Page images
PDF
EPUB

used for the species of the genus Ceriornis, also known as Tragopans, which are supposed to have more affinity to the true PHEASANTS. In each case the ocellated plumage has suggested the allusion to the well-known personage in classical mythology.

ARTAMUS, a genus of true Passerine birds founded by Vieillot, and of late use as an English word. They are the “WoodSwallows” or “Swallow-Shrikes” of some authors, and by many are considered to be the nearest neighbours of the Hirundinida (SWALLOW), making some approach to them in their long wings, and habit of catching insects in continuous flights. If it be granted from their possessing patches of POWDER-DOWN that they should form a separate Family Artamida, its true alliance must still be guessed at. Some 15 species have been described, more than half of them being found in Australia, while one inhabits India.

ARTERY (adj. arterial). Arteries are the vessels through which the blood leaves the heart; no matter if this blood be arterial or venous, as, for instance, is that which flows through the pulmonary arteries (see VASCULAR SYSTEM).

ATTEAL, ATTEILE or ATTILE, a word, presumably a bird's name, occurring with variations of spelling in many old Scottish records (as, for example, in 1600, Act. Jac. VI. cap. 23), and apparently used in Orkney for some kind of Duck so lately as 1848 according to Baikie and Heddle (Hist. Nat. Orcad. p. 79), who, possibly by mistake, apply it to the POCHARD. The same was done in 1886 by Mr. Thomas Edmondston (Etymolog. Glossary of the Shetland and Orkney Dialect), who associates it with the old Norsk T'jaldr, which he calls “ Turdus marinus," but is properly the OYSTER-CATCHER. Of unknown etymology, it may be connected with the Scandinavian Atteling-And or Atling, which again may be cognate with Taling, the Dutch for TEAL.

AUK (Teutonic Alk), the old English name for the RAZOR-BILL, and perhaps the GUILLEMOT, of modern writers ; but as applied to

the former now only in provincial use, though maintained in a collective sense for members of the Family Alcidæ. With the prefix “Great” or “Little,” it signifies respectively the GARE-FOWL and the bird so well known to Arctic seamen as the ROTCHE.

The greatest number of forms belongK. (After ing to this Family inhabit the North Pacific,

and have been separated into various genera. Some of them exhibit the seasonal shedding of the outgrowths on the sheath of the bill and on the head that, as in the PUFFIN, are

HORN-BILLED AUK. (After

Swainson.)

only assumed in spring. Among them is the curious Cerorhyncha (or Ceratorhina) monocerata which by shedding the horn-like protuberance rising between the nostrils, and here figured, led to no few mistakes until the peculiarity was known.

AVADUVAT, a corruption of AMADAVAT.

AVIS, the ordinary Latin word for BIRD, and in its plural form, Ares, the scientific name of the Class of Vertebrate Animals which comprises every kind of Bird.

The want of an adjective derived from Avis and Bird is one much felt both in Latin ? and English. In the latter language remedy is hopeless, for bird-like is not enough, and “birdy” can only be regarded as jocose. From the former an attempt has been made to supply this defect by the invention and use by some writers of "avian ”—a form which scholars declare to be unclassical, though they allow that “avine” might perhaps be admitted. Of Greek origin “ornithic” is quite justifiable.

AVOSET, from the Ferrarese Avosetta, 2 the Recurvirostra avocetta

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][merged small]

of ornithology, a bird remarkable for its bill, which is perhaps the most slender to be seen in the whole Class, and curving upward towards the end, has given it two names which it formerly bore in

1 Aviarius exists as a Latin adjective, but its precise meaning is somewhat indefinite, and its use can hardly be recommended.

? This word is considered to be derived from the Latin avis—the termination expressing a diminutive of a graceful or delicate kind, as donnetta from donna (Prof. Salvadori in epist.); but it is spelt Avocetta by Prof. Giglioli.

England,—“Cobbler's-awl,” from its likeness to the tool so called, and “Scooper," because it resembled the scoop with which boatmen threw water on their sails. The legs, though long, are not extraordinarily so, and the feet, which are webbed, bear a small hind toe.

This species was of old time plentiful in England, though doubtless always restricted to certain localities. Charleton in 1668 says that when a boy he had shot not a few on the Severn, and Plot mentions it so as to lead one to suppose that in his time (1686) it bred in Staffordshire, while Willughby (1676) knew of it as being in winter on the eastern coast, and Pennant in 1769 found it in great numbers opposite to Fossdyke Wash in Lincolnshire, and described the birds as hovering over the sportsman's head like Lapwings. In this district they were called “Yelpers” from their cry ;' but whether that name was elsewhere applied is uncertain. At the end of the last century they frequented Romney Marsh in Kent, and in the first quarter of the present century they bred in various suitable spots in Suffolk and Norfolk,—the last place known to have been inhabited by them being Salthouse, where the people made puddings of their eggs, while the birds were killed for the sake of their feathers, which were used in making artificial flies for fishing. The extirpation of this settlement took place between 1822 and 1825 (cf. Stevenson, Birds of Norfolk, ii. pp. 240, 241).2 There is some evidence of their having bred so lately as about 1840 at the mouth of the Trent (cf. Clarke and Roebuck, Vert. Fauna of Yorkshire, p. 72). The Avoset's mode of nesting is much like that of the Stilt, and the eggs are hardly to be distinguished from those of the latter but by their larger size, the bird being about as big as a LAPWING, white, with the exception of its crown, the back of the neck, the inner scapulars, some of the wing-coverts and the primaries, which are black, while the legs are of a fine light blue. It seems to get its food by working its bill from side to side in shallow pools, and catching the small crustaceans or larvæ of insects that may be swimming therein, but not, as has been stated, by sweeping the surface of the mud or sand-a process that would speedily destroy the delicate bill by friction. Two species of Avoset, R. americana and R. andina, are found in the New World; the former, which ranges so far to the northward as the Saskatchewan, is distinguished by its light cinnamon-coloured head, neck, and breast, and the latter, confined so far as known to the mountain lakes of Chili, has no white on the upper parts except the head and neck. Australia produces a

i Cf. “Yarwhelp” (Godwit) and “Yaup” or “Whaup” (CURLEW). “ Barker" and "Clinker" seem to have been names used in Norfolk.

? The same kind of lamentable destruction has of late been carried on in Holland and Denmark, to the extirpation probably of the species in each country.

fourth species, R. novæ hollandiæ or rubricollis, with a chestnut head and neck; but the European R. avocetta extends over nearly the whole of middle and southern Asia as well as Africa...

The proposal (Ibis, 1886, pp. 224-237) to unite the Avosets and Stilts in a single genus seems to have little to recommend it but its novelty, and will hardly meet with acceptance by systematists.

AXILLA (adj. axillary), the arm-pit, whence, or from the adjoining part of the arm, arise in many birds some elongated feathers (axillaries or lower humeral coverts), constituting the hypopteron. In most water-birds, especially in Numenius, and Grus, but also in a few others, as Coracias, some of these feathers are very long, straight, and slender.

В

CRATEROPUS.

BABBLER, apparently first used in ornithology in 1837, by Swainson (Classif. B. ii. 233), for the birds, assigned by him to the subfamily Crateropodina, belonging to the genera Pellorneum, Crateropus, Grallina, Malacocercus (including as a subgenus Timalia of Horsfield) and Pteroptochus (TAPACULO). With the exception of the third and the last these forms are

PELLORNEUM. now commonly regarded as forming part of the Family Timeliidæ (often but less accurately written Timaliidæ), which no systematist has yet been able to define satisfactorily, while many have not unjustly regarded it as a “refuge for the destitute"—thrusting into it a great number of forms, chiefly Oscinine, that, with a bill resembling a SHRIKE's, a THRUSH's, or a WAR

(After Swainson.) BLER's, mostly possess very short and incurved wings, and cannot, in the opinion of some, be conveniently stowed elsewhere. Two volumes (vi. and vii.) of the Catalogue of Birds in the British

[graphic]
[graphic]

CINCLORHAMPHUS.

Museum 1 are devoted to this mixed multitude, which is therein made to include, beside the groups usually assigned to the Family, others more or less well defined, such as BOWER-BIRDS, MOCKING-BIRDS, and WRENS, with certain BULBULS, SHRIKES, THRUSHES, and WARBLERS. Some of these, such as the first three, to say nothing of Water-OUSELS, Hedge-SPARROWS, and some American forms, are obviously not allied to the rest ; but, after their withdrawal, there is still a fine field left for a systematic ornithologist who would take in hand what remains of this heterogeneous assemblage, and introduce even the semblance of order

where all is at present confusion. The birds more particularly called Babblers, often with a prefix

such as Bush-BabCRINIGER. (After Swainson.)

bler, Shrike-Babbler,

Tit-Babbler, and so forth, belong chiefly to the Ethiopian and Indian Regions, and many of the last are well treated, under the name of Crateropodida, by Mr. W. E. Oates (Faun. Brit. India, Birds, i. pp. 70-297), though even he has perhaps been too generous in receiving some forms. Many of these Birds originally described under the genus Criniger of Temminck, but since subdivided as Tricholestes, Xenocichla, and so forth, are remarkable for the long fine bristles that spring from the nape or middle of the back, as shewn in the annexed figure; but traces of this feature may be seen in many other forms, and even in one so familiar as the common Song-THRUSH.

BABILLARD, a French name, Anglified in 1831 by Rennie in his edition of Montagu's Ornithological Dictionary (p. 15), for the bird already known as the Lesser WHITETHROAT; but one that has fortunately not taken real hold in our language. Had he attempted to revive the old English “Babelard,” he probably would not have been more successful.

BACBAKIRI, one of the short-winged SHRIKES, the Telephonus bacbakiri of South-African ornithology, and so named of the colonists from its call-note (Layard, B. S. Africa, p. 161).

BALDPATE, the name commonly given by the English-speaking residents of the West Indies to a Dove, the Columba leucocephala, from its white head—though most inaccurately, for that part is well clothed with feathers. It may here be observed that

i The second of these volumes possesses one great merit: it does not pretend to assign an English name to birds which by hardly any conceivable chance will need one.

« EelmineJätka »