Page images
PDF
EPUB

the epithet “Bald” is applied just as inaccurately in North America to an EAGLE, the Haliaetus leucocephalus, and in England, though more appositely, to the Coor.

BANTAM, a small breed of domestic poultry, so-called under the belief that it came from the part of Java which bears that name; but apparently it originated in Japan (cf. Darwin, Anim. & Plants under Domest. chap. vii.) Birds of this breed were mentioned in 1698 by Fryer (New Account of East India, p. 116) as “Champore cocks," coming from Siam. Remarkable for their diminutive size, they were characterized also by their feathered feet. In modern times Sebright established a sub-breed, known by his name, in which not only is this last feature wanting, but there is comparatively little external difference between the cocks and hens.

BARBET, Pennant's equivalent in 1773 (Gen. Birds, pp. 13, 14) of Brisson's and subsequently Linnæus's genus Bucco (a word coined 1 in 1752 by Mohring, though applied by him to the TOUCANS); but Brisson called it in French Barbu, “from its bristles, a sort of beard” with which the beak is beset, as will be seen in the figure, and hence Pennant formed his word. The type of Brisson's genus, on which that of

POGONORHYNCHUS. (After Swainson.) Linnæus was founded, was called by the latter in 1766, B. capensis—most unhappily in all respects, for the former had expressly given Cayenne as its habitat.3 The birds originally included in the genus are now recognized as belonging to two distinct Families, commonly known as Bucconida and Capitonida, and it is to the latter of these that the name “Barbet” is restricted by modern ornithologists, the former being known as PUFF-BIRDS. The Capitonidæ, 4 or “Scansorial" Barbets as some authors designate them, though their climbing power is disputed, form the subject of a beautifully illustrated Monograph by Messrs. C. H. T. and G. F. L.

From the Latin bucca ; and, as explained by Pennant, referring to "the fulness of the cheeks."

? Barbet had long existed in French in the sense of a shaggy dog—a poodle or water-spaniel.

3 In this case of the use of the extraordinary and ungrammatical adjective which has unfortunately been so frequently adopted, one can hardly doubt that Linnæus meant to write, and very likely did write (in an abbreviated form, as was his habit), cayensis for cayennensis, which he afterwards misread, and unluckily clenched the mistake by adding, “Hab. ad Cap. b. Spei.”

4 Garrod (Proc. Zool. Soc. 1879, p. 935) and Forbes (op. cit. 1882, p. 94) used this term to include the TOUCANS and HONEY-GUIDES as well as the Barbets. Of course if these Families, Indicatoridæ, Capitonidæ, and Rhamphastidæ, be united in one, the last is the name it should bear.

[graphic]

28

BARGANDER-BASIPTERYGOID PROCESSES

Marshall (London: 1870-71, 4to), who divide the Family into three subfamilies :Pogonorhynchina, with 3 genera and 15 species; Megalæminæ, with 6 genera and 44 species; and Capitonina, with 4 genera and 18 species. Since the appearance of that work one new genus and some thirty new species have been described. Supposing that the subfamilies above named be truly established, it would seem that the Capitonina, of which members are now to be found in the New World as well as in Africa and Asia, may from its wide distribution be regarded as the most ancient, and next the Pogonorhynchina, inhabiting both America and Africa, while the Megalæminæ, restricted to Africa and Asia, appears to be the most modern subfamily, and two genera belonging to it, Megalæma and Xantholæma are found in India and Ceylon. They are birds mostly of a bright green plumage, some of them variegated, especially on the head, with scarlet, violet, blue, or yellow—though others are plainly coloured. All of them seem to live chiefly on fruit, but insects occasionally form part of their food, and in captivity they become carnivorous. They breed in holes of trees, laying white eggs, and most, if not all of them, utter a clear ringing note, so loud as to attract general attention. The cry of Xantholæma indica is especially resonant; and, being accompanied by a peculiar motion of the head, has obtained for the bird in some of the native languages a name signifying COPPERSMITH, by which English rendering it is also known to Anglo-Indians.

BARGANDER or BERGANDER, a local name, of uncertain origin and spelling, of the SHELD-DRAKE.

BARKER, a name locally applied, from their cry, to the Blacktailed GODWIT and the Avoset in the days when they inhabited England. Albin, a very poor authority, figured under this name what was certainly a GREENSHANK, though Montagu took it to be Totanus fuscus, and hence an error has found its way (sub voce) into Dr. Murray's New English Dictionary.

BARLEY-BIRD, a name given in some parts to the Yellow WAGTAIL, in others to the WRYNECK—but in both cases from their appearing at the time of barley-sowing. By some authors it is said, but obviously in error, to be applied to the SISKIN.

BARWING, the Anglo-Indian name for birds of the genus Actinodura, from the black bar or bars which the wings of most of them present. The genus is usually placed in the ill-defined Family Timeliidæ.

BASIPTERYGOID PROCESSES are a pair of bony outgrowths on the right and left side of the body of the basisphenoid, forming the principal articulation of the pterygoids with the basis cranii. Such processes are well developed in all the Ratitæ, Crypturi, Turnices, and Striges. Similar processes spring from the basisphenoidal rostrum in many other Carinatæ, e.g. Anseres, Gallinæ, Columbæ, Pteroclidæ, Cathartidæ, and Serpentarius; while in many birds these processes are developed in the embryo but are resorbed finally, or they are never developed, the anterior ends of the pterygoids in either case articulating with the palatine bones alone, or, resting directly upon the basisphenoidal rostrum, as in Phoenicopterus, Grallæ, Laridæ, Dicholophus, Pygopodes, Impennes, Steganopodes, Falconidæ, Psittaci, Cuculidæ, Opisthocomus, Macrochires, Pici, and Passeres. In the Limicolæ and Tubinares these processes are very variable. For illustrations see SKULL.

BAYA (Hindoo Baiā), often used by English writers for the common WEAVER-BIRD of India, Ploceus baya, the builder of the wellknown retort-shaped nests.

BAY-BIRD, and

BEACH-BIRD, common names on the Atlantic coast of North America for several of the Limicola, as the SANDERLING, TURNSTONE, and others. (Cf. Trumbull, Names and Portraits of Birds, pp. 186, 191 note.)

BEAK, see BILL.

BEAM-BIRD, said to be the name used in some parts of England for the Spotted FLYCATCHER.

BEE-EATER, a name apparently first used in 1668 by Charleton (Onomasticon, p. 87) as a translation of the Latin and Greek Merops, though he said that the bird was rarely or never found in England

—the Merops apiaster of ornithology. The term being appropriate (as is shewn by its equivalent in cognate tongues—Danish, Biæder ; German, Bienenfresser) has been continued to this species, and subsequently extended to others more or less closely allied to it, forming a small but natural Family, Meropida, admirably monographed by Mr. Dresser (London : 1884-1886, imp. 4to), who recognizes five genera, and thirty-one species. They belong to the group in this work termed Picariæ, and are distinguished for their brilliant coloration, their graceful form, and their active habits, since every species seems to obtain its living by catching insects as they fly. The Beeeaters are birds of the Old World, and the majority (18) of the species are peculiar to the Ethiopian Region, two more also occurring within its limits, while only four inhabit the Palæarctic area, one of them being the M. apiaster named above, which appears irregularly in Northern Europe in summer, and has more than thirty times visited Great Britain since its first recorded occurrence in June 1793, when a flight of about twenty was observed in Norfolk, and a specimen obtained at that time is still preserved in the Derby Museum at Liverpool.

It is certainly one of the most beautifully-coloured birds ever found in these islands, and no one who has once seen a specimen will forget its rich chestnut crown and mantle passing lower down into primrose, its white frontal band, the black patch extending from the bill to the ear-coverts, the saffron throat bordered with black, while most of the rest of the plumage is of a vivid greenishblue or bluish-green, and the middle pair of tail feathers are elongated and attenuated in a way that is not seen in any other British land-bird. This formation of the tail characterizes also the single species of the genus Meropogon, while Dicrocercus has the tail deeply forked, and in Melittophagus and Nyctiornis it is nearly even, but the last, containing two species—one ranging from Burma to Borneo, and the other (the largest of the whole Family) inhabiting India as well as Burma and Cochin China—is readily distinguishable by the remarkable elongated feathers of the gular tract. Six species of the Family shew themselves in the Cape Colony or parts immediately adjacent, and one, Merops ornatus, occurs over almost the whole of Australia.

The Meropidæ have much in common with the Coraciidæ (ROLLER), Alcedinidæ (KINGFISHER), MIomotidæ (MOTMOT), and especially with the Galbulida (JACAMAR), for not only are there many anatomical resemblances between the birds of these Families, but nearly all of them, so far as is known—the Rollers perhaps being the chief exceptions—breed in holes made by themselves in a bank of earth, and the Bee-eaters, or at least the species of the genus Merops, it would seem, nearly always in society.

BEEF-EATER, see Ox-PECKER.

BELL-BIRD is the English name given in various parts of the world to very different species ; but always from the resemblance of the sound of the note they utter to that of a bell. In Guiana, it is applied to the Campanero of the Spanish settlers, Chasmorhynchus niveus, belonging to the Family Cotingida (CHATTERER), of which Waterton wrote (Wanderings, 2nd Journey): “He is about the size of the jay. His plumage is white as snow. On his forehead rises a spiral tube nearly three inches long. It is jet black, dotted all over with small white feathers. It has a communication with the palate, and when filled with air, looks like a spire; when empty it becomes pendulous. His note is loud and clear, like the sound of a bell, and may be heard at the distance of three miles. . .. You hear his toll, and then a pause for a minute, then another toll, and then a pause again, and then a toll, and again a pause. Then he is silent for six or eight minutes, and then another toll, and so on." In New Zealand the name is given to the Anthornis melanura of the Family Meliphagidæ (HONEY-SUCKER), whose melody struck the companions of Cook, when on his second voyage the ship was lying in Queen Charlotte's Sound, as being "like small bells most exquisitely tuned”—a bird which owing to the destruction of the forests no longer exists in most parts of that country, and will speedily become extinct. In Australia, according to Gould, two species of birds—one of them, Manorhina melanophrys, belonging to a different genus of the Family last-named, and the other, Orecca. cristata, possibly to the Laniida (SHRIKE)—are called by the same name for the same reason.

* In the allied species from Costa Rica, C. tricarunculatus-so called from its three elongated appendages, which in appearance call to mind the long pendants of an orchid (Cypripedium caudatum)-Mr. Salvin records his impression (Ibis, 1865, p. 93) that "no inflation takes place, and that the bird possesses little or no voluntary muscular control over these excrescences." The fact that the Brazilian species, C. nudicollis, utters a note which, if not actually “bell-like" in

BENGALI, the dealers' name for the beautiful little African bird, Fringilla bengalus of Linnæus, and some of its allies, belonging to the Ploceidæ (WEAVER-BIRD), and referred by later writers to the genus Estrilda, Pytelia or Urægnathus. The name originated with Brisson (Ornithol. iii. p. 203), who believed these birds came from Bengal.

BERGHAAN (Mountain-cock) the name given to some of the larger EAGLES, and especially to the beautiful Helotarsus ecaudatus (sometimes known as the “Bateleur”), by the Dutch colonists in South Africa, and often adopted by English residents (Layard, B. S. Africa, pp. 11, 18).

BERNACLE, apparently the right way of spelling the word often written, in accordance with its pronunciation, “Barnacle " or “ Barnicle.” Its derivation is as puzzling to the etymologist as is to the ornithologist the discovery of the breeding-grounds of the bird it denominates. Dr. Murray, under the word “Barnacle "in the New English Dictionary, gives as the oldest known English form the Bernekke (Latinized Bernaca) of Giraldus Cambrensis about tone, has a clear metallic ring, though the bird, as may be seen by the figure, has no caruncle, shews that this feature is not likely to be connected with the power of producing the peculiar sound. A fourth species, C. variegatus, inhabits

CHASMORHYNCHUS NUDICOLLIS. (After Swainson.) Trinidad and the neighbouring part of South America. Its loud note is likened by Léotaud (Ois. Trinidad, p. 260) to the sound of a cracked bell.

« EelmineJätka »