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ward. In 1848 another species, wholly distinct, was described as P. personata by G. R. Gray, from a specimen obtained in Malacca, and it has since been found to inhabit Tenasserim, Burma, and Assam, though not yet recognized in India properly so called.
These birds are certainly entitled to form a distinct Family Heliornithida, allied to the Rails, but probably, as their geographical distribution suggests, a more ancient and therefore more generalized group, which would well repay further anatomical examination.? Examples are by no means common in museums, though it can hardly be that the birds are not in their own haunts sufficiently numerous; and their seeming scarcity may be attributed to their shyness and means of escaping observation (cf. W. Davison, Stray Feathers, vi. p. 465). Nothing is known of their nidification or eggs.
FIRECREST, a colloquial abbreviation of Fire-crested Wren, Regulus ignicapillus (see GOLDCREST).
FIRETAIL, a common English name of the REDSTART; and, according to Gould (Hand-b. B. Austral. i. p. 406), given in Tasmania to Zonæginthus bellus, a small Finch-like or WEAVER-BIRD.
FISCAL, the name given in the Cape Colony to a SHRIKE, Lanius collaris, from its rapacity, which no revenue-officer could exceed (cf. Latham, Gen. Hist. B. ii. p. 22; Layard, B. S. Afr. p. 157).
FISH-HAWK, a name for the OSPREY, especially given to it in North America.
FLAMINGO (Portuguese Flamingo, Spanish Flamenco), a bird conspicuous for the bright flame-coloured or scarlet patch upon its wings, and long known by its classic name Phænicopterus as an inhabitant of most of the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, in some of which it is still far from uncommon. Other species have since been discovered, and both its common and
i Dr. Büttikofer's evidence (Notes Leyd. Mus. x. pp. 103-105) is to the effect that there is only one species in Africa.
? Brandt's investigations above mentioned were confined to the head and feet of Heliornis ; Jerdon had apparently seen the whole skeleton of P. personata. I myself have the sternum of a male and female of P. petersi, sent to me by Mr. Layard from Natal. The characters of this part of the skeleton are certainly Rail-like in a general way, but yet offer a good many peculiarities. The result of Mr. Beddard's examination (Proc. Zool. Soc. 1890, pp. 441, 442) of P. senegalensis is to shew that the osteological and myological characters are almost in antagonism; but he concludes that the Heliornithidæ form a distinct Family “which has traversed for a certain distance the branch leading from the Rails to the Colymbidæ and has then diverged rather widely in a direction of its own."
3 In Greece and Asia Minor, however, it is rare, and to this cause is most likely to be attributed Aristotle's silence concerning it, though it was known, by name at least, to Aristophanes.
scientific names are now used in a general sense. The true position of the Flamingos (Phoenicopteridæ) has been much debated, and ornithologists are as yet by no means agreed upon it. Prof. Huxley (Proc. Zool. Soc. 1867, p. 460) considered the form “so completely intermediate between the Anserine birds on the one
FLAMINGO. side, and the Storks and Herons on the other, that it can be ranged with neither."1 And he put it by itself as the type of a group AMPHIMORPHÆ under the larger assemblage of DESMOGNATHÆ. To Prof. Fürbringer and Dr. Gadow its affinity to the Spoonbills,
1 Thus confirming the opinion of Linnæus a century old (Syst. Nat. ed. 12, i. p. 230):-“Medium inter Anscres et Grallas, si quis ad præcedentem ordinem referat, forte non errat." He himself places it among the latter.
Ibises and Storks seems to be the strongest ; but that it should stand as a distinct Family is manifest.
Though not a few birds have in proportion to the size of their body very long legs and a very long neck, yet the way in which both are employed by the Flamingo seems to be absolutely singular. In taking its food this bird reverses the ordinary position of its head so as to hold the crown downwards and to look backwards. The peculiar formation of the bill, which to the ordinary observer looks as if broken, is of course correlated with this habit of feeding, as well as the fact that the maxilla is (contrary to what obtains in most birds) not only highly movable, but is much smaller than the mandibula—while the latter is practically fixed. Both jaws are, however, beset with lamellæ, as in most of the Duck-tribe, and the food is thereby sifted out of the mud as the Flamingo wades with its long neck stretching to the bottom of the shallow waters it frequents. Still more extraordinary is one of the alleged uses of its long legs. Dampier asserts as of his own observation near Querisao (i.e. Curação) prior to 16831 that the hen stands upon them while performing that duty which in other birds is rightly called “sitting," and the statement, being confirmed by other writers,” remained unquestioned for a century and a half. Crespon in 1844 (Fauna Mérid. ii. p. 69) was one of the first to raise a doubt on the subject, though he had before (Ornithol. du Gard, p. 397) accepted what was and still is the prevalent belief in Southern France (Ibis, 1870, p. 441); but he now went so far as to declare that Flamingos did not build a nest at all, and only laid their eggs on a
1 The passage is too quaint and interesting not to be quoted :—“They build their Nests in shallow Ponds, where there is much Mud, which they scrape together, making little Hillocks, like small Islands, appearing out of the Water, a foot and a half high from the bottom. They make the foundation of these Hillocks broad, bringing them up tapering to the top, where they leave a small hollow pit to lay their Eggs in ; and when they either lay their Eggs, or hatch them, they stand all the while, not on the Hillock, but close by it with their Legs on the ground and in the water, resting themselves against the Hillock, and covering the hollow Nest upon it with their Rumps : For their Legs are very long; and building thus, as they do, upon the ground, they could neither draw their legs conveniently into their Nests, nor sit down upon them otherwise than by resting their whole bodies there, to the prejudice of their Eggs or their young, were it not for this admirable contrivance, which they have by natural instinct. They never lay more than two Eggs, and seldom fewer. The young ones cannot fly till they are almost full grown; but will run prodigiously fast; yet we have taken many of them.”-Dampier, New Voyage round the World, ed. 2, corrected, i. p. 71, London : 1699.
? Thus Catesby (Nat. Hist. Carol. i. p. 73), though apparently got from the information of others; but Pallas (Zoogr. Ross.-Asiat. ii. p. 208), obviously from his own observation, says :-“Vera est Dampieri observatio, eos in stagnis marinis vadosis corradere colles sesquipedali altitudine, quorum summitati cavatae imponunt ova vulgo bina, quæ colli adstantes pectore fovent.”
slight elevation so as to be out of the water, sitting upon them with their legs doubled under the belly. Part of this assertion was proved to be false by Lord Lilford (Proc. Zool. Soc. 1880, pp. 446450), who obtained from Andalusia one of the mud-built nests (just as they were described by Dampier) and gave it to the British Museum, where it may be seen ; but he was unable to offer personal evidence as to the position of the bird during incubation, though he doubted the probability of its being with the legs “stretched out behind," as had in the meanwhile been stated (Ibis, 1871, p. 394). Of late the old story has been absolutely contradicted both in regard to the Mediterranean species and that of
North America. Mr. Abel Chapman described and figured (op. cit. . 1884, p. 88, pl. iv.) a breeding-place of the former seen by him in Andalusia, and then Sir Henry Blake gave an account (op. cit. 1888, pp. 151, 152) of a visit paid by him to one of the latter on Abaco in the Bahamas. Both of these observers knew of the prevalent belief, and seem to have expected to find it borne out; but one of them writes of the birds as sitting on the nests with their “long red legs doubled under the body," while the other states that “in every instance the legs were folded under the bird in the usual manner." Most of the nests seen by Mr. Chapman, and all apparently that Sir Henry saw, were on mud,—and in the latter case they were only eight inches high, so that it would be impossible for the birds to sit on them in the way described-moreover, none of Mr. Chapman's contained eggs, and therefore he did not see a bird actually incubating. The question cannot be regarded as settled, and further observation must be awaited.
It is of course only under very favourable circumstances that such nests as these can be built. When time or place is wanting, the hens seem to drop their eggs at random, and in the south of both France and Spain years seem to pass when, from want of sufficient water, or the persecution of the people, no Flamingos are able to breed, so that more than one beholder of the magnificent sight afforded by them as they flock has wondered in vain concerning their birthplace. Late in the summer the adults shed all their quill-feathers, and being thus rendered flightless, are easily captured. Under these circumstances, both the European and the North-American species may be expected to become rare, if not extinct. Flamingos are eminently gregarious. Their favourite resorts are salt-lakes-indeed these may be said to be a prime necessity; and when, as often happens, they are diminished by drought, the birds have to take long flights in quest of new haunts. Thus some of the wanderers occasionally get separated from the
1 Since the above was in type, Mr. Saunders has shewn me Mr. Maynard's account (Nat. in Florida, 1884, No. 1) of a breeding-place in the Bahamas, where among hundreds of sitting birds none had its legs “hanging down."
main body, and appear in various unwonted spots. On the wing the Flamingo is described as presenting a singular appearance, its neck and legs being stretched out in a continuous straight line. When feeding or at rest, a flock of these birds, owing to their red plumage, has often been likened to a body of British soldiers. The young appear to be a long time in arriving at the full beauty of their plumage, and as the sexes are said to differ greatly in size, some of the difficulties which the determination of species in this genus presents may be excused. No fewer than four species of Phænicopterus have been described as inhabiting the Old World. There is the large bird known to the ancients, Temminck's P. antiquorum, which certainly ranges from the Cape Verd Islands to the Caspian and to India, if not further. The P. erythræus of Jules Verreaux has been described as differing in its brighter plumage, and is supposed to be a native of Southern and Western Africa, but it is also said to have strayed to Europe. Then two smaller species (P. minor, Geoffroy, and P. rubidus, Feilden)—the one from Africa the other from India—have also been described, but whether their existence can be substantiated remains to be seen. Four species have likewise been indicated as belonging to the New World. There is first a large and very brilliantly-coloured bird to which the Linnæan name P. ruber 2 has been continued, inhabiting suitable localities from Florida southwards to an undetermined latitude. To this species Mr. Salvin (Trans. Zool. Soc. ix. p. 498) refers the P. glyphorhynchus of G. R. Gray, founded on a specimen from the Galapagos. Then there is the P. chilensis of Gmelin (P. ignipalliatus of later writers), in colouring more like the European species, and found in various parts of South America. Lastly comes the P. andinus of Philippi, easily distinguished from all others through the want of a back-toe, and regarded by Bonaparte as meriting generic separation under the name of Phoenicoparrus. This appears to have its home on the salt-lakes of the elevated desert of Atacama.
The fossil remains of a Flamingo have been recognized from Lower and Middle Tertiary beds in France, and the species, which appears to have been very close to that commonly called P. antiquorum, has received the name of P. croizeti from Prof. Gervais. But a more interesting discovery is that by Prof. A. MilneEdwards of no fewer than five species of an extinct form of Phænicopterida, named by him Palalodus (Ois. Foss. de la France, ii. p. 58). These are from lacustrine deposits of the Miocene epoch.
i The Flamingo has been added by Mr. Saunders to the “British” list (Yarrell, Br. B. ed. 4, iv. p. 244) from examples observed at several places in England ; but the evidence to shew that these were voluntary visitors is weak.
? Linnæus referred all the accounts of Flamingos known to him to a single species, under this name, wherein he was decidedly wrong, but the reason for assigning it to an American species has yet to be explained by ornithologists.