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The genus Atrichia, or Scrub-birds of Australia, have been formed into a separate family by Professor Newton, on account of peculiarities in the skeleton which separate them from all other Passeres. Only two species are known, inhabiting East and West Australia respectively. They are very noisy, browncoloured birds, and have been usually classed with the warblers, near Amytis and other Australian species.
General remarks on the distribution of the Passeres.
The order Passeres, is the most extensive among birds, comprehending about 5,700 species grouped in 870 genera, and 51 families. The distribution of the genera, and of the families considered individually, has been already sufficiently given, and we now have to consider the peculiarities of distribution of the families collectively, and in their relations to each other, as representing well-marked types of bird-structure. The first thing to be noted is, how very few of these families are truly cosmopolitan; for although there are seven which are found in each of the great regions, yet few of these are widely distributed throughout all the regions, and we can only find three that inhabit every sub-region, and are distributed with tolerable uniformity; these are the Hirundinidae, or swallows, the Motacillidae or wagtails and pipits, and the Corvidae or crows, but the latter is a family of so heterogeneous a nature, that it possibly contains the materials of several natural families, and if so divided, the parts would probably all cease to be cosmopolitan. The Sylviidae, the Turdidae, and the Paridae, are the only other families that approach universality of distribution, and all these are wanting in one or more sub-regions. If, now, we divide the globe into the New and the Old World, the former including the whole American continent, the latter all the rest of the earth, we find that the Old World possesses exclusively 23 families, the New World exclusively 14, of which 5 are common to North and South America. But if we take the division proposed by Professor Huxley—a northern world, comprising our first four regions (from Nearctic to Oriental), and a southern world comprising our last two regions (the Australian and Neotropical)—we find that the northern division possesses only 5 families exclusively, and the southern division 13 exclusively, of which not one is common to Australia and South America. This plainly indicates that, as far as the Passeres are concerned, the latter bipartite division is not so natural as the former. Again, if we compare temperate with tropical families (not too rigidly, but as regards their general character), we find in the northern hemisphere only two families that have the character of being typically temperate—the Cinclidae, and in a less degree the Ampelidae—both of small extent. In the southern hemisphere we have also two, the Phytotomidae, and in a less degree, the Pteroptochidae; making two wholly and two mainly temperate families. Of exclusively tropical families on the other hand, we have about 12, and several others that are mainly tropical. The several regions do not differ greatly in the number of families found in each. The Nearctic has 19, the Palaearctic 21, the Ethiopian 23, the Oriental 28, the Australian 29, and the Neotropical 23. But many of these families are only represented by a few species, or in limited districts; and if we count only those families which are tolerably well represented, and help to form the ornithological character of the region, the richness of the several tropical regions will appear to be (as it really is) comparatively much greater. The families that are confined to single regions are not very numerous, except in the case of the Neotropical region, which has 5. The Australian has only 3, the Oriental 1, the Ethiopian 1, and the other regions have no peculiar families. The distribution of the Passeres may be advantageously considered as divided into the five series of Turdoid, Tanagroid, Sturnoid, Formicarioid, and Anomalous Passeres. The Turdoid Passeres, consisting of the first 23 families, are especially characteristic of the Old World, none being found exclusively in America, and only two or three being at all abundant there. The Tanagroid Passeres (Families 24-33) are very characteristic of the New World, five being confined to it, and three others being quite as abundant there as in the Old World; while there is not a single exclusively Old World family in the series, except the Drepanididae confined to the Sandwich Islands. The Sturmoid Passeres (Families 34-38) are all exclusively Old World, except that two larks inhabit parts of North America, and a few pipits South America. The Formicarioid Passeres (Families 39-48) are strikingly characteristic of the New World, to which seven of the families exclusively belong; the two Old World groups being small, and with a very restricted distribution. The Anomalous Passeres (Families 49-50) are confined to Australia. The most remarkable feature in the geographical distribution of the Passeres is the richness of the American continent, and the large development of characteristic types that occurs there. The fact that America possesses 14 altogether peculiar families, while no less than 23 Old-World families are entirely absent from it, plainly indicates, that, if this division does not represent the most ancient and radical separation of the land surface of the globe, it must still be one of very great antiquity, and have modified in a very marked way the distribution of all living things. Not less remarkable is the richness in specific forms of the 13 peculiar American families. These contain no less than 1,570 species, leaving only about 500 American species in the 13 other Passerine families represented in the New World. If we make a deduction for those Nearctic species which occur only north of Panama, we may estimate the truly Neotropical species of Passerine birds at 1,900, which is almost exactly one-third of the total number of Passeres; a wonderful illustration of the Ornithological riches of South America.
The Woodpeckers are very widely distributed, being only absent from the Australian region beyond Celebes and Flores. They are most abundant in the Neotropical and Oriental regions, both of which possess a number of peculiar genera; while the other regions possess few or no peculiar forms, even the Ethiopian region having only three genera not found elsewhere. The softtailed 'Picumninae inhabit the tropical regions only, Picumnus being Neotropical, Vivia and Sasia Oriental, and Verreaucia Ethiopian. Picoides, or Apternats, is an Arctic form peculiar to the Nearctic and Palaearctic regions. Celeus, Chrysoptilus, Chloromerpes, and some smaller genera, are Neotropical exclusively, and there are two peculiar forms in Cuba. Yungipicus, Chrysocolaptes, Hemicercus, Mulleripicus, Brachypternus, Tiga, and Micropfernus, are the most important of the peculiar Oriental genera. Dendropicus and Geocolapses are Ethiopian; but there are no woodpeckers in Madagascar. The Palaearctic woodpeckers belong to the genera Picus—which is widely distributed, Gecinus —which is an Oriental form, and Dryocopus—which is South American. Except Picoides, the Nearctic woodpeckers are mostly of Neotropical genera; but Sphyrapicus and Hylatomus are peculiar. The geological record is, as yet, almost silent as to this family; but remains doubtfully referred to it have been found in the Miocene of Europe and the Eocene of the United States. Yet the group is evidently one of very high antiquity, as is shown by its extreme isolation, its great specialization of structure, its abundant generic forms, and its wide distribution. It originated, probably, in Central Asia, and passed through the Nearctic region to South America, in whose rich and varied forests it found the conditions for rapid development, and for the specialization of the many generic forms now found there. A large number of genera have been established by various authors, but their limitations and affinities are not very well made out. Those which seem best established are the following:— (*17 - *) Picumnus (22 sp.), Tropical South America to Honduras; (*) Vivia (1 sp.), Himalayas to East Thibet; (*) Sasia (2 sp.), Nepal to Java; (*) Verreaucia (1 sp.), West Africa; Picoides (5 sp.), northern parts of Nearctic and Palaearctic regions, and Mountains of East Thibet; Picus (42 sp.), the whole Palaearctic, Oriental, Nearctic, and Neotropical regions; (*) Hyopicus (2 sp.), Himalayas and North China; (*) Yunqipicus (16 sp.), Oriental region, and to Flores, Celebes, North China, and Japan; (* ~ *) Sphyrapicus (7 sp.), Nearctic region, Mexico, and Bolivia; (*-**) Campephilus (14 sp.), Neotropical and Nearctic regions; Hylatomus (1 sp.), Nearctic region; (* *) Dryocopus (5 sp.), Mexico to South Brazil, Central and Northern Europe; (*) Reinwardtipicus (1 sp.), Penang to Borneo; (**) Venilia (2 sp.), Nepal to Borneo; Chrysocolaptes (8 sp.), India and Indo-Malaya; Dendropicus (16 sp.), Tropical and South Africa; Hemicercus (5 sp.), Malabar and Pegu to Malaya; Gecinus (18 sp.), Palaearctic and Oriental regions to Java; (* - **) Dendromus (15 sp.), West and South Africa, Zanzibar, and Abyssinia; (* - *) Mulleripicus (6 sp.), Malabar, Pegu, Indo-Malaya, and Celebes; Celeus (17 sp.), Paraguay to Mexico; Nesoccleus (**) Cuba; (*) Chrysoptilus (9 sp.), Chili and South Brazil to Mexico; Brachypternus (5 sp.), India, Ceylon, and China; (* *) Tiga (5 sp.), all India to Malaya; (*) Gecimulus (2 sp.), South-east Himalayas to Burmah; Centurus (13 sp.), Nearctic Region to Antilles and Venezuela; Chloronerpes (35 sp.), Tropical America, Hayti; (27) Aïphidiopicus (1 sp.), Cuba; Melanerpes (11 sp.), Brazil to