark,  on  the  southern 
shores  of  the  Baltic,  in  the  Frisian  Islands,  and  on  the  coast 
of  Holland  :  arriving  in  April  and  departing  in  September. 
To  Belgium,  and  the  north  of  France,  it  appears  to  be  an 
irregular  visitant,  but  in  the  Camargue  it  breeds ;  and, 
although  a  local  species,  it  is  now  known  to  be  common 
in  the  breeding- season  in  the  marshy  districts  of  the  south 
of  the  Spanish  Peninsula.  On  migration  it  has  occurred, 
a] though  rarely,  in  Switzerland  and  the  interior  of  Germany, 
and  it  visits  the  coasts  and  islands  of  the  Mediterranean 
with  regularity,  a  limited  number  being  resident  there. 

In  North  Africa  it  appears  to  be  generally  distributed  in 
suitable  localities,  and  it  occurs  along  the  east  and  wrest  coasts, 
and,  more  rarely,  in  the  interior  of  that  continent,  down  to 
Damara  Land  and  Cape  Colony,  in  both  of  which  it  has 
been  stated  to  breed.  Hartlaub  records  it  from  Madagascar. 
Returning  to  the  Palsearctic  region,  the  Avocet  is  found 
breeding  on  the  shores  of  the  Black  Sea  and  the  Caspian  ;  in 
Turkestan  ;  in  Siberia  as  far  north  as  Dauria  ;  and  in  Mon¬ 
golia  ;  and  it  visits  the  coast  of  China  down  to  Formosa  and 
Hainan  in  winter.  From  Asia  Minor  it  can  be  traced  through 
Persia  to  India,  and  on  the  inland  waters  of  the  latter  it  is 
sometimes  abundant  in  the  winter  and  early  spring  ;  it  also 
straggles  to  Ceylon. 

In  addition  to  our  Avocet,  the  genus  comprises  three 
other  species  :  Recurvirostra  americana,  which  has  a  sandy- 
red  head  and  nape  in  summer,  and  is  found  from  Hudson’s 
Bay  down  to  Guatemala  ;  the  remarkable  11.  andina,  with 


AVOCET. 


303 


white  head  and  black  tail,  restricted,  apparently,  to  the 
high  lakes  (16,000  feet)  in  the  Andes ;  and  11.  novce- 
liollandicE,  of  Australia  and  New  Zealand,  which  has  the 
head,  throat,  and  chest  of  a  deep  chestnut-red  A' 

The  eggs,  which  are  laid  in  a  slight  hollow  scratched  in 
the  bare  ground,  with  little  or  no  lining, f  are  generally 
deposited  in  the  month  of  May,  and  are,  as  a  rule,  three  or 
four  in  number  ;  five  have  been  found,  probably  the  united 
produce  of  two  females.  .  In  colour  they  are  clay-buff,- 
blotched  and  spotted  with  black,  and  measure  about  2  in. 
by  1*5  in.  Naumann  says  that  incubation,  in  which  both 
sexes  take  part,  lasts  seventeen  or  eighteen  days.  It  has 
been  suggested  by  Mr.  Harting  (Ibis,  1874,  p.  248)  that 
Avocets  feed  their  nestlings  as  Puffins  do,  by  bringing  food 
crosswise  in  their  bills,  and  laying  the  latter  close  alongside 
the  open  mandibles  of  the  young,  allowing  them  to  snatch 
the  food  sideways. 

The  food  of  the  Avocet  consists  of  worms,  aquatic  insects, 
and  the  thinner-skinned  crustaceous  animals,  which  these 
birds  search  for  on  soft  mud  and  sand.  The  peculiar  marks 
made  by  the  singular  form  of  the  beaks  of  these  birds  in 
the  sand  while  searching  for  food  with  the  convex  side,  are 
recognizable,  while  their  stooping  mode  of  action,  and  the 
character  of  the  beak  itself,  have  induced  the  provincial 
names  of  Scooper  and  Cobbler’s-awl  Duck.  The  usual  note 
is  a  clear  kuitt. 

The  specimen  from  which  the  figure  and  description  here 
inserted  were  taken,  was  obtained  in  the  London  market  in 
the  spring  of  1814.  The  beak,  black,  about  three  inches 

*  For  an  interesting  monograph  of  this  genus,  see  J.  E.  Harting,  ‘  The  Ibis,’ 
1874,  pp.  242-261. 

f  Dr.  Cullen  says  that  he  found  nests  of  this  species  at  Kustendje  which 
were  built  up  of  straws  and  stems  to  the  height  of  six  or  eight  inches  ;  and  he 
goes  on  to  state  that  the  downy  nestling  has  the  bill  quite  straight  ;  but  this  is 
an  error,  for  in  specimens  only  a  day  or  two  old  the  bills  are  distinctly  curved. 
The  Black-winged  Stilt,  however,  also  breeds  at  Kustendje,  and  was  recently 
(June,  1883)  found  there  by  Messrs.  Seebohm  and  Young,  with  nests  raised  as 
described  ;  and  in  this  latter  species  the  bill  of  the  nestling  is,  naturally, 
straight.  It  seems,  therefore,  possible  that  there  may  have  been  a  mistake  in 
the  identification  of  the  nest-building  species. 


304 


SCOLOPACIDiE. 


and  a  half  in  length,  has  very  much  the  appearance  of  two 
thin  flat  pieces  of  whalebone  coining  to  a  point  and  curving 
upwards ;  the  irides  reddish-brown  ;  top  of  the  head,  occi¬ 
put,  nape,  and  back  of  the  neck,  black  ;  interscapulars  and 
upper  part  of  the  "back,  white  ;  scapulars,  lesser  wing-coverts, 
and  the  wing-primaries,  black  ;  all  the  other  parts  of  the 
plumage  pure  vdiite  ;  legs  and  toes  pale  blue. 

The  whole  length  is  nearly  eighteen  inches.  From  the 
•  carpal  joint  to  the  end  of  the  wing,  eight  inches  and  a  half; 
the  first  quill-feather  the  longest  in  the  wing. 

In  young  birds  of  the  year  the  dark-coloured  parts  of  the 
plumage  are  tinged  with  brown  ;  the  scapulars  edged  with 
reddish-brown,  and  the  tail-feathers  are  brownish.  During 
the  second  year,  till  the  autumn  moult,  some  of  the  elongated 
dark  feathers  are  still  reddish-brown  at  the  end. 

The  young  in  down  are  of  a  greyish-white,  variegated  with 
browmisli-grey  on  the  crown,  back  and  sides,  an  irregular 
line  of  blackish  spots  down  the  middle  of  the  rump,  and  a 
well-defined  blackish  line  on  each  side  from  the  wings  to 
the  rump  terminating  in  a  black  tuft ;  the  bill  black,  and 
distinctly  curved ;  a  black  streak  leading  from  the  base  to 
the  eye,  and  beyond  it ;  legs  and  toes  greenish-blue. 


BLACK-WINGED  STILT 


305 


LIMICOL/F.. 


SCO  LOP  A  CIBJE. 


Himantopus  candidus,  Bonnaterre*. 

BLACK- WINGED  STILT. 

Himantopus  me  la  nopterus. 

Himantopus,  Brisson  +. — Beak  long,  slender,  slightly  recurved  at  the  tip,  cylin¬ 
drical,  flattened  at  the  base,  compressed  at  the  point,  both  mandibles  grooved 
on  the  sides  along  the  basal  half  of  their  length.  Nostrils  lateral,  linear,  elon¬ 
gated.  Legs  very  long  and  slender,  three  toes  in  front,  the  middle  toe  united  to 
the  outer  toe  by  a  membrane  of  considerable  size,  and  to  the  interior  toe  by  a 
membrane  of  smaller  size  ;  claws  or  nails  very  small,  flat.  Wings  very  long,  the 
first  quill  feather  considerably  the  longest  in  the  wing. 

The  Black-winged  Stilt  was  first  recorded  as  a  visitor 
to  these  islands  by  Sir  Robert  Sibbald,  j  who  describes  and 

*  Tableau  Encycloped.  et  Method.,  i.  p.  24  (1790). 

t  Ornithologie,  v.  p.  33  (1760). 

t  Scotia  Illustrata,  II.,  p.  18,  pis.  xi.  fig.  1,  and  xiii.  fig.  2  (1684). 

VOL.  III.  R  R 


306 


SCOLOPACIDiE. 


figures  under  the  name  of  Himantopus  one  of  two  specimens 
shot  at  a  lake  near  the  town  of  Dumfries,  and  sent  to  him 
by  William  Dalmahoy.  The  statement  by  Don  in  his  account 
of  Forfarshire  (1812),  that  it  had  been  seen  in  such  unlikely 
localities  as  the  mountains  of  Clova,  and  on  Ben  Lawers  in 
August,  1793,  may  he  open  to  doubt  ;  hut  it  occurred  near 
Glasgow  in  1850  ;  and  again  in  1867,  in  which  year  it  is  also 
said  to  have  been  seen  near  Aberdeen,  and  Sir  William 
Jardine  recorded  an  example  shot  that  October  in  Dum¬ 
friesshire.  Baikie  and  Heddle  mention  two  examples  in 
Orkney  in  1841,  and  Saxby  says  that  one  was  observed  in 
Shetland  prior  to  1843. 

Passing  southwards,  the  occurrences  of  the  Black-winged 
Stilt  become  more  numerous.  White  of  Selborne  notices 
five  that  were  killed  out  of  a  flock  of  six,  that  visited 
Frinsliam  Pond,  a  large  piece  of  water  lying  between 
Wolmer  Forest  and  the  town  of  Farnham,  during  the  last 
week  of  April,  1779  ;  one  was  shot  at  the  same  place  in 
1832  (Zool.  p.  5041)  ;  and  Mr.  William  Borrer  sent  word 
to  the  Author  that  an  adult  had  been  shot  near  Havant. 
It  has  occurred  once  in  Cornwall,  several  times  in  Devon, 
and  once  near  Poole  in  Dorsetshire.  In  Sussex  one  was 
observed  at  Bosham  in  December,  1855,  and,  again,  at 
Trotton  on  the  17tli  May,  1859,  respecting  which  a  re¬ 
markably  interesting  account  is  given  by  Mr.  A.  E.  Knox 
(Ibis,  1859,  p.  395).  Mr.  Harting  records  (Hbk.  Brit. 
Birds,  p.  136)  a  specimen  killed  at  Faversham,  in  the 
Canterbury  Museum.  Pennant  mentions  one  that  was 
obtained  near  Oxford,  and  another  appears  to  have  occurred 
near  Henley  (Zool.  p.  2601).  On  the  30th  January,  1848, 
a  straggler  was  obtained  as  far  inland  as  Perletliorpe, 
Nottinghamshire*  ;  one  was  obtained  near  Tliornbury,  in 
Gloucestershire, f  and  Montagu,  in  his  Supplement,  notices 
one  that  was  killed  in  the  Isle  of  Anglesea. 

Of  some  specimens  killed  in  Norfolk,  the  Rev.  Richard 
Lubbock  sent  to  the  Author  the  following  account :  “  On  the 

*  Sterland,  Birds  of  Sherwood  Forest,  p.  194. 

t  Dillwyn,  Fauna  of  Swansea,  p.  8. 


BLACK-WINGEl)  STILT. 


307 


ninth  of  June,  1822,  I  was  returning  in  the  evening  from 
fishing  upon  Hiclding  Broad,  when  a  bird  of  this  species  flew 
past  the  boat  within  thirty  yards.  The  legs  were  extended 
behind,  even  more  in  proportion  than  those  of  a  Heron  ;  the 
wings  were  much  arched  ;  the  flight  vigorous  and  regular  ; 
the  colour  and  the  length  of  limb  made  me  guess  what  it 
must  be.  I  asked  the  fen-man  who  was  with  me  what  he 
guessed  it  to  he.  He  considered  it  a  Ruff  which  had  been 
caught,  as  is  sometimes  the  case  in  our  marshes,  by  a  horse¬ 
hair  snare,  and  had  broken  away  with  it.  When  I  told  him 
that  I  believed  it  to  he  a  very  rare  and  valuable  bird, 
he  wished  to  go  in  immediate  pursuit ;  hut  I  overruled  that, 
as  there  was  not  more  than  half  an  hour’s  light  remaining, 
and  the  bird,  if  shot  at  ineffectually,  might  leave  the  country 
in  the  night.  We  searched  for  it  early  the  next  morning, 
and  found  it  precisely  in  the  same  place  as  the  evening 
before.  When  shot,  it  was  standing  in  a  shallow  pool  of 
water,  mid-leg  deep,  apparently  snapping  at  insects  in  the 
air  as  they  buzzed  round  it.  Since  then  a  pair  was  shot  by 
Mr.  Salmon,  at  Stoke  Ferry,  in  the  spring  of  1826  ;  the 
female  had  eggs  within  her  in  a  forward  state  ;  one  of  these 
last  was  in  the  collection  of  the  late  Mr.  Lombe.” 

About  eight  other  examples  have  occurred  in  that  county, 
and  having  been  recorded  in  detail  by  Mr.  Stevenson  it 
is  unnecessary  to  say  more  than  that  with  one  exception 
they  were  all  obtained  in  May,  June,  and  July,  whereas 
several  of  those  above  mentioned  visited  England  in  winter. 
The  Black-winged  Stilt  has  also  occurred  in  Suffolk,  and, 
probably,  in  some  other  counties  not  specially  enumerated  ; 
and  the  Author’s  specimen  from  which  the  figure  and 
description  here  given  were  derived,  was  obtained  in  the 
London  market  in  July,  1824,  and  was  sent  up  for  sale 
from  Lincolnshire.  In  the  intestines  of  a  Norfolk  bird 
killed  about  the  same  time,  was  a  species  of  tape-worm,  six 
inches  in  length,  broad,  fiat,  and  jointed.  Mr.  W.  E. 
Clarke  says  that  two  were  obtained  near  Beverley,  in  York¬ 
shire,  many  years  ago. 

In  Ireland  Thompson  says  that  one  was  seen  by  the  late 


308 


SCOLOPACID/E. 


Robert  Ball,  near  Youglial,  in  tlie  winter  of  1823  ;  one  was 
shot  near  Lough  Mask,  County  Mayo,  in  1836,  and  one  at 
Clontarf,  Dublin  Bay,  prior  to  1837. 

Denmark,  to  which  it  is  a  rare  visitant,  appears  to  be 
the  northern  limit  of  the  Black-winged  Stilt  on  the  Con¬ 
tinent  ;  and  throughout  Holland  and  Northern  Germany  it 
can  only  be  looked  upon  as  a  straggler,  although  its  eggs 
are  said  to  have  once  been  taken  in  Anhalt.  It  is  also 
believed  to  have  nested  once  near  Abbeville,  in  the  north  of 
France,  but  although  well  known  as  a  migrant,  it  is  only  in 
the  south  of  that  country,  especially  in  the  marshes  of  the 
Rhone,  that  it  is  found  breeding  regularly.  In  the  marshy 
plains  of  the  Spanish  Peninsula  it  is  abundant,  especially 
in  the  breeding-season,  and  eastward  it  may  be  found  in 
suitable  localities  along  both  sides  of  the  Mediterranean  to 
Asia  Minor.  In  the  marshes  of  the  Lower  Danube  and  on 
the  shores  of  the  Black  Sea  it  is  also  common.  From  the 
Canary  Islands  it  can  be  traced  down  the  west  coast  of  Africa 
to  Cape  Colony,  and  as  it  is  known  to  visit  Madagascar, 
it  probably  occurs  on  the  south-eastern  coast  of  Africa. 
Through  Persia  and  Turkestan  its  range  extends  to  India 
and  Ceylon,  where  it  breeds ;  to  the  Philippine  Islands,  and 
to  China,  where,  however,  it  has  only  rarely  been  observed. 

Its  note  is  a  clear  pee,  pee,  pee,  and  its  food  consists  of 
gnats,  Hies,  beetles,  and  aquatic  insects,  in  pursuit  of  which 
it  wades  up  to  the  knees  in  shallow  water.  The  eggs,  which 
are  usually  four  in  number,  of  a  rich  huffy  stone-colour, 
spotted  and  blotched  with  blackish -brown,  measuring  about 
1-7  by  1*25  in.,  are  laid  early  in  May  in  Spain  and  North 
Africa  ;  in  June  on  the  Black  Sea,  and,  as  a  rule,  in  the  latter 
month  in  India.  They  are  generally  placed  on  a  slight 
lining  of  bents,  in  a  tuft  of  grass,  close  to,  and  almost  in, 
the  water,  so  that  they  are  frequently  coated  with  mud  ;  but 
Messrs.  Seebohm  and  Young  observed  that  on  the  marshes 
of  the  Black  Sea,  the  nests  were  built  up  to  the  height  of 
several  inches.  The  latter  has  furnished  the  Editor  with  the 
following  details : — “  The  nests  were  placed  on  the  mud,  gene¬ 
rally  from  three  to  six  feet  from  the  edge  of  the  water  ;  one 


BLACK-WINGED  STILT. 


309 


was  in  the  shallow  water  at  least  six  feet  from  land,  another 
was  among  some  two  or  three  reeds  which  grew  in  the  water. 
The  nests  were  built  of  small  reeds,  and  were  from  two  to 
four  inches  high — about  six  inches  in  diameter  at  the  top, 
increasing  to  eight  at  the  base — the  slight  hollow  contain¬ 
ing  the  eggs  being  lined  with  finer  reeds.  Six  nests  had 
four  eggs  each,  one  nest  had  one  egg,  and  one  or  two  were 
empty.  All  the  nests  were  within  a  space  of  one  hundred 
yards.  A  thick  belt  of  reeds  bordered  the  lake  (which  was 
separated  from  the  Black  Sea  by  a  narrow  ridge  of  sand), 
leaving  a  few  feet  of  black  stinking  mud  between  them  and 
the  water ;  it  was  on  this  hare  space  that  the  nests  were 
placed  :  one  clutch  of  eggs  was  considerably  incubated,  the 
others  were  nearly  fresh.” 

Mr.  Hume  relates  a  similar  habit  as  observed  at  some 
salt  works  about  five-and-thirty  miles  south  of  Delhi,  where 
the  Black-winged  Stilt  breeds  in  hundreds,  and  forms  its 
nest  of  small  pieces  of  the  broken  lime  lining  of  the  salt¬ 
pans,  collected  into  a  circular  platform  from  five  to  seven 
inches  in  diameter,  and  from  two  to  three  in  height,  on  the 
top  of  which  a  little  dry  grass  is  placed  (Ibis,  1870,  p.  146). 

The  adult  male  has  the  beak  black  ;  the  irides  red  ;  the 
whole  of  the  head,  the  neck  all  round,  the  breast,  and  under 
parts  white,  with  an  evanescent  rosy  tint ;  tail-feathers 
greyish-white  ;  a  few  dusky  streaks  behind  the  eyes  and  on 
the  occiput ;  the  back  and  wings  nearly  black,  tinged  with 
green  ;  the  legs  and  toes  pink. 

The  length  of  the  body  is  about  thirteen  inches.  From  the 
carpal  joint  to  the  end  of  the  wing,  eight  inches  ;  the  first 
quill-featlier  the  longest. 

In  the  females  the  back  is  brownish,  and  not  tinged  with 
green. 

Young  birds  have  the  feathers  of  the  back  and  wings 
brown,  edged  with  white,  and  more  dark  feathers  about  the 
back  of  the  head  ;  the  legs  orange. 

In  the  nestling  the  down  of  the  upper  parts  is  huffish  - 
grey,  mottled  with  black ;  the  under  parts  dull  white. 


310 


SCOLOPAC1D/E. 


SCO  LOP  A  CID/E. 


Phalaropus  fulicarius  (Linnaeus*). 

THE  GREY  PHALAROPE. 

Phalaropus  lohatus. 

Phalaropus,  Brisson  f. — Beak  rather  long,  weak,  straight,  depressed,  and 
blunt ;  both  mandibles  grooved  throughout  their  whole  length  ;  the  upper  man¬ 
dible  slightly  curved  at  the  point.  Nostrils  basal,  lateral,  oval,  with  an  elevated 
margin.  Legs  rather  short,  slender,  tarsus  compressed ;  three  toes  in  front,  one 
behind;  the  anterior  toes  furnished  with  an  extension  of  the  membrane  laterally, 
forming  lobes  slightly  serrated  at  the  edges,  the  hind  toe  small,  and  articulated 
on  the  inner  side  of  the  tarsus.  Wings  long,  pointed  ;  the  first  quill-feather  the 
longest. 

This  pretty  species,  remarkable  for  the  great  difference  of 
its  red  appearance  when  in  the  plumage  of  summer,  com- 

*  Tringa  fulicaria,  Linnaeus,  Syst.  Nat.  Ed.  12,  i.  p.  249  (1766). 

t  Ornithologie,  vi.  p.  12  (1760).  The  name  originated  in  the  resemblance  of 
the  dilated  and  lobed  membranes  of  the  toes  to  those  in  the  Coot— (paAeipis  a 
Coot,  and  nods  foot ;  a  structural  resemblance  which  was  probably  a  reason  for 
placing  the  Phalaropes  next  to  the  Rails  in  former  Editions. 


GREY  PIIALAROPE. 


311 


pared  to  its  delicate  grey  colour  in  winter,  and  from  which 
latter  prevailing  tint  it  derives  its  name,  was  formerly  con¬ 
sidered  a  rare  bird  in  this  country,  since  Pennant  says  that 
he  only  knew  of  two  instances  in  which  it  had  occurred  in 
his  time.  It  is  now  known  to  be  of  more  common,  although 
of  very  irregular  occurrence,  generally  appearing  in  the 
autumn,  when  on  the  way  to  southern  winter  quarters ; 
and  the  visitors  are,  for  the  most  part,  young  birds  of 
the  year,  in  various  stages  of  change  towards  the  pure  and 
delicate  grey  colour  of  the  plumage  of  winter.  Some  years 
since,  A.  B.  Lambert,  Esq.,  presented  to  the  Zoological 
Society  a  beautifully-marked  adult  bird,  which  was  killed  in 
Wiltshire  in  the  month  of  August,  and  retained  at  that  time 
a  great  portion  of  the  true  red  colours  of  the  breeding- 
season,  or  summer  plumage ;  hut  specimens  obtained  in 
December,  January,  and  February,  then  exhibit,  of  course, 
the  perfect  grey  plumage  of  winter. 

This  species  has  now  been  obtained  in  so  many  different 
counties  in  the  British  Islands,  as  to  render  the  particular 
enumeration  of  them  unnecessary,  hut  it  may  be  said  that 
it  is  not  of  frequent  occurrence  in  Ireland,  nor  on  the  west 
coast  of  Scotland.  On  the  eastern  side  of  the  latter,  its  irregu¬ 
lar  visits  take  place  in  larger  numbers,  and  the  same  remark 
applies  to  both  the  eastern  and  the  western  sides  of  England, 
hut  the  more  favoured  counties  are  those  of  the  south-east, 
south,  and,  in  a  less  degree,  the  south-west.  Mr.  J.  H. 
Gurney,  jun.,  has  published  an  interesting  pamphlet  sum¬ 
marizing  the  occurrences  of  this  species  during  the  great 
immigration  which  took  place  between  the  20tli  August  and 
8th  October,  1866,  when,  according  to  his  estimate,  upwards 
of  five  hundred  were  slaughtered,  and  of  these  about  two 
hundred  and  fifty  were  obtained  in  Sussex ;  very  few  touch¬ 
ing  the  coast  to  the  north  of  Ramsgate.  Some  were  killed 
far  inland,  although  generally  by  the  side  of  lakes  or  ponds ; 
and  even  on  the  coast,  the  favourite  localities  appear  to  be 
pools  of  fresh  or  brackish  water,  sheltered  from  the  turbu¬ 
lent  sea.  Another  immigration  of  some  importance  which 
took  place  in  the  autumn  of  1869,  was  almost  confined  to 


312 


SCOLOPACIDiE. 


the  south  coast.  In  most  instances  these  beautiful  and 
harmless  birds  have  shown  a  confidence  and  want  of  fear 
which  might  have  touched  the  heart  of  any  one  except  a 
collector  ;  it  was  sometimes  difficult  to  avoid  blowing  them 
to  pieces,  and  one  bird  was  actually  struck  down  by  a  labour¬ 
ing  man  with  a  spade. 

The  breeding  haunts  of  the  Grey  Phalarope  appear  to  be 
circumpolar.  On  Parry’s  first  and  second  Arctic  voyages, 
it  was  observed  to  be  abundant  during  the  summer  months 
on  the  North  Georgian  and  Melville  Islands,  and  found 
breeding  at  Iglookik,  and  Melville  Peninsula,  on  the  third 
voyage  ;  and  on  the  Arctic  Expedition  of  1875-76,  Major 
Feilden  observed  a  pair  apparently  breeding  in  July  in 
82°  30'  N.  lat.  Its  breeding  range  extends  across  to  Alaska, 
but  the  majority  of  the  eggs  which  have  been  sent  to  col¬ 
lectors  of  late  years  come  from  the  district  of  Upernavik 
and  Egedesminde  in  Greenland.  Its  eggs  have  also  been 
obtained  in  Iceland  and  in  Spitsbergen  ;  it  probably  nests  in 
Novaya  Zemlya ;  Middendorff  found  both  eggs  and  half- 
fledged  young  in  Northern  Siberia;  and  the  “  Vega  ”  expe¬ 
dition  obtained  it  close  to  Behring’s  Straits  in  June.  In 
Scandinavia  it  only  occurs  on  migration,  with  the  exception 
of  the  southern  fiords  of  Norway,  where  some  winter ;  and 
in  Northern  Russia,  the  Baltic,  in  Northern  Germany  and 
Belgium,  it  has  seldom  been  noticed.  Its  appearances  on 
the  French  coast  are  more  frequent,  and,  by  the  depressions 
of  the  Rhine  and  Rhone  valleys,  it  skirts  Switzerland  and 
straggles  to  Italy  and  the  Mediterranean.  Single  specimens 
have  been  observed  or  obtained  at  Santander,  Lisbon,  and 
near  Cadiz  ;  also  at  Tangier  in  Morocco,  in  January,  by 
the  late  Tyrwliitt-Drake  ;  M.  Alleon  records  it  from  the 
Black  Sea  ;  and  a  few  have  been  obtained  inland  in  Bohemia. 
It  does  not  seem  to  migrate  by  way  of  the  Volga  valley,  and 
Severtzoff  records  it  as  a  rare  visitant  to  the  Pamir  range. 
Mr.  Hume  found  it  in  flocks  of  about  twenty  in  the  Gulf  of 
Oman,  and  from  thence  to  Bombay,  but  these  individuals, 
presumably  the  survivors  of  the  persecution  in  the  north, 
were  by  this  time  extremely  wary.  A  solitary  example,  still 


GREY  PHALAROPE. 


313 


iii  winter  plumage,  was  obtained  by  the  late  E.  Blytli,  on 
the  11th  of  May,  1846,  in  the  Calcutta  bazaar;  but  there 
seems  to  be  no  record  of  its  occurrence  further  east ;  nor  is 
it  at  all  easy  to  say  what  becomes  of  the  birds  annually  bred 
in  the  north,  or  wdiat  lines  they  take  on  their  migrations  to 
winter  quarters.  In  America,  it  has  been  traced  as  far  as 
New  Jersey  on  the  east  side,  and  to  California  on  the  west. 

The  nest  is  a  mere  depression  in  the  peat,  in  which  four 
eggs  are  usually  laid.  These  are  of  a  stone-colour,  tinged 
with  olive,  spotted  and  speckled  over  with  dark  brown, 
especially  at  the  larger  end  ;  and  measure  about  1*15  by 
*85  in.,  being  very  similar  to  those  of  the  Red-necked 
Plialarope,  next  in  order ;  but,  as  a  rule,  they  are  slightly 
broader  and  blunter  in  shape.  An  egg  which  was  in  the 
Author’s  collection,  and  is  figured  in  Mr.  Hewitson’s  work, 
was  brought  from  Melville  Island,  and  also  the  female 
bird  in  summer  plumage,  from  which  the  figure  in  the  back¬ 
ground  of  the  illustration  was  drawn  and  engraved.  The 
Danish  collectors  in  Greenland  say  that  the  present  species 
generally  breeds  on  small  islands,  whereas  its  congener 
prefers  the  mainland. 

Grey  Phalaropes  feed  on  the  smaller  thin-skinned  Crus¬ 
tacea  and  aquatic  insects,  which  they  search  for  and  pick  up 
from  the  surface  of  the  water  while  swimming  ;  and  their 
attitude  resembles  that  of  the  Gull,  with  the  head  drawn 
backwards.  Such  decided  swimmers  are  the  Phalaropes, 
that  Sabine  mentions  having  shot  one  out  of  a  flock  of  four, 
on  the  west  coast  of  Greenland  in  latitude  68°,  while  they 
were  swimming  in  the  sea  amongst  icebergs,  three  or  four 
miles  from  the  shore ;  and  Richardson,  in  his  Natural  His¬ 
tory  Appendix  to  Parry’s  second  Arctic  voyage,  says,  they 
were  observed  upon  the  sea,  out  of  sight  of  land,  preferring 
to  swim  out  of  danger  rather  than  take  wing. 

The  females  of  this  species  appear  to  assume  more  per¬ 
fect  colours,  in  the  breeding- season,  and  to  retain  them 
longer  than  the  males.  A  female  in  fine  summer  plumage 
has  the  beak  yellow,  the  point  dark  brown ;  around  the  base 
of  the  beak,  and  on  the  top  of  the  head,  dark  hrownish- 

vol.  hi.  s  s 


314 


SCOLOPACIM. 


black ;  irides  dark  brown  ;  around  the  eye  a  patch  of  white  ; 
a  narrow  stripe  down  the  back  of  the  neck ;  all  the  back 
and  rump  nearly  black,  with  pale  yellow  margins  ;  lesser 
wing-coverts  lead-grey,  edged  with  white ;  greater  wing- 
coverts  and  secondaries  lead-grey,  with  broad  ends  of  white ; 
tertials  also  lead-grey,  margined  with  orange-yellow ;  quill 
and  tail-feathers  almost  black  ;  the  front  and  sides  of  the 
neck,  the  breast,  and  all  the  under  surface  of  the  body 
uniform  reddish-chestnut,  or  bay;  under  surface  of  tail- 
feathers  ash-grey ;  legs,  toes,  and  their  lobed  membranes 
yellow  ;  the  claws  black. 

When  changing  in  autumn  to  the  plumage  of  winter,  the 
bay  under- colour  is  lost  by  degrees  ;  the  first  grey  feathers 
that  appear  are  the  scapulars,  and  from  thence  down  the 
sides  of  the  back  ;  afterwards  those  of  the  interscapular 
space,  and  the  centre  of  the  back  below  ;  the  orange-coloured 
margins  of  the  tertials  becoming  paler. 

In  winter  the  beak  becomes  black,  more  than  halfway  from 
the  tip ;  around  its  base,  and  on  the  top  of  the  head,  white  ; 
irides  dark  brown ;  around  the  eye  dusky  black  ;  a  patch  of 
the  same  colour  on  the  ear-coverts  and  on  the  occiput ;  back 
of  the  neck,  scapulars,  upper  wing-coverts,  and  all  the  back, 
uniform  pearl-grey  ;  greater  coverts,  secondaries,  and  tertials, 
lead-grey,  margined  with  white ;  primaries  as  in  summer  ; 
tail-feathers  ash-grey,  margined  with  white ;  chin,  neck  in 
front,  breast,  and  all  the  under  surface  cf  the  body  pure 
white,  except  a  small  patch  of  pearl-grey  before  the  point 
of  the  wings,  but  not  extending  round  the  front ;  legs,  toes, 
and  membranes  yellowish ;  the  claws  black. 

Specimens  vary  considerably  in  size ;  the  females  are  the 
largest,  and  measure  about  eight  inches  and  a  quarter  in 
their  whole  length  ;  the  males  usuall}7  half  an  inch  less  ; 
from  the  carpal  joint  to  the  end  of  the  wing  four  inches  and 
three-quarters. 


RED-NECKED  PHALAROPE. 


315 


L1MIC0LJE. 


SCO  LOP  A  Cl  DAE. 


Phalaropus  hyperboreus  (Li  nnseus*). 
THE  RED-NECKED  PHALAROPE. 


Phalaropus  hyperboreus. 

The  Red-necked  Phalarope  is  at  once  distinguished 
from  the  Grey  Phalarope  last  described,  by  its  smaller  size, 
with  a  longer  and  more  slender  beak,  and  it  presents 
much  less  seasonal  variation  in  its  plumage,  f  It  is  both 
more  irregular,  and  less  abundant  on  its  visits,  which  are 
principally  in  the  autumn,  and  rarely  on  the  spring  migra¬ 
tion.  It  has  been  observed  in  Sussex  and  Surrey  ;  in  Norfolk 
and  Suffolk,  according  to  Mr.  Stevenson,  only  about  twenty 
times  in  as  many  years  ;  in  the  Humber  district  seldom, 
the  latest  record  being  that  of  three  in  the  autumn  of  1881 
(Rep.  Migr.  Com.  1882,  p.  32)  ;  and  also  on  the  Yorkshire 
coast ;  and  very  rarely  in  Northumberland.  Sometimes  its 
erratic  course  takes  it  inland,  and  on  the  6tli  July,  1843,  an 

*  Tringa  hyperborea,  LinDseus,  Syst.  Nat.  Ed.  12,  i.  p.  249  (1766). 

f  Owing  to  the  shape  of  its  bill,  it  has  been  made  the  type  of  a  genus,  Lobipes , 
in  association  with  the  only  other  member  of  the  group,  L.  wilsoni ,  and  the 
latter  again  has  been  given  a  genu?,  Steganopus,  to  itself. 


316 


SCOI.OPACIDJE. 


example  in  tlie  collection  of  Mr.  J.  Whitaker,  of  Rainworth 
Lodge,  near  Mansfield,  was  killed  at  Ramsdale,  Notts.  Its 
rare  visits  can  be  traced  along  the  east  coast  of  Scotland 
from  Berwick  to  the  extreme  north,  and  irregularly  along  the 
western  side  ;  but  in  Ireland,  strange  to  say,  it  has  not  as  yet 
been  recorded.  Yet  although  so  scarce  on  migration,  it  is 
said  to  breed  in  a  few  scattered  localities  in  the  counties  of 
Perth  and  Inverness ;  and  also,  on  what  Mr.  Harvie-Brown 
considers  very  insufficient  evidence,  in  Sutherlandsliire.  In 
the  Hebrides,  especially  on  the  Long  Island,  as  well  as  in 
North  and  South  Uist,  a  variable  number  of  pairs  annually 
rear  their  broods;  as  some  formerly  did  in  the  Orkney 
group,  until  nearly,  if  not  quite  extirpated  by  the  greed  of 
the  collector  ;  and  in  Shetland  a  few  still  find  a  refuge  which 
it  would  be  undesirable  to  betray. 

The  late  J.  D.  Salmon,  who  visited  Orkney  in  the  summer 
of  1831,  says  of  the  Red-necked  Phalarope :  “This  beau¬ 
tiful  little  bird  appeared  to  be  very  tame  ;  although  we  shot 
two  pairs,  those  that  were  swimming  about  did  not  take  the 
least  notice  of  the  report  of  the  gun ;  and  they  seemed  to 
be  much  attached  to  each  other,  for  when  one  of  them  flew 
to  a  short  distance,  the  other  directly  followed ;  and  while  I 
held  a  female  that  was  wounded  in  my  hand,  its  mate  came 
and  fluttered  before  my  face.  We  were  much  gratified  in 
watching  the  motions  of  these  elegant  little  creatures,  as 
they  kept  swimming  about,  and  were  for  ever  dipping  their 
bills  into  the  water  ;  and  so  intent  were  they  upon  their 
occupation,  that  they  did  not  take  the  least  notice  of  us, 
although  within  a  few  yards  of  them.  The  female  has  not 
that  brilliant  bay  colour  upon  the  sides  of  the  neck  and 
breast,  so  conspicuous  in  the  male.*  After  some  little 
difficulty,  we  were  fortunate  in  finding  their  nests,  which 
were  placed  in  small  tufts  of  grass  growing  close  to  the  edge 
of  the  loch ;  they  were  formed  of  dried  grass,  and  were 
about  the  size  of  that  of  a  Titlark,  but  much  deeper.  The 

*  Mr.  Salmon  probably  assumed  that  the  duller-coloured  bird  was  the  female, 
for  it  is  now  well-known  that  in  this,  as  in  the  preceding  species,  the  female  is 
both  larger  and  more  richly  coloured  than  the  male. 


RED-NECKED  PHALAROPE. 


317 


eggs  are  considerably  smaller  than  those  of  the  Dunlin,  and 
beautifully  spotted  all  over  with  brown.  They  had  but  just 
commenced  laying,  June  13,  as  we  found  only  from  one  to 
two  eggs  in  each  nest ;  but  we  were  informed  by  a  boy 
whom  we  engaged  in  our  service,  that  they  always  lay  four, 
and  are  called  by  the  name  of  Half-web.” 

In  the  Hebrides,  according  to  Mr.  Harvie-Brown,  they 
usually  arrive  in  the  latter  part  of  May,  and  by  August  both 
old  and  young  have  taken  their  departure.  The  average 
measurement  of  eggs  is  1*12  by  *8  in.,  the  ground-colour 
olive  blotched  with  umber-brown.  The  male  takes  a  con¬ 
siderable  share  in  the  duties  of  incubation,  and,  as  regards 
the  behaviour  of  the  female,  the  late  W.  Procter  has  con¬ 
tributed  the  following  experiences  obtained  in  Iceland  : — 
“  The  young  birds  leave  the  nest  as  soon  as  hatched.  On 
the  approach  of  danger  the  old  bird  runs  among  the  aquatic 
herbage,  spreading  her  wings,  and  counterfeiting  lameness, 
for  the  purpose  of  deluding  the  intruder ;  and  after  leading 
the  enemy  from  her  young,  she  takes  wing  and  flies  to  a 
great  height,  at  the  same  time  displaying  a  peculiar  action 
of  the  wings  ;  then  descending  with  great  velocity,  and 
making  simultaneously  a  noise  with  her  wings.  On  her 
return  to  her  young,  she  uses  a  particular  cry  for  the  pur¬ 
pose  of  gathering  the  young  together.  As  soon  as  she  has 
collected  them,  she  covers  them  with  her  wings  like  the 
domestic  hen.” 

The  food,  as  may  be  inferred  from  what  has  been  already 
stated,  consists  of  small  Crustacea,  marine  insects,  aquatic 
larvae,  worms,  &c.  The  note  is  a  sharp  tirrr. 

The  Red-necked  Phalarope  breeds  in  the  Faeroes,  Iceland, 
and  Northern  Scandinavia,  and  can  be  traced  in  summer 
across  Northern  Russia  to  Archangel ;  thence,  by  way  of 
Waigats,  to  73°  N.  lat.  on  the  Taimyr  Peninsula,  in  Siberia, 
where,  however,  Middendorf  found  it  less  plentiful  than  the 
preceding  species ;  he  also  found  it  nesting  in  the  highest 
portion  of  the  mountains  of  Bosuda  Alamyta.  It  occurs 
along  the  northern  coast  line  as  far  as  Behring’s  Straits 
where  it  is  very  abundant.  In  the  Baltic  and  along  the 


318 


SCOLOPACHLE. 


coast  of  the  German  Ocean,  it  is  a  rare  and  irregular  visi¬ 
tant,  nor  is  it  much  more  frequent  on  the  coasts  of  France. 
It  probably  wanders  to  the  Iberian  Peninsula,  as  it  has  been 
obtained  in  North-Western  Africa,  but  in  Italy  and  other 
countries  bordering  the  Mediterranean,  it  is  of  very  rare 
occurrence.  Stragglers  to  the  inland  waters  of  Austria  and 
Hungary  are  on  record,  and  a  few  individuals  find  their  way 
to  the  Black  Sea.  It  seems  probable  that  an  important  line 
of  migration  is  by  the  valley  of  the  Volga,  for  Henke  says 
(Ibis,  1882,  p.  223)  that  it  visits  Astrachan,  being  espe¬ 
cially  numerous  on  the  spring  passage.  Mr.  Seebolim  has 
a  specimen  in  winter  plumage  from  Samarcand,  and  Prof. 
Severtzoff  obtained  it  on  the  autumn  migration  in  the 
Pamir  range.  Mr.  Blanford  found  it  plentiful  in  winter  in 
Persia,  and  examples  have  been  obtained  at  Kuracliee  and  at 
Madras.  In  occurs  in  Japan ;  is  a  regular  double  migrant 
to  the  coast  of  China,  and  has  been  known  to  visit  Celebes, 
the  Moluccas,  the  Aru  Islands,  and  New  Guinea. 

In  Greenland  it  breeds  abundantly,  and  ranges  across 
North  America,  going  as  far  north  as  Prince  Albert’s  Land 
(Zool.  1879,  p.  7),  to  Alaska,  where  it  is  very  plentiful  in 
summer ;  and  it  breeds  in  some  of  the  mountain  lakes,  high 
up  in  the  coast  range.  Inland  it  has  been  obtained  in 
Kansas,  at  an  elevation  of  3,300  feet  (Bull.  Nuttall,  1883, 
p.  187),  and  in  winter  it  has  been  found  as  far  south  as 
Chili  on  the  Pacific,  and  the  Bermudas  in  the  Atlantic. 

In  summer  the  beak  is  black,  longer  and  more  slender 
than  that  of  the  Grey  Plialarope  ;  irides  dark  brown  ;  around 
the  base  of  the  beak  and  the  eyes,  on  the  top  of  the  head, 
back  of  the  neck,  all  the  back  and  the  wing-coverts,  nearly 
uniform  dark  lead-colour  ;  the  scapulars  and  tertials  margined 
with  reddish-yellow ;  primaries  almost  black ;  secondaries 
rather  lighter  in  colour  and  tipped  with  white ;  upper  tail- 
coverts  dusky  and  white ;  tail-feathers  brownish-grey,  the 
middle  pair  the  darkest  in  colour ;  chin  pure  white  ;  sides 
and  front  of  the  neck  rich  yellowish-red ;  feathers  of  the 
lower  part  of  the  neck  in  front  dark  grey,  edged  with  white ; 
breast,  belly,  vent,  and  under  tail-coverts,  pure  white  ;  in 


RED-NECKED  PHALAROPE. 


319 


front  of  the  wing  a  patch  of  dark  grey,  which  extends  back¬ 
wards,  mixed  with  w’hite  over  the  sides  and  flanks.  Legs, 
toes,  and  their  membranes  green,  the  claws  black. 

Females  measure  about  seven  inches  in  length,  and  are 
larger  than  males ;  from  the  carpal  joint  to  the  end  of  the 
longest  quill-featlier  four  inches  and  one-quarter.  The 
length  of  the  beak,  from  the  feathers  on  the  forehead,  ten 
lines  and  a  half. 

Adult  birds  in  winter  have  the  forehead  and  the  greater 
part  of  the  crown  white ;  the  nape  and  the  streak  through 
the  eye,  sooty-brown  ;  the  dorsal  feathers  margined  with 
white ;  sides  of  face  and  under  parts  nearly  pure  white. 
Young  birds  are  similar,  but  the  feathers  of  the  upper  parts 
are  margined  with  rufous-buff,  the  feet  are  yellowish,  and 
the  toes  are  much  less  lobed. 


320 


SCOLOPACID.E. 


LIM1COL2E. 


SCO  LOP  A  Cl  Dj-F. 


Scolopax  rusticula,  Linnaeus*. 


THE  WOODCOCK. 
Scolopax  rusticola. 


Scolopax,  Brisson f. — Beak  long,  straight,  compressed,  slender,  soft,  slightly 
curved  at  the  point ;  both  mandibles  grooved  over  the  basal  half  of  their  length ; 
point  of  the  upper  mandible  extending  beyond  that  of  the  lower  mandible,  the 
curved  part  forming  a  slight  crook  ;  superior  ridge  elevated  at  the  base,  promi¬ 
nent.  Nostrils  lateral,  basal,  pierced  longitudinally  near  the  edges  of  the 
mandible,  covered  by  a  membrane.  Legs  rather  short,  tibia  feathered  nearly  to 
joint ;  three  toes  before,  one  behind,  the  anterior  toes  almost  entirely  divided. 
Wings  moderate,  the  first  quill-feather  the  longest  in  the  wing.  Tail  short, 
rounded. 

Although  the  eggs  or  the  young  of  the  Woodcock  have 
been  found,  during  one  summer  or  another,  in  almost  every 

*  Scolopax  Rusticola,  Linnteus,  Syst.  Nat.  Ed.  12,  i.  p.  243  (1766)  ;  for  rusti¬ 
cula:  cf.  Pliny,  Nat.  Hist.  cap.  x.  54  (38). 
t  Ornithologie,  v.  p.  292  (1760). 


WOODCOCK. 


321 


county  in  England,  as  well  as  in  many  of  those  of  Scotland 
and  Ireland,  and  also  more  frequently  of  late  years  than 
formerly,  yet  the  great  bulk  of  the  species  must  he  under¬ 
stood  as  only  winter  visitors,  arriving  early  in  October,  or 
soon  afterwards,  and  again  departing  northwards  in  March. 
The  late  Mr.  Selby,  one  of  our  best  observers,  residing  in 
the  eastern  part  of  Northumberland,  and  only  four  or  five 
miles  from  the  sea,  says,  “  I  have  found  that  these  birds 
always  come  over  in  the  greatest  bodies  in  hazy  weather, 
with  little  wind,  and  that  blowing  from  the  north-east  ;* 
and  it  is  probable  that  they  then  find  the  upper  region  of  the 
atmosphere,  in  which  they  fly,  freer  from  counter  currents 
of  air,  than  in  more  open  weather.  After  a  night  of  this 
description  I  have  frequently  met  with  great  numbers  upon 
the  edges  of  plantations,  in  hedges,  and  even  in  turnip-fields, 
and  enjoyed  excellent  sport  for  the  day ;  but  on  seeking,  on 
the  following  morning,  for  a  renewal  of  similar  success,  I 
have  not  found  a  single  bird,  the  whole  flight  having  pro¬ 
ceeded  on  their  course  during  the  intervening  night.  It  is 
during  this  time  that  Woodcocks,  like  most  migratory  birds, 
perform  their  journeys  :  and  it  seems  probable  that  those 
which  halt  upon  the  eastern  coast  of  Scotland,  and  the 
northern  counties  of  England,  have  completed  their  task 
from  shore  to  shore,  between  sunset  and  sunrise,  as  they 
appear  but  little  fatigued  on  their  arrival,  provided  the 
weather  has  been  calm.  The  distance  of  the  coasts  of 
Norway  and  Sweden,  from  whence  these  visitors  are  sup¬ 
posed  to  come,  offers  no  objection  to  this  supposition,  as  a 
continued  flight  of  eight  or  ten  hours,  even  at  a  rate  inferior 
to  what  I  conceive  they  are  capable  of  accomplishing,  would 
suffice  for  the  transit.  Another  argument  in  favour  of  this 
supposition  is,  the  high  state  of  condition  in  which  the 
birds  generally  arrive  on  our  shores,  especially  at  an  ad- 

*  Mr.  N.  F.  Hele  (Notes  about  Aldeburgh,  p.  122)  says  of  that  part  of  Suffolk, 
that  Woodcocks  always  appear  with  a  north-wes£  wind,  and  under  no  other  cir¬ 
cumstances  ;  also  that  their  flight  is  directly  against  the  wind.  But  it  by  no 
means  follows  that  the  direction  of  the  wind  with  which  the  birds  drop  on  the 
land  is  the  same  as  that  prevailing  at  a  greater  elevation,  and  this  should  be 
taken  into  consideration  in  estimating  all  records  of  the  arrival  of  migrants. 

VOL.  III.  T  T 


322 


SCOLOPACIDiF. 


vanced  period  of  the  season,  by  no  means  indicating  the 
wasting  effects  of  very  long-continued  exertions.  It  appears 
that  they  fly  at  a  considerable  altitude,  as  indeed  most  birds 
do  when  performing  their  migratory  movements.  A  respect¬ 
able  person  who  lived  upon  the  coast,  and  who,  being  a  keen 
pursuer  of  wild-fowl,  was  in  the  habit  of  frequenting  the 
sea-shore  at  an  early  hour  in  the  morning,  assured  me  that 
he  had  more  than  once  noticed  the  arrival  of  a  flight  of 
Woodcocks  coming  from  the  north-east  just  at  day-dawn. 
His  notice  was  first  attracted  by  a  peculiar  sound  in  the  air 
over  his  head,  that,  upon  attending  to,  he  found  proceeded 
from  birds  descending  in  a  direction  almost  perpendicular  ; 
and  which,  upon  approaching  the  shore,  separated  and  flew 
towards  the  interior  ;  these  he  pursued  and  shot,  and  which 
proved,  as  he  surmised  by  the  view  he  had  of  them  as  they 
flew  past  him,  to  be  Woodcocks.”  Mr.  Selby  has  also 
observed  that  “  the  first  flights  of  these  birds,  which  seldom 
remain  longer  than  for  a  few  days,  and  then  pass  south¬ 
ward,  consist  chiefly  of  females  ;  whilst,  on  the  contrary, 
the  subsequent  and  latest  flights  which  continue  with  us,  are 
principally  composed  of  males.  It  has  been  noticed  by 
several  authors,  that  the  arrival  of  the  males,  in  a  number 
of  our  summer  visitants,  precedes  that  of  the  females  by 
many  days  ;  a  fact  from  which  we  might  infer,  that  in  such 
species  a  similar  separation  exists  between  the  sexes  during 
their  ^equatorial  migration.”  The  circumstance  of  the  sepa¬ 
ration  for  a  time  of  the  males  and  females  in  the  Woodcock 
or  Wood-snipe,  as  it  is  sometimes  called,  accounts  for  the 
result  which  occurs  at  the  early  part  of  the  Woodcock 
season.  On  making  internal  examination  of  twelve  Wood¬ 
cocks,  from  one  locality,  for  the  purpose  of  ascertaining  the 
sex,  for  use  in  this  work,  only  two  of  them  proved  to  be 
males. 

Mr.  John  Cordeaux,  whose  observations  on  the  migration 
of  birds  are  well  known,  informs  the  Editor  that  in  the 
autumn  of  1882  the  “  great  flight  ”  crossed  on  the  night  of 
October  12th,  with  strong  east  wind,  fog  and  drizzling  rain. 
On  the  morning  of  the  13th  they  were  found  in  considerable 


WOODCOCK. 


323 


numbers  at  all  the  chief  stations  for  observing  the  migration 
of  birds,  from  Orfordness  in  the  south,  to  the  Isle  of  May, 
at  the  entrance  to  the  Firth  of  Forth.  This  flight  covered 
350  miles  of  the  coast  of  Great  Britain,  and  the  birds  prob¬ 
ably  travelled  in  parallel  lines  across  the  North  Sea  from 
the  opposite  coast  of  Europe.  Casualties  against  the  lanterns 
of  lighthouses  and  light-vessels  on  the  English  coast  gene¬ 
rally  occur  between  midnight  and  daybreak.  The  Woodcocks 
therefore  probably  leave  the  opposite  coast  in  the  dark  of 
evening  or  early  night. 

Under  the  influence  of  a  north-east  wind,  their  course  is 
probably  between  south  and  west ;  this  will  account  for  the 
number  of  Woodcocks  found  in  Devonshire,  Cornwall,  in 
Wales,  and  in  Ireland  ;  the  birds  in  many  instances  pur¬ 
suing  their  course  till  they  reach  the  sea,  or  returning,  if 
possible,  when  they  have  overshot  the  land. 

Gilbert  White  of  Selborne  says,  in  his  Journal,  “A 
gentleman  writes  word  from  St.  Mary’s,  Scilly,  that  in  the 
night  between  the  10th  and  lltli  of  October,  the  wind  being 
west,  there  fell  such  a  flight  of  Woodcocks  within  the  walls 
of  the  garrison,  that  he  himself  shot,  and  conveyed  home, 
twenty-six  couple,  besides  three  couple  which  he  wounded, 
but  did  not  give  himself  the  trouble  to  retrieve.  On  the 
following  day,  the  12tli,  the  wind  continuing  west,  he  found 
but  few.  This  person  further  observes,  that  easterly  and 
northerly  winds  only  have  usually  been  remarked  as  pro¬ 
pitious  in  bringing  AVoodcocks  to  the  Scilly  Islands.  So 
that  he  is  totally  at  a  loss  to  account  for  this  western  flight, 
unless  they  came  from  Ireland.  As  they  took  their  depar¬ 
ture  in  the  night  between  the  11th  and  12tli,  the  wind  still 
continuing  west,  he  supposes  they  were  gone  to  make  a  visit 
to  the  counties  of  Cornwall  and  Devonshire.  From  circum¬ 
stances  in  the  letter,  it  appears  that  the  ground  within  the 
lines  of  the  garrison  abounds  with  furze.  Some  Woodcocks 
settled  in  the  street  of  St.  Mary’s  and  ran  into  the  houses 
and  out-houses.”  # 

Adverse  gales  may  exercise  an  important  influence  in 
*  Jesse’s  ‘Gleanings  in  Nat.  Hist.’,  2nd  Ser.  p.  179. 


324 


SCOLOPACID.E. 


arresting  their  flight  beyond  the  western  shores  of  our 
islands,  and  possibly  their  instinct  tells  them  that  the  deep 
blue  waters  of  the  Atlantic  are  of  far  wider  extent  than 
the  paler  waves  of  the  North  Sea  and  the  Irish  Channel. 
Whatever  be  the  reason,  it  is  undoubtedly  a  fact  that  Wood¬ 
cocks  often  make  their  appearance  on  the  south  and  west 
coasts  of  Ireland  before  they  are  noticed  in  the  north  and 
east. 

The  abundance  or  scarcity  of  the  annual  arrivals  of  Wood¬ 
cocks  depend  very  much  upon  the  severity  of  the  weather  in 
the  north  of  Europe.  In  1852  an  unusual  number  were 
shot  at  Melton  Constable,  near  Holt,  in  Norfolk,  thirty  and 
thirty-three  being  respectively  killed  on  two  successive  days 
in  the  first  week  in  December,  and  ninety-three  on  the  follow¬ 
ing  day  by  the  same  shooting  party,  who  might,  if  other  game 
had  been  disregarded,  have  killed  at  least  110  (A.  Newton, 
Zool.  p.  3754).  In  this  case  it  seems  probable  that  the 
abundance  was  local,  and  due  to  the  inundations  of  that  year, 
which  had  expelled  the  birds  from  the  low  grounds.  Severe 
frost  in  England  has  the  effect  of  driving  the  birds  from  the 
east  to  the  milder  coasts  of  the  west,  and  to  Ireland,  which 
has  always  been  celebrated  for  its  ’cock-shooting.  Daniel,  in 
his  £  Rural  Sports,’  has  stated  that  in  that  island  the  (late) 
Earl  of  Clermont  shot  fifty  couple  in  one  day  ;  and  his  suc¬ 
cessor  informs  the  Editor  that  this  feat  was  the  result  of  a 
wager.  It  took  place  at  the  Earl  of  Farnham’s  seat  in 
Cavan  ;  the  entire  bag  being  made  in  a  large  wood  called 
Donaweale,  and  before  two  o’clock  in  the  afternoon,  with  a 
single-barrelled  flint-gun.  Of  all  years  within  the  memory 
of  man  in  Ireland,  none,  however,  equals  the  winter  of  1881, 
when,  according  to  Sir  R.  Payne- Gall wey,  the  peasants 
bagged  their  fifteen  and  twenty  couple  a  day,  and  would  have 
killed  many  more  but  for  running  short  of  ammunition.  In 
Clare  one  dealer  alone,  although  he  had  two  rivals  in  the 
trade,  forwarded  to  Dublin  and  London  a  thousand  Cock 
a  week  for  three  weeks ;  and  the  books  of  the  principal  firm 
of  Tralee  show  that  in  January  and  February  1,G41  were 
received  from  Kerry.  One  shooter  near  Kilcredan,  county 


WOODCOCK. 


325 


Clare,  killed  thirty  couple  in  a  day ;  and  on  Lord  Ardilaun’s 
property  at  Ashford,  county  Galway,  173  Cock  fell  to  six 
guns  in  two  days.* 

A  Woodcock  when  flushed  on  the  coast  has  been  known  to 
settle  on  the  sea,  and  when  again  disturbed,  rose  without 
difficulty  and  flew  away.  But  this  is  not  always  the 
case.  Mr.  Falconer,  of  Christchurch,  has  recorded  (Zool. 
1848,  p.  2028),  “  that  some  years  ago,  a  few  miles  from 
the  Land’s  End,  the  sea  was  strewed  with  hundreds  of 
Woodcocks  :  it  is  probable  that  they  were  exhausted  by  their 
long  flight,  and  hundreds  seem  to  have  fallen  together  into 
the  sea ;  some  of  them  were  taken  up,  and  found  to  be 
perfectly  fresh.”  Numerous  instances  are  recorded  of 
Woodcocks  alighting  on  the  deck  of  ships  in  the  English 
Channel  and  elsewhere.  The  rapidity  of  flight  of  this  bird 
is  at  times  so  great  that  a  pane  of  plate-glass  more  than 
three-eighths  of  an  inch  thick  has  been  smashed  by  the 
contact,  and  one  was  actually  impaled  on  the  weathercock  of 
one  of  the  churches  in  Ipswich  (Zool.  ss.  p.  271). 

The  return  migration  takes  place  in  March,  at  which 
season  the  birds,  although  generally  paired,  were  formerly  shot 
in  this  country,  until  protected  by  law  after  the  1st  of  that 
month.  Owing  to  the  increase  of  plantations,  especially  of 
fir-covers  in  the  vicinity  of  cultivated  ground,  the  number  of 
birds  which  now  remain  to  breed  very  largely  exceeds  that  of 
former  years,  when  every  nest  of  a  Woodcock  was  a  novelty 
to  be  recorded.  Those  counties  which  possess  large  and 
undisturbed  woods  are  naturally  among  the  most  favoured, 
but  even  Middlesex  must  not  be  omitted  from  the  list,  for 
the  nest  has  been  found  in  Caen  Wood  ;  whilst  on  the  Surrey 
side  of  the  river  it  has  been  noticed  so  near  to  the  metropolis 
as  Streatham.  In  the  eastern  division  of  Sussex,  according 
to  Mr.  T.  Monk,  of  Lewes,  whose  carefully  collected  statistics 
were  published  in  ‘  The  Field,’  25th  February,  1871,  there 
were  annually,  on  an  average,  from  150  to  200  nests  a  year. 
Its  distribution  throughout  the  breeding-season  is  tolerably 
general  in  Scotland,  especially  in  the  more  w^ooded  districts, 

*  ‘  The  Fowler  in  Ireland,’  pp.  218-230. 


326 


SCOLOPACJD.E. 


but  the  absence  of  cover  forms  no  insuperable  bar,  for  Saxby 
knew  it  to  breed  annually  on  the  liill-side  at  Hermanness, 
the  most  northern  point  of  the  most  northern  of  the  Shetland 
Islands.  In  Ireland  a  similar  increase  has  taken  place  since 
Thompson  in  1843  called  attention  to  the  nidification  of  this 
bird  from  the  year  1835  onwards  in  the  woods  of  Tullamore 
Park,  county  Down.  Lord  Clermont  writes  that  at  Ravens- 
dale  Park,  on  the  borders  of  Louth  and  Armagh,  and  in  the 
neighbouring  Narrow-water  Woods,  county  Down,  above 
twenty  nests  are  sometimes  found  in  a  season  by  the  keepers 
when  looking  for  pheasants’  eggs,  and  the  birds  are  frequently 
seen  flying  to  and  from  their  feeding-places. 

Woodcocks  are  very  early  breeders,  and  the  date  of  March 
1st,  the  commencement  of  close-time,  is  not  at  all  too  early 
for  their  protection.  St.  John,  in  his  ‘  Wild  Sports  in  the 
Highlands’  (p.  220),  states  that  he  had  three  eggs  brought 
to  him  on  9tli  March,  1846,  and  a  nearly  full-grown  young 
one  in  the  second  week  of  April,  1844.  In  1836,  Mr. 
Blyth  saw  two  young  Woodcocks  on  the  20tli  of  April.  On 
the  22nd  of  April,  1838,  Mr.  Gould  exhibited  at  the  Zoolo¬ 
gical  Society  two  young  Woodcocks,  apparently  three  weeks 
old  ;  and  the  Author  had  in  his  collection  a  young  Woodcock 
five  or  six  weeks  old,  which  he  bought  on  the  23rd  of  April, 
1822,  in  the  market  at  Orleans.  The  average  time  for  the 
commencement  of  incubation  may,  however,  be  taken  as  the 
end  of  March  and  beginning  of  April.  The  nest  is  little 
more  than  a  hollow  in  the  dry  oak  or  fern  leaves,  in  some 
warm  sheltered  situation,  but  without  any  attempt  at  con¬ 
cealment  in  the  undergrowth,  and  the  eggs,  usually  four  in 
number,  are  but  slightly  pyriform,  of  a  pale  yellowish- white  : 
the  larger  end  blotched  and  spotted  with  ash-grey  and  two 
shades  of  reddish-yellow  brown  ;  they  measure  about  1*75 
by  1*3  in. 

Few  subjects  have  been  more  discussed  than  that  of  the 
manner  in  which  the  Woodcock  carries  its  young.  Scopoli, 
writing  in  1769,  says,  “  pullos  vostro  portat  fugiens  ah 
hoste ,”  upon  which  Gilbert  White  remarks  that  “the  long 
unwieldy  bill  of  the  Woodcock  is  perhaps  the  worst  adapted 


WOODCOCK. 


327 


of  any  among  the  winged  creation  for  such  a  feat  of  natural 
affection.”  It  is  now  well  known  that  Scopoli  was  mistaken 
as  to  the  young  being  carried  in  or  by  the  bill,  hut  it  will  be 
seen  that  there  is  evidence  that  the  hill  is  not  without  em¬ 
ployment  in  the  act.  A  number  of  observers  have  stated 
that  the  chick  is  carried  in  the  claws.  Descriptions  of  this 
mode  of  conveyance  will  he  found  in  the  late  Mr.  Lloyd’s 
‘  Field  Sports  of  the  North  of  Europe  ’  and  other  works. 
The  most  detailed  account  is,  however,  that  given  by  the 
brothers  Stuart  in  the  notes  to  4  Lays  of  the  Deer  Forest,’ 
vol.  ii.  p.  259,  from  which  the  following  is  extracted  : — 
“Various  times  when  the  hounds,  in  beating  the  ground, 
have  come  upon  a  brood,  we  have  seen  the  old  bird 
rise  with  a  young  one  in  her  claws,  and  carry  it  fifty  or 
a  hundred  yards  away ;  and  if  followed  to  the  place  where 
she  pitched,  she  has  repeated  the  transportation  until  too 
much  harassed.  One  morning,  while  sitting  on  a  grey 
stone,  I  saw  a  dark  eye  which  was  fixed  upon  mine  from  the 
bed  of  dead  leaves  before  me,  when  suddenly  the  little  brown 
head  of  a  young  Woodcock  peeped  out  from  the  feathers  of 
the  old  one’s  breast,  uttering  that  plaintive  cry  for  which 
language  has  no  sign.  There  were  two  more  young  Wood¬ 
cocks,  and  to  relieve  the  anxiety  of  the  madre,  I  left  her. 
Near  the  place  where  I  found  her,  there  was  a  soft  green 
stripe,  such  as  Woodcocks  love.  I  had  no  doubt  that  the 
family  would  he  there  next  day ;  and,  as  I  passed  near,  I 
turned  aside  to  see  what  they  were  doing.  Upon  a  dry  bank, 
half  way  down  the  brae,  I  almost  stumbled  over  a  bird 
which  rose  at  my  feet ;  and  as  it  darted  through  the  trees,  I 
saw  that  it  had  something  in  its  claws,  and,  at  the  same 
time,  I  heard  the  plaintive  cry  of  little  Woodcocks  just 
under  my  feet.  I  looked  down,  there  were  two ;  and  I 
thought  a  hawk  had  carried  off  the  third,  and,  perhaps, 
killed  the  mother.  This,  however,  I  found,  on  following 
the  bird,  was  the  old  Woodcock,  which  being  flushed  again 
suddenly,  after  a  low  flight  of  only  a  few  yards,  dropped 
what  it  was  carrying,  her  own  young  Woodcock.  I  gave 
her  a  little  time  to  find  him,  which  was  not  difficult,  as  he 


328 


SCOLOPACIM. 


called  to  her  as  loud  as  liis  tiny  hill  could  pipe.  In  a  few 
moments  I  ran  forward,  and  she  rose  with  him  in  her  feet , 
her  long  legs  dangling  and  swinging  with  her  little  burden 
like  a  parachute.  I  left  her  to  pursue  her  flight  in  peace, 
and  went  on  my  way ;  hut  I  have  no  doubt  she  went  back  for 
the  other  two,  for  several  times  afterwards  1  saw  them  all 
together  in  the  soft  green  ‘  glac.’  ” 

The  late  Mr.  St.  John  was  at  one  time  under  the  belief 
that  the  young  bird  was  carried  in  the  feet,  and  stated  so  in 
his  ‘  Field  Notes  and  Tour  in  Sutherlandshire,’  ii.  p.  164, 
hut  experiences  at  Dunrobin,  in  1849,  in  company  with  Mr. 
John  Hancock,*  convinced  both  these  observers  that  the 
young  bird  was  clasped  between  the  thighs  and  pressed  close 
up  to  the  body  of  the  parent ;  and  this  view  was  subsequently 
put  forth  in  his  ‘  Natural  History  and  Sport  in  Moray,’ 
p.  210.  An  article  by  Mr.  J.  E.  Harting  (Zool.  1879, 
pp.  433-440),  with  an  illustration  after  Wolf  of  the  young 
bird  dangling  in  the  feet  of  the  parent  “like  a  parachute,” 
revived  the  interest  on  the  subject;  and  Mr.  E.  J.  Ussher 
and  Mr.  E.  E.  Eeeves  contributed  statements  (Zool.  1882, 
pp.  306,  307),  showing  that,  according  to  the  personal 
experience  of  the  latter,  and  that  of  other  observers,  the 
Woodcock  supported  her  young  not  only  with  her  feet,  hut 
also  with  her  hill  pressed  over  the  chick  against  her  breast ; 
confirming  the  assertion  of  a  Eostrever  correspondent,  that  a 
Woodcock  “  had  a  young  one  pressed  between  its  breast  and 
feet”  (Zool.  1879,  p.  439).  Without  denying  the  accuracy 
of  former  observations,  the  latter  position  appears  to  be 
supported  by  the  evidence  of  the  larger  number  of  witnesses. 

The  Woodcock  is  a  nocturnal  bird,  seeking  its  repose  by 
day,  remaining  quietly  hid  in  the  dry  grassy  bottoms  of 
brakes  and  woods,  seldom  or  never  moving  unless  disturbed. 
Sir  Humphry  Davy,  in  his  Salmonia,  says,  “A  laurel,  or  a 
holly  bush  is  a  favourite  place  for  their  repose  :  the  thick 
and  varnished  leaves  of  these  trees  prevent  the  radiation  of 
heat  from  the  soil,  and  they  are  less  affected  by  the  refriger¬ 
ating  influence  of  a  clear  sky,  so  that  they  afford  a  warm 

*  Nat.  Hist.  Trans.  Northumb.  and  Durham,  vi.  p.  104. 


WOODCOCK. 


329 


seat  for  the  Woodcock.”  Certain  localities  seem  to  have  a 
peculiar  charm  for  it,  and  if  the  original  occupier  be  shot,  a 
new  tenant  is  almost  certain  to  be  found  there.  So  close  do 
they  lie  that  hut  for  the  black  glittering  eye  they  might  often 
be  passed  unobserved ;  and  Mr.  Gould  records  an  instance  of 
a  bird  being  seen  to  alight  and  half  cover  itself  with  dead 
leaves  before  the  beaters  came  up,  nor  did  it  attempt  to  rise 
until  flushed  by  a  dog. 

Towards  night  it  sallies  forth,  whirling  and  twisting  in  a 
manner  very  different  from  its  usual  owl-like  flight  by  day, 
pursuing  a  well-known  track  through  the  cover  to  its  feeding- 
ground.  These  tracks  or  open  glades  in  woods,  are  sometimes 
called  cockslioots  and  cock-roads,  and  it  is  in  these  places 
that  nets,  called  road-nets,  were  formerly  suspended  for  their 
capture,  but  the  gun  is  now  the  more  common  means  of 
obtaining  them.  A  few  are  still  caught  with  nooses  of  horse¬ 
hair,  set  up  about  the  springs  or  soft  ground  where  the  birds 
leave  the  marks  of  the  perforations,  or  borings  made  with 
their  beaks.  Common  earth-worms  appear  to  be  the  food 
most  eagerly  sought  after.  Montagu  and  other  ornithologists 
have  borne  testimony  to  the  almost  incredible  quantity  of 
earth-worms  which  a  single  Woodcock,  in  confinement,  has 
been  known  to  consume  in  one  night ;  and  Mr.  Edmond 
Crawshay  informed  Mr.  Hancock  that  a  man  was  kept  con¬ 
stantly  employed  during  the  day  in  obtaining  the  supply 
necessary  for  a  brood  of  three  of  these  birds.  Mr.  F.  Nor- 
gate,  who  took  home  a  slightly  winged  Woodcock,  and 
observed  its  habits,  assured  Mr.  Stevenson  that  the  flex¬ 
ibility  of  the  upper  mandible  of  the  hill  was  go  great  that  it 
more  resembled  the  writhings  of  a  worm  than  a  beak,  and 
this  voluntary  upward  movement,  added  to  the  exquisite 
sense  of  touch  possessed  by  the  anterior  portion  of  the  beak, 
assists  the  bird  in  obtaining  its  food.  Sir  K.  Payne-Gallwey 
states  that  he  has  observed  that  Woodcocks  have  a  curious 
habit  of  placing  near  the  edge  of  the  nest  a  little  bank  of 
moss,  on  which  they  will  at  times  deposit  worms  as  they 
bring  them,  that  the  young  birds  may  learn  to  pick  them  out 
as  they  quickly  glide  from  their  view.  He  also  says  that 

VOL.  III.  u  u 


330 


SCOLOPACID/E. 


they  will,  like  the  Curlew,  swallow  mussels,  although  not  to 
the  same  extent,  and  on  dissecting  those  shot  from  among 
rocks  and  seaweed,  he  found  that  small  shell-fish  had  been 
bolted  whole.  They  also  obtain  their  food  under  circum¬ 
stances  which,  if  mentioned,  would  hardly  prove  satisfactory 
to  lovers  of  ‘ trail.’ 

It  is  a  mistake  to  suppose  that  Woodcocks  on  arrival  are 
lean  and  out  of  condition,  nor  does  a  continuance  of  frost 
reduce  them  as  it  does  Snipe,  although  it  tames  them.  Sir 
R.  Payne-Gallwey  says  that  out  of  hundreds  which  he  ex¬ 
amined  during  the  exceptionally  long  and  severe  winter  of 
1880-81,  only  a  dozen  were  small  and  poor  birds,  and  at  the 
end  of  the  frost  he  picked  out  three  birds  each  of  which 
weighed  exactly  sixteen  ounces,  a  fourth  weighing  eighteen 
and  a  quarter  ounces.  The  latter  is  very  remarkable,  for 
birds  of  fifteen  ounces  are  far  above  the  average.  The 
Author  was  indebted  to  the  kindness  of  Lord  Braybrooke  for 
the  following  particulars  of  some  Woodcocks  of  very  large 
size,  with  permission  to  attach  the  statements  to  this  history. 

Copy  of  a  letter  from  Lady  Peyton  to  Miss  Hoste,  dated 
Uggeshall,  December  25th,  1801. 

“  My  dear  Miss  Hoste, 

“  The  Woodcock  which  Mr.  Hoste  inquires  after, 
was  found  sitting  on  a  very  low  branch  of  a  fir-tree  in  the 
long  plantation  at  Narborough,*  about  eleven  o’clock  in  the 
morning,  by  James  Crow  the  postilion,  who  was  exercising 
the  coach-horses.  He  came  back  with  the  intelligence  to 
the  house,  and  the  keeper  immediately  went  out  and  shot 
the  Woodcock.  I  saw  it  weighed  both  in  scales  and  steel¬ 
yards,  as  did  Sir  Henry,  and  a  carpenter  at  work  from 
Swaffham ;  and,  wonderful  as  the  weight  may  appear,  it 
was  exactly  twenty-seven  ounces.  I  believe  it  was  about 
1775  or  1776.  Some  years  before  that,  a  Woodcock  was 
killed  at  Hadleigh,  in  Suffolk,  which  weighed  twenty-four 
ounces.”  f 

*  “  The  snow  was  deep,  and  the  bird  was  resting  on  the  branch  of  a  spruce 
fir,  weighed  down  to  the  ground.” 

t  It  is  impossible  to  question  the  statement  of  a  lady,  but  it  may  be  permis- 


WOODCOCK. 


331 


“  Lady  Peyton’s  brother,  the  late  Lord  Stradbroke,  then 
Sir  John  Eons,  told  me  (Lord  Braybrooke),  he  recollected 
arriving  at  Downham,  Sir  Henry  Peyton’s  residence,  twenty- 
four  hours  after  the  Woodcock  was  shot,  and  hearing  the 
particulars ;  but  the  bird  had  been  dressed. 

“  The  Earl  of  Leicester  also  told  me,  that  he,  in  company 
with  Mr.  Ralph  Dutton,  when  they  were  young  men,  followed 
a  gigantic-looking  Woodcock  for  some  hours,  near  Holkham, 
but  could  not  get  near  him.” 

In  the  early  part  of  the  sixteenth  century  the  Woodcock 
was  valued  at  less  than  the  Golden  Plover,  and  even  now  it  is 
little  esteemed  as  food  by  the  peasants  in  Norway  and  some 
other  parts  of  Europe.  In  the  fifth  Earl  of  Northumber¬ 
land’s  ‘  Household  Book,’  begun  in  1512,  the  price  of  a  Wood¬ 
cock  is  stated  to  be  one  penny  or  three-halfpence  ;  and  in 
the  L’Estrange  ‘Household  Book,’  so  frequently  quoted  here, 
the  reward  for  four  Woodcocks  on  the  18th  of  October,  is 
fourpence  ;  and  in  another  instance,  for  three  Woodcocks, 
sixpence.  By  the  time  of  Willugliby  (1688)  the  bird  was, 
however,  better  appreciated,  and  in  his  ‘  Ornithology  ’  we  find 
the  well-known  couplet : — 

“  If  tlie  Partridge  had  the  Woodcock’s  thigh, 

’Twould  be  the  best  bird  that  ever  did  fly.” 

Shakespeare’s  works  contain  many  allusions  to  the  stu¬ 
pidity  of  the  Woodcock,  and  the  gins  and  springes  to  which 
it  fell  an  easy  victim. 

The  Faeroe  Islands  appear  to  be  outside  the  line  of  the 
westward  migration  of  the  Woodcock,  for,  according  to  Major 
Feilden,  it  has  only- once  been  observed  there,  but  in  Nor¬ 
way  it  is  common  from  spring  to  autumn  up  to  the  Arctic 
Circle,  and  straggles  a  little  further  north.  The  vast  forests 
of  Norway,  Sweden,  and  some  portions  of  Russia  are,  in  fact, 
its  principal  breeding  quarters  in  Europe,  and  large  numbers 
are  annually  reared  there,  in  spite  of  the  unsportsmanlike 


sible  to  quote  the  late  Mr.  Gould,  who  remarked,  in  reference  to  a  Woodcock  shot 
near  Halifax  in  1861,  and  said  to  have  turned  the  scale  at  twenty  ounces — “A 
bird  of  this  weight  I  have  never  seen.” 


SCOLOPACIM. 


332 

practice  which  prevails,  or  did  so  until  very  lately,  in  Scan¬ 
dinavia  and  Northern  Germany,  of  shooting  the  Woodcocks 
on  their  arrival  in  spring  when  they  “  rode,”  to  use  the  word 
which  is  still  employed  in  East  Anglia.*  A  limited  number 
breed  in  Northern  and  Central  Europe  as  far  as  Upper  Italy, 
and  in  the  mountains  which  sweep  round  Austria  down  to 
Transylvania,  as  high  up  as  the  limit  of  tree-growth  ;  hut  in 
the  Pyrenees,  and  the  Iberian  Peninsula,  it  is,  as  in  the  rest 
of  Europe,  principally  a  visitor  on  migration,  and  in  winter. 
Enormous  bags  have  been  made  in  the  woods  along  the 
coast  of  Epirus  and  Albania  at  that  season.  In  the 
Canaries,  Azores,  and  Madeira,  it  would  appear  to  he  par¬ 
tially  resident.  Its  winter  range  can  he  traced  along  the 
northern  portion  of  Africa  to  Egypt,  Palestine,  and  Asia 
Minor ;  in  Persia  it  is  found  at  that  season  in  the  large 
gardens  and  plantations ;  and,  visiting  India  regularly  between 
October  and  February,  it  straggles  to  Ceylon  and  Tenasserim. 
The  late  A.  Anderson  found  a  nest  containing  four  hard-set 
eggs  from  which  his  companion,  Dr.  Triphook,  shot  the 
bird,  on  the  30th  June,  in  Upper  Kumaon,  at  an  elevation  of 
10,000  feet  (Str.  Featli.  1875,  p.  356),  and  it  seems  prob¬ 
able  that  it  breeds  in  other  parts  of  the  Himalayas.  To 
the  north  of  the  watershed  it  is  found  breeding  in  the  moun¬ 
tains  about  Lake  Baikal,  and  the  Bureja  mountains ;  it 
breeds  in  Japan  as  far  south  as  Fusijan  ;  and  it  goes  down 
to  China.  As  a  straggler  it  has  been  recorded  as  occurring 
at  St.  John’s,  Newfoundland,  on  the  9th  January,  1862,  and 
in  New  Jersey;!  also  in  Virginia. I 

Many  sportsmen  believe  that  the  sex  of  the  Woodcock  can 
be  determined  by  the  plumage  :  the  examples  which  have  the 
external  web  of  the  outer  primary  devoid  of  tootli-like  mark¬ 
ings  being  the  males,  whilst  those  which  exhibit  the  markings 
are  the  females.  The  late  Mr.  Gould,  however,  who  in  the 

*  Full  descriptions  of  this  destructive  and  short-sighted  proceeding,  which, 
however,  seems  to  have  possessed  a  fascination  for  a  certain  class  of  sportsmen, 
are  to  be  found  in  Lloyd’s  works. 

+  Lawrence,  Ann.  N.  Y.  Lyc.  Nat.  Hist.  viii.  p.  292  ;  Baird,  Am.  Journ. 
Arts  and  Sc.  1866,  p.  338. 

X  Coues,  Am.  Nat.  x.,  July  1876,  p.  272. 


WOODCOCK. 


333 


course  of  liis  investigations  dissected,  measured,  and  weighed 
many  hundred  individuals,  states  that  these  tootli-like  mark¬ 
ings  are  absent  in  old  birds  of  both  sexes,  although  strongly 
marked  in  the  young ;  and  he  asserts  that  neither  by  plum¬ 
age  nor  by  size  can  the  sexes  he  distinguished  with  certainty. 
He  considers  that  there  are  two  distinct  races  :  one  large 
and  grey,  and  the  other  small  and  red,  which  generally  keep 
separate  from  each  other  on  migration  ;  but  on  the  whole  he 
believes  that  the  males  have  generally  the  shorter  bill,  the 
longer  wing,  and  the  finer  tail,  while  the  rump  is  more  red, 
and  the  barrings  of  the  under  surface  of  the  body  more 
distinct.* 

The  beak  is  dark  brown  at  the  point,  pale  reddish-brown 
at  the  base,  and  generally  about  three  inches  long ;  the 
irides  dark  brown ;  the  eye  large,  convex,  and  prominent ; 
from  the  beak  to  the  eye  a  dark  brown  streak  :  the  colour 
of  the  plumage  of  this  bird  is  a  mixture,  principally  of 
three  shades  of  brown ;  namely,  pale  wood-brown,  chestnut- 
brown,  and  dark  umber-brown ;  each  feather  on  the  upper 
surface  of  the  body  contains  the  three  shades,  but  so  dis¬ 
posed  as  to  produce  a  beautifully  variegated  appearance. 
The  cheeks  pale  wood-brown,  spotted  with  dark  brown ; 
the  forehead  to  the  top  of  the  head,  greyish-brown  ;  occi¬ 
put  and  nape  rich  dark  brown,  transversely  divided  into  three 
nearly  equal  patches  by  two  bars  of  yellow  wood-brown  ; 
each  feather  of  the  neck  below  pale  brown,  edged  with  dark 
brown  ;  the  back  greyish-brown,  varied  with  reddish-brown, 
and  dark  umber-brown ;  all  the  wing-coverts  reddish-brown, 
with  open  oval  rings  of  dark  brown  ;  primary  quill-feathers 
blackish-brown,  with  triangular  spots  of  pale  reddish-brown 
along  the  margin  of  each  web  ;  secondaries  and  tertials  of 
the  same  ground-colour,  blackish-brown,  but  the  light- 
coloured  marks  are  more  elongated,  and  extend  from  the 
margin  of  the  web  to  the  shaft  of  the  feather ;  rump  and 
upper  tail-coverts  chestnut-brown,  tinged  with  grey  and 
barred  transversely  with  dark  brown  ;  tail-feathers  black 
above,  tipped  with  pure  dark  grey ;  chin  very  pale  yellow- 

*  Birds  of  Great  Britain,  vol.  iv. 


334 


SCOLOPAClDiE. 


brown  ;  neck  in  front,  breast,  and  all  the  under  surface  of 
the  body,  wood-brown,  transversely  barred  with  dark  brown, 
both  shades  of  brown  on  the  under  surface  becoming  lighter 
in  old  birds ;  under  wing-coverts  pale  brown,  barred  with 
dark  brown  ;  under  surface  of  the  quill-featliers  dry- slate 
grey,  the  triangular  markings  yellowish -grey  ;  under  surface 
of  the  tail-feathers  nearly  black,  tipped  with  delicate  snow- 
white  ;  legs  and  toes  varying  from  livid  brown  to  pale  yellow  ; 
claws  black. 

The  whole  length  is  about  fourteen  inches  and  a  half. 
From  the  carpal  joint  to  the  end  of  the  wing,  eight  inches 
and  a  half ;  the  first  quill-feather  the  longest. 

Varieties  in  plumage  are  not  uncommon,  sometimes  with 
a  portion  of  white,  or  entirely  of  a  dull  yellowish-wliite,  or 
buff  colour.  In  one  example  every  feather  of  this  bird  was 
of  a  pure  and  delicate  untinted  white,  the  bill  and  legs  being 
very  pale  wood-brown.  Mr.  J.  Whitaker,  of  Rainworth 
Lodge,  Mansfield,  possesses  some  remarkable  varieties  :  one, 
of  especial  beauty,  is  white,  boldly  spotted  and  marked  with 
black  patches  on  the  centres  of  the  feathers  of  the  mantle, 
head,  and  tail,  and  with  faint  dark  hair-lines  down  the 
secondaries  and  primaries.  It  w7as  shot  near  Londonderry 
in  1880. 

In  the  year  1833,  a  Woodcock  with  white  feathers  in  the 
wings  was  observed  in  a  cover  on  the  manor  of  Monkleigh, 
near  Torrington,  in  the  county  of  Devon.  The  same  bird, 
or  one  of  exactly  similar  plumage,  reappeared  in  the  same 
place  during  the  four  succeeding  seasons,  in  which  period  it 
was  so  repeatedly  shot  at  by  different  persons  without  effect, 
that  it  at  last  acquired  among  the  country  people  tho  name 
of  “  the  witch.”  In  the  year  1837,  however,  it  was  killed 
on  the  property  of  the  Rev.  J.  T.  Pine  Coffin,  of  Portledge, 
who  had  the  specimen  preserved. 

In  reference  to  the  subject  forming  the  vignette,  it  may  be 
explained  that  on  the  29tli  of  November,  1829,  the  late  Sir 
Francis  Chantrey,  when  shooting  at  Holkliam,  killed  two 
Woodcocks  at  one  shot.  To  record  this  event,  Sir  Francis 
Chantrey  sculptured  two  Woodcocks  on  a  marble  tablet, 


WOODCOCK. 


335 


which  he  presented  to  Mr.  Coke,  afterwards  Earl  of  Leicester, 
and  which  is  now  in  the  library  at  Holkham.*  Sir  Francis 
afterwards  presented  the  Author  with  the  drawing  on  wood, 
which  is  here  engraved.  The  occurrence,  from  its  singularity, 
has  been  the  subject  of  many  epigrams  and  complimentary 
verses,  which  have  been  collected  in  a  small  volume  by  Mr. 
J.  P.  Muirliead,  entitled  *  Winged  Words  on  Chantrey’s 
Woodcocks.’  The  following  couplet  was  written  by  the  late 
Mr.  Hudson  Gurney  : — 

“  Driven  from  tlie  north,  where  winter  starved  them, 

Chantrey  first  shot,  and  then  he  carved  them.” 

*  Mr.  Stevenson  states  (B.  of  Norfolk,  ii.  p.  298)  that  although  the  date  carved 
on  the  marble  is  1830,  the  game-book  unquestionably  shows  that  the  event  took 
place  in  the  previous  year.  The  version  of  the  couplet  now  given,  which  differs 
slightly  from  that  in  previous  Editions  of  this  work,  and  also  from  that  in 
‘Winged  Words,’  is,  according  to  Mr.  J.  H.  Gurney,  the  correct  reading. 


336 


SCOLOPACIDiE. 


LIMICOL.fi.  SCOLOPACID.fi. 


Gallinago  major  (Gmelin*). 


THE  GREAT  SNIPE. 

Scolopax  major. 


Gallinago,  Leach  +. — Beak  very  long,  straight',  slender,  flexible,  slightly 
elevated  towards  the  tip  of  the  upper  mandible,  which  is  decurved  at  the  point 
and  projects  beyond  the  lower  ;  both  mandibles  grooved  over  the  basal  half  of 
their  length.  Nostrils  lateral,  linear,  basal,  covered  by  a  membrane.  Legs 
rather  long  and  slender  ;  naked  space  on  the  tibia  short ;  tarsus  scutellate  ;  three 
toes  before,  long,  slender,  divided  to  the  base  ;  hind  toe  slender,  elevated  ;  claws 
slender,  acute.  Tail  slightly  rounded.  Wings  moderate,  pointed,  the  first 
quill-feather  the  longest;  inner  secondaries  very  long. 

The  Great  Snipe  was  first  described  as  a  British  bird  by 
Pennant,  from  a  specimen  killed  in  Lancashire,  preserved  in 
the  Leverian  Museum,  and  was  at  that  time  considered  a 
very  rare  bird :  it  was,  however,  probably  undistinguished  by 
many  from  the  Common  Snipe,  till  specific  distinctions 
among  species  were  closely  investigated. 

*  Scolopax  major ,  Gmelin,  Syst.  Nat.  i.  p.  G61  (1788). 
t  Syst.  Cat.  Mam.  and  Birds  Brit.  Mus.  p.  30  (1816). 


GREAT  SNIPE. 


337 


It  is  now  known  to  be  a  regular  visitant,  although  in  fluc¬ 
tuating  and,  generally,  in  small  numbers ;  its  arrivals  nearly 
invariably  taking  place  between  the  middle  of  August  and 
the  middle  of  October,  on  the  way  to  its  southern  winter 
quarters.  Almost  all  the  examples  obtained  have  proved  to 
be  young  birds  of  the  year  ;  and  it  is  evident  that  the  line  of 
the  return  migration  lies  to  the  east  of  the  longitude  of  the 
British  Islands,  instances  of  its  occurrence  in  spring  being 
exceedingly  rare.  Mr.  Stevenson  only  cites  one  :  an  adult 
bird,  which,  being  observed  by  a  fisherman  making  for  the 
land,  was  shot  on  its  arrival  on  Yarmouth  beach.  On  the 
whole  it  has  been  more  frequently  noticed  in  the  eastern  and 
southern  portions  of  England  than  in  the  centre  and  west ; 
and  the  same  remark  applies  to  Scotland,  but  irregular  occur¬ 
rences  on  the  western  side  of  the  latter  are  not  uncommon. 
It  is  believed  to  visit  the  Orkneys,  and  Dr.  Saxby  shot 
several  in  the  Shetland  Islands.  Of  late  years  it  has  been 
recorded  at  intervals  as  occurring  in  various  parts  of  Ireland, 
and  Mr.  Harrington  of  Tralee,  a  noted  Snipe-sliot,  informed 
Sir  R.  Payne- Gallwey  that  he  had  killed  eleven  in  ten  years’ 
shooting. 

The  Great  Snipe,  Woodcock  Snipe,  or  Solitary  Snipe,  as  it 
is  often  called,  appears  to  prefer  drier  situations  than  its 
congeners,  many  examples  having  been  shot  from  dry  grass - 
fields,  heather,  potatoes  in  a  sandy  soil,  barley  layers,  and 
turnips.  Selby  speaks  of  an  unusual  number  of  arrivals  in 
the  dry  warm  autumn  of  1826,  and  a  similar  coincidence  was 
remarked  in  1868.  On  its  habits  as  observed  in  Norfolk  the 
late  Rev.  R.  Lubbock  wrote  to  the  Author:  “This  species 
is  very  frequently  found  in  pairs,  and  does  not  deserve  to  be 
called  Solitary.  On  the  wing  it  looks  but  little  larger  than 
the  Common  Snipe,  and  may  be  recognized  at  once  by  its  tail, 
spread  like  a  fan.  Its  flight  is  steadier  and  heavier,  which 
may  in  some  degree  arise  from  the  aptitude  of  the  bird  to 
make  fat.  I  have  handled  more  than  a  dozen  specimens ; 
have  shot  the  bird  three  times  myself ;  and  all  I  have  seen 
were  loaded  with  flesh  and  fat.  I  find  I  have  noted  that 
Richardson,  the  fenman,  killed  six  of  the  Great  Snipes  in  the 

x  x 


vol.  hi. 


338 


SCOLOPACIDtE. 


second  week  of  September,  1835  ;  four  of  these  birds  were  in 
pairs,  and  proved  male  and  female  respectively.”  When 
flushed  it  occasionally  utters  a  short  harsh  cry  of  alarm, 
although  more  frequently  it  rises  in  silence,  and  it  appears 
to  have  no  regular  call-note  except  in  spring. 

At  the  pairing  season,  as  we  learn  from  the  observations 
of  Mr.  Greiff  and  Mr.  R.  Collett,  the  Great  Snipe  has  a  lek 
or  playing-ground,  similar  to  that  of  some  of  the  Grouse- 
tribe,  the  places  of  meeting,  or  Spil-pads,  being  frequented 
by  several  pairs  of  birds  from  dusk  to  early  morning.  The 
male  utters  a  low  note  resembling  hip  hip,  bipbip,  bipbiperere, 
biperere,  varied  by  a  sound  like  the  smacking  of  a  tongue, 
produced  by  striking  the  mandibles  together  smartly  and  in 
rapid  succession  ;  he  then  jumps  upon  a  tussock  of  grass, 
swelling  out  his  feathers,  spreading  his  tail,  and  drooping 
his  wings  in  front  of  the  female,  and  uttering  a  tremulous 
sbirrr.  This  is  called  ‘  drumming  ’  by  Mr.  Collett,  but  the 
late  Mr.  Dann  says  that  the  birds  fly  to  a  great  height  and 
produce  a  drumming  noise  as  they  descend  by  a  slight  and 
peculiar  vibration  of  the  wings.  The  males  fight  by  slashing 
feebly  with  their  wings,  but  the  combat  is  not  of  long  duration. 

The  nest  is  a  mere  depression,  or  a  hole  scraped  in  the 
moss  in  some  hillock  or  tussock  above  the  level  of  the 
marsh,  and  the  eggs  are  four  in  number.  As  a  rule  they 
are  of  a  pale  olive-grey  or  stone-buff  with  pale  purplish 
underlying  blotches,  and  bold  purplish-brown  surface-mark¬ 
ings,  this  colour  being  unmistakable  and  characteristic ;  but 
at  times  there  is  a  greenish  tint  which  renders  it  difficult  to 
distinguish  them  from  some  eggs  of  Machetes  pngnax,  to 
which  species  indeed  most  of  the  so-called  Great  Snipes’  eggs 
taken  in  Holland  should  really  be  ascribed.  They  measure 
about  1*8  by  1*2  in.,  being  much  larger  than  eggs  of  the 
Common  Snipe,  and  very  different  in  general  appearance.* 
In  one  instance  Messrs.  Godman  found,  on  returning  to  a 
nest  they  had  previously  visited,  that  the  bird  whilst  sitting 

*  A  supposed  instance  of  the  breeding  of  the  Great  Snipe  in  Norfolk  in  April, 
1846  (Zool.  p.  3175),  maybe  rejected ;  the  date  is  improbable,  and  the  egg  agrees 
with  that  of  the  Common  Snipe.  {Cf.  Stevenson,  B.  Norfolk,  ii.  p.  300.) 


GREAT  SNIPE. 


339 


on  her  nest  had  torn  up  the  surrounding  moss  and  covered 
its  back  with  it  for  the  purpose  of  concealment :  a  proceeding 
similar  to  that  of  the  Woodcock  already  noticed.  Incubation 
begins  the  end  of  May,  or  early  in  June,  lasting  eighteen 
days,  and  the  young,  which  run  as  soon  as  they  are  hatched, 
are  ready  to  fly  by  the  middle  of  August. 

The  food  of  the  Great  Snipe  consists  of  larvae  of  insects, 
especially  of  the  species  of  the  genus  Tipida,  small  slugs, 
and  worms ;  always,  according  to  Mr.  Collett,  mixed  with 
a  few  small  stones.  The  weight  in  autumn,  when  the 
bird  is  often  a  perfect  ball  of  fat,  varies  from  seven  to  ten 
ounces. 

In  summer  the  Great  Snipe  is  found  breeding  throughout 
suitable  localities  in  Norway  and  Sweden  up  to  about 
70°  N.  lat.,  frequenting  both  the  alpine  or  fell  region  and  the 
marshes  of  the  lowlands  and  coast.  An  interesting  account 
of  its  nesting  at  Bodo  in  lat.  67°  N.  in  a  marsh  which  is 
now  drained,  is  given  by  Messrs.  Godman  (Ibis,  1861, 
p.  87).  In  Denmark  it  breeds  in  several  localities,  espec¬ 
ially  in  Jutland,  and  it  does  so  in  many  of  the  provinces 
along  the  coast  line  of  Northern  Germany  to  Holland, 
where,  however,  it  is  very  local.  Throughout  Northern 
Russia  it  breeds,  although  in  decreasing  numbers,  from 
the  Baltic  to  the  province  of  Archangel ;  it  was  found 
nesting  in  abundance  at  the  delta  of  the  Petcliora  by 
Messrs.  Seebolim  and  Harvie-Brown ;  and  it  appears  to 
breed  as  far  south  as  the  central  provinces ;  also,  according 
to  Nordmann,  in  the  marshes  of  Bessarabia.  In  the  rest  of 
Europe  it  is  principally  known  as  a  migrant,  but  east  of 
Savoy  it  begins  to  occur  as  frequently  in  the  spring  as  in  the 
autumn,  and  in  Italy,  Malta,  and  Albania  it  is  distinctly 
more  common  on  the  vernal  migration.  In  the  Spanish  Pen¬ 
insula  it  is  of  irregular  occurrence  :  principally  on  the  east 
coast.  Along  the  southern  shores  of  the  Mediterranean  it 
has  been  found  occasionally  in  Morocco,  Algeria,  and  Egypt ; 
it  passes  southwards  through  Nubia  to  the  Transvaal  and 
Natal,  arriving  in  September  and  October,  and  leaving  in 
April ;  and  in  the  latter  month  Andersson  obtained  a  specimen 


340 


SCOLOPACID7F, 


at  Ondonga,  in  tlie  northern  portion  of  Damara  Land.*  Pass¬ 
ing  to  Asia,  the  Great  Snipe  has  been  obtained  at  Erzeroum, 
and  by  Canon  Tristram  at  Beyrout  (Ibis,  1882,  p.  408),  also 
in  Mesopotamia,  and  Sir  0.  St.  John  found  it  not  uncom¬ 
monly  in  Northern  Persia,  hut  it  does  not  appear  to  have 
been  recorded  as  yet  from  Afghanistan  or  India.  In  Siberia 
Mr.  Seebohm  found  it  plentiful  on  the  Yenesei,  near  the 
Arctic  circle,  arriving  there  on  the  11th  June,  and  Radde 
states  that  he  met  with  it  near  Irkutsk,  and  also  in  the 
Bureja  mountains,  but  he  did  not  obtain  specimens,  nor  do 
David  or  Swinlioe  record  it  from  China.  In  Japan  it  seems 
to  be  replaced  by  Gallinacjo  australis  (Lath.),  a  larger  and 
conspicuously  distinct  species. 

In  the  adult  the  beak  is  dark  brown  at  the  end,  pale 
yellow-brown  at  the  base ;  irides  dark  brown ;  from  the  base 
of  the  beak  to  the  eye  a  dark  brown  streak  ;  above  that,  over 
the  eye  and  the  ear-coverts,  a  streak  of  pale  brown  ;  forehead 
and  top  of  the  head  rich  dark  brown,  divided  along  the 
middle  line  from  before  backwards  by  a  pale  brown  stripe ; 
neck  all  round  pale  brown,  the  centre  of  each  feather  darker 
brown  ;  interscapulars,  scapulars,  and  back,  rich  brownish- 
black,  with  central  lines  and  broad  margins  of  rich  huff  or 
fawn  colour ;  lesser  wing-coverts  nearly  black,  the  upper 
series  tipped  with  pale  brown,  the  lower  series  tipped  with 
white ;  great  coverts  black,  tipped  with  white  ;  primary  quill- 
feathers  dull  greyish-black,  with  lighter  shafts ;  secondaries 
dull  black,  tipped  with  white ;  tertials  black,  barred  and 
streaked  with  pale  brown  ;  rump  very  dark  brown,  edged  with 
pale  brown  ;  upper  tail-coverts  pale  yellow-brown,  varied  with 
dark  brown  ;  tail  feathers  sixteen  ;f  the  four  on  each  outside 
white,  crossed  with  two  or  three  bars  on  the  outer  webs  only 
near  the  base,  the  others  rich  brownish-black  over  tliree- 
fourtlis  of  their  length  from  the  base,  then  a  patch  of  cliest- 

*  J.  H.  Gurney,  B.  Damara  Land,  p.  312  ;  T.  Ayres,  Ibis,  1877,  p.  351. 

t  The  number  of  tail-feathers  is  subject  to  individual  vanation,  as  in  the 
Common  Snipe.  The  late  Mr.  Rodd  recorded  (Zool.  s.s.  p.  1482)  an  example 
killed  in  Cornwall  which  bad  eighteen  tail-feathers,  and  Professor  Griglioli 
states  (Ibis,  1881,  p.  210)  that  he  has  a  specimen  with  the  same  number  (which 
was  supposed  by  Savi  to  be  the  normal  one)  in  the  Museum  at  Florence. 


GREAT  SNIPE. 


341 


nut,  bounded  by  a  circle  of  black,  and  tipped  with  white ; 
chin  pale  yellow-brown ;  breast  and  sides  of  the  body  with 
half-circular  bands  of  brownish-black  on  pale  brown  ;  belly 
and  vent  greyish-wliite  ;  legs  and  toes  varying  in  colour  from 
a  livid  green  to  a  pale  drab ;  claws  black. 

The  whole  length  is  about  twelve  inches.  From  the  carpal 
joint  to  the  end  of  the  first  quill-feather,  which  is  the  longest 
in  the  wing,  five  inches  and  a  half. 

There  is  little  if  any  constant  or  appreciable  external 
difference  between  the  sexes.  The  young  may  be  recognized 
by  having  the  outside  tail-feathers  barred  across  both  webs  ; 
the  white  bars  on  the  wings  and  the  markings  of  the  under 
parts  are  less  defined,  and  the  upper  parts  are  more  rufous. 

The  Great  Snipe  may  be  distinguished  from  the  Common 
Snipe  by  its  larger  size  and  proportionately  shorter  legs  and 
bill ;  but  especially  by  the  closely  barred  under  parts  and  the 
greater  amount  of  white  in  the  tail-feathers,  which,  moreover, 
are  normally  sixteen,  and  not  fourteen,  in  number. 

The  young  in  down  are  very  much  lighter  in  tint,  less 
variegated,  and  less  rufous  than  those  of  the  Common  Snipe, 
in  which  the  predominant  colour  is  a  deep  ruddy  chestnut. 

The  vignette  below  represents  the  young  of  the  Common 
Snipe. 


342 


SC0L0PAC1M 


LIM1COLA !. 


scolopacida. 


Gallinago  ccelestis  (Frenzel*). 

THE  COMMON  SNIPE. 

Scolopax  gallinago. 

The  Common  Snipe  may  be  truly  characterized  as  in¬ 
digenous  to  this  country.  It  is  known  to  breed  in  varying 
numbers  in  almost  every  county  in  England  and  Wales  in 
which  drainage  has  not  abolished  the  localities  suitable  to 
its  habits ;  and,  as  might  be  expected,  it  is  comparatively 
abundant  in  the  marshes  of  Suffolk,  Norfolk,  and  Lincoln¬ 
shire.  On  the  moorlands  of  the  northern  districts  and  up 
to  a  considerable  elevation  in  Scotland  and  Ireland,  the 
species  is  generally  distributed  and  numerous  during  the 
breeding-season.  Still,  the  quantity  produced  in  the  whole 
of  the  British  Islands  bears  but  a  small  proportion  to  the 

*  Scolopax  ccelcslis,  Frenzel,  Beschr.  tier  Vogel  unci  ibrer  Eier  In  tier  Gegend 
um  Wittenberg,  p.  58  (1801). 


COMMON  SNIPE. 


343 


numbers  seen  here,  so  generally  dispersed,  which  visit  us  in 
autumn  and  winter  from  various  parts  of  Scandinavia,  and 
leave  us  again  in  March,  frequently  shifting  their  ground 
under  the  influence  of  the  weather,  so  that  the  sportsman 
who  has  enjoyed  excellent  shooting  one  day,  may  find  the 
same  spots  entirely  deserted  on  the  following.  The  great 
flight  arrives  on  our  shores  about  the  end  of  October  or 
early  in  November,  at  which  period  individuals  are  frequently 
killed  by  striking  against  the  lanterns  of  lighthouses.  As 
many  as  a  hundred  at  a  time  were  observed  passing  over  the 
Gull  Light-vessel  on  the  23rd  November,  1881,  at  10.30  a.m., 
with  direction  to  the  west. 

In  America  our  Snipe  is  replaced  by  a  closely-allied 
species,  Gallinago  wilsoni,  with  axillaries  and  under  wing- 
coverts  so  closely  barred  that  black  is  the  predominating 
colour ;  the  tail-feathers  are  usually  sixteen  in  number,  and 
not  fourteen,  as  in  our  bird,  and  the  outer  ones  are  nar¬ 
rower.*  In  Greenland,  however,  our  Snipe  has  been  observed 
so  often  that  Reinhardt  was  inclined  to  think  that  some 
pairs  might  breed  there  (Ibis,  1861,  p.  11).  In  Iceland  it  is 
tolerably  abundant,  and  in  the  Faeroes  it  becomes  numerous, 
many  remaining  throughout  the  winter.  During  the  sum¬ 
mer  it  is  of  general  distribution  throughout  Northern 
Europe,  but  the  greater  cold  of  the  Continental  winter 
forces  the  majority  to  take  their  departure.  Mr.  Godman 
found  it  in  the  Canaries,  Madeira,  and  the  Azores,  and  in 
the  latter  he  believes  it  breeds,  as  a  few  pairs  are  said  to  do 
in  the  marshes  of  Algeria ;  but  in  Europe  its  nesting  range 
has  not  been  ascertained  to  extend  south  of  Northern  Italy. 
As  a  migrant  or  a  winter  visitor,  it  is  known  all  over 
Southern  Europe,  the  islands  of  the  Mediterranean,  and 
along  the  northern  portion  of  Africa,  from  Morocco  to  Egypt, 

*  Mr.  Harting  (Handbk.  Brit.  Birds,  p.  143)  has  recorded  a  Snipe  shot  at 
Taplow  Court,  Bucks,  on  1st  August,  1863,  and  sent  to  Mr.  Gould,  at  whose 
house  he  examined  it  in  the  flesh.  It  had  only  fourteen  tail-feathers,  but  from 
the  general  appearance  of  the  plumage,  and  the  barrings  of  the  axillary  plumes, 
he  was  then  inclined  to  identify  it  with  the  American  species,  G.  wilsoni.  After 
careful  search  through  the  large  collection  in  the  British  Museum,  of  which  Mr. 
Gould’s  now  forms  a  part,  this  specimen  cannot  be  discovered. — Ei>. 


344 


SCOLOPACIDiE. 


where  Captain  Shelley  says  that  in  February  he  has  killed 
over  forty  couple  in  a  day.  It  ascends  the  Nile  to  Nubia 
and  Abyssinia,  and,  by  the  elevated  lake  Asliangi,  Mr.  W. 
T.  Blanford  found  it  as  late  as  May.  Yon  Heuglin  observed 
it  in  Arabia  Petrsea  and  in  the  Somali  country ;  and  it  occurs 
in  Socotra.  On  the  western  side  of  Africa,  the  winter  range 
of  our  Snipe  extends  to  the  Gambia,  but  in  the  southern 
portion  of  that  continent  it  is  replaced  by  G.  cequatorialis. 

In  summer  our  Snipe  is  found  across  Siberia  up  to,  and 
even  beyond,  the  Arctic  circle  ;  but  on  the  Yenesei,  in  G7°  N . 
lat.,  Mr.  Seebolim  found  a  preponderance  of  the  Pin-tailed 
Snipe,  G.  stenura,  a  species  which  may  be  distinguished  by 
the  very  narrow  stiff  feathers  on  each  side  of  the  tail,  which 
is  also  shorter,  and  by  the  black  bars  to  all  the  under  wing- 
coverts,  some  of  which  are  white  in  our  Snipe.  Both  these 
species  visit  India  in  abundance  during  the  cold  season. 
Our  bird  is  found  in  winter  in  Asia  Minor  and  Persia  ;  it 
breeds  in  Turkestan,  and  on  12tli  June  Dr.  Scully  obtained 
its  eggs  on  the  lofty  table-lands  of  Yarkand,  whence  it  departs 
in  winter.  On  its  migrations  it  evidently  crosses  the  great 
ranges  of  Central  Asia  ;  it  has  been  obtained  in  Japan,  is 
very  abundant  in  China,  and  goes  south  as  far  as  Ceylon, 
the  Philippine  Islands,  and  Malaysia. 

Towards  the  latter  half  of  March,  or  beginning  of  April, 
according  to  climatic  conditions,  Snipe  begin  to  produce  that 
humming  or  bleating  noise  which  has  obtained  for  the 
species  the  name  of  ‘Moor-lamb’  in  Lincolnshire,  ‘Heatlier- 
bleater  ’  in  lowland  Scotland,  the  equivalents  of  ‘  air-goat  ’ 
in  the  various  branches  of  the  Celtic  language,  ‘  Clievre 
volant  ’  in  France,  and  Himmelsgeiss  ’  in  Germanv. 
This  sound  is  always  uttered  on  the  wing,  the  bird  soaring 
at  an  immense  height,  often  out  of  sight,  and  descending 
with  great  velocity  and  with  a  tremulous  movement  of  the 
pinions.  These  flights  are  more  commonly  performed  to¬ 
wards  evening,  and  continue  while  the  female  is  incubating. 
The  cause  of  this  peculiar  sound  has  been  much  disputed. 
Mr.  Selby  supposed  that  it  was  produced  by  the  wings,  but 
Mr.  W.  Meves,  of  the  Stockholm  Museum,  in  an  elaborate 


COMMON  SNIPE. 


345 


paper,  translated  by  the  late  John  Wolley  (P.  Z.  S.  1858, 
p.  199),  stated  that  a  series  of  experiments  showed  that  the 
sound  was  due  to  the  vibration  of  the  stiff  webs  of  the  outer 
tail-feathers,  acted  upon  by  the  air  in  the  course  of  the 
rapid  descent  of  the  bird.  This  explanation  was  accepted 
by  several  ornithologists ;  but  Mr.  John  Hancock,  whose 
powers  of  observation  are  second  to  none,  having  tried  the 
experiments  upon  which  so  much  stress  has  been  laid,  pro¬ 
nounces  them  to  be  of  little  real  value.  His  exhaustive 
arguments  are  too  long  to  be  given,  but  after  pointing  out 
that  the  Snipe  is  by  no  means  the  only  bird  which  pro¬ 
duces  this  ‘drumming,*  ‘bleating,’  or  ‘neighing*  sound, 
he  considers  that  it  results  from  the  action  of  the  wings, 
and  that  the  tail-feathers  are  incapable  of  producing  any¬ 
thing  audible  at  a  distance.*  Colonel  W.  Y.  Legge  (Birds 
of  Ceylon,  p.  1219),  describes  his  personal  experiences  in 
Wales  with  the  result  that  in  his  opinion  the  wings  were 
the  primary  cause  of  the  sound,  and  the  tail-feathers,  spread 
like  a  fan,  were  the  secondary  cause.  The  question  is  well 
set  forth  by  Mr.  J.  E.  Harting  (Zool.  1881,  pp.  121-131), 
who  adheres  to  the  ‘  wing  theory.’ 

The  Snipe  has  been  recorded  as  having  eggs  as  early  as 
the  20th  of  March,  but,  as  a  rule,  it  is  not  before  April  that 
it  makes  its  slight  nest,  consisting  only  of  a  few  bits  of 
dead  grass  or  dry  herbage,  collected  in  a  depression  on  the 
ground,  and  sometimes  upon  or  under  the  side  of  a  tuft  of 
grass  or  bunch  of  rushes.  The  eggs  are  usually  four  in 
number,  of  a  pale  yellowish  or  greenish-white,  the  larger 
end  spotted  with  two  or  three  shades  of  brown ;  these  mark¬ 
ings  are  rather  elongated,  and  disposed  somewhat  obliquely 
in  reference  to  the  long  axis  of  the  egg ;  the  measurements 
being  about  1*6  by  1*1  in.  Incubation,  undertaken  by  the 
female  only,  lasts  rather  more  than  a  fortnight,  and  the  young 
are  able  to  run  on  emerging  from  the  shell.  It  would  appear 
that  two  broods  are  sometimes  reared  in  the  season,  for  the 
young  in  down  have  been  observed  in  the  middle  of  August. 

The  Snipe’s  alarm  note,  scape,  scape,  or  chissick,  is  as  well 

*  Nat.  Hist.  Trans.  Northumberland  and  Durh.  vi.  pp.  106-113. 

VOL.  III.  Y  Y 


346 


SCOLOPACIDiE. 


known  to  sportsmen  as  is  its  wild  zig-zag  flight  on  being 
flushed.  When  feeding,  however,  it  may  sometimes  he 
closely  approached,  unawares,  and  will  then  try  to  escape 
notice  by  squatting  close  down  to  the  ground,  or  in  the 
water.  That  it  occasionally  perches  on  trees,  notice- 
boards,  &c.,  although  hotly  disputed  at  one  time  by  persons 
of  limited  experience,  is  now  too  well  known  to  call  for 
extended  remarks,  but  ample  evidence  will  he  found  in  Mr. 
Stevenson’s  ‘  Birds  of  Norfolk,’  ii.  p.  329,  and  in  ‘  The 
Ibis,’  1876,  p.  310,  where  Messrs.  Seebolim  and  Harvie- 
Brown  describe  one,  of  many,  which  was  shot  for  identifica¬ 
tion,  perched  on  the  topmost  twig  of  a  larch  seventy  feet  from 
the  ground,  with  its  head  lower  than  its  tail  and  body,  and 
uttering  at  intervals  its  double,  clucking  tjick-tjuck,  tjick- 
tjuck.  Many  others  of  the  Scolopacidce,  and  some  Gulls 
and  Ducks,  are  also  well  known  to  perch. 

The  feeding-ground  of  the  Snipe  is  by  the  sides  of  land 
springs,  or  in  water  meadows ;  and  in  low  flat  countries  they 
are  frequently  found  among  wet  turnips.  The  holes  made 
with  their  bills,  when  searching  for  food,  are  easily  traced.  In 
a  communication  on  the  subject  of  Snipes,*  the  Author  de¬ 
scribed  a  peculiarity  in  the  beak  of  the  species  of  this  genus. 
The  end  of  the  beak  of  the  Snipe,  when  the  bird  is  alive,  or  if 
recently  killed,  is  smooth,  soft,  and  pulpy,  indicating  great 
sensibility ;  but  some  time  afterwards  it  becomes  dimpled 
like  the  end  of  a  thimble.  If  the  upper  mandible  be  macer¬ 
ated  in  water  for  a  few  days,  the  skin,  or  cuticle,  may  be 
readily  peeled  off ;  and  the  engraving  here  introduced  is  a 
magnified  representation  of  the  appearance  then  exhibited. 


The  external  surface  presents  numerous  elongated,  liexa- 
*  Loudon’s  Mas.  Nat.  Hist.  iii.  p.  29  (1830),  under  the  initials  S.  T.  P. 


COMMON  SNIPE. 


347 


gonal  cells,  which  afford  at  the  same  time  protection,  and 
space  for  the  expansion,  of  minute  portions  of  nerves  sup¬ 
plied  to  them  by  two  branches  of  the  fifth  pair ;  and  the  end 
of  the  bill  becomes,  in  consequence  of  this  provision,  a  deli¬ 
cate  organ  of  touch,  to  assist  these  birds  when  boring  for 
their  food  in  soft  ground ;  this  enlarged  extremity  of  the 
beak  possessing  such  a  degree  of  sensibility  as  to  enable  these 
birds  to  detect  their  prey  the  instant  it  comes  in  contact 
with  it,  although  placed  beyond  the  reach  of  sight.  The 
food  of  the  Snipe  consists  of  worms,  insects,  small  shells 
with  their  animal  inhabitants,  and  minute  seeds  ;  these  last 
swallowed  probably  while  adhering  to  the  glutinous  surface 
of  its  more  usual  animal  food.  An  interesting  account  of 
a  tame  Snipe  occurs  in ‘The  Zoologist,’  p.  1640.  When  the 
feeding-ground  of  the  Snipes  becomes  limited  by  the  effects  of 
frost  and  snow,  the  birds  suffer  greatly,  and  soon  become  very 
thin.  The  severe  winters  of  1878—79,  and  of  1880-81,  caused 
great  havoc,  the  unfortunate  birds  being  reduced  to  skeletons, 
and  even  in  that  condition  they  were  not  spared  in  Ireland, 
the  fishermen  actually  dragging  their  herring-nets  by  night 
over  the  unfrozen  spots,  to  hawk  their  miserable  prey  about 
the  country  at  a  penny  apiece.*  The  weight  of  an  ordinary 
bird  is  about  four  ounces  ;  but  the  late  late  Mr.  Lubbock  has 
recorded  one  which  weighed  nearly  eight  ounces,  and  another 
of  quite  that  weight  was  recorded  from  Cardigan  in  ‘  The 
Field  ’  of  16th  December,  1882.  Mr.  Lubbock’s  bird,  and 
one  shot  by  Mr.  Stevenson,  appear  to  have  belonged  to  a 
large  form  of  a  russet-brown  hue,  which  has  also  been 
noticed  by  the  late  Mr.  Rodd  in  Cornwall,  and  which 
has  occurred  in  many  other  parts  of  England.  Mr.  Gould 
was  at  one  time  inclined  to  consider  that  it  might  be 
entitled  to  specific  distinction,  in  which  case  he  proposed  for 
it  the  name  of  Gallinago  russata.  An  individual  which 
happened  to  possess  sixteen  tail-feathers,  the  outer  ones 
being  elongated,  received  the  name  of  Scolopax  brehmi  from 
Kaup. 

In  winter  the  beak  is  dark  brown  at  the  end,  pale  reddish- 
*  The  Fowler  in  Ireland,  p.  213. 


348 


SCOLOPACIDiE. 


brown  at  the  base  ;  the  irides  dark  brown  ;  from  the  base  of 
the  beak  to  the  eye,  a  dark  brown  streak ;  crown  of  the  head 
very  dark  brown,  with  two  lateral,  and  one  central,  buff- 
coloured  streaks ;  back  dark  brown,  slightly  spotted  with 
pale  brown  ;  interscapulars  and  scapulars  dark  brown  in 
the  centre,  with  broad  external,  lateral  margins  of  rich  buff, 
forming  four  conspicuous  lines  along  the  upper  surface  of 
the  body ;  wing-coverts  spotted  with  pale  brown,  on  a  ground 
of  dull  black,  and  tipped  with  white  ;  tertials  barred  with 
pale  brown,  on  a  black  ground ;  the  primaries  dull  black, 
secondaries  the  same,  but  tipped  with  white  ;  upper  tail- 
coverts  barred,  alternately,  writh  pale  brown,  and  dusky- 
black;  tail-  feathers  fourteen,  basal-half  dull  black  varied  on 
the  margins  with  pale  reddish-brown,  on  the  distal-half  of 
the  feather  an  oval  patch  of  pale  chestnut,  bounded  by  a 
dusky-brown  band,  and  tipped  with  paler  chestnut.  Chin 
brownish-white ;  cheeks  pale  brown,  ear-coverts  darker ; 
sides,  and  front  of  the  neck,  pale  brown,  spotted  with  darker 
brown ;  breast,  belly,  and  vent,  white ;  sides  and  flanks 
greyisli-white  barred  with  dusky-black ;  under  tail-coverts 
pale  yellow-brown  barred  with  greyish-black ;  legs  and  toes 
greenish-brown. 

A  Snipe  shot  in  the  first  week  in  August,  an  old  bird  in 
summer  plumage,  but  with  the  autumn  moult  just  com¬ 
mencing,  has  the  outer  lateral  margin  of  the  interscapular, 
and  scapular  feathers  narrow,  and  almost  white ;  all  the 
parts  of  the  plumage  on  the  back  and  wing,  which  are  pale 
vellow-brown  in  winter,  are  in  this  bird  of  a  rich  reddish- 
brown  ;  the  first  new  interscapular  feather  on  each  side  has 
just  appeared,  with  its  usual  broad,  buff-coloured  margin, 
affording  a  striking  contrast  to  the  narrower  white  margins 
of  the  feathers  lower  down  on  the  body. 

The  whole  length  of  a  Common  Snipe  is  about  ten  inches 
and  a  half;  the  length  of  the  beak  about  two  inches  and 
three-quarters ;  from  the  carpal  joint  to  the  end  of  the  first 
quill -feather,  which  is  the  longest  in  the  wing,  five  inches ; 
the  sexes  are  alike  in  plumage,  but  according  to  Gould,  the 
male  is  the  larger. 


COMMON  SNIPE. 


349 


A  young  bird  about  two-thirds  grown,  with  the  beak  only 
one  inch  long,  and  with  down  still  adhering  about  the  head, 
has  the  narrow,  light-coloured  margins,  and  the  rich  red- 
brown  on  the  feathers  of  the  upper  surface  of  the  body  and 
wings,  as  in  the  old  bird  in  summer. 

Albinos,  and  fawn-coloured  and  abnormally  mottled  varie¬ 
ties  of  the  Common  Snipe  have  at  times  been  obtained, 
and  some  remarkable  examples  are  in  the  collection  of 
Mr.  John  Marshall,  of  Taunton.  Individuals  are  occasion¬ 
ally  recorded  of  a  form  which  is  now  generally  admitted  to 
be  a  melanic  variety,  but  which  was  formerly  considered 
to  be  entitled  to  specific  rank  under  the  appellation  of 
4  Sabine’s  Snipe,’  and  as  such  it  has  been  figured  and  de¬ 
scribed  in  former  Editions  of  this  work.  This  name  was 
conferred  by  the  late  N.  A.  Vigors  (Tr.  Linn.  Soc.  xiv. 
p.  557)  upon  a  bird  shot  by  the  Rev.  Chas.  Doyne,  of  Port- 
arlington,  Queen’s  Co.,  Ireland,  on  the  21st  August,  1822 ; 
and  many  examples  have  subsequently  been  recorded.  Mr. 
J.  E.  Harting,  in  4  The  Field’  of  10th  December,  1870, 
furnished  a  list  of  the  reported  occurrences  up  to  that  date, 
from  which  it  appeared  that  it  had  been  met  with  in  Ireland 
and  England  in  every  month  of  the  year  excepting  June 
and  July.  Since  then  the  occurrence  of  an  example  near 
Montrose,  its  first  appearance  in  Scotland,  has  been  re¬ 
corded  by  Major  H.  W.  Feilden  (Zool.  s.s.  p.  3188) ;  and 
there  have  been  a  few  more  in  other  parts  of  our  islands. 
A  light-coloured  specimen  now  in  the  foreign  collection  of 
the  British  Museum,  was  stated  by  the  late  Jules  Verreaux 
to  have  been  shot  near  Paris.  At  the  time  that  4  Sabine’s 
Snipe  ’  was  assumed  to  be  a  distinct  species,  many  supposed 
points  of  difference  between  it  and  the  Common  Snipe  were 
detected  and  insisted  upon  :  especially  the  number  of  the 
tail-feathers,  which  was  stated  to  be  only  twelve ;  but  so 
many  examples  proved  to  have  fourteen,  that  this  distinction 
had  to  be  given  up.  The  ovate  shape  of  the  dorsal  feathers 
was  another  point,  which  may  be  accounted  for  by  the 
supposition  that  in  this,  as  with  many  other  varieties,  the 
examples  are  all  birds  of  the  year.  Mr.  Harting  has 


350 


SCOLOPACID.E. 


described  (P.Z.S.  1877,  p.  533)  an  example  intermediate  in 
plumage.  If  it  were  a  good  species,  it  is  remarkable  that,  in 
spite  of  its  almost  complete  restriction  to  the  British  Islands, 
it  should  never  have  been  found  breeding. 

The  following  is  the  description  of  ‘  Sabine’s  Snipe,’  and 
the  engraving  of  the  bird  is  given  as  a  vignette. 

The  beak  is  as  in  the  normal  bird ;  upper  part  of  the 
head,  the  back  of  the  neck,  back,  scapulars,  wing-coverts  and 
tertials,  dusky-brown,  each  feather  varied  by  narrow  trans¬ 
verse  bands  of  pale  yellow-brown  which  are  less  numerous 
on  the  back  than  over  the  wings ;  primary  quill-feathers  dull 
black,  with  black  shafts ;  upper  tail-coverts  greyish-brown  ; 
tail-feathers  with  the  basal  half  black,  the  terminal  half 
chestnut-brown,  spotted  and  barred  with  black :  the  two 
centre  feathers  have  rather  more,  and  the  outer  feathers 
rather  less  of  black  than  the  others ;  chin,  neck,  breast,  and 
all  the  under  parts  of  the  body  a  mixture  of  dull  brown 
and  pale  yellow-brown  in  alternate  narrow  bars  over  the 
whole  surface  ;  legs  and  toes  very  dark  chestnut-brown. 


FAMILIAR  SHORE  BIRDS 


THE  JACK  SNIPE — (Lymnocryptes  minimus). 

A  very  familiar  bird  is  the  jack  snipe,  particularly  as  an  autumn  and  winter 
visitor  to  the  British  Isles.  It  arrives  in  late  September  and  may  be  met  with 
at  that  time  in  pasture  or  on  the  saltings  of  the  foreshores.  Being'  of  smaller 
size  and  mute,  the  jack  snipe  may  readily  be  distinguished  from  the  common 
snipe.  It  is  a  far  less  wary  species  than  its  congener,  the  common  snipe,  and 
may  be  flushed  times  innumerable  if  not  laid  low  at  the  first  shot,  for  it  seldom 
goes  far  before  ag'ain  alighting.  Known  as  “  half  snipe,”  the  present  species 
is  equal  in  size  only  proportionately  as  an  edible  bird.  Breeding*  in  Lapland 
and  Finland,  the  jack  snipe  occurs  with  us  more  or  less  regularly  due  to  seasons, 
in  hard  winters  moving  south,  where  it  reaches  N.  Africa  and  Egypt.  Though 
;  small  and  specifically  different  from  the  common  snipe  in  havinp*  a  wedge- 
i  shaped  tail,  the  jack  snipe — or  judcock — is  a  bird  +1- 

O.t-*  I*'  "  -  i 


JACK  SNIPE. 


351 


Gallinago  gallinula  (Linnaeus*). 

THE  JACK  SNIPE. 

ScoIojmx  gallinula. 

Though  allied  to  the  Snipes  in  its  haunts  and  general 
habits,  the  Jack  Snipe  is  still  distinguished  by  various  pecu¬ 
liarities,  f  It  is  more  decidedly  a  winter  visitor  only,  the 
instances  of  its  remaining  through  the  summer  in  this 
country  being  very  rare.  It  is  more  solitary  than  the 
Common  Snipe,  though  sometimes  found  in  pairs,  but  these 
seldom  get  up  together,  or  go  far  before  they  settle  again ; 
and  although  it  feeds  on  bare,  boggy  ground,  yet  when  not 
searching  for  food  it  chooses  sheltered  situations  among 
strong  rushes,  or  coarse  long  grass,  and  the  luxuriant  vegeta¬ 
tion  common  to  moist  grounds.  In  such  places  the  Jack 

*  Scolopax  Gallinula ,  Linnseus,  Syst.  Nat.  Ed.  12,  i.  p.  244  (1766). 

+  Owing  to  the  tail-feathers  being  only  twelve  in  number,  and  some  other 
points  of  difference,  Kaup  made  it  the  type  of  the  genius  Limnocryptes  ;  it  is 
also  distinguished  by  some  osteological  peculiarities,  but  so  are  the  two  preceding 
species,  and  for  the  purposes  of  the  present  work  it  appears  convenient  to  place 
the  three  British  Snipes  in  the  genus  Gallinago. 


352 


SCOLOPACIDiE. 


Snipe  is  remarkable  for  its  sluggishness,  seldom  taking  wing 
till  almost  trodden  upon,  which  has  induced  French  natu¬ 
ralists  to  call  this  species  Becassine  sourde,  as  though  it 
were  deaf  to  the  approach  of  an  enemy ;  and  instances  have 
occurred  in  which  a  Jack  Snipe  has  allowed  itself  to  be 
picked  up  by  hand  before  the  nose  of  a  pointer.  Though 
generally  dispersed  over  the  British  Islands  in  winter,  it  is 
less  numerous  as  a  species  than  the  Common  Snipe,  and 
does  not,  when  flushed,  utter  any  note.  The  Jack  Snipe 
appears  to  have  particular  attachment  to  certain  localities  ; 
so  much  so,  that  a  sportsman  shooting  for  years  in  succes¬ 
sion  over  the  same  ground,  knows  exactly  where  to  look  for 
any  Jack  Snipe  that  is  in  his  country.  Selby,  who  was  a 
good  sportsman  as  well  as  an  accomplished  naturalist,  says 
of  this  species,  in  reference  to  his  own  locality  in  Northum¬ 
berland,  “  the  first  flights  generally  arrive  here  as  early  as 
the  second  week  of  September,  as  I  have  seldom  failed  to 
meet  with  it  in  a  favourite  haunt  between  the  14th  and  20tli 
of  that  month.”  Mr.  Cordeaux,  writing  of  Lincolnshire, 
says  that  it  comes  the  last  week  in  that  month ;  and  there 
is  often  a  large  arrival  with  a  full  moon  and  east  wind,  in 
October.  It  occasionally  strikes  against  lighthouses  and 
liglit-ships,  but  less  frequently  than  the  Common  Snipe. 

Prior  to  its  departure  in  April  northwards  this  bird  ex¬ 
hibits  in  its  plumage  all  the  bloom  and  brilliancy  of  the  ap¬ 
proaching  nuptial  period.  Individuals  have  occasionally  been 
known  to  remain  until  late  in  the  spring,  and  even  through 
the  summer,  and  more  than  fifty  years  ago,  wlien  it  was 
fondly  believed  that  the  Jack  Snipe  bred  in  our  islands,  and 
that  the  presence  of  an  individual  in  summer  was  to  some 
extent  a  proof  of  this,  Mr.  Girdlestone  offered  a  sovereign  to 
any  one  who  could  bring  him  a  specimen  of  this  bird  shot  at 
that  season.  In  1822  he  had  one  brought  to  him  in  June ; 
in  May,  1824,  he  and  the  late  Rev.  B.  Lubbock  saw  two  on 
Bradwell  Common,  and,  on  the  2nd  July,  1825,  according  to 
Mr.  Stevenson,  a  fenman  named  Hewitt,  who  had  long  been 
watching  one  which  had  remained  behind,  knocked  it  down 
with  his  hat,  it  being  so  ragged,  scurfy,  and  feeble  that  it 


353 


JACK  SNTPE. 

could  hardly  fly.  This  specimen  was  presented  by  Mr. 
Girdlestone  to  Mr.  Lubbock,  and  by  him  to  Mr.  Newcome, 
and  is  still  in  the  collection  at  Feltwell.  “  On  the  1st 
August,  1833,”  says  Mr.  Lubbock,  “  a  Jack  Snipe  was  shot 
on  Bolton  fen  in  my  presence,  a  perfectly  healthy,  good-con¬ 
ditioned,  well-plumaged  bird.  The  man  who  shot  it  told 
me  that  once,  and  only  once,  be  bad  shot  a  Jack  Snipe  in 
summer  upon  the  same  fen.  He  lives  upon  the  broads  and 
marshes,  and  would  doubtless  have  detected  any,  as  be  is 
quite  alive  to  the  rarity  of  their  appearance.  The  eggs  which 
have  once  or  twice  been  offered  to  me  as  those  of  the  Jack 
Snipe  were  those  of  the  Purre,  and  I  regret  that  I  can  say 
nothing  in  favour  of  its  breeding  in  Norfolk.  I  think  that 
some  worm  or  particular  aliment  must  be  wanting  here  in 
summer,  and  that  short  diet  made  Mr.  Girdlestone’ s  Jack 
Snipe  so  feeble  and  unhealthy.  The  one  shot  on  the  1st 
of  August  might  be  a  migratory  bird.” 

In  spite  of  various  assertions  respecting  the  supposed  nest¬ 
ing  of  the  Jack  Snipe  in  the  British  Islands,  it  may  safely  be 
stated  that  there  is  not  one  single  well-authenticated  instance 
of  its  doing  so.*  For  thoroughly  identified  eggs  of  this,  as 
of  so  many  other  species,  oologists  are  indebted  to  the  per¬ 
severance  of  the  late  Mr.  John  Wolley,  from  whose  notes, 
communicated  to  the  late  Mr.  Hewitson  (Eggs  Brit.  Birds, 
Ed.  3,  ii.  p.  357)  the  following  is  taken  : — “  We  had  not  been 
many  hours  in  the  marsh  [of  Muonioniska,  Lapland],  when 
I  saw  a  bird  get  up,  and  I  marked  it  down.  The  nest  was 
found.  A  sight  of  the  eggs,  as  they  lay  untouched,  raised 
my  expectations  to  the  highest  pitch.  I  went  to  the  spot 
where  I  had  marked  the  bird,  and  put  it  up  again,  and  again 

*  The  records  arc  too  numerous  for  notice  :  one  writer  in  ‘The  Field  ’  of  16th 
September,  1865,  gravely  describes  a  nest  containing  nine  eggs  found  in  Oxford¬ 
shire  !  Mr.  R.  Gray  (B.  West  Scot.  p.  314)  writes  that  he  has  “  been  informed 
by  Mr.  Angus  that  in  one  instance,  at  least,  a  nest  was  discovered  in  Aberdeen¬ 
shire  by  J.  W.  Stuart  Burnett,  of  Keithall.”  At  p.  318  we  are  told,  without 
any  expression  of  scepticism,  that  this  same  fortunate  observer  found  the  nest 
of  the  Curlew  Sandpiper  at  Locb  Spynie,  near  Fdgin,  the  eggs  being  just  chipped 
by  the  young  birds,  which  do  not  appear  to  have  been  preserved  :  a  neglect  to 
be  regretted,  for  both  the  downy  stage  of  the  latter  species,  and  its  eggs,  are  as 
yet  unknown  to  naturalists. 

VOL.  III. 


Z  Z 


354 


SCOLOPACIDiE. 


saw  it,  after  a  short  low  flight,  drop  suddenly  into  cover. 
Once  more  it  rose  a  few  feet  from  where  it  had  settled.  I 
fired  !  and  in  a  minute  had  in  my  hand  a  true  Jack  Snipe, 
the  undoubted  parent  of  the  nest  of  eggs  !  In  the  course  of 
the  day  and  night  I  found  three  more  nests  and  examined 
the  birds  of  each.  One  allowed  me  to  touch  it  with  my 
hand  before  it  rose,  and  another  only  got  up  when  my  foot 
was  within  six  inches  of  it.  The  nest  of  the  17tli  of  June, 
and  the  four  of  the  18th  of  June,  were  all  alike  in  struc¬ 
ture,  made  loosely  of  little  pieces  of  grass  and  equisetum 
not  at  all  woven  together,  with  a  few  old  leaves  of  the  dwarf 
birch,  placed  in  a  dry  sedgy  or  grassy  spot  close  to  more  open 
swamp.”  The  Jack  Snipe  weighs  about  two  ounces;  its  four 
eggs  are  more  than  an  ounce  and  a  half.  There  are  three 
beautifully  figured  in  Mr.  HewitsoiTs  work.  The  eggs,  so 
disproportionate  to  the  size  of  the  bird,  are  of  a  yellowish- 
olive,  spotted  and  streaked  with  brown,  the  latter  colour  being 
somewhat  more  predominant  than  in  the  majority  of  those 
of  the  Common  Snipe ;  they  are  also  somewhat  smaller, 
averaging  1*5  by  1  in.  It  is  a  late  breeder,  seldom  having 
eggs  in  Lapland,  according  to  Professor  Newton,  before  the 
middle  of  June,  and  constantly  breeding  well  into  August. 

During  the  breeding-season  the  Jack  Snipe  is  generally 
distributed  throughout  Norway  and  Sweden,  especially  to  the 
north  of  the  Arctic  circle,  and  in  Russia  it  appears  to  nest 
from  the  north  to  about  the  latitude  of  Moscow,  but  east  of 
Archangel  it  appears  to  be  unfrequent  in  summer,  and 
Messrs.  Seebohm  and  Harvie-Brown  did  not  observe  it  on 
the  Petchora.  It  is  a  little  doubtful  if  it  breeds  in  the 
extreme  south  of  Sweden,  or  in  Denmark  ;  there  appears  to 
be  no  authenticated  instance  of  its  doing  so  in  Northern 
Germany,  and  former  statements  as  to  its  nest  having  been 
found  in  Holland  must  be  received  with  caution.  Over  the 
rest  of  the  Continent  of  Europe  it  is  generally  distributed  on 
migration  and  in  winter,  and  during  the  latter  season,  in  the 
south  especially,  it  is  often  very  numerous  :  at  times  even 
more  so  than  the  Common  Snipe.  Many  winter  in  North 
Africa,  and  birds  have  been  observed  in  Egypt  as  late  as 


JACK  SNIPE. 


355 


May ;  and  it  goes  for  some  distance  up  tlie  Blue  Nile. 
Eastward,  it  is  found  in  winter  in  Palestine,  Persia,  India, 
Ceylon,  Burmah,  and  Tenasserim,  but  in  the  two  latter 
countries  it  is  of  rare  occurrence.  It  visits  Southern  Afghan¬ 
istan  in  winter,  but  its  route  cannot  at  present  he  traced 
through  the  great  Asian  mountain  passes,  such  as  the  Pamir; 
and,  on  the  whole,  it  would  appear  that  north  of  the  water¬ 
shed,  and  east  of  the  Caspian  and  the  Ural  mountains,  the 
Jack  Snipe  is  not  a  common  species.  It  is  true  that  Mid- 
dendorff  found  it  breeding  on  the  Boganida  in  70°  N.  lat., 
and  that  Radde  met  with  it  in  the  Sajan  mountains,  but  he 
saw  it  nowhere  else  in  Siberia ;  it  has  never  been  obtained 
in  China  :  only  once  in  Formosa  ;  and  very  rarely  in  Japan. 

During  the  breeding-season  the  Jack  Snipe  makes  a 
4  drumming  ’  noise,  which  Wolley  likens  44  to  the  cantering 
of  a  horse  over  a  hard  hollow  road  :  it  came  in  fours  with  a 
similar  cadence,  and  a  like  clear  yet  hollow  sound.”  Like  its 
congener,  it  has  been  seen  to  perch  on  rails.  Its  food  con¬ 
sists  of  lame  of  insects,  beetles,  &c.,  always  accompanied 
by  a  little  grit.  A  continuance  of  severe  weather  does  not 
reduce  this  species  as  it  does  the  Common  Snipe,  and  the 
Editor  once  found  that  between  the  fattest  of  several  Jacks 
and  the  leanest  of  some  Common  Snipes  weighed  the  same 
day,  there  was  a  difference  of  only  J-  oz.  in  favour  of  the 
larger  bird.  For  the  successful  mode  of  treatment  during 
a  month’s  captivity  see  4  The  Zoologist’  for  1846,  p.  1381. 

The  beak  is  dark  brown  at  the  point,  pale  reddish-brown 
at  the  base ;  irides  dark  brown ;  from  the  beak  to  the  eye 
a  dark  brown  streak ;  over  that,  over  the  eye  and  over  the 
ear-coverts,  a  broad  pale  brown  streak,  with  a  narrow  darker 
one  along  the  middle  line  of  the  posterior  part  ;  forehead 
and  top  of  the  head  rich  dark  brown,  not  divided  along  the 
middle  by  a  pale  brown  streak,  as  in  the  Great  Snipe  and 
Common  Snipe ;  back  of  the  neck  greyish-brown,  varied 
with  dusky-brown  ;  back  rich  dark  brown  with  green  and 
purple  reflections;  interscapulars  and  scapulars  nearly  black, 
tipped  with  reddish-brown,  both  sets  having  broad  external 
lateral  margins  of  rich  huffy-yellow  :  wing-coverts  dusky- 


356 


SCOLOPACIDiE. 


black,  edged  with  pale  brown ;  primary  quill-feathers  dusky- 
black  ;  secondaries  tlie  same,  but  ending  in  a  white  point ; 
tertials  brownish-black,  spotted  and  streaked  with  rich  red¬ 
dish-brown  ;  upper  tail-coverts  brown,  edged  with  buff;  tail- 
feathers  twelve,  greyish-black  margined  with  brown  :  the 
central  ones  elongated ;  cheeks,  chin,  and  neck,  greyish- 
brown,  spotted  with  darker  brown  ;  breast,  belly,  and  vent 
white;  legs  and  toes  dark  greenish-brown  ;  claws  black. 

The  whole  length  is  eight  inches  to  eight  inches  and  a 
half ;  the  length  of  the  beak  one  inch  and  a  half ;  from  the 
carpal  joint  to  the  end  of  the  first  quill-feather,  which  is  the 
longest,  four  inches  and  three-eighths. 

Females  are  on  the  average  a  trifle  larger  in  size  than  the 
males,  but  not  so  bright  in  their  colours.  In  the  plumage  of 
winter  the  reddish-brown  parts  are  more  inclined  to  ash-grey. 

Young  birds  have  not  the  brilliant  green  and  purple  re¬ 
flections  observable  in  old  birds.  The  nestling  is  of  a  still 
richer  brown  than  that  of  the  Common  Snipe  already  figured, 
and  the  bill  is  shorter,  higher,  and  broader  at  the  base. 

Varieties  in  this  species  are  very  uncommon,  but  a  melan¬ 
ism  is  recorded  by  Mr.  F.  Bond  (Zool.  18G2,  p.  8000)  as 
having  been  shot  near  Staines. 

The  differences  in  the  emargination  of  the  breast-bone  in 
the  Jack,  and  in  the  Common  Snipe,  are  shown  below. 


RED-BREASTEI)  SNIPE 


357 


L1MIC0LM . 


SCOLOPA  C1DJR. 


Macrorhamphus  griseus  (Gmelin#). 

THE  RED-BREASTED  SNIPE. 

Macrorhamphus  griseus. 

Macrorhamphus,  Leacli  +. — Beak  long,  straight,  rounded,  rather  slender  in 
the  middle,  the  tip  dilated,  slightly  incurved  and  rugose.  Nostrils  lateral,  basal. 
Legs  with  four  toes,  the  outer  toes  connected  at  their  base  by  a  membrane  ; 
hinder  toe  touching  the  ground  only  at  the  tip  ;  lower  part  of  the  tibia  naked. 
Wings  long  and  pointed.  Tail-feathers  twelve  in  number. 

The  Red-breasted  or  Brown  Snipe  is  an  American 
species  which  was  first  made  known  as  a  straggler  to  Britain 
by  Colonel  Montagu,  who  described  it  in  his  Ornithological 
Dictionary,  and  gave  a  figure  of  it  in  its  winter  plumage  in 
his  Supplement.  This  example,  which  was  killed  in  Devon¬ 
shire  in  the  month  of  October,  is  preserved  in  the  British 
Museum.  According  to  Dr.  Edward  Moore  (Mag.  Nat.  Hist. 
1887,  p.  821),  a  second  Devonshire  example  is  in  the  collec¬ 
tion  of  Mr.  Drew.  A  young  bird  was  shot  near  Carlisle  on 

*  Scolopax  grisea ,  Gmelin,  Syst.  Nat.  i.  p.  658  (1788). 

T_Cat.  Mamin,  and  Birds  Brit.  Mus.  p.  81  (1816). 


358 


SCOLOPACIDiE. 


the  25th  September,  1835,  and  passed  into  the  collection  of 
the  late  T.  C.  Heysham.*  A  fourth  example,  killed  at 
Yarmouth  in  October,  1836,  became  the  property  of  the  Rev. 
Leonard  Rudd,  residing  in  Yorkshire,  who  did  the  Author 
the  favour  to  bring  his  bird  to  London  that  he  might  see  it. 
Mr.  J.  H.  Gurney  has  recorded  a  male,  now  in  his  collection, 
which  was  obtained  near  Yarmouth  in  October,  1840  (Ann. 
and  Mag.  Nat.  Hist.  vi.  p.  236). 

On  the  9tli  October,  1845,  a  male,  changing  like  the  other 
October  birds  from  summer  to  winter  plumage,  was  shot  by 
Mr.  Rising  of  Hornsey,  in  whose  collection  it  still  is,  a  com¬ 
panion  bird  escaping.  Mr.  Harting  records  (B.  of  Middlesex, 
p.  195)  one  in  the  collection  of  Mr.  F.  Bond,  killed  some 
years  ago  on  the  banks  of  the  Thames  near  Battersea ;  and 
one  in  his  own  collection  shot  on  the  Brent  in  October,  1862. 
One  is  stated  to  have  been  killed  previous  to  1857,  near 
Kingsbridge,  Devonshire  (Zool.  p.  5791),  and  on  the  3rd 
October  of  that  year,  Mr.  Augustus  Pechell  shot  an  example 
at  St.  Mary’s,  Scilly,  which  is  in  the  collection  of,  and  was 
recorded  by,  the  late  Mr.  Rodd  (Zool.  p.  5832).  In  1873,  a 
bird  answering  in  description  to  this  species  was  obtained  at 
Southport,  Lancashire  (Zool.  s.s.  p.  4341).  On  the  15tli  of 
August,  1882,  Mr.  Cordeaux  obtained  an  adult  in  the  flesh, 
shot  in  north-east  Lincolnshire  (Zool.  1882,  p.  392)  which 
closes  for  the  present  the  list  of  authenticated  occurrences  of 
this  straggler  in  England. 

In  Scotland,  according  to  Mr.  R.  Gray  (B.  West  Scot, 
p.  314),  an  example  of  the  Red-breasted  Snipe  was  shot  near 
Largo,  in  September,  1867  ;  and  he  also  states  that  a  speci¬ 
men  exhibited  at  a  meeting  of  the  Natural  History  Society 
of  Glasgow,  on  28tli  December,  1869,  was  killed  ‘  some 
years  ago  ’  in  Lanarkshire ;  hut  he  makes  no  allusion  to  one 
identified  by  Mr.  Thomas  Edward  (Zool.  p.  6269),  from  a 

*  Mr.  C.  M.  Adamson  (‘Some  More  Scraps  about  Birds,’  p.  67)  says  that 
when  he  last  saw  this  specimen,  prior  to  the  sale  of  Mr.  Heysham’s  collection,  it 
was  in  a  most  dilapidated  condition,  the  head  being  separated  from  the  body, 
and  it  was  probably  thrown  away  ;  at  all  events  it  is  not  the  same  as  the  bird 
sold  on  lltli  May,  1859,  Lot  145,  which  was  in  summer  plumage. 


RED-BREASTED  SNIPE. 


359 


wounded  bird  which  subsequently  recovered  and  flew  away, 
near  Banff  on  the  25tli  September,  1858,  and  it  is  possible 
that  he  may  not  believe  in  the  correctness  of  its  identifica¬ 
tion.  A  similar  doubt  has  precluded  the  insertion  in  this 
Edition  of  some  other  recorded  occurrences. 

Under  the  mistaken  impression  that  this  bird  had  been  killed 
in  Sweden,  and  that  it  was  also  a  new  species,  it  was  described 
by  Nilsson  under  the  name  of  Scolopax  paykulli  (Orn.  Swec. 
ii.  p.  106),  an  error  he  subsequently  corrected.  In  France 
it  has  several  times  been  obtained  in  Picardy  and  Normandy; 
and  M.  Taczanowski  states  that  there  are  three  examples  in 
the  Museum  of  Warsaw,  from  Cape  Tschukotsk  in  North¬ 
eastern  Siberia.  Its  occurrence  as  a  straggler  to  the  south 
of  Greenland  in  1854  has  been  recorded  by  Reinhardt. 

This  bird  is  very  common  in  the  United  States  of  America, 
and  has  frequently  been  described  by  the  principal  American 
naturalists.  It  was  formerly  considered  to  be  a  true  Snipe, 
but  the  bill  is  intermediate  in  its  length  between  that  of  the 
true  Snipes  and  the  Sandpipers,  and  some  other  peculiari¬ 
ties,  in  which  it  also  differs  from  both,  as  close  examination 
will  show,  induced  Dr.  Leach  to  confer  upon  it  the  generic 
distinction  Macrorhamphus,  by  which  it  is  now  generally 
known.  Audubon,  in  his  account  of  this  species,  says, 
that  the  Creoles  of  Louisiana  call  it  Becassine  de  mer,  an 
appropriate  name  for  the  bird,  since  the  beak  is  in  struc¬ 
ture  that  of  a  Snipe ;  while  the  habits  and  great  seasonal 
change  of  plumage,  are  those  of  the  marine  Sandpipers. 
The  English  names  given  to  this  bird  are  not  so  happily 
chosen,  being  of  more  personal  application.  It  has  been 
called  Red-breasted  Snipe,  Brown  Snipe,  and  Grey  Snipe  ; 
but  the  bird  is  only  red  during  summer,  brown  in  the  autumn, 
and  grey  in  winter. 

The  Red-breasted  Snipe,  as  it  is  called  by  Wilson  on 
account  of  the  prevailing  colour  of  its  summer  plumage, 
“  arrives  on  the  sea-coast  of  New  Jersey  early  in  April ;  it  is 
seldom  or  never  seen  inland  ;  early  in  May  it  proceeds  to  the 
north  to  breed,  and  returns  by  the  latter  part  of  July  or 
beginning  of  August.  During  its  stay  it  flies  in  flocks, 


360 


SCOLOPACTDtE. 


sometimes  very  high,  and  has  then  a  loud  and  shrill  whistle, 
making  many  evolutions  over  the  marshes ;  forming,  divid¬ 
ing,  and  reuniting.  They  sometimes  settle  in  such  numbers, 
and  so  close  together,  that  eighty- five  have  been  shot  at  one 
discharge  of  a  musket.  They  frequent  the  sand-bars  and 
mud-flats  at  low  water  in  search  of  food  ;  and  being  less 
suspicious  of  a  boat  than  of  a  person  on  shore,  are  easily 
approached  by  this  medium,  and  shot  down  in  great 
numbers.”  In  autumn  and  winter  it  passes  southwards 
through  the  Southern  States  to  Central  and  South  America 
as  far  as  Chili  on  the  west  and  Brazil  on  the  east,  visiting 
Cuba  regularly,  and  the  Bermudas  more  rarely.  Until 
recently  its  breeding-places  were  only  known,  in  a  general 
way,  to  he  in  the  Fur  Countries  and  the  vicinity  of  the 
Arctic  circle,  hut  of  late  years  nests  have  been  found  in  the 
Anderson  River  district  by  Mr.  R.  Macfarlane,  collector  to 
the  Smithsonian  Institution,  and  by  Mr.  Dali  in  Alaska. 
The  eggs  wrere  found  in  June,  in  slight  depressions  of  the 
ground  in  the  tussocks  of  the  marshes,  the  normal  comple¬ 
ment  being  four  ;  they  present  the  usual  character  of  eggs  of 
Gallinago,  being  of  a  brownish-olive  with  diffused  spots  of 
chocolate  and  umber-brown,  and  measure  on  the  average 
1*62  by  1*12  in.  Dr.  Elliott  Coues,  from  vdiom  these 
details  are  taken,  says  that  this  species  is  so  tame  that  it 
affords  no  sport ;  if  disturbed  it  merely  utters  a  short  weet 
on  taking  flight,  and  soon  settles  down  again  by  the  side  of 
the  water  in  which  it  seeks  its  food ;  and  when  taken  off  its 
feet  by  the  tide,  or  wounded,  it  swims  readily.  Its  food  con¬ 
sists  of  small  insects,  worms,  and  marine  bivalve  mollusca. 

A  form  of  this  Snipe  has  been  distinguished  by  the  name 
of  il/.  scolopaceus,  but  according  to  Dr.  Elliott  Coues  it  is 
not  even  entitled  to  rank  as  a  variety.  Mr.  Ridgway,  who 
has  carefully  considered  the  question  (Bull.  Nutt.  Orn.  Club, 
1880,  pp.  157  TCO),  says  that  ill.  griseus  predominates  on 
the  Atlantic  coast  of  the  United  States,  no  specimens  having 
been  seen  from  west  of  the  Alleghanies ;  whereas  M.  scolo¬ 
paceus  occurs  principally  in  the  western  portions  of  the 
continent,  crossing  it  diagonally  from  Alaska  to  the  Missis- 


RED-BREASTED  SNIPE. 


361 


sippi  valley  and  the  West  Indies ;  but  casual  along  the 
Atlantic  coast  of  the  United  States. 

In  the  summer  or  breeding  plumage,  the  beak  is  reddisli- 
hrown,  darker  at  the  point  than  at  the  base ;  the  irides 
reddish-hazel ;  cheeks,  top  of  the  head,  and  back  of  the 
neck,  pale  cliestnut-brown,  streaked  with  black  ;  upper  part 
of  the  back,  the  scapulars  and  tertials,  nearly  black,  edged 
and  streaked  with  bright  yellowish-chestnut ;  wing-coverts 
and  quill-feathers  dusky  ash-brown  ;  the  lower  part  of  the 
back  white ;  upper  tail-coverts  white,  spotted  with  black ; 
tail-feathers  barred  alternately  with  black  and  white,  of  which 
the  black  bars  are  broader  than  those  which  are  white  ;  sides 
and  front  of  the  neck,  the  breast  and  belly,  reddish-chestnut, 
spotted  and  barred  with  black ;  sides,  flanks,  vent,  and 
under  tail-coverts,  white,  tinged  with  red,  and  spotted  with 
black ;  legs  and  toes  greenish-brown,  the  claws  black. 

From  this  state  these  birds  pass,  during  autumn,  through 
various  shades  of  dark  brown  and  ash-brown,  to  the  ash- 
grey  plumage  of  winter ;  when  the  cheeks,  head,  and  neck 
are  ash-brown,  varied  with  darker  brown  ;  scapulars,  wing- 
coverts,  and  tertials,  dusky  asli-brown,  margined  with 
greyish-buffy  white  ;  the  lower  part  of  the  back,  upper  tail- 
coverts,  wing,  quill,  and  tail-feathers  as  in  summer ;  breast 
and  belly  nearly  white  ;  flanks  and  under  tail-coverts  dull 
white,  spotted  with  black. 

The  whole  length  of  the  bird  is  from  ten  to  eleven  inches, 
depending  on  age  and  sex  ;  the  beak  also  varies  in  length 
from  two  inches  to  two  and  a  half  inches  ;  from  the  carpal 
joint  to  the  end  of  the  first  quill-feather,  which  is  the 
longest  in  the  wing,  five  inches  and  five-eighths. 


A 


8  A 


VOL.  III. 


SCOLOPACID/E. 


362 

LI  M  ICO  LAE.  SC0L0PAC1DJE. 


Limicola  platyrhyncha  (Temminck*). 

THE  BROAD-BILLED  SANDPIPER. 

■> 

Trincja  jplatyrhyncha . 

Limicola,  Kochf. — Bill  much  longer  than  the  head,  nearly  as  broad  as  high 
at  the  base,  very  flat  and  wide  up  to  the  tip,  where  it  is  gradually  rounded  to 
an  obtuse  point,  with  the  terminal  portion  slightly  decurved  ;  nostrils  oval, 
oblique,  placed  in  a  depressed  membrane.  Wings  long,  pointed,  the  first  quills 
feathei  the  longest ;  inner  secondaries  long  and  pointed.  Tail  moderate,  doubly 
'hmarginate.  Legs  rather  short,  slender,  bare  on  the  lower  part  of  the  tibia  ; 
tarsus  scutellate  ;  the  three  anterior  toes  long  and  slender,  slightly  webbed  at 
the  base  ;  the  hind  toe  moderate. 

The  Broad-billed  Sandpiper,  which  is  distinguished 
from  other  species  by  the  character  which  its  name  suggests, 
was  first  made  known  as  a  visitor  to  the  British  Islands  hy 
the  late  Mr.  Hoy,  who  recorded  an  example  shot  on  the 
muddy  flats  of  Breydon  Water,  Norfolk,  on  the  25tli  May, 
183(3  (Mag.  Nat.  Hist.  x.  p.  116),  in  company  with  some 
Dunlins  and  Ring-plovers,  j  Since  that  date  a  second 

#  Tringa  platyrincha  (misprint),  Temminck,  Man.  d’Orn.  p.  39S  (1815). 

t  System  der  baierischen  Zoologie,  i.  p.  316  (1816). 

J  Mr.  Stevenson  states  (B.  Norfolk,  ii.  p.  360)  that  there  is  no  evidence  of 
this  specimen  ever  having  been  in  Mr.  Hoy’s  possession,  nor  lias  lie  been  able  to 
ascertain  what  became  of  it. 


BROAD-BILLED  SANDPIPER. 


363 


specimen,  a  male  in  breeding  plumage,  now  in  Mr.  J.  H. 
Gurney’s  collection,  was  obtained  on  Breydon,  May  25tli, 
1856  (Zool.  p.  5159),  and  a  third,  in  Mr.  Stevenson’s 
collection,  a  male  assuming  its  summer  plumage,  was  killed 
on  Breydon  the  23rd  April,  1868.  Mr.  William  Borrer,  of 
Cowfold,  Sussex,  possesses  an  example  nearly  in  winter 
plumage,  obtained  near  Shoreham  in  October,  1845  (Zool. 
p.  1394).  In  April,  1863,  a  bird  now  in  the  collection  of 
Sir  H.  S.  Boynton  was  shot  on  Hornsea  Mere,  Yorkshire  ;* 
and  this  closes  for  the  present  the  list  of  occurrences  of 
this  rare  visitant  in  England.  In  Ireland  a  specimen  was 
obtained  in  Belfast  Bay,  on  the  4tli  October,  1844,  as 
recorded  by  Thompson  (Ann.  Nat.  Hist.  xv.  p.  309). 

It  is  quite  possible  that  this  straggler  may  be  of  more 
frequent  occurrence  than  is  supposed,  but  it  is  evident  that 
the  British  Islands  lie  outside  its  .  ordinary  routes  of  migra¬ 
tion.  Yet  it  breeds  no  further  off  than  the  fells  of  Norway 
and  Sweden,  which  constitute  its  summer  head-quarters ; 
and  on  its  way  to  and  from  these,  it  visits  the  coast  line 
and  the  inland  waters  of  Denmark,  Germany,  France,  and 
Switzerland.  As  yet  its  presence  has  not  been  noticed  in 
the  Iberian  Peninsula,  but  in  parts  of  Italy,  although  of 
irregular  occurrence,  it  is  sometimes  nuifferous.  It  is  said 
to  visit  the  African  shores  of  the  Mediterranean,  and  there  is 
tolerably  good  evidence  that  it  goes  to  Egypt  as  a  straggler,*" 
it  has  occurred  in  Madagascar,  but  otherwise  its  winter 
distribution  as  regards  the  Ethiopian  region  is  unknown. 
From  Finland  and  Northern  Bussia,  where  it  also  breeds,  it 
descends  to  the  shores  of  the  Black  Sea,  and  occasionally  to 
the  Kirghiz  steppes,  in  the  neighbourhood  of  the  Caspian  ; 
but  it  cannot  as  yet  be  traced  to  Asia  Minor.  Nor  has  it 
vet  been  recorded  from  Turkestan,  but  Severtzoff  obtained  a 
single  specimen  at  Kara-Kul,  in  the  Pamir  range,  on  August 
17th  (Ibis,  1883,  p.  75)  ;  and  at  Ivurachee,  and  along  the 
Mekran  and  Sindh  coasts,  it  is  decidedly  common  in  winter. 
It  is  not  recorded  from  any  inland  district  of  India,  but  both 
young  and  adults  obtained  by  Mr.  Blyth  at  Calcutta  are  in 

*  Cordeaux,  ‘B.  Humber,’  p.  135  ;  W.  E.  Clarke,  ‘Yorks.  Vertebs.’  p.  74. 


SCOLOPACID  E. 


364 

tlie  British  Museum,  and  it  is  a  rare  straggler  to  Ceylon. 
It  is  very  abundant  on  the  muddy  delta  of  the  Irawaddy ; 
Tenasserim,  the  Andaman  Islands,  and  the  Philippines  are 
also  visited  by  it,  and  as  Beinwardt  procured  it  in  Java,  it 
probably  occurs  in  other  parts  of  the  Malay  Archipelago. 
Passing  northwards,  there  seems  to  he  an  absence  of  con¬ 
tinuity  in  the  range  of  the  Broad-hilled  Sandpiper  as  regards 
Western  Siberia,  for  Mr.  Seebolim  did  not  meet  with  it  on 
the  Arctic  portion  of  the  Yenesei,  nor  did  Dr.  Finsch  or 
Dr.  Tlieel  in  the  Altai  or  on  the  Oh  ;  but  its  occurrence 
on  the  eastern  shores  of  Lake  Baikal  is  substantiated  by 
Dybowski,  and  on  the  Sea  of  Okhotsk  by  Middendorff. 
In  Japan  Messrs.  Blakiston  and  Pryor  obtained,  four  spe¬ 
cimens,  one  of  which  the  Editor  has  examined,  in  Mr. 
Seehohm’s  collection,  and  finds  it  identical  with  European 
specimens  ;  and  at  Shanghai,  and  on  the  Island  of  Formosa, 
the  late  Mr.  Swinlioe  obtained  several  examples.  These 
have  been  pronounced  by  Mr.  H.  E.  Dresser  to  he  specifically 
distinct  from  the  western  form,  and  he  has  accordingly 
separated  the  bird  from  Eastern  Siberia  and  China  under 
the  name  of  Limicola  sibirica  (P.  Z.  S.  1876,  p.  674).  In 
winter  plumage  he  admits  that  the  two  forms  cannot  with 
certainty  be  distinguished,  hut  in  three  eastern  specimens 
which,  as  he  states,  were  all  that  he  had  in  summer  dress, 
he  found  that  the  feathers  on  the  crown  and  entire  upper 
parts  were  very  broadly  margined  with  bright  rufous,  giving 
this  colour  extreme  prominence,  whereas  in  western  birds 
in  breeding  plumage  the  general  coloration  of  the  upper 
parts  is  darker  and  the  margins  of  the  feathers  are  paler. 
To  Mr.  Harting,  Col.  W.  V.  Legge,  and  the  Editor,  after 
examination  of  this  scanty  series,  the  alleged  differences  do 
not  appear  to  warrant  specific  distinction  ;  and  to  the  latter 
the  Chinese  specimens,  which  were  obtained  in  April,  seem 
to  he  birds  of  the  previous  year,  assuming  their  first  spring 
plumage,  hut  not  the  darker  feathers  of  the  fully  adult  stage. 
A  specimen  from  Bohol  in  the  Philippines,  submitted  to 
Mr.  Dresser  (P.  Z.  S.  1878,  p.  712),  is  referred  to  L.  platy- 
rhynclia. 


BROAD-BILLED  SANDPIPER. 


365 


The  late  Mr.  Bichard  Dann,  during  his  visits  to  Norway 
and  Lapland,  ascertained  the  breeding-grounds  of  this  species, 
and  succeeded  in  obtaining  the  old  birds  in  their  breeding 
plumage,  their  eggs,  and  a  young  bird  when  just  able  to  fly. 
Mr.  Dann  most  liberally  presented  the  Author  with  the 
eggs,  the  young  bird,  and  an  old  one,  to  which  he  added  a 
long  series  of  notes  on  the  localities  frequented  during  the 
breeding-season,  by  a  large  proportion  of  those  birds  which 
only  visit  this  country  for  the  winter.  Mr.  Dann’s  name, 
as  well  as  information  obtained  from  him,  has  already  ap¬ 
peared,  on  many  occasions,  in  this  history,  and  his  notes  in 
reference  to  the  Broad-billed  Sandpiper  are  to  the  following 
effect  : — 

“  This  Sandpiper  is  by  no  means  uncommon  during  the 
breeding-season  in  Lulea  and  Tornea  Lapmark,  frequenting 
grassy  morasses  and  swamps  in  small  colonies,  generally  in 
the  same  places  as  those  frequented  by  the  Totanus  glareola, 
our  Wood  Sandpiper.  It  breeds  also  at  Fokstuen  on  the 
Dovre  Fjeld  mountains,  about  three  thousand  feet  above  the 
level  of  the  sea,  in  Norway,  where  it  arrives  at  the  latter 
end  of  May.  On  its  first  appearance  it  is  wild  and  shy, 
and  similar  in  its  habits  to  the  other  species  of  the  genus, 
feeding  on  the  grassy  borders  of  the  small  pools  and  lakes 
in  the  morasses.  On  being  disturbed  it  soars  to  a  great 
height  in  the  air,  rising  and  falling  suddenly  like  the  Snipe, 
uttering  the  notes  two  ivoo,  which  are  rapidly  repeated.  As 
the  weather  becomes  warm  its  habits  totally  change,  skulking 
and  creeping  through  the  dead  grass,  and  allowing  itself  to 
be  followed  within  a  few  yards,  and  when  flushed  dropping 
again  a  short  distance  off*.  It  seems  to  lay  its  eggs  later 
than  others  of  this  tribe  generally.  I  found  the  eggs  not 
sat  upon  on  the  24th  of  June,  and  the  last  week  in  July  the 
young  were  unable  to  fly ;  a  period  when  all  the  other  Sand¬ 
pipers  are  on  the  move  south.  The  eggs  were  of  a  deep 
chocolate  colour,  and  its  nest,  like  that  of  the  Snipe,  was  on 
a  hummocky  tuft  of  grass.  Although  I  found  the  young 
only  half  fledged  the  last  week  in  July,  and  hunted  the 
morasses  very  carefully,  I  never  flushed  or  saw  a  single  old 


366 


SCOLOPACTD.E. 


bird,  yet  undoubtedly  they  must  have  been  there,  so  difficult 
is  it  at  that  period  to  get  them  on  the  wing,  and  so  entirely 
different  from  their  habits  in  the  spring.  They  are  un¬ 
doubtedly  numerous,  but  from  their  very  small  size  and 
hiding  habits  are  difficult  to  be  discovered,  added  to  the 
almost  impassable  nature  of  the  swamps  they  frequent. 
There  were  several  small  colonies  of  them  in  different  parts 
of  the  extensive  swamp  at  Fokstuen  ;  I  procured  five  spe¬ 
cimens  there,  and  might  have  obtained  as  many  more,  had  I 
desired  it ;  I  also  procured  one  nest  with  four  eggs  in  it.” 

This  account,  which  was  copied  in  Hewitson’s  ‘  Eggs  of 
British  Birds,’  with  figures  of  the  eggs  taken  by  Mr.  Dann, 
was  supplemented  in  the  3rd  edition  of  that  work  (ii.  p.  360) 
by  notes  from  the  late  Mr.  John  Wollev,  with  illustrations 
of  two  remarkably  beautiful  specimens  from  the  series  ob¬ 
tained  by  the  latter  at  Muoniovara,  in  Lapland ;  and  since 
1854,  numbers  of  these  once  rare  eggs  have  found  their  way 
into  collections.  As  already  stated,  they  are  often  of  a  deep 
chocolate-brown,  or  of  a  pale  brown  ground-colour  mottled 
with  umber,  but  they  soon  fade ;  the  measurements  are 
about  1*2  by  *9  in.  Mr.  Mitchell,  who  found  it  nesting 
on  the  Dovrefjeld,  says  that  the  lining  of  the  nest  is  suited 
to  the  colour  of  the  eggs ;  the  darkest  ones  being  laid  on 
the  brown  withered  leaves  of  the  mountain  willow,  and  the 
lighter  ones  on  grass. 

Mr.  Collett  says  that,  when  searching  for  food,  the  Broad¬ 
billed  Sandpipers  hurry  hither  and  thither,  with  nodding 
head  and  bill  pointing  obliquely  to  the  ground.  If  flushed, 
they  will  utter  a  few  mellow,  flute-like  tones,  at  intervals 
mingled  with  a  harsher  note.  From  the  stomachs  he  took 
the  remain^  of  insects  only,  Harpalini,  Bembidia,  and  divers 
larvae. 

The  adult  bird,  in  the  breeding-season,  has  the  beak, 
which  is  one  inch  and  one-sixteenth  in  length,  dark  brown 
at  the  point,  inclining  to  reddish-brown  at  the  base  ;  irides 
brown  ;  from  the  base  of  the  beak  to  the  eye  a  dark  brown 
streak  ;  over  that  and  the  eye  a  white  streak,  with  a  brown 
central  longitudinal  line  ;  top  of  the  head  brownish-black, 


BROAD-BILLED  SANDPIPER. 


367 


slightly  varied  with  greyish-white,  and  tinged  with  ferru¬ 
ginous  ;  interscapulars  nearly  black  with  rufous  edges  ; 
scapulars,  wing-coverts,  lower  part  of  the  back,  and  the 
tertials,  black,  the  feathers  having  broad  margins  of  huffy- 
white  or  rufous ;  the  primary  and  secondary  quill-feathers 
blackish  ;  the  shafts  white  ;  upper  tail-coverts  black  with 
rufous  edges ;  the  two  middle  tail-feathers  nearly  black, 
longer  than  the  others,  pointed  and  margined  with  rufous  : 
the  others  ash-grey,  margined  with  huff-colour ;  chin  nearly 
white,  with  minute  dark  specks ;  sides  and  front  of  the 
neck  and  the  upper  part  of  the  breast  greyish-white,  varied 
with  black  spots  and  tinged  with  buffy-red  ;  belly,  vent,  and 
under  tail-coverts,  white  ;  legs,  toes,  and  claws,  greenish- 
black. 

The  whole  length  of  the  adult  birds  is  six  and  a  half 
inches ;  wing,  from  the  carpal  joint  to  the  end  of  the  first, 
which  is  the  longest  feather,  four  and  a  quarter  inches  ; 
length  of  the  tarsus  three-quarters  of  an  inch.  The  female 
appears  to  exceed  the  male  in  size,  hut  the  difference  is  very 
slight.  ✓ 

The  young  bird  resembles  the  parent  in  its  plumage  at 
this  season,  hut  the  feathers  of  the  upper  parts  are  somewhat 
more  broadly  margined  with  greyish- white. 

Its  winter  plumage  closely  resembles  that  of  our  Dunlin 
at  the  same  season.  The  beak  is  dark  brown,  almost  black ; 
from  the  base  of  the  beak  to  the  eye  a  brown  streak,  over 
that  a  broad  one  of  white ;  top  of  the  head,  nape,  back,  all 
the  wing-coverts  and  tertials  ash-grey,  the  centre  of  each 
feather  darker  and  the  margin  lighter ;  primaries  black ; 
chin,  neck  in  front,  and  all  the  under  surface,  pure  white ; 
legs  blackisli-brown. 

In  the  downy  nestling  the  under  parts,  forehead  and  cheeks 
are  greyish-white,  with  a  tinge  of  buff  on  the  throat ;  a  dark 
central  streak  from  the  base  of  the  bill  to  the  crown,  another 
from  the  base  of  the  upper  mandible  to  the  eye  on  each  side, 
and  a  similar  but  narrower  streak  from  the  lower  mandible 
backwards  ;  crown  and  upper  parts  nearly  black,  tinged  with 
rufous  and  spotted  with  white. 


368 


SCOLOPACID.E 


LIM1C0LM. 


SCO  LOP  A  Cl  DM. 


Tringa  maculata,  Vieillot.* 

THE  PECTORAL  SANDPIPER. 

T) i n g a  p ectora Us. 

Tringa,  Brissonf. — Beak  rather  longer  than  the  head,  sometimes  decurved, 
rather  flexible,  compressed  at  the  base,  depressed,  dilated,  and  blunt  towards 
the  point,  both  mandibles  grooved  along  the  sides.  Nostrils  lateral,  placed  in 
the  membrane  of  the  groove.  Legs  moderately  long,  slender,  lower  part  of  tibia 
naked  ;  three  toes  in  front,  divided  to  their  origin  ;  one  toe  behind,  small,  and 
articulated  upon  the  tarsus.  Wings  moderately  long,  pointed,  the  first  quill- 
feather  the  longest. 

The  first  example  of  this  American  Sandpiper  which  was 
recorded  as  a  straggler  to  our  shores,  was  killed  on  the  17tli 
October,  1830,  on  the  borders  of  Breydon  Water,  near 
Yarmouth  in  Norfolk,  so  celebrated  for  the  numerous  rare 
birds  which  have  at  different  times  been  observed  and  shot 
on  its  banks  and  waters.  The  person  who  killed  it  remarked 
that  it  was  solitary,  and  its  note  was  new  to  him,  which 

*  Nouv.  Diet.  d’Hist.  Nat.  xxxiv.  p.  465  (1819).  The  name  of  T.  pectoralis, 
Say  (Long’s  Exped.  i.  p.  171),  was  not  conferred  till  1823. 

t  Ornithologie,  v.  p.  177  (1760).  Gould  (Hbk.  B.  Australia,  ii.  p.  254) 
placed  the  present  species  and  Tringa  acuminata  (Horsf. )  in  a  new  and  undefined 
genus,  Limnocinclus. 


PECTORAL  SANDPIPER. 


369 


induced  him  to  shoot  it.  The  bird,  on  dissection,  proved  to 
be  a  female,  and  was  preserved  by  the  late  Mr.  J.  Harvey,  of 
Yarmouth,  as  a  curious  variety  of  the  Dunlin,  with  some 
doubts  as  to  whether  it  might  not  he  a  new  species.  It  was 
detected  by  the  late  Mr.  J.  D.  Hoy  (Mag.  Nat.  Hist.  i. 
p.  116),  who,  believing  it  to  be  undescribed  as  a  British  bird, 
sent  it  up  to  the  Author  for  inspection.  Mr.  Audubon  being 
then  in  London,  the  bird  was  exhibited  to  him,  as  a  good 
authority  for  American  species,  and  he  immediately  confirmed 
the  previous  notion  that  the  bird  was  an  example  of  the 
Pectoral  Sandpiper  of  America.* 

Since  that  date  several  well-authenticated  specimens  have 
been  obtained  in  the  same  county.  On  the  30th  September, 
1853,  a  female,  apparently  a  bird  of  the  year,  was  killed  near 
Yarmouth,  and  recorded  (Zool.  p.  4124)  by  Mr.  J.  H.  Gurney, 
in  whose  collection  it  now  is.  On  the  16th  September, 
1865,  one  killed  at  Caistor  was  brought  to  Mr.  Stevenson  in 
the  flesh,  and  a  female,  which  was  preserved  for  the  Lynn 
Museum,  was  netted  on  the  9tli  January,  1868,  in  Terring- 
ton  Marsh  (B.  Norfolk,  ii.  p.  368). 

On  the  27th  May,  1840,  the  late  D.  W.  Mitchell,  of 
Penzance,  shot  a  specimen  of  this  Sandpiper  while  it  was 
resting  on  some  seaweed  within  a  few  yards  of  the  water,  on 
the  rocky  shore  of  Annet,  one  of  the  uninhabited  islands  at 
Scilly.  On  the  following  day  another  example  was  seen, 
but  became  so  wild,  after  an  unsuccessful  shot,  that  it  took 
off  to  another  island,  and  escaped  altogether. 

Another,  as  recorded  by  Mr.  W.  P.  Cocks  (Naturalist, 
1851,  p.  137),  was  obtained  at  Gyllyngvase  East,  near 
Falmouth.  In  September,  1870,  the  Rev.  J.  Jenkinson, 
while  on  a  visit  to  the  Scilly  Islands,  shot  a  bird  of  this 
species,  which  he  brought  to  the  late  Mr.  E.  H.  Rodd,  who 
a  few  days  later  had  an  opportunity  of  examining  another 
example  secured  at  the  same  place ;  and  before  a  week  had 
elapsed  he  received  another  from  his  friend  Mr.  Augustus 
Pechell  (B.  of  Cornwall,  p.  104).  In  Devonshire  two  were 

*  Dr.  Bree,  in  his  account  of  the  collection  of  the  late  Mr.  Hoy  (Field,  1867, 
xxx.  p.  466),  says  that  this  specimen  is  not  to  be  found  there. 

VOL.  III.  3  B 


370 


SCOLOl’AClDiE. 


obtained  at  Braunton  Burrows,  on  tlie  12tli  September,  1871 
(Zool.  s.s.  pp.  2808,  2909). 

Passing  eastward,  Mr.  Harting  lias  recorded  (Handbk. 
Brit.  B.p.  141)  a  Pectoral  Sandpiper  obtained  at  Eastbourne, 
September,  1870.  At  Aldeburgh,  Suffolk,  one  is  stated  by 
Mr.  Hele  to  have  been  killed  on  the  5tli  October,  1870  (Field, 
15th  Oct.  1870).  In  Yorkshire  one  is  stated  to  have  been 
shot  at  Teesmoutli  in  August,  1853,  and  another  at  Redcar 
on  the  17tli  October  of  the  same  year  (Naturalist,  1853, 
p.  275)  ;  in  Durham,  according  to  Dr.  Edward  Clarke,  one 
was  killed  near  Hartlepool  in  October,  1841  ;  and  Mr.  John 
Hancock  has  a  specimen  said  to  have  been  shot  near  Bishop 
Auckland.  In  Northumberland,  the  only  authenticated 
example  was  obtained  on  Whitley  sands  on  the  27th  June, 
1853,  by  Mr.  Robert  Duncan  (Zool.  p.  4808),  and  is  now 
in  possession  of  Mr.  C.  M.  Adamson  :  it  is  in  summer 
plumage. 

In  Scotland  an  immature  bird  was  shot  at  Don-moutli, 
Aberdeenshire,  on  the  2nd  October,  1867,  as  recorded  by  Mr. 
R.  Gray  (B.  West  Scot.  p.  321).  Lastly,  one  was  shot  by 
Sir  G.  Leith  Buchanan,  Bart.,  near  Loch  Lomond,  on  the 
24th  November,  1882,  during  very  boisterous  weather ;  and 
the  correctness  of  its  identification  has  been  confirmed  by 
Mr.  Harting  (Zool,  1883,  p.  177),  to  whom  the  specimen  was 
very  properly  submitted.  Some  other  examples  on  record 
are  either  suspected  of  being,  or  are  known  to  be,  erroneously 
identified ;  and,  in  at  least  one  instance,  a  foreign  specimen 
has  been  passed  off  as  British-killed. 

On  the  Continent  of  Europe  its  occurrence  has  not  yet 
been  recorded,  nor  does  it  appear  to  have  crossed  from  the 
American  side  of  Behring’s  Straits  to  Asia,  although  its  Old 
World  representative,  Tringa  acuminata,  does  occasionally 
visit  Alaska.  It  is  true  that  Gould  quotes  Swinlioe  as  stating 
that  the  Pectoral  Sandpiper  was  abundant  in  Northern  China, 
and  also  at  Amoy,  in  August,  but  Swinlioe  subsequently 
stated  (P.  Z.  S.  1871,  p.  409)  that  his  Chinese  birds  were 
T.  acuminata.  In  Greenland  it  is  stated  by  Reinhardt  (Ibis, 
1861,  p.  11)  to  have  been  met  with  on  three  occasions. 


PECTORAL  SANDPIPER. 


371 


In  North  America,  where  the  Pectoral  Sandpiper  is  also 
known  as  the  “Meadow  Snipe,”  “  Grass  Snipe,”  and  “Jack 
Snipe,”  it  is  of  general  distribution  from  Hudson’s  Bay  to 
Alaska  in  summer,  and  is  supposed  to  breed  in  the  arctic  and 
sub-arctic  regions  of  that  continent,  although  a  description  of 
authenticated  eggs  does  not  as  yet  appear  to  be  available.* 
In  autumn  it  migrates  southwards,  and  is  common  through¬ 
out  the  United  States  down  to  the  extreme  south ;  its  winter 
range  extending  to  Bermuda,  the  Bahamas,  the  West  Indies, 
Mexico,  Guatemala,  Colombia,  the  east  coast  from  Brazil 
to  Patagonia,  Bolivia,  Peru,  and  Chili.  Hr.  Elliott  Cones 
(B.  of  North-West,  p.  486)  says  of  it  that,  “  unlike 
most  Sandpipers,  it  does  not  flock,  at  least  to  any  extent, 
being  oftenest  found  scattered  singly  or  in  pairs.  In 
the  United  States  it  is  chiefly,  if  not  wholly,  a  bird  of 
passage  ;  for,  though  some  may  winter  along  our  south¬ 
ern  border,  and  others  breed  along  the  northern  tier  of 
States,  such  probabilities  require  to  be  confirmed.  Its 
winter  range  is  very  extensive,  yet  some  individuals  may  be 
found  in  the  Middle  States  as  late  as  November.  I  found 
it  in  July  along  the  forty-ninth  parallel,  where  it  probably 
breeds,  though  I  did  not  ascertain  the  fact.  It  occurred 
sparingly  about  pools  on  Turtle  Mountain,  in  company  with 
T.  minutilla.  It  is  a  very  abundant  bird  in  summer  in 
Labrador,  where  it  frequents  low,  muddy  flats,  laid  bare  by 
the  tide,  and  the  salt-marshes  adjoining.  When  they  arise 
from  the  grass  to  alight  again  at  a  little  distance,  they  fly 
in  silence  or  with  a  single  tweet,  holding  the  wings  deeply 
incurved  ;  but  when  suddenly  startled  and  much  alarmed, 
they  spring  quickly,  with  loud,  repeated  cries,  and  make 
off  in  a  zigzag,  much  like  the  Common  Snipe.  Sometimes, 
gaining  a  considerable  elevation,  they  circle  for  several 
minutes  in  silence  overhead,  flying  with  great  velocity, 
perhaps  to  pitch  down  again  nearly  perpendicularly  to  the 

*  In  a  paper  by  Major  H.  W.  Feiklen  (Zook  1879,  pp.  1-9),  on  the  Natural 
History  of  Prince  Albert  Land,  from  the  Medical  Returns  of  the  late  Surgeon 
R.  Anderson,  of  H.M.S.  ‘  Enterprise,’  birds  and  eggs  referred  with  a  ?  to  this 
species  are  stated  to  have  been  obtained  at  Winter  Cove  in  1852. 


372 


SCOLOPACIDiE. 


same  spot  they  sprang  from.  The  southward  migration 
begins  in  August,  and  is  usually  completed  by  the  following 
month.” 

Nuttall  says  that  these  Sandpipers  feed  on  small  coleop- 
tera,  lame,  and  the  common  green  Ulva  latissima,  as  wTell 
as  some  species  of  Fucus,  or  seaweed,  on  which  they  become 
very  fat.  The  stomachs  of  some  of  those  killed  in  Britain 
contained  small  seeds,  the  remains  of  a  few  insects,  small 
Crustacea,  and  coarse  sand. 

The  Author  was  indebted  to  Mr.  Audubon  for  the  specimen 
of  the  Pectoral  Sandpiper  from  which  the  figure  was  drawn 
and  the  following  description  taken. 

The  beak  is  dark  brown  at  the  point,  greenish-brown  at  the 
base  ;  irides  dark  brown ;  feathers  of  the  top  of  the  head 
dusky-brown,  with  darker  central  streaks,  and  tipped  with 
rufous ;  the  back  of  the  neck,  the  wing-coverts,  the  back, 
and  the  tertials  dark  brown,  with  lighter-coloured  margins  ; 
primaries  dusky-black,  the  shaft  of  the  first  white  ;  second¬ 
aries  dusky-black,  each  with  a  narrow  edge  of  white ;  rump, 
and  upper  tail-coverts,  and  the  two  middle  tail-feathers, 
which  are  the  longest,  black ;  the  rest  of  the  tail-feathers 
asli-browm  tipped  with  yellowdsli-wdiite  ;  chin  white ;  the 
cheeks,  sides  and  front  of  the  neck,  and  the  upper  part  of 
the  breast,  greyish-white  tinged  with  brown  and  streaked 
with  dusky-black  in  the  line  of  the  shaft  of  each  feather  ; 
lower  part  of  the  breast,  belly,  and  under  tail-coverts  white  ; 
legs  and  toes  yellowish-brown  ;  claws  black. 

The  whole  length  varies  from  eight  and  three-quarters  to 
nine  and  a  quarter  inches  :  the  wing  from  the  carpal  joint 
to  the  end  of  the  first  quill-feather,  which  is  the  longest, 
five  inches  and  three -eighths  to  five  and  three-quarters. 
Weight  of  the  Don-moutli  specimen,  two  and  a  quarter 
ounces. 

The  principal  distinction  between  the  adult  in  breeding- 
dress  and  the  immature,  consists  in  the  markings  of  the 
feathers  on  the  breast,  which  are  arrow-headed  in  the  former, 
but  merely  streaked  down  the  centre  of  each  feather  in  the 
latter. 


BONAPARTE’S  SANDPIPER. 


373 


LIM ICO  LAE. 


SCO  LOP  A  Cl  DAE. 


Tringa  fuscicollis,  Vieillot.* 

BONAPARTE’S  SANDPIPER. 

T ring  a  Sch  inzii . 


Bonaparte’s  Sandpiper  is  another  American  species 
which  was  first  recorded  as  occurring  in  the  British  Islands 
by  the  late  Mr.  Gould,  who  described  and  figured  a  specimen 
killed  near  Stoke  Heath,  which  is  in  the  collection  of  Lord 
Hill.  He  says,  “We  have  compared  the  individual  from  which 
our  figure  is  taken  with  others  killed  in  America,  between 
which  we  could  discover  no  difference ;  its  shorter  bill  and 
white  rump  will  at  all  times  serve  to  distinguish  it  from  the 
other  European  members  of  the  group”  (B.  Europe,  v.). 

*  Nouv.  Diet,  xxxiv.  p.  461  (1819)  Especial  reference  is  there  made  to  the 
white  upper  tail-coverts  characteristic  of  this  species.  In  former  Editions  of  this 
work  the  name  of  Tringa  schinzi,  by  which  Bonaparte  (Ann.  Lyc.  N.  H.  New 
York,  ii.  p.  317,  1828)  designated  this  species,  was  employed  ;  but  as  that  name 
had  already  been  conferred  by  Brehm  (Beitrage  Vogelk.  iii.  p.  355,  1822)  on 
a  small  European  race  of  the  Dunlin,  it  must  be  discarded.  Bonaparte,  how¬ 
ever,  was  the  first  to  describe  the  American  bird,  and  the  fact  is  appropriately 
recognized  in  its  trivial  name, 


374 


SCOLOPACIDiE. 


An  example  in  the  Museum  at  Belfast,  there  is  reason 
to  believe,  was  killed  in  Ireland.  In  October,  1846,  two 
adults,  male  and  female,  were  procured  in  Hayle  estuary, 
about  seven  miles  from  Penzance,  and  were  recorded  by  the 
late  E.  H.  Bodd,  in  whose  collection  they  are  preserved 
(Zool.  p.  1554).  In  the  second  week  of  October,  1854, 
the  same  naturalist  chronicled  (Zool.  p.  4512)  an  example 
obtained  at  Trescoe  in  the  Scilly  Islands ;  and  in  the  second 
week  of  October,  1870,  be  obtained  another  shot  in  the  same 
locality.  On  the  29tli  of  the  same  month  Mr.  Vingoe,  of 
Penzance,  showed  him  another  which  had  just  been  shot  at 
the  Lizard  ;  and  it  would  appear  that  a  small  flock  must 
have  arrived  on  our  shores  about  that  time,  for  in  the  first 
week  of  that  same  November  four  individuals,  two  of  which 
are  now  in  the  collection  of  Mr.  Cecil  Smith,  and  one  in 
that  of  the  Bev.  Murray  A.  Mathew,  were  shot  at  Instow, 
North  Devon  ;  another  being  obtained  on  the  12th  of  the 
month  at  Eastbourne,  Sussex  (Zool.  s.s.  p.  2442).  In  the 
latter  county  one  had  already  been  recorded  (Zool.  p.  6537), 
shot  near  Bexliill,  on  8th  October,  1857,  and  is  now  in  the 
collection  of  Mr.  J.  H.  Gurney.  Mr.  H.  E.  Dresser  possesses 
a  mounted  specimen,  stated  on  the  label  at  the  hack  of  its 
case  tp  have  been  shot  at  Kingsbury  Beservoir,  Middlesex, 
in  1856,  by  Mr.  Goodair.  There  are  probably  some  un¬ 
recorded  British-killed  examples,  and  owing  to  the  similarity 
of  this  species  in  its  winter-dress,  to  the  Dunlin  at  the 
same  season,  it  has  no  doubt  often  escaped  recognition.  Its 
occurrence  on  the  Continent  of  Europe  does  not  as  yet 
appear  to  have  been  authenticated,  for,  as  already  stated,  the 
T.  schinzi  of  Brehm  and  of  other  ornithologists  is  merely  a 
variety  of  the  Dunlin. 

In  Greenland,  Bonaparte’s  Sandpiper  was  believed  by 
Holboll  (according  to  Dr.  Paulsen)  to  breed  near  Julians- 
haab,  where  small  flocks  of  both  young  and  old  birds  have 
been  observed  in  August ;  and  a  very  young  bird  was  ob¬ 
tained  at  Nenortalik  in  1835  ;  one,  changing  to  winter 
plumage  in  1840  ;  and  three  in  1841.*  There  can  be  little 

"  Newton,  Manual  Arctic  Expect  p.  103  (1875). 


BONAPA  LITE’S  SANDPIPER . 


375 


doubt  that  its  breeding-grounds  are  in  tlie  northern  portions 
of  the  American  continent,  and  eggs  purporting  to  belong 
to  this  species  have  been  sent  from  Labrador  and  Hudson’s 
Bay,  but  as  yet  no  authenticated  specimens  are  known  to 
the  Editor.*  Richardson  met  with  Bonaparte’s  Sandpiper  on 
the  Saskatchewan,  and  on  the  22nd  May  Dr.  Elliott  Coues 
found  it  migrating  northward  in  flocks  on  the  Republican 
Fork  of  the  Kansas  River,  so  that  it  probably  ranges  over 
the  intermediate  ground.  He  describes  it  as  a  very  abundant 
bird  along  the  whole  Atlantic  coast  from  Labrador  in  July, 
August,  and  September,  to  the  majority  of  the  States  as 
far  as  Florida,  but  it  does  not  appear  to  visit  Alaska,  or 
even  to  pass  west  of  the  Rocky  Mountains.  It  pushes  its 
migrations  southwards  to  the  West  Indies,  Central  America, 
and  Colombia,  Brazil,  the  River  Plate  States,  the  Falkland 
Islands,  and  the  Straits  of  Magellan  ;  and  on  the  Pacific 
side  it  has  been  obtained  in  Chili  and  Peru. 

Dr.  E.  Coues  says  that  he  frequently  observed  birds  of 
this  species  on  rocky  shores  covered  with  seaweed,  and 
moist  with  the  falling  spray ;  and  that  of  all  Sandpipers 
it  is  the  most  gentle  and  confiding.  When  startled,  they 
emit  a  soft,  low  weet,  different  from  the  note  of  any  other 
Sandpiper,  and  flv  off  in  a  very  compact  flock. f  They  fly 
rapidly,  in  a  very  unsteady  manner,  alternately  showing  the 
upper  and  under  part ;  and  they  may  always  be  recognized, 
in  flight,  by  the  conspicuously  white  upper  tail- coverts. 
They  usually  associate  with  the  Semipalmated  Sandpipers 
and  the  Ring-plovers,  and,  in  common  with  other  small 
species,  are  known  by  the  general  name  of  ‘  peeps.’ 

The  Author  wTas  indebted  to  the  kindness  of  Mr.  Audubon 
for  the  specimen  of  this  Sandpiper,  from  which  the  drawing 
at  the  head  of  this  subject  and  the  following  description 
were  taken.  The  bird  is  believed  to  have  been  killed  in 

*  The  late  Surgeon  Anderson,  of  H.M.S.  ‘Enterprise,’  when  at  Winter  Cove, 
Prince  Albert  Land,  in  1852,  obtained  several  birds  and  two  eggs,  which  he 
brought  to  England  (Zool.  1879,  p.  7).  L.  Kumlien  (Bull.  U.  S.  N.  Mus. 
No.  15,  p.  86)  says  that  this  species  breeds  on  the  shores  of  Cumberland  Sound. 

f  Mr.  Rodd  says  of  the  Cornish  birds  that  the  note  was  remarked  to  be 
shorter  and  sharper  than  that  of  the  Dunlin. 


376‘ 


SCOLOPACIDiE. 


spring.  The  beak  is  straight  and  nearly  black ;  the  irides 
brown ;  the  top  of  the  head  and  hack  of  the  neck  ash-brown, 
streaked  with  dusky  ;  scapulars  and  feathers  of  the  hack  ash- 
brown,  some  assuming  a  deep  black  colour  in  the  centre 
and  becoming  rufous  on  the  edges  ;  wing-coverts  asli-brown, 
edged  with  greyish -white ;  primaries  dusky-black  with 
white  shafts ;  secondaries  dusky-brown  with  minute  tips  of 
white;  tertials  dusky-brown,  margined  with  ash-grey;  upper 
tail-coverts  white ;  two  middle  tail-feathers  pointed,  longer 
than  the  others,  and  dark  brown  ;  the  rest  asli-brown ;  chin 
white ;  cheeks,  sides  of  the  neck,  and  upper  part  of  the 
breast,  greyisli-wliite,  speckled  with  dusky ;  axillary  plume 
white  ;  belly  and  under  tail-coverts  also  white ;  legs,  toes, 
and  claws  almost  black,  tinged  with  green. 

The  whole  length  of  the  adult  male  is  seven  inches  and 
a  half.  From  the  carpal  joint  of  the  wing  to  the  end  of  the 
first  quill-feather,  which  is  the  longest,  four  inches  and  three- 
quarters.  The  female  is  a  trifle  larger  and  more  richly 
coloured.  In  its  winter  plumage,  which  is  grey,  Bonaparte’s 
Sandpiper  may  be  distinguished  from  the  Dunlin  by  its 
conspicuously  white  rump,  by  the  total  absence  of  any  black 
spots  on  the  breast,  and  by  a  more  defined  white  eye-streak. 


Henry  Young  and  Sons  Ltd.  Catalogue  of  Books. 

10  BIRDS.— LILFORD  (Lord)  BIRDS  OF  THE  BRITISH  ISLANDS, 

exhibited  in  a  series  of 


421  MAGNIFICENT 


. BSt»  \ 


PLAIES  beautifully  pro¬ 
duced  in  COLOUR  in  a 
most  artistic  manner,  and 
in  exact  facsimile  of  the 
exquisite  drawings  from 
nature  by  THORBURN 
and  KEULEMANS,  ac¬ 
companied  by  Descrip¬ 
tions  of  each  species  and 
a  portrait  of  the  author  ; 
THE  ORIGINAL  EDI¬ 
TION,  forming  7  vols, 
handsomely  full  bound 
in  dark  green  levant 
morocco,  crushed  and 
polished,  raised  bands, 
gilt  backs,  gilt  panelled 
sides,  top  edges  gilt,  other 
edges  very  iightly  trim¬ 
med,  and  every  plate 
and  leaf  of  text  hinged 
on  linen  guards,  by 

Zaehnsdorf,  with  the  arms  of  Lloyd  Lord  Kenyon  in  gold  on  the  sides,  and  his  bookplate 
in  each  volume,  with  an  interesting  AUTOGRAPH  LETTER.  SIGNED,  of  Lord  Lilford, 
4  pp.,  8vo,  inserted  (some  olates  and  pages  are  a  little  spotted  in  the  margin),  VERY  FINE 
SET,  MOST  RARE,  £70,  1885-97  "  "  roy.  8vo 

Sir  Flerbert  Maxwell  declared  that  this  “  work  only  requires  to  be  known  to  have  as  many 
admirers  as  there  are  lovers  of  birds,  and  as  many  subscribers  as  can  afford  it.”  Lord  Lilford  was 
one  of  the  greatest,  most  learned  and  enthusiastic  ornithologists  ever  produced  by  this  country, 
and  this  Truly  Beautiful  and  Great  Work — the  outcome  of  a  life-time’s  devotion — is  a  fitting 
monument  to  his  memory  ;  is  the  finest  book  on  British  Birds  published  since  Gould’s  ;  is  a  joy  to 
gaze  on,  and  a  comer  stone  to  every  well-equipped  ornithological  collection.  “  I  am  delighted  with 
the  ‘  Coloured  Figures  of  the  Birds  of  the  British  Islands,’  issued  by  Lord  Lilford, and  know  of  no 
plates  so  good  as  those  to  be  found  in  that  work.” — H.  Stacy  Marks ,  R.M.,  F.Z.S.  Indeed,  nothing 
but  unstinted  praise  can  be  bestowed  upon  the  work,  and  it  is  only  necessary  to  add  that  it  would 
have  become  scarce  in  the  ordinary  course  of  things,  but  since  a  large  number  of  copies  were  des¬ 
troyed  by  fire  the  book  is  now  almost  impossible  to  obtain.  It  will  be  noticed  that  Lord  Kenyon, 
for  whom  this  set  was  bound,  has  had  every  plate  and  leaf  of  text  hinged  on  linen  guards,  a  very 
expensive  mode,  albeit  one  well  worth  adopting,  because  not  only  does  the  book  like  perfectly 
flat  when  opened,  but  the  guards  add  materially  to  the  strength  and  durability  of  the  volumes,  and  the 
plates  are  much  less  liable  to  be  damaged  when  being  turned  over. 


Dunlin.  See  Lilford’s  Birds,  No.  10 


DUNLTN. 


3t-7  p* 
/  / 


LTMTCQLA?. 


SCOLOPA  CIDJF,. 


Thinga  alpina,  Linnaeus. * 

THE  DUNLIN. 

Tringa  variabi lis. 

This  species,  known  all  round  our  coast  by  some  one  or 
more  of  the  following  names  : — viz..  Dunlin, f  Purre  (Sir 
Thomas  Browne  writes  it,  Churr),  Stint,  Ox-Bird,  Sea  Snipe, 
&c.,  is  the  most  numerous  of  all  the  Sandpipers  frequent¬ 
ing  our  shores  and  tidal  rivers,  and  may  be  seen  there 
throughout  the  year,  except  for  a  short  time  at  the  breeding- 
season  ;  nor  is  it  very  often  seen  inland  at  any  other  period. 
Even  in  summer,  however,  flocks  of  birds  of  the  previous 
year  which  have  not  attained  the  breeding  plumage  may  be 
observed  on  the  Spurn  in  Yorkshire,  and  in  similar  suitable 
localities  on  our  coasts.  During  autumn,  particularly  when 

*  Syst.  Nat.  Ed.  12.  i.  p.  249  (1766). 

+  In  the  ‘Durham  Household  Book,’  1534,  the  word  is  spelt  ‘DunliDg,’  and 
Mr.  Ilarting  suggests  (Zool.  1881,  p.  444)  that  it  may  be  a  diminutive,  like 
Gosling,  Duckling. 

VOL.  III.  3  c 


378 


SCOLOPACTDTE. 


the  new  broods  come  down  from  their  summer  abodes  and 
are  joined  by  the  parent  birds,  immense  flocks  of  Dunlins 
may  be  seen  busily  employed  close  to  the  edge  of  the  sea, 
searching  and  probing  for  the  minute  animals  upon  which 
they  feed.  Frequenting  sandy  flats  and  bars  that  project 
into  the  sea,  they  are  observed  to  be  incessantly  upon  the 
move,  shifting  their  ground  perpetually,  running  nimbly 
along,  or  taking  short  flights  from  place  to  place,  frequently 
wading  to  follow  the  aquatic  insects,  worms,  mollusca,  and 
the  smaller  thin-skinned  Crustacea  which  are  put  in  motion 
by  every  receding  wave.  If  disturbed,  the  whole  flock  take 
wing  together,  and  wheeling  along  in  half  circles  near  the 
edge  or  the  surface  of  the  water,  each  bird  exhibits  alter¬ 
nately  a  dark  or  light  appearance  to  the  observer,  as  the 
upper  or  under  side  of  its  body  happens  to  be  turned 
towards  him. 

During  winter  many  are  shot  for  the  table,  on  various 
parts  of  the  coast,  and  are  considered  to  be  tolerably  good 
eating.  On  the  Wash  in  winter  considerable  numbers  of 
this  and  other  species  are  taken  on  dark  nights  in  nets 
stretched  on  poles  about  high-water  mark.  In  the  autumn 
of  1836  a  few  were  sent  to  the  London  market  from 
Lincolnshire,  where  they  had  been  fatted  in  confinement 
with  some  Ruffs.  These  small  birds,  from  abundance  of 
nutritious  food,  had  increased  beyond  their  usual  size,  being 
very  fat,  delicately  white  in  colour,  and  by  the  party  for 
whom  they  were  purchased,  and  by  whom  the  birds  were 
eaten,  were  said  to  be  of  excellent  flavour.  The  trail 
should  be  removed  as  soon  as  possible,  to  obviate  the  bitter 
flavour  communicated  by  the  gall-bladder.  In  the  House¬ 
hold  Books  of  the  L’Estrange  family,  and  of  the  Dukes  of 
Northumberland,  “  Stvntes  ”  seem  to  have  varied  from  a 
dozen  to  six  for  a  penny,  but  several  of  the  smaller  species 
were  comprised  under  this  name. 

Before  going  further,  it  may  be  well  to  state  that  the 
Dunlin  is  subject  to  considerable  variation  in  size,  length 
of  bill,  and  colour.  Professor  Baird  considers  (B.  N.  Amer. 
p.  719)  that  American  birds  are  specifically  distinguished 


DUNLIN. 


379 


from  those  of  the  Old  World  by  their  larger  size  and  much 
longer  bill.  To  this  Mr.  Harting  adds  (P.  Z.  S.  1871,  p.  115), 
that  in  examples  in  summer  plumage  the  American  birds 
are  further  characterized  by  the  prevalence  of  bright  rufous- 
brown  in  the  upper  portions  of  the  plumage,  whereas  in 
Scotch  and  other  European  specimens  black  is  the  pre¬ 
dominating  colour ;  and  again,  in  the  American  bird  the 
black  of  the  under  parts  is  less  extended.  So  far,  however, 
as  mere  size  goes,  many  examples  obtained  in  autumn  and 
winter  in  various  parts  of  the  Palsearctic  region  are  equal 
in  size  to  those  of  America ;  and  even  in  the  Paltearctic 
region  there  appear  to  be  two  races  of  Dunlin  :  a  large  and 
northern  one  of  duller  colours,  and  a  smaller  one  of  some¬ 
what  brighter  tints,  which  is,  as  a  rule,  the  race  which 
breeds  in  our  islands.  There  is,  however,  every  gradation 
between  the  two  extremes.  It  was  to  small  individuals  of 
the  southern  race  that  the  name  of  Tringa  schinzi  was 
originally  applied  by  Brehm,  and  was  subsequently  trans¬ 
ferred  in  error  to  Bonaparte’s  Sandpiper,  as  already  shown 
(supra,  p.  372).  These  two  races  are  analogous  to  those 
observable  in  the  Ringed  Plover  (supra,  p.  259).  As  regards 
the  American  form,  the  differences  appear  to  be  rather  more 
defined,  but  in  sketching  the  geographical  distribution  of 
the  Dunlin,  it  seems  convenient,  with  this  proviso,  to  con¬ 
sider  that  all  are  merely  local  races  of  the  same  species.* 

In  autumn  the  immense  flights  which  visit  our  eastern 
shores  consist,  as  Mr.  Cordeaux  informs  the  Editor,  of 
somewhat  large  individuals,  which  shift  their  quarters 
southward  or  westward,  according  to  the  severity  of  the 
weather,  and  which  may  be  again  observed  on  their  return 
northward  in  March  and  April.  In  May  arrivals  of  the 
smaller  and  more  richly-coloured  form  are  of  tolerably 
regular  occurrence ;  the  latter  being  much  tamer  and  less 

*  The  Editor  has  examined  the  very  extensive  series  in  the  British  Museum, 
and  about  forty  specimens  in  the  collection  of  Mr.  Harting,  besides  many  others. 
He  finds  that  the  above  distinctions  hold  good  in  the  main  ;  but  breeding  birds 
from  Repulse  Bay,  Melville  Peninsula,  are  as  dark  on  the  back  as  many  Old 
World  specimens,  whilst  agreeing  in  size  with  the  American  form. 


380 


SCOLOPACID7E. 


suspicious  than  the  larger  race,  and  more  frequently  found 
in  pairs  than  in  flocks. 

The  Dunlin’s  favourite  breeding  quarters  are  wild  moor¬ 
lands — frequently  at  a  considerable  elevation  :  and  localities 
of  this  nature  are  more  frequent  in  the  northern  than  in 
the  southern  portions  of  the  British  Islands ;  hut  where 
such  exist  a  few  pairs  may  be  found  breeding  even  in  the 
extreme  south.  The  late  Mr.  E.  H.  Rodd  has  recorded 
several  nests  on  the  moors  between  Kilmar  and  Dosmare 
Pool  on  Bodmin  Moors,  in  Cornwall  (Zool.  ss.  p.  1319)  ; 
and  some  probably  breed  in  the  adjoining  county  of  Devon. 
Although  many  localities  in  Wales  would  appear  to  be  suit¬ 
able,  satisfactory  evidence  of  its  nidification  there  is  as  yet 
wanting.  At  Wirral,  and  other  parts  of  the  Dee  marshes 
in  Cheshire,  however,  a  few  breed.  It  is  not  known  to 
breed  in  Dorsetshire,  nor  along  the  south  coast,  nor  has 
its  nest  been  taken  in  Essex,  Suffolk,  or  Norfolk,*  but  in 
Lincolnshire  Mr.  Cordeaux  informs  the  Editor  that  on  the 
8th  June,  1883,  a  keeper  told  him  that  he  had  recently 
found  a  nest  of  the  ‘  Jack  Snipe  ’  near  Gainsborough,  and 
an  egg,  which  was  subsequently  sent,  proved  to  be  that  of 
the  Dunlin.  It  breeds  in  limited  numbers  on  some  of  the 
moorlands  of  Yorkshire  and  Lancashire.  In  Northumber¬ 
land  it  used  to  breed  regularly  at  Prestwick  Car,  where  Mr. 
John  Plancock  says  that  he  has  found  four  nests  in  a  single 
day  ;  and  a  few  pairs  still  breed  on  the  Cheviots  and  other 
moorlands.  In  Cumberland  it  nests  in  some  numbers  on 
Brough  Marsh,  between  the  Eden  and  the  Esk. 

Passing  to  Scotland,  the  distribution  of  the  Dunlin 
during  the  breeding  season  becomes  more  general.  The 
late  Mr.  Alston  found  its  nest  in  the  Upper  Ward  of 
Lanarkshire,  at  an  elevation  of  1,000  feet  above  the  sea- 
level,  and  Mr.  R.  Gray  states  that  he  has  taken  the  bird 
and  eggs  on  several  occasions  on  the  Renfrewshire  hills, 
within  full  view  of  the  city  of  Glasgow.  Macgillivray,  in  a 

*  The  late  Rev.  R.  Lubbock’s  remark  that  eggs  brought  to  him  as  those  of  the 
Jack  Snipe  always  proved  to  be  those  of  the  Dunlin,  might  lead  to  an  inference 
which  would  be  erroneous.  Cf.  Stevenson,  B.  Norfolk,  ii.  p.  379. 


DUNLIN. 


381 


communication  to  Audubon,  says,  “  About  the  middle  of 
April  these  birds  betake  themselves  to  the  moors,  in  the 
northern  part  of  Scotland,  and  in  the  larger  Hebrides, 
where  they  may  be  found  scattered  in  the  haunts  selected 
by  the  Golden  Plovers,  with  which  they  are  so  frequently 
seen  in  company  that  they  have  obtained  the  name  of 
‘  Plover’s  pages.’  In  the  Hebrides,  from  that  season  until 
the  end  of  August,  none  are  to  be  found  along  the  shores. 
The  nest  is  a  slight  hollow  in  a  dry  place,  having  a  few  bits 
of  withered  heath  and  grass  irregularly  placed  in  it.  The 
eggs  are  four  in  number.  If,  during  incubation,  a  person 
approaches  their  retreats,  the  male  especially,  but  frequently 
the  female  also,  llies  up  to  meet  the  intruder,  settles  on  a 
tuft  near  him,  or  runs  along  and  uses  the  same  artifices  for 
decoying  him  from  the  nest  or  young  as  the  Plover  or  Ring 
Dotterel.  Towards  the  end  of  August,  the  different  colonies 
betake  themselves  to  the  sandy  shores.  On  a  large  sand- 
ford  in  Harris  I  have  at  this  season  seen  many  thousands 
at  once,  running  about  with  extreme  activity  in  search  of 
food.  This  place  seemed  a  general  rendezvous,  and  after  a 
few  weeks  the  host  broke  up  and  dispersed,  few,  if  any, 
remaining  during  the  winter.” 

Of  this  bird,  near  Tongue  in  Sutlierlandshire,  Selby  says, 
“  we  found  it  abundant  upon  the  margins  of  all  the  lochs. 
The  nest  is  usually  placed  under  the  shelter  of  some  tuft  or 
bush,  removed  a  short  distance  from  the  usual  water-line  of 
the  loch.”  Mr.  Harvie-Brown,  however,  considers  it  to  be 
very  local  in  that  county,  and  in  the  western  district  of  Assynt 
he  only  knows  of  one  breeding-place.  In  the  Orkneys  and 
in  the  Shetlands  it  nests  in  considerable  numbers.  In 
Ireland  the  number  of  birds  which  remain  to  breed  is  some¬ 
what  limited,  considering  the  apparent  suitability  of  many 
localities  :  the  neighbourhood  of  Lough  Conn  and  Bally- 
croy,  both  in  co.  Mayo,  may  be  cited  ;  but  in  autumn  and 
winter  the  species  occurs  in  tens  of  thousands. 

The  Dunlin  breeds  in  the  FEeroes,  and  also  in  Iceland, 
leaving  that  island  in  October.  In  Norway  it  is  very  widely 
distributed,  breeding  numerously  above  the  Arctic  circle  : 


382 


SC0L0FAC1M. 


less  abundantly  on  the  fells  in  the  birch-region  ;  and 
occasionally  wintering  in  some  numbers  on  the  south  coast. 
In  Swedish  Lapland  and  Russia  it  is  very  common  in 
summer,  its  northward  range  extending  to  Novaya  Zemlya. 
In  Denmark  it  nests  in  places  where  the  coast  is  flat,  with 
short  grass ;  also  on  the  shores  of  the  Baltic,  Northern 
Germany,  and,  according  to  Professor  Sclilegel,  sometimes 
on  the  Hoek  van  Holland,  at  the  mouth  of  the  Maas  :  these 
birds  belonging  to  the  smaller  race.  The  approach  of  cold 
weather  drives  it  to  the  south,  and  from  the  autumn  onwards 
it  is  generally  distributed  over  the  rest  of  Europe  :  princi¬ 
pally  on  the  coasts,  but  not  un frequently  on  the  inland 
waters.  To  the  Iberian  Peninsula  it  is  a  regular  migrant, 
but  some  remain  to  breed,  for  Mr.  Abel  Chapman  shot  a 
bird  in  the  marisma  below  Jerez  de  la  Frontera,  from  a 
clutch  of  four  eggs,  one  of  which  he  gave  to  the  Editor, 
and  it  is  now  in  the  collection  of  Mr.  H.  Seebolim.  From 
autumn  to  spring  this  species  is  abundant  on  the  shores  and 
islands  of  the  Mediterranean  ;  and,  according  to  Dr.  Giglioli, 
it  undoubtedly  breeds  in  the  marshes  of  Venetia  in  Northern 
Italy. 

On  migration  the  Dunlin  visits  the  Canaries  and  the 
coasts  of  Morocco,  Algeria,  and  Egypt ;  whence  it  goes 
southwards  along  the  Nile  to  Nubia,  Kordofan,  Sennaar, 
and  Abyssinia,  and  down  the  Red  Sea  and  along  Eastern 
Africa  to  Zanzibar  and  Mozambique.  In  Asia  it  occurs  on 
passage,  and  in  winter  on  the  southern  shores  of  the  Caspian, 
on  the  coasts  of  Baluchistan,  in  Nepal,  and  on  the  northern 
shores  of  India  ;  but  it  has  not  yet  been  obtained  in  Ceylon 
or  Tenasserim,  although  examples  from  Borneo  and  Java 
are  in  the  Leiden  Museum.  It  migrates  through  Turkestan, 
and  Dr.  Severtzoff  says  that  it  crosses  the  lofty  Pamir  Range 
in  September,  probably  on  its  wray  from  Siberia,  throughout 
the  whole  northern  portion  of  which  it  breeds  as  far  as 
Behring’s  Straits.  From  Kamtcliatka  its  range  can  be 
traced  through  the  Kuril  Islands  to  Japan,  where,  according 
to  Messrs.  Blaldston  and  Pryer,  individuals  present  the  usual 
variability  in  plumage  and  length  of  bill ;  and  it  is  recorded 


DUNLIN. 


383 


by  Swinhoe  as  a  winter  visitor  to  the  shores  of  China  and 
Formosa. 

The  Dunlin  is  believed  to  breed  in  Greenland,  and  it 
certainly  does  so  on  Melville  Peninsula,  at  Felix  Harbour, 
and  along  the  Arctic  coast  of  America  to  the  mouth  of  the 
Yukon.  On  the  Pacific  side  it  goes  down  to  British  Colum¬ 
bia,  and  as  far  as  Stockton,  California ;  and  on  the  Atlantic 
coast  it  ranges  from  the  Arctic  regions  to  the  Southern 
United  States.  Dr.  Gundlacli  found  it  in  Cuba,  and  it 
probably  visits  some  other  islands  of  the  West  Indies, 
south  of  which  its  range  does  not  seem  to  be  authenti¬ 
cated. 

The  nest  of  the  Dunlin  is  composed  of  fibrous  roots  and 
pieces  of  grass,  and  is  frequently  so  well  concealed  in  a 
depression  among  the  grass,  moss,  or  short  heather,  that, 
unless  the  bird  is  flushed  from  it,  the  site  is  very  difficult  to 
find.  The  eggs,  four  in  number,  are  pear-shaped,  like 
those  of  other  birds  of  this  genus,  of  a  greenish-white 
blotched  and  spotted  with  two  shades  of  dark  red-brown  : 
they  measure  1*35  by  *95  in.  The  young  can  run  and  con¬ 
ceal  themselves  immediately  on  quitting  the  shell.  During 
the  pairing-season  the  birds  soar  to  a  moderate  height, 
uttering  a  somewhat  monotonous  and  prolonged  dicee ;  but 
the  usual  call  at  other  times  is  a  clear  whistling  trui,  or 
pe,  pe,  pe.  The  food  of  the  Dunlin  consists  of  small  crus¬ 
taceans,  marine  insects,  and  worms. 

Mr.  Pt.  Warren  relates  (Pr.  Nat.  Hist.  Soc.  Dublin  iii.  p. 
117)  an  instance  of  finding  one  of  these  birds  caught  in  a 
most  remarkable  trap.  His  attention  was  first  drawn  to  it  by 
seeing  it  repeatedly  rise  a  short  distance  into  the  air,  and 
on  alighting  violently  shaking  its  head,  apparently  striving 
to  detach  a  round  lump  from  off  the  end  of  its  bill.  The 
bird  appeared  very  much  exhausted  ;  and  on  approaching 
closer  to  ascertain  the  cause  of  its  strange  manoeuvres,  he 
discovered  that  a  cockle,  of  the  size  of  a  hazel-nut,  was 
firmly  fixed  to  its  bill,  and  the  most  violent  efforts  of  the 
poor  bird  failed  to  get  rid  of  it,  at  least  while  he  was  observ¬ 
ing  it.  It  is  very  probable  that  the  Dunlin  discovered  the 


384 


SCOLOPACIDiE. 


cockle  lying  open  on  the  sands,  and,  when  attempting  to 
feed  on  it,  was  caught  by  the  cockle  suddenly  closing. 

The  adult  bird  in  its  perfect  summer  plumage  has  the 
beak  black  ;  the  irides  brown  ;  top  of  the  head  a  mixture 
of  black  and  ferruginous,  the  dark  colour  occupying  the 
centre  of  each  feather;  neck  all  round  greyish  -  white 
streaked  with  black  ;  feathers  of  the  back,  scapulars,  and 
tertials  black,  with  rufous  edges ;  wing-coverts  almost  as  in 
winter  ;  these  feathers  appearing  to  be  but  little  affected  by 
the  seasonal  assumption  of  colour,  and  generally  remaining 
nearly  the  same  throughout  the  year  ;  primaries  greyish- 
black  with  white  shafts  ;  secondaries  the  same  but  edged 
with  white ;  rump  and  upper  tail-coverts  a  mixture  of  black 
and  asli-colour,  partly  tinged  with  ferruginous ;  two  middle 
tail-feathers  the  longest,  pointed,  dark  brown,  with  lighter- 
coloured  edges ;  the  others  nearly  uniform  ash-grey ;  chin 
white,  neck  in  front  greyish-wliite  streaked  with  black  ; 
breast  mottled  black  and  white ;  vent,  thighs,  and  under 
tail-coverts  white  ;  legs,  toes,  and  claws  black. 

In  size  there  is  considerable  variation,  but,  as  a  rule,  the 
females  are  the  larger,  and  have  the  longer  bills.  They  are 
naturally  the  heavier,  weighing  about  2  oz.  against  If,  the 
weight  of  the  male. 

The  whole  length  averages  eight  inches  ;  the  beak  varies 
from  an  inch  to  an  inch  and  a  half.  From  the  carpal  joint 
to  the  end  of  the  first  quill-feather,  which  is  the  longest  in 
the  wing,  four  inches  and  five-eighths. 

Young  birds  of  the  year  have  the  head  and  neck  pale 
brown ;  the  back,  wing-coverts,  and  tertials  a  mixture  of 
black,  dark  brown,  pale  brown,  and  buff ;  neck  in  front  pale 
brown,  breast  white,  both  spotted  with  dusky-brown  ;  beak 
and  legs  brownish-black :  from  this  state  they  change 
gradually  till  they  have  assumed  the  plumage  of  their  first 
winter.'1' 

The  adult  bird  in  winter  has  the  head,  neck  behind, 
back,  wing-coverts,  and  tertials  nearly  uniform  ash-grey, 

*  See  Mr.  C.  M.  Adamson’s  ‘  More  Scraps  about  Birds,’  pp.  115-120,  for  some 
interesting  remarks  upon  the  moult  of  the  Dunlin. 


DUNLIN. 


385 


the  centre  of  each  feather  a  little  darker  and  the  margin  a 
little  lighter;  chin  white  ;  neck  in  front  greyish- white  with 
dusky  streaks,  breast  and  under  parts  white  ;  beak  and  legs 
nearly  black. 

Varieties  of  the  Dunlin  are  decidedly  uncommon.  Mr. 
F.  Hele,  of  Aldeburgli,  Suffolk,  obtained  a  pure  white  example 
in  much  worn  and  abraded  plumage  on  the  26tli  August 
(Field,  Sept.  16tli,  1865)  ;  and  Mr.  Stevenson  (B.  Norfolk, 
ii.  p.  384)  mentions  one  which  was  white,  with  the  exception 
of  a  few  rust-coloured  feathers,  shot  on  Breydon  in  the 
spring.  An  albino  has  also  been  obtained  in  the  Hebrides. 

In  the  nestling  the  under  parts  are  greyisli-wliite  ;  the 
upper  parts  reddish-huff,  with  a  dark  loral  streak ;  three 
streaks  of  black  on  the  crown  of  the  head,  uniting  on  the 
nape;  and  similar  dark  markings  on  the  back;  legs  and  feet 
pale  brown. 

For  the  chick  figured  the  Author  was  indebted  to  the  late 
Mr.  Heysham,  of  Carlisle. 


3  D 


VOL.  III. 


386 


SC0L0PACID7E 


LIM1C0LM. 


SCOLOPACIDjE. 


Teinga  minuta,  Leisler.* 

THE  LITTLE  STINT. 

T ring  a  minuta. 

The  Little  Stint,  as  it  is  usually  called,  from  its 
diminutive  size,  was  first  mentioned  by  Pennant  as  a 
British  bird  from  a  specimen  killed  in  Cambridgeshire. 
The  British  Islands  evidently  lie  to  the  west  of  the  line 
of  migration  of  the  main  body,  but  in  varying  numbers 
this  species  is  found  on  one  portion  or  another  of  our  coasts 
nearly  every  autumn,  and,  occasionally,  in  spring.  Saxby 
says  that  Unst,  the  northernmost  of  the  Slietlands,  is  visited 
pretty  regularly  at  the  former  season,  but  in  the  rest  of  the 
group,  and  in  the  Orkneys,  its  occurrence  is  rare  ;  and, 
according  to  Mr.  B.  Gray,  it  has  only  been  observed  in  small 
numbers  down  the  east  coast  of  Scotland,  but  not  on  the 
west.  In  England,  the  eastern  side  of  the  island  is  by  far 
the  most  favoured ;  the  autumn  arrivals  taking  place  from 
early  in  August  to  the  middle  of  October,  after  which  the 

*  Naclitriige  zu  Pechstein’s  Naturg.  Deutschl.  p.  74  (1812). 


LITTLE  STINT. 


387 


migrants  continue  their  course  to  the  south  and  west.  They 
naturally  linger  a  little  on  our  southern  coast,  extending  their 
visits  to  Cornwall,  but  to  the  coast  of  Wales  and  of  the 
north-west,  their  visits  are  unfrequent,  and  are  principally  to 
Lancashire,  and  the  Solway  Firth  in  Cumberland.  In  Ireland, 
where  the  Little  Stint  remains  somewhat  later  than  in  Great 
Britain,  its  autumnal  occurrences  in  limited  numbers  have 
been  mainly  in  Antrim,  Down,  and  on  the  eastern  side  of 
the  island.  On  the  spring  migration  examples  have  been 
obtained  in  the  south  and  east  coasts  of  Great  Britain, 
in  May,  and  even  as  late  as  the  19tli  June,  as  recorded 
by  Mr.  Stevenson.  It  appears  probable  that  a  few  non- 
breeding  birds  remain  on  our  shores  during  the  summer, 
for  he  mentions  an  example  killed  at  Yarmouth  on  the  16tli 
July,  and  two  others  shot  a  week  or  two  previously,  and  it 
is  not  possible  that  individuals  of  a  species  which  breeds  so 
late  and  so  far  north,  should  by  that  time  have  returned 
from  their  domestic  duties. 

The  Little  Stint  occurs  on  its  autumnal  migration  in  suit¬ 
able  localities  throughout  the  greater  part  of  Europe,  and, 
with  the  exception  of  the  western  coast  of  France,  it  appears 
to  be  almost  as  abundant  on  the  vernal  passage.  At  the 
latter  season  individuals  are  often  obtained  in  the  south  of 
Europe  in  such  advanced  breeding  plumage,  and  up  to  so  late 
a  date  as  to  give  rise  to  suspicions  that  it  might  breed  in 
such  localities  as  the  marshes  of  the  Black  Sea,  but  there  is 
no  direct  evidence  of  its  having  done  so.  It  does  not  appear 
to  winter — at  least  not  in  any  numbers — on  the  northern 
shores  of  the  Mediterranean  ;  but  a  considerable  portion 
remain  in  Morocco,  Algeria,  and  Egypt,  whilst  others  con¬ 
tinue  their  southward  course  up  the  valley  of  the  Nile,  and 
along  both  sides  of  the  African  Continent  down  to  the 
Transvaal,  Natal,  and  Cape  Colony.  It  visits  the  Seychelles, 
Arabia,  the  coasts  and  inland  waters  of  India,  the  Andaman 
Islands,  and  Ceylon,  but  beyond  these  limits  its  range 
becomes  difficult  to  define,  being  complicated  with  that  of 
T.  albescens,  Temm.,  a  species  which  is  almost  undis- 
tinguishable  in  winter  dress,  except  perhaps  by  its  con- 


388 


SCOLOPACIDiE. 


stantly  stouter  tarsus,  but  which  in  summer  has  a  much 
more  rufous  breast,  and  which  is  identified  by  some  orni¬ 
thologists  with  T.  ruficollis,  Pallas.  Both  the  species  and 
their  synonymy  are  involved  in  great  confusion,  and  the 
identifications  of  some  high  authorities  have  been  repudiated 
by  others.  It  will  suffice  to  say  that  our  T.  minuta  visits 
on  migration  the  greater  part  of  Southern  Asia,  passing 
over  the  lofty  mountain  ranges  by  the  Pamir,  and  also  by 
Gilgit,  and  occurring  in  Siberia  in  summer  at  least  as  far 
east  as  Lake  Baikal,  from  which  locality  undoubted  specimens 
are  available  for  examination.  On  the  Amoor,  and  on  the 
Stanowoi  Mountains,  and  thence  to  the  Sea  of  Okhotsk,  it 
appears  to  be  represented  by  the  Long-toed  Stint,  T.  submi- 
nuta,  Middendorff,  a  species  which  also  visits  India,  Ceylon, 
China,  and  Japan.  Only  a  monograph  by  some  competent 
authority  can  clear  up  the  matter,  and  in  treating  of  the 
Little  Stint  as  a  British  Bird  it  is  unnecessary  to  contribute 
in  any  way  to  the  existing  tangle. 

The  breeding-grounds  of  the  Little  Stint  were  correctly, 
albeit  vaguely,  supposed  to  be  situated  in  the  northern 
districts  of  Europe  and  Asia  ;  but  no  authentic  informa¬ 
tion  seems  to  have  been  obtained  before  the  celebrated 
journey  of  Middendorff  to  Siberia.  That  intrepid  traveller 
found  the  Little  Stint  on  the  Taimyr  river  in  74°  N.  lat., 
where  he  obtained  a  clutch  of  four  eggs  with  the  parent 
bird  on  the  1st  July,  and  young  in  down  on  the  10th  of  that 
month  (Sibirische  Reise,  ii.  p.  221).  It  was  only  much 
farther  to  the  eastward  that  he  obtained  the  Long-toed 
Stint,  which  he  distinguished  by  the  name  of  T.  subminuta. 
For  years  the  dreary  Taimyr  Peninsula  was  the  only  known 
breeding-haunt  of  this  species,  but  in  1872,  Messrs.  Alston 
and  Harvie-Brown  obtained  a  bird  in  full  nuptial  plumage 
on  the  21st  June,  at  the  mouth  of  the  Dwina,  showing 
that  the  summer  range  of  the  Little  Stint  extended  farther 
to  the  westward  than  was  previously  anticipated.  In  the 
same  year  Mr.  Collett  found  the  species  common  on  the 
island  of  Tamso,  in  the  Porsanger-fiord,  in  July  ;  and  in 
1875,  Messrs.  Seebolnn  and  Harvie-Brown  started  for  the 


LITTLE  STINT. 


389 


Petchora,  determined  to  do  all  in  their  power  to  obtain 
authentic  information  as  to  its  nidification.  It  was  not 
until  the  22nd  July  that  they  were  successful,  the  locality 
being  on  the  tundras  at  Dvoinick,  near  the  mouth  of  that 
great  river.  The  description  and  coloured  illustrations  of 
four  of  the  eggs  were  published  in  £  The  Ibis,’  1876, 
pp.  294-308  ;  but  the  following  abridged  narrative  is  taken 
from  Mr.  Seebolim’s  ‘  Siberia  in. Europe,’  pp.  267-275  : — 
“I  had  not  gone  far  before  I  heard  our  interpreter 
Piottucli  shouting  in  a  state  of  great  excitement.  Harvie- 
Brown  was  the  first  to  come  up  ;  and  I  joined  them  shortly 
afterwards.  I  found  them  sitting  on  the  ground  with  a 
couple  of  Little  Stints  in  down.  I  sat  down  beside  them, 
and  we  watched  the  parent  bird  as  she  was  fluttering  and 
flying  and  running  all  round  us,  sometimes  coming  within 
a  foot  of  one  of  us.  After  securing  the  old  bird  we  went  on 
a  short  distance,  and  Piottucli  again  made  loud  demonstra¬ 
tions  of  delight.  This  time  it  was  nest  and  eggs.  The 
nest  was  like  that  of  most  Sandpipers,  a  mere  depression 
in  the  ground,  with  such  dead  maroshka  (cloudberry)  leaves 
and  other  dry  material  as  was  within  easy  reach,  scraped 
together  to  serve  as  lining.  The  position  was  on  a  com¬ 
paratively  dry  extent  of  tundra,  sloping  from  the  top  of  the 
little  turf  cliffs  that  rise  from  the  lagoon  down  to  the  sand¬ 
hills  at  the  twin  capes,  between  which  the  tide  runs  in  and 
out  of  a  little  inland  sea.  For  perhaps  a  verst  from  each 
twin  cape,  between  the  sand  and  the  mouth  of  the  little 
inland  sea,  is  an  extent  of  dead  flat  land,  covered  over  with 
thick  short  grass,  and  full  of  little  lakes,  mostly  very  shallow 
and  filled  with  black  or  coffee-coloured  mud  with  an  inch  or 
two  of  brackish  water  upon  it.  Some  of  these  pools  are 
covered  with  aquatic  plants ;  and  others  are  open  water. 
These  lakes  and  pools  seem  to  be  the  real  point  of  attrac¬ 
tion  ;  and  on  their  edges  the  Little  Stints  feed,  in  small 
flocks  of  from  half  a  dozen  birds  to  a  score,  as  they  happen 
to  meet  from  the  tundra.  The  large  flock  of  perhaps  a 
hundred  or  more  birds,  which  was  occasionally  seen,  might 
possibly  have  been  last  year’s  birds  and  not  breeding ;  but 


390 


SCOLOPACIM. 


more  probably  it  consisted  entirely  of  males,  which,  so  far 
as  we  bad  an  opportunity  of  observing,  do  not  take  any  part 
in  incubation.  The  ground  where  the  nests  were  placed 
was  full  of  tussocks  or  hummocks,  close  together,  the 
swampy  ground  between  being  almost  hidden,  or  traceable 
only  by  rows  of  cotton-grass.  The  tussocks  are  covered 
with  green  moss,  with  now  and  then  a  little  reindeer-moss ; 
but  this  undergrowth  is  almost  hidden  with  cloudberry,  a 
few  species  of  Juncus,  and  sundry  Carices,  with  occasionally 
a  few  dwarf  shrubs  and  flowers  of  the  tundra.  The  nests 
were  within  a  hundred  yards  of  the  place  where  I  shot  the 
five  Little  Stints  on  the  14tli  July,  on  a  comparatively  dry 
extent  of  tundra,  gently  sloping  towards  the  north-east, 
lying  between  the  lagoon  and  the  inland  sea — exactly  the 
place  that  one  would  expect  them  to  breed  in,  not  too 
swampy,  but  probably  the  coolest  place  the  birds  could  have 
chosen.  The  Pytkoff  Mountains,  though  at  a  considerably 
greater  elevation  (513  feet  above  the  level  of  the  sea),  are, 
no  doubt,  warmer,  because  more  inland.  The  sandy  shore, 
having  little  or  no  cover,  would  also  be  hotter  from  the  sun. 
Facing  the  north-east,  this  part  of  the  tundra  catches  the 
most  of  the  prevailing  winds  at  this  season  of  the  year,  and 
the  least  sun  ;  and  no  doubt  the  large  bay  or  inland  sea  on 
one  side,  and  the  open  water  on  the  other,  help  to  cool  the 
air. 

“  Our  next  nest  was  taken  on  the  24tli  of  July.  Harvie- 
Brown  and  I  had  been  up  all  night,  shooting  by  the  light 
of  the  midnight  sun,  hoping  to  avoid  the  mosquitoes,  and 
were  returning  home  to  our  wrecked  ship  in  a  thick  white 
morning  mist.  I  was  glad  to  see  Piottucli  emerge,  with  the 
intelligence  that  he  had  found  another  nest  of  the  Little 
Stint,  containing  four  eggs,  about  three  versts  off,  and  had 
shot  the  bird,  leaving  the  nest  and  eggs  for  us  to  take.  We 
walked  on  together  a  short  distance,  when  I  heard  the  now 
familiar  cry  of  a  Little  Stint  behind  me,  a  sharp  wick,  almost 
exactly  the  same  as  the  cry  of  the  Bed-necked  Plialarope  or 
that  of  the  Sanderling.  Turning  quickly  round  I  saw  the 
bird  flying  past  as  if  coming  up  from  its  feeding-grounds. 


LITTLE  STINT. 


391 


It  wheeled  round  us  at  some  distance  and  alighted  on  the 
ground  about  eighty  yards  ahead.  We  walked  slowly  up 
towards  it,  and  stood  for  some  time  watching  it  busily  em¬ 
ployed  in  preening  its  feathers.  By-and-by  we  sat  down.  It 
presently  began  to  run  towards  us,  stopping  now  and  then 
to  preen  a  feather  or  two.  Then  it  turned  hack  a  few  paces, 
and  lifting  its  wings  settled  down,  evidently  on  its  nest. 
We  gave  it  three  minutes’  grace,  to  he  quite  sure,  and  then 
quietly  walked  up  to  the  place,  and  sat  down,  one  on  each 
side  of  the  eggs.  The  bird  as  quietly  slipped  off  the  nest, 
and  began  to  walk  about  all  round  us,  now  and  then  pecking 
on  the  ground  as  if  feeding,  seldom  going  more  than  six 
feet  from  us,  and  often  approaching  within  eighteen  inches. 
It  was  a  most  interesting  and  beautiful  sight.  The  tame¬ 
ness  of  the  bird  was  almost  ludicrous.  We  chatted  and 
talked ;  but  the  bird  remained  perfectly  silent,  and  did  not 
betray  the  slightest  symptom  of  fear  or  concern,  until  I 
touched  the  eggs.  She  then  gave  a  flutter  towards  me, 
apparently  to  attract  my  attention.  I  turned  towards  her, 
and  she  resumed  her  former  unconcern.  I  stretched  my 
hand  towards  her.  She  quietly  retreated,  keeping  about 
two  feet  from  my  hand.  She  seemed  so  extremely  tame 
that  I  almost  thought  for  the  moment  that  I  could  catch 
her,  and  getting  on  to  all-fours  I  crept  quietly  towards  her. 
As  soon  as  I  began  to  move  from  the  nest,  her  manner 
entirely  changed.  She  kept  about  the  same  distance  ahead 
of  me ;  hut  instead  of  retreating  with  the  utmost  apparent 
nonchalance,  she  did  everything  in  her  power  to  attract  me 
still  further.  She  shuffled  along  the  ground  as  if  lame. 
She  dropped  her  wings  as  if  unable  to  fly,  and  occasionally 
rested  on  her  breast,  quivering  her  drooping  wings  and 
spread  tail,  as  if  dying.  I  threw  one  of  my  gauntlets  at 
her,  thinking  to  secure  her  without  damage,  hut  she  was 
too  quick  for  me.  Piottucli  then  fired  at  her  and  missed. 
He  followed  her  for  some  distance  ;  but  she  kept  just  out 
of  range,  and  finally  flew  away.  We  waited  about  a  quarter 
of  an  hour  at  the  nest,  talking  and  making  no  effort  to 
conceal  ourselves,  when  she  flew  straight  up  and  alighted 


392 


SCOLOPACIM. 


within  easy  shot,  and  I  secured  her.  The  Little  Stint 
seems  to  be  a  very  quiet  bird  at  the  nest,  quite  different 
from  Temminck’s  Stint.  When  you  invade  a  colony  of  the 
latter  birds,  especially  if  they  have  young,  the  parents 
almost  chase  you  from  the  spot — flying  wildly  round  and 
round,  and  crying  vociferously,  often  perching  upon  a  stake 
or  a  tree,  or  hovering  in  the  air  and  trilling.  We  observed 
none  of  these  habits  in  the  Little  Stint.  So  far  as  we 
saw,  only  the  female  takes  part  in  incubation,  and  only 
the  female  is  seen  near  the  nest.  On  our  way  hack  to  the 
wreck  we  met  with  a  party  of  Sanderlings  on  the  shore,  and 
shot  two  of  them.  No  doubt  these  birds  were  breeding 
somewhere  in  the  district.  After  a  good  dinner  of  Willow- 
Grouse  and  a  siesta  of  three  hours,  we  started  to  take  the 
nest  that  Piottucli  had  marked.  Whilst  we  had  slept,  the 
weather  had  changed.  The  mosquitoes  had  all  gone.  A 
smart  gale  was  blowing  from  the  north,  and  a  heavy  sea  was 
breaking  on  the  shore.  It  was  cloudy,  and  dark,  and  cold, 
with  an  attempt  now  and  then  at  rain.  The  nest  was  a 
couple  of  miles  off,  very  near  the  shore  of  the  inland  sea, 
but  on  somewhat  similar  ground — moss,  cloudberry,  grass, 
&c.  The  eggs  were  intermediate  in  colour  between  those 
of  the  other  twro  nests.  On  our  return  to  our  quarters  we 
found  that  our  Samoyede  servant  had  caught  a  young  Little 
Stint,  half-grown,  a  very  interesting  bird.  Like  the  young 
of  the  Dunlin,  the  first  feathers  are  those  of  summer 
plumage.  On  comparing  the  young  in  down  and  half- 
grown  birds  of  the  Dunlin  with  those  of  the  Little  Stint, 
we  noted  that  the  legs  of  young  Dunlin  in  down  were  pale 
brown,  whilst  those  of  the  half-grown  and  mature  birds 
were  nearly  black ;  the  Little  Stint,  on  the  other  hand, 
seems  to  have  nearly  black  legs  and  feet  at  all  ages. 

“  The  Little  Stint  is  evidently  much  more  nearly  allied  to 
the  Dunlin  than  to  Temminck's  Stint,  and  ought  to  be 
called  the  Little  Dunlin.  The  birds  are  very  similar  in 
colour.  The  eggs  of  the  Little  Stint  can  hardly  be  mis¬ 
taken  for  those  of  Temminck’s  Stint,  but  are  in  every 
respect  miniature  Dunlin’s  eggs.  The  young  in  down  of 


LITTLE  STINT. 


393 


Temminck’s  Stint  are  quite  grey  compared  with  the  red¬ 
dish-brown  of  the  young  of  the  Dunlin.  The  young  in 
down  of  the  Little  Stint  are  still  redder,  especially  on  the 
sides  and  the  back  of  the  neck.  On  the  27th  July  Harvie- 
Brown  walked  over  to  the  other  side  of  the  little  inland  sea, 
and  found  two  more  nests  of  the  Little  Stint,  each  con¬ 
taining  four  eggs.  These  nests  were  on  different  ground. 
They  were  not  on  the  tundra  properly  so  called,  hut  on  the 
feeding-ground,  flat  land  covered  with  sand,  upon  which 
short  grass  and  hunches  of  a  thick-leaved  yellow-flowered 
plant  were  growing,  abounding  also  with  little  lakes  and 
pools.  The  real  tundra  is  about  150  yards  from  the  water’s 
edge  in  this  place ;  and  the  feeding-ground  lies  between, 
scattered  over  with  drift  wood  of  all  sorts.  The  behaviour 
of  the  birds  at  these  two  nests  was  exactly  the  same  as  at 
the  previous  ones. 

“  The  average  size  of  the  twenty  eggs  we  obtained  of  the 
Little  Stint  is  about  lyg-  x  f  inch,  a  trifle  smaller  than 
the  eggs  of  Temminck’s  Stint  usually  are.  The  ground¬ 
colour  varies  from  pale  greenish-grey  to  pale  brown.  The 
spots  and  blotches  are  rich  brown,  generally  large,  and  some¬ 
times  confluent  at  the  large  end.  They  probably  go  through 
every  variety  to  which  Dunlins’  eggs  are  subject.  All  the 
Little  Stints’  eggs  which  we  found,  with  one  exception, 
which  would  probably  he  a  barren  one,  were  very  much 
incubated.” 

Since  this  discovery,  the  eggs  of  the  Little  Stint  have  been 
taken  by  Henke  near  Archangel  (Ibis,  1882,  p.  381),  and 
by  Mr.  E.  Kae,  in  the  Kola  Peninsula;  and  Mr.  Pi.  Collett 
has  given  an  account  of  its  breeding  in  Northern  Norway. 
(J.  f.  Orn.  1881,  pp.  323—332).  Dr.  Finsch  obtained  a  nest 
with  four  eggs  on  the  Podorata  river,  which  flows  into  the 
Kara  Gulf ;  and  some  eggs  taken  by  a  Samoyede  were 
brought  to  Mr.  Seebolim  on  his  trip  to  the  Yenesei,  thus 
connecting  the  breeding-range  from  the  west  with  the  first 
discovery  by  Middendorff  on  the  Taimyr. 

Little  Stints  are  most  frequently  found  on  the  sandy 
shores  of  the  sea,  and  generally  in  company  with  the  Dunlin 
vol.  hi.  3  e 


394 


SCOLOPACIM. 


or  the  Sanderling,  or  both,  as  they  Hy  in  small,  and  some¬ 
times  in  large  flocks  together.  They  select  for  food  aquatic 
insects,  small  Crustacea,  worms,  and  mollusca ;  and  in  the 
stomachs  of  some  shot  on  their  autumn  migration  towards 
the  end  of  August,  near  Christiania,  Mr.  Collett  found  the 
seeds  of  an  aquatic  plant.  The  note,  which  is  constantly 
uttered,  is  a  whispering,  warbling  trill,  very  different  from 
the  louder  call  of  the  Dunlin,  hut  stronger  and  deeper  than 
that  of  Temminck’s  Stint ;  and  the  call  of  a  flock  is  some¬ 
thing  like  the  confused  chirping  of  grasshoppers  or  crickets. 

In  its  summer  plumage  the  beak  is  black  ;  the  irides  dark 
brown  ;  the  top  of  the  head  and  the  neck  ferruginous,  with 
specks  of  black  ;  the  feathers  of  the  back,  scapulars,  wing- 
coverts,  tertials,  and  upper  tail-coverts,  black  in  the  centre, 
with  broad  ferruginous  margins  ;  broad  white  tips,  forming 
a  conspicuous  bar  along  the  lower  wing -coverts  ;  the 
primaries  nearly  black  at  the  tips,  greyish- black  above, 
with  white  shafts ;  the  secondaries  greyish-black  tipped 
with  white ;  the  tail,  when  perfect,  doubly  forked,  the 
lateral  feathers  ash-brown,  the  two  central  ones  black  with 
rufous  margins;  the  chin,  breast,  and  all  the  under  surface 
of  the  body  pure  white ;  sides  of  the  neck,  down  to  the 
front  of  the  wing,  and  a  band  round  the  front  of  the  neck, 
ferruginous  speckled  with  black  ;  axillary  plume  pure  white  ; 
legs,  toes,  and  claws  dull  black. 

The  whole  length  is  six  inches  ;  the  beak  three-quarters 
of  an  inch;  from  the  carpal  joint  of  the  wing  to  the  end 
of  the  first  quill-feather,  which  is  the  longest,  three  inches 
and  three-quarters ;  the  length  of  the  tarsus  ten  lines  and  a 
half.  The  female  is  somewhat  larger  than  the  male. 

An  adult  bird  in  its  autumn  plumage,  killed  in  Septem¬ 
ber,  has  the  beak  black ;  irides  dark  brown  ;  from  the  base 
of  the  beak  to  the  eye,  and  on  the  ear-coverts,  a  brown 
streak ;  above  and  below  the  eye  greyish- white ;  sides  and 
back  of  the  neck  ash-grey,  streaked  with  darker  grey ; 
feathers  of  the  back,  scapulars,  wing-coverts,  and  tertials 
nearly  black,  with  broad  margins  of  reddish-brown  and  bufly- 
white ;  quill-feathers  dusky,  with  white  shafts  ;  secondaries 


LITTLE  STINT. 


395 


edged  and  tipped  with  white  ;  rump  and  upper  tail-coverts 
dark  brown,  edged  with  dull  reddish-brown ;  tail-feathers 
ash-grey,  margined  with  huffy- white ;  chin,  breast,  and  all 
the  under  surface  pure  white,  with  the  exception  of  a  dusky 
band  across  the  bottom  of  the  neck  in  front ;  axillary  plume 
white  at  all  seasons  ;  legs,  toes,  and  claws  nearly  black. 

Young  birds  of  the  year,  in  their  first  autumn,  have  the 
feathers  of  the  upper  surface  of  the  body  ash-brown  rather 
than  black,  in  the  middle,  with  broad  margins  of  huffy- 
white,  which  soon  become  almost  pure  white. 

The  adult  bird  in  winter  plumage  is  seldom  seen  in  this 
country,  hut  in  examples  from  North  Africa  and  from  Cape 
Colony  have  the  head  and  neck  ash-grey,  the  central  line  of 
each  feather  being  a  little  darker  than  the  margin ;  back, 
wing- coverts,  rump,  and  upper  tail-coverts  ash-colour,  the 
shaft  of  each  feather  forming  a  decided  dark  line  ;  primary 
and  secondary  quill-featliers  as  in  autumn ;  tertials  ash- 
brown,  with  lighter-coloured  margins;  tail-feathers  ash- 
grey,  wTith  narrow  white  edges ;  all  the  under  surface  of 
the  body  as  in  autumn  ;  beak,  irides,  legs,  toes,  and  claws, 
also  as  in  the  autumn. 

The  nestling  has  already  been  described,  and  a  coloured 
figure  of  it  is  given  on  the  same  plate  with  the  young  of 
the  Dunlin  and  Temminck’s  Stint,  in  Mr.  Dresser’s  great 
work,  ‘  The  Birds  of  Europe,’  vol.  viii.  pi.  550. 


396 


SCOLOPACJD/E. 


LIMICOLAi. 


SCO  LOP  A  CIDJE. 


Tringa  minutilla,  Vieillot.* 

THE  AMERICAN  STINT. 

The  American  Stint  lias  been  obtained  in  this  country 
on  two  occasions.  The  first  example  was  shot  by  Mr. 
Vingoe,  in  Mount’s  Bay,  Cornwall,  on  tlie  lOtli  October, 
1853.  It  was  found  alone  on  a  piece  of  wet  grass  land 
adjoining  the  sea-sliore,  and  rose  silently.  Mr.  Vingoe  called 
the  attention  of  Mr.  Rodd  to  it,  and  he  recorded  it  (Zool.  p. 
4297)  ;  and  the  occurrence  was  also  noticed  under  the  name 
of  Tringa  pusilla  in  the  Preface,  p.  vi.,  to  the  3rd  Edition 
of  this  work.  In  September,  1869,  a  second  example  was 
shot  on  Northam  Burrows,  near  Bideford,  by  Mr.  Rickards, 
of  Clifton  (Zool.  s.  s.  p.  2025),  who  brought  the  freshly- 
skinned  specimen  to  Mr.  Harting  for  his  inspection,  and  its 
identity  was  vouched  for  by  that  competent  authority  (Hbk. 
Brit.  Birds,  p.  143).  The  species  has  therefore  as  good  a 
claim  to  be  noticed  in  this  work  as  many  other  stragglers ; 
but  as  an  engraving  would  not  adequately  show  the  points  of 
difference  between  it  and  the  Little  Stint,  it  has  not  been 
considered  necessary  to  figure  it.  The  American  Stint  is 
smaller  in  size  than  our  bird,  with  proportionately  longer 
bill ;  it  is  conspicuously  darker  at  all  seasons  ;  in  the  breed¬ 
ing  plumage  the  fore  part  of  the  chest  is  ashy-buff,  with 
distinct  spots  of  dark  brown — not  rufous  with  tiny  dots 
as  in  T.  minuta — and  the  legs  are  light  yellowish-brown, 
whereas  in  T.  minuta  they  are  black. 

The  breeding-range  of  the  American  Stint  extends  right 
across  North  America,  within  the  limits  of  the  Hudsonian 
fauna.  Audubon  found  it  plentiful  in  Labrador,  among  the 
mossy  rocks  near  the  sea- shore  ;  and  he  describes  the  nest 
as  a  hollow  lined  with  a  few  blades  of  slender  dry  grass,  the 
locality  chosen  being  under  the  lee  of  a  small  rock,  exposed 
to  all  the  heat  the  sun  can  afford  in  that  countrv.  The  e££S 

%j  DO 

*  Nouv.  Diet.  d’Hist.  Nat.  xxxiv.  p.  452  (1819). 


AMERICAN  STINT. 


397 


are  of  a  rich  cream-yellow  tint,  blotched  and  dotted  with  very 
dark  amber,  especially  at  the  larger  end :  specimens  in  Mr. 
Dresser’s  collection  measure  1  by  *8  in. 

On  its  migrations  this  Stint  is  found  throughout  the 
United  States,  numbers  wintering  in  the  south,  whilst 
others  continue  their  course  to  the  Bermudas,  the  West 
Indies,  Mexico,  Central  America,  Colombia,  and  Brazil. 
The  habits  of  this  species  appear  to  be  similar  to  those  of 
its  congeners. 

The  adult  in  breeding  plumage  is  blackish  above,  a  few 
of  the  feathers  on  the  head  and  back  slightly  edged  with 
rufous  ;  hinder  part  of  the  neck  ashy  varied  with  rufous  ; 
wing-coverts  ash-grey  externally  margined  with  buff,  the 
greater  coverts  edged  with  white,  forming  an  indistinct  alar 
bar ;  quills  ash-brown,  blacker  towards  their  tips,  the  shafts 
wliitisli-brown,  with  the  exception  of  the  outermost,  which  is 
white,  inclining  to  brownish  only  towards  the  tip  ;  lower  part 
of  the  back  and  rump  deep  black  ;  tail  pale  ashy-grey,  the 
two  middle  tail-feathers  elongated,  blackish  like  the  rump ; 
lores,  eyebrows,  and  sides  of  the  face  whitish  ;  throat  white ; 
chest  ashy,  mottled  with  marks  of  dark  brown  in  the  centre 
of  some  of  the  feathers ;  rest  of  the  under  surface  of  the 
body  white  ;  under  wing-coverts  whitish,  some  of  the  lower 
ones  mottled  with  brown  ;  bill  blackish-brown  ;  feet  light 
yellowish-brown ;  iris  dark  brown.  Externally  there  is  no 
material  difference  between  the  sexes.  Total  length  about 
five  inches,  wing  from  carpal  joint  to  tip  three  and  two-fifths 
of  an  inch ;  tail  one  inch  and  a  half. 

In  autumn  plumage  some  of  the  dorsal  feathers  and  the 
scapulars  are  edged  with  whitish.  The  winter  plumage  is 
ashy-grey  above,  some  of  the  dorsal  feathers  dark  purplish- 
brown  in  the  centre  and  margined  with  whitish  ;  lower  part 
of  back  and  rump  blackish  ;  wing-coverts  like  the  back,  the 
greater  coverts  clearer  brown,  and  indistinctly  tipped  with 
white  ;  rest  of  the  plumage  as  in  summer. 


398 


SCOLOPACIDtE. 


L I M  ICO  L  A.  SCO  L  OP  A  Cl  DA ?. 


Tkinga  temmincki,  Leisler.  * 

TEMMINCK’S  STINT. 

Tringct  Temminckii. 

This  diminutive  Stint,  named  after  M.  Temminck,  is 
smaller  than  the  Little  Stint  previously  described,  and  is  the 
least  of  the  British  Sandpipers ;  it  is  also  rarer  than  the 
Little  Stint,  and  somewhat  different  in  its  habits,  frequent¬ 
ing  the  borders  of  rivers  and  fresh-water  lakes,  although  it 
is  sometimes  found  on  the  muddy  creeks  and  sandy  shores 
of  the  sea. 

Although  less  rare  on  migration  than  was  formerly  sup¬ 
posed,  this  species  is  far  more  irregular  in  its  visits,  and 
less  numerous  than  the  Little  Stint,  notwithstanding  that 
its  breeding-range  commences  at  no  great  distance  from  our 

*  Tring