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EAMILY 112–RHINOCHETIDAE. (1 Genus, 1 Species.)
NEARCTIC - ETHIoPIAN ORIENTAL | AUSTRALIAN SUB-REGIONS. SUB-REGIONS. SUB-REGIONS. SUB-REGIONS. SUB-REGIONs. | Sub-REGIONs.
The genus Rhinochetus (1 sp.), consists of a singular bird called the Kagu, which inhabits New Caledonia, an island which may be placed with almost equal propriety in our 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Australian sub-regions. It is a bird of a bluish ash-colour, with a loose plumage, partaking something of the appearance of Rail, Plover, and Heron, but with peculiarities of structure which require it to be placed in a distinct family. Its anatomy shows that its nearest allies are the South American genera, Eurypyga and Psophia.
The well-known Herons and Bitterns are found in every part of the globe, and everywhere closely resemble each other. Omitting the minuter sub-divisions, the genera are as follows:– Ardea (60 sp.), cosmopolitan; Botaurus (6 sp.), almost cosmopolitan ; Tigrisoma (4 sp.), Tropical America and West Africa; Nycticoraa (9 sp.), cosmopolitan; Cancroma (1 sp.), Tropical America.
The Plataleidae, including the Spoonbills and Ibises, have been classed either with the Herons or the Storks, but have most affinity with the latter. Though not very numerous, they are found over the greater part of the globe, except the colder zones and the Pacific Islands. The following is the distribution of the genera:- . - * - " ? Platalea (6 sp.), all the warmer parts of the globe except the Moluccas and Pacific Islands; Ibis (2 sp.), Temperate North America and Tropical South America; Falcinellus (2 sp.), almost cosmopolitan ; Geronticus (19 sp.), all Tropical countries and Temperate South America; Scopus (1 sp.), Tropical and South Africa; Balaeniceps (1 sp.), the Upper Nile. This last genus the “Shoe-bird,” or boat-billed heron, perhaps forms a distinct family.
The Ciconiidae, or Storks, are mostly an Old World family, only three species inhabiting the Neotropical, and one, the Nearctic region. They are also absent from the islands of the Pacific, the Antilles, and, with one exception, from Madagascar. The genera are as follows:—
Ciconia (6 sp.), ranges through the Palaearctic, Ethiopian and Oriental regions as far as Celebes, and in South America; Mycteria (4 sp.), inhabits Africa, India, Australia and the Neotropical region; Leptopilius (3 sp.), the Ethiopian and Oriental regions to Java; Tantalus (5 sp.), the Ethiopian, Oriental and Neotropical regions, and the South-east of North America; Anastomus (2 sp.), the Ethiopian region, and India to Ceylon.
The Palamedeidae, or Screamers, are curious semi-aquatic birds of doubtful affinities, perhaps intermediate between Gallinae and Anseres. They are peculiar to South America. The genera are:— . Palamedea (1 sp.), which inhabits the Amazon valley; Chauna (2 sp.), La Plata, Brazil and Columbia.
The Flamingoes (Phoenicopterus) seem peculiar to the Ethiopian and Neotropical regions, ranging from the former into India and South Europe. America has four species, inhabiting Chili and La Plata, the Galapagos, Mexico and the West Indian islands; the others range over all Africa, South Europe, India and Ceylon. These singular birds are placed by some authors near the Spoonbills and Ibises, by others with the Geese. Professor Huxley considers them to be “completely
intermediate between the Anserine birds on the one side and the Storks and Herons on the other.” The pterolysis according to Nitzsch is “completely stork-like.”
General Remarks on the Distribution of the Gralle, or Wading and Running Birds. The Waders, as a rule, are birds of very wide distribution, the four largest families Rallidae, Scolopacidae, Charadriidae and Ardeidae, being quite cosmopolitan, as are many of the genera. But there are also a number of small families of very restricted distribution, and these all occur in the two most isolated regions, the Neotropical and the Australian. The Neotropical region is by far the richest in varied forms of Waders, having representatives of no less than 15 out of the 19 families, while 7 are altogether peculiar to it. The Australian region has 11 families, with 1 peculiar. The other two tropical regions each possess 11 families, but none are peculiar. The Palaearctic region has 10, and the Nearctic 7 families. No less than three families—Chionididae, Thinocoridae, and Cariamidae— are confined to the Temperate regions and highlands of South America; while four others, Aramidae, Psophiidae, Eurypygidae and Palamedeidae, are found in Tropical America only; and these present such an array of peculiar and interesting forms as no other part of the globe can furnish. The Phoenicopteridae or Flamingoes, common to the Tropical regions of Asia, Africa and America, but absent from Australia, is the only other feature of general interest presented by the distribution of the Waders. The Order contains about 610 species, which gives about 32 species to each family, a smaller average than in the Gallinae or Accipitres, and only about one-fourth of the average number in the Passeres. This is partly due to the unusual number of very small families, and partly to the wide average range of the species, which prevents that. specialization of forms that occurs in the more sedentary groups of birds.
The Amatidae, comprehending the Ducks, Geese, and Swans with their allies, are of such universal distribution that there is probably no part of the globe where some of them are not occasionally found. They are, however, most abundant in temperate and cold regions; and, contrary to what occurs in most other families, the most beautifully-coloured species are extratropical, and some even arctic. The distribution of the genera is as follows:— -
Anseranas (1 sp.), Australia; Plectropterus (2 sp.), Tropical Africa; Sarkidiornis (1 sp.), South America, Africa, and India; Chenalopez (1 sp.), Amazonia; Callochen (1 sp.), South Europe, North, East, and South Africa; Cereopsis (1 sp.), Australia; Anser (13 sp.), Palaearctic and Nearctic regions to Central America and the Antilles; Berniola (12 sp.), Temperate regions of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres; Chloéphaga (5 sp.), South Temperate America and Aleutian Islands; Wettapus (4 sp.), Tropical Africa and Madagascar, India and Ceylon to Malaya and Australia; Cygnus (10 sp.), Temperate regions of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres; Dendrocygna (10 sp.), Tropical and sub-tropical regions; Tadorna (3 sp.), Palaearctic and Australian regions; Casarca (5 sp.), Palaearctic, Oriental, Ethiopian, and Australian regions, to New Zealand; Aia (2 sp.), Temperate North America and Eastern Asia; Mareca (4 sp.), Palaearctic region, North America, Temperate South America, and Australia; Dafila (3 sp.), all America and the Palaearctic region; Anas (16 sp.), cosmopolitan; Querquedula (17 sp.),