Page images

americanus), and the ground dove (Chamæpelia passerina). The most regular visitants are a kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon), the woodwagtail (Siurus noveboracensis), the rice-bird (Dolichonyx oryzivorus), and a moorhen (Gallinula galeata). Besides the American species, four European birds have been taken at the Bermudas : Saxicola enanthe, Alauda arvensis (perhaps introduced), Crex pratensis, and Scolopax gallinago.

A common American lizard, Plestiodon longirostris, is the only land reptile found on the islands.

IV. The Sub-Arctic or Canadian Sub-region. This sub-region serves to connect together the other three, since they all merge gradually into it; while to the north it passes into the circumpolar zone which is common to the Palæarctic and Nearctic regions. The greater portion of it is an extensive forest-district, mostly of coniferæ ; and where these cease towards the north, barren wastes extend to the polar ocean. It possesses several northern or arctic forms of Mammalia, such as the glutton, lemming, reindeer, and elk, which barely enter the more southern sub-regions; as well as the polar bear and arctic fox; but it also has some peculiar forms, and many of the most characteristic Nearctic types. The remarkable musk-sheep (Ovibos) is confined to this sub-region, ranging over a considerable extent of country north of the forests, as well as Greenland It has been extinct in Europe and Asia since the Post-pliocene epoch. Such purely Nearctic genera as Procyon, Latax, Erethizon, Jaculus, Fiber, Thomomys, and Hesperomys, abound, many of them ranging to the shores of Hudson's Bay and the barren wastes of northern Labrador. Others, such as Blarina, Condylura, and Mephitis, are found only in Nova Scotia and various parts of Canada. About 20 species of Mammalia seem to be peculiar to this sub-region.

Plate XX. Illustrating the Zoology of Canada.We have here a group of Mammalia characteristic of Canada and the colder parts of the United States. Conspicuous in the foreground is the skunk (Mephitis mephitica), belonging to a genus of the weasel family found only in America. This animal is

VOL U.-10

celebrated for its power of ejecting a terribly offensive liquid, the odour of which is almost intolerable. The skunks are nocturnal animals, and are generally marked, as in the species represented, with conspicuous bands and patches of white. This enables them to be easily seen at night, and thus serves to warn larger animals not to attack them. To the left is the curious little jumping mouse (Jaculus hudsonius), the American representative of the Palæarctic jerboa. Climbing up a tree on the left is the tree porcupine (Erethizon dorsatus), belonging to the family Cercolabidæ, which represents, on the American continent, the porcupines of the Old World. In the background is the elk or moose (Alces americanus), perhaps identical with the European elk, and the most striking inhabitant of the northern forests of America, as the bison is of the prairies.

Birds. Although the Canadian sub-region possesses very few resident birds, the numbers which breed in it are perhaps greater than in the other sub-regions, because a large number of circumpolar species are found here exclusively. From a comparison of Mr. Allen's tables it appears, that more than 200 species are regular migrants to Canada in the breeding season, and nearly half of these are land-birds. Among them are to be found a considerable number of genera of the American families Tyrannidæ and Mniotiltidæ, as well as the American genera Sialia, Progne, Vireo, Cistothorus, Junco, Pipilo, Zonotrichia, Spizella, Melospiza, Molothrus, Agelæus, Cyanura, Sphyrapicus, and many others; so that the ornithology of these northern regions is still mainly character. Besides these, it has such specially northern forms as Surnia (Strigide); Picoides (Picidæ); Pinicola (Fringillidæ); as well as Leucosticte, Plectrophanes, Perisoreus, and Lagopus, which extend further south, especially in the middle sub-region. No less than 212 species of birds have been collected in the new United States territory of Alaska (formerly Russian America), where a humming-bird (Selasphorus rufus) breeds. The great majority of these are typically American, including such forms as Colaptes, Helminthophaga, Siurus, Dendræca, Myiodioctes, Passerculus, Zonotrichia, Junco, Spizella, Melospizpa, Passerella, Scoleophagas, Pediocetes, and Bonasa ;

[graphic][merged small]

together with many northern birds common to both continents. Yet a few Palæarctic forms, not known in other parts of the sub-region, appear here. These are Budytes flava, Phylloscopus kennicottii, and Pyrrhula coccinea, all belonging to genera not occurring elsewhere in North America. Considering the proximity of the district to North-east Asia, and the high probability that there was an actual land connection at, and south of, Behring's Straits, in late Tertiary times, it is somewhat remarkable that the admixture of Palæarctic and Nearctic groups is not greater than it is. The Palæarctic element, however, forms so small a portion of the whole fauna, that it may be satisfactorily accounted for by the establishment of immigrants since the Glacial period. The great interest felt by ornithologists in the discovery of the three genera above-named, with a wren allied to a European species, is an indication that the faunas even of the northern parts of the Nearctic and Palearctic regions are, as regards birds, radically distinct. It may be mentioned that the birds of the Aleutian Isles are also, so far as known, almost wholly Nearctic. The number of land-birds known from Alaska is 77; and from the Aleutian Isles 16 species, all of which, except one, are North American.

Reptiles.— These are comparatively few and unimportant. There are however five snakes and three tortoises which are limited to Canada proper; while further north there are only Amphibia, represented by frogs and toads, and a salamander of the genus Plethodon.

Fishes.—Most of the groups of fresh-water fish of the Nearctic region are represented here, especially those of the perch, salmon, and pike families; but there seem to be few or no peculiar genera.

Insects. These are far less numerous than in the more temperate districts, but are still tolerably abundant. In Canada there are 53 species of butterflies, viz., Papilionidæ, 4; Pieridæ, 2; Nymphalida, 21; Satyridæ, 3; Lycænidæ 16, and Hesperidæ 7. Most of these are, no doubt, found chiefly in the southern parts of Canada. That Coleoptera are pretty numerous is shown, by more than 800 species having been collected on the

« EelmineJätka »