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quet, Macaw and Tit, in almost every case as gay and brilliant as the male, while the gorgeous Chatterers, Manakins, Tanagers, and Birds of Paradise, as well as our own Blackbird, have mates so dull and inconspicuous that they can hardly be recognised as belonging to the same species.
The Law which connects the Colours of Female Birds
with the mode of Nidification. The above-stated anomaly can, however, now be explained by the influence of the mode of nidification, since I find that, with but very few exceptions, it is the rule—that when both sexes are of strikingly gay and conspicuous colours, the nest is of the first class, or such as to conceal the sitting bird; while, whenever there is a striking contrast of colours, the male being gay and conspicuous, the female dull and obscure, the nest is open and the sitting bird exposed to view. I will now proceed to indicate the chief facts that support this statement, and will afterwards explain the manner in which I conceive the relation has been brought about.
We will first consider those groups of birds in which the female is gaily or at least conspicuously coloured, and is in most cases exactly like the male.
1. Kingfishers (Alcedinidae). In some of the most brilliant species of this family the female exactly resembles the male; in others there is a sexual difference, but it rarely tends to make the female less conspicuous. In some, the female has a band across the breast, which is wanting in the male, as in the beautiful Halcyon
diops of Ternate. In others the band is rufous in the female, as in several of the American species; while in Dacelo gaudichaudii, and others of the same genus, the tail of the female is rufous, while that of the male is blue. In most kingfishers the nest is in a deep hole in the ground; in Tanysiptera it is said to be in a hole in the nests of termites, or sometimes in crevices under overhanging rocks.
2. Motmots (Momotidæ). In these showy birds the sexes are exactly alike, and the nest in a hole under ground.
3. Puff-birds (Bucconidæ). These birds are often gaily coloured; some have coral-red bills; the sexes are exactly alike, and the nest is in a hole in sloping ground.
4. Trogons (Trogonidæ). In these magnificent birds the females are generally less brightly coloured than the males, but are set often gay and conspicuous. The nest is in a hole of a tree.
5. Hoopoes (Upupidä). The barred plumage and long crests of these birds render them conspicuous. The sexes are exactly alike, and the nest is in a hollow tree.
6. Hornbills (Bucerotidæ). These large birds have enormous coloured bills, which are generally quite as well coloured and conspicuous in the females. Their nests are always in hollow trees, where the female is entirely concealed.
7. Barbets (Capitonidae). These birds are all very gaily-coloured, and, what is remarkable, the most brilliant patches of colour are disposed about the head and
neck, and are very conspicuous. The sexes are exactly alike, and the nest is in a hole of a tree.
8. Toucans (Rhamphastidæ). These fine birds are coloured in the most conspicuous parts of their body, especially on the large bill, and on the upper and lower tail coverts, which are crimson, white, or yellow. The sexes are exactly alike, and they always build in a hollow tree.
9. Plaintain-eaters (Musophagidæ). Here again the head and bill are most brilliantly coloured in both sexes, and the nest is in a hole of a tree.
10. Ground cuckoos (Centropus). These birds are often of conspicuous colours, and are alike in both sexes. They build a domed nest.
11. Woodpeckers (Picidæ). In this family the females often differ from the males, in having a yellow or white, instead of a crimson crest, but are almost as conspicuous. They all nest in holes in trees.
12. Parrots (Psittaci). In this great tribe, adorned with the most brilliant and varied colours, the rule is, that the sexes are precisely alike, and this is the case in the most gorgeous families, the lories, the cockatoos, and the macaws; but in some there is a sexual difference of colour to a slight extent. All build in holes, mostly in trees, but sometimes in the ground, or in white ants’ nests. In the single case in which the nest is exposed, that of the Australian ground parrot, Pezoporus formosus, the bird has lost the gay colouring of its allies, and is clothed in sombre and completely protective tints of dusky green and black.
13. Gapers (Eurylæmidæ). In these beautiful Eastern birds, somewhat allied to the American chatterers, the sexes are exactly alike, and are adorned with the most gay and conspicuous markings. The nest is a woven structure, covered over, and suspended from the extremities of branches over water.
14. Pardalotus (Ampelidæ). In these Australian birds the females differ from the males, but are often very conspicuous, having brightly-spotted heads. Their nests are sometimes dome-shaped, sometimes in holes of trees, or in burrows in the ground.
15. Tits (Paridæ). These little birds are always pretty, and many (especially among the Indian species) are very conspicuous. They always have the sexes alike, a circumstance very unusual among the smaller gaily-coloured birds of our own country. The nest is always covered over or concealed in a hole.
16. Nuthatches (Sitta). Often very pretty birds, the sexes alike, and the nest in a hole.
17. — (Sittella). The female of these Australian nuthatches is often the most conspicuous, being whiteand black-marked. The nest is, according to Gould, " completely concealed among upright twigs connected together.”
18. Creepers (Climacteris). In these Australian creepers the sexes are alike, or the female most conspicuous, and the nest is in a hole of a tree.
19. Estrelda, Amadina. In these genera of Eastern and Australian finches the females, although more or less different from the males, are still very conspicuous having a red rump, or being white spotted. They differ from most others of the family in building domed nests.
20. Certhiola. In these pretty little American creepers the sexes are alike, and they build a domed nest.
21. Mynahs (Sturnidæ). These showy Eastern starlings have the sexes exactly alike. They build in holes of trees.
22. Calornis (Sturnidæ). These brilliant metallic starlings have no sexual differences. They build a pensile covered nest.
23. Hangnests (Icteridae). The red or yellow and black plumage of most of these birds is very conspicuous, and is exactly alike in both sexes. They are celebrated for their fine purse-shaped pensile nests.
It will be seen that this list comprehends six important families of Fissirostres, four of Scansores, the Psittaci, and several genera, with three entire families of Passeres, comprising about twelve hundred species, or about one-seventh of all known birds.
The cases in which, whenever the male is gaily coloured, the female is much less gay or quite inconspicuous, are exceedingly numerous, comprising, in fact, almost all the bright-coloured Passeres, except those enumerated in the preceding class. The following are the most remarkable :
1. Chatterers (Cotingidæ). These comprise some of the most gorgeous birds in the world, vivid blues,