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Australia, while the rest are natives of various islands from Lombock to New Caledonia. With their stout bill, mostly surmounted by a horny excrescence, and their head and neck frequently bare of feathers and black, these birds seem to be the most abnormal forms of the Family Meliphagida. The commonest species in Australia, which is found from Rockingham Bay to Victoria, is, according to Gould (Handb. B. Austral. i. p. 546), generally dispersed, and may be seen perching on the top of high trees, or clinging to their branches in every variety of attitude, being also of powerful flight, and attacking boldly every predatory bird that may approach. Its loud cries have given it the additional names of “Poor Soldier,” “Pimlico," and "Four-o'clock," which words they are thought to resemble, while its naked head and neck have also suggested those of “Monk” and “Leather-head.” The other species seem to have similar habits, and the plumage of all is of an almost uniform drab colour, though the young exhibit more or less of a yellow tinge on some parts of it. Several of them, however, have the head feathered.
FRIGATE-BIRD, the name apparently first printed by Albin in 1739-40 (Nat. Hist. B. iii. p. 75), but now commonly given by our sailors, on account of the swiftness of its flight, its habit of cruising about near other species and of daringly pursuing them, to a large Sea-bird 1—the Fregata aquila of most ornithologists—the Frégate of French and the Rabihorcado of Spanish mariners. It was placed by Linnæus in the genus Pelecanus, and its assignment to the Family Pelecanida was never doubted until Prof. Mivart declared (Trans. Zool. Soc. x. p. 364) that, as regards the postcranial part of its axial skeleton, he cannot detect sufficiently good characters to unite it with that Family in the group named by the elder Brandt STEGANOPODES. There seems to be no ground for disputing this decision so far as separating the genus Fregata from the Pelecanida goes; but systematists will probably pause before they proceed to abolish the Steganopodes, and no doubt the Frigate - Birds form a distinct Family, Fregatida, in that group. In one very remarkable way the osteology of Fregata differs from that of all other birds known. The furcula coalesces firmly at its symphysis with the carina of the sternum, and also with the coracoids at the upper extremity of each of its rami, the anterior end of each coracoid coalescing also with the proximal end of the scapula. Thus the only articulations in the whole sternal apparatus are where the coracoids meet the sternum, and the consequence is a bony framework which would be perfectly rigid did not the flexibility of the rami of the furcula permit a limited amount of motion. That this mechanism is closely related to the faculty which the bird possesses of soaring for a considerable time in the air with scarcely a perceptible movement of the wings can hardly be doubted, but the particular way in which it works has yet to be explained.
1 “Man-of-war-Bird" is also sometimes applied to it, and though an older it is a less distinctive name, some of the larger kinds of Albatros being so called, while, in books at least, it has generally passed out of use.
Two species of Fregata are considered to exist, though they differ in little but size and geographical distribution. The larger,
F. aquila, has a wide range all round the world within the tropics, and at times passes their limits. The smaller, F. minor, appears to be confined to the eastern seas, from Madagascar to the Moluccas, and southward to Australia, being particularly abundant in Torres Strait, — the other species, however, being found there as well. Having a spread of wing equal to a Swan's and a comparatively small body, the buoyancy of this bird is very great. It is a beautiful sight to watch one or more of them floating overhead against the deep blue sky, the long forked tail alternately opening and shutting like a pair of scissors, and the head, which is of course kept to windward, inclined from side to side, while the wings are to all appearance fixedly extended, though the breeze may be constantly varying in strength and direction. Equally fine is the contrast afforded by these birds when engaged in fishing, or, as seems more often to happen, in robbing other birds, especially BOOBIES, as they are fishing. Then the speed of their flight is indeed seen to advantage, as well as the marvellous suddenness with which they can change their rapid course as their victim tries to escape from their attack. Before gales Frigate-Birds are said often to fly low, and their appearance near or over land, except at their breeding-time, is supposed to portend a hurricane.1 Generally seen singly or in pairs, except when the prospect of prey induces them to congregate, they breed in large companies, and Mr. Salvin has graphically described (Ibis, 1864, p. 375) one of their settlements off the coast of British Honduras, which he visited in May 1862. Here they chose the highest mangrove-trees 2 on which to build their frail nests, and seemed to prefer the leeward side. The single egg laid in each nest has a white and chalky shell very like that of a Cormorant's. The nestlings are clothed in pure white down, and so thickly as to resemble puff-balls. When fledged, the beak, head, neck, and belly are white, the legs and feet bluish-white, but the body is dark above. The adult females retain the white beneath, but the adult males lose it, and in both sexes at maturity
1 Hence another of the names— 'Hurricane-Bird' — by which this species is occasionally known.
? Capt. Taylor, however, found their nests as well on low bushes of the same tree in the Bay of Fonseca (Ibis, 1889, pp. 150-152).
the upper plumage is of a very dark chocolate brown, nearly black, with a bright metallic gloss, while the feet in the females are pink, and black in the males—the last also acquiring a bright scarlet pouch, capable of inflation, and being perceptible when on the wing. The habits of F. minor seem wholly to resemble those of F. aquila. According to Bechstein (Orn. Taschenb. pp. 393, 394), an example of this last species was obtained at the mouth of the Weser in the winter of 1792, and it has hence been included by some ornithologists among European birds !
FROG-MOUTH, Jerdon's rendering (B. Ind. i. p. 189), since adopted by Anglo-Indian writers, of Gould's Batrachostomus, a genus which he instituted in 1838 (Icones Avium, pt. ii.) for some NIGHTJARS, apparently allied to Podargus (MOREPORK), and found in India and some parts of the Malay Archipelago.
FULFER, a corrupt form of FIELDFARE.
FULMAR, from the Gaelic Falmair or Fulmaire, the Fulmarus glacialis of modern ornithologists, one of the largest of the Procellariidæ (PETRELS) of the northern hemisphere, being about the size of the Common Gull (Larus canus) and not unlike it in general coloration, except that its primaries are grey instead of black. This bird, which ranges over the North Atlantic, is seldom seen on the European side below lat. 53° N., but on the American side comes habitually to lat. 45°, or even lower. It has been commonly believed to have two breeding-places in the British Islands, namely, the group of islands collectively known as St. Kilda, and South Barra; but, according to the late Mr. Robert Gray (B. W. Scotl. p. 499), it has abandoned the latter since 1844, while he was assured of its now breeding in Skye, Northward it established itself about 1838 on Myggenæs Holm, one of the Faroes, while it has several stations off the coast of Iceland and Spitsbergen, as well as at Bear Island. Its range towards the pole seems to be only bounded by open water, and it is the constant attendant upon all who are employed in the whale- and seal-fisheries, shewing the greatest boldness in approaching boats and ships, and feeding on the offal obtained from them. By our seamen it is commonly called the “Molly Mawk” 2 (corrupted from the Dutch Mallemugge), and is extremely well known to them, its flight, as it skims over the waves first with a few beats of the wings and then gliding for a long way, being very peculiar. It only visits the land to deposit its single white egg, which is laid on a rocky ledge, where a
1 Messrs. Harvie- Brown and Buckley (Vert. Faun. Out. Hebrid. p. 157) mention a report of a settlement of the species having been effected in the Flannan Islands, but proof of it is wanting. There is, however, reason to believe that it breeds in North Rona.
? A name misapplied in the southern hemisphere to some of the smaller species of ALBATROS (see MALLEMUCK).
las veral stats on Meeding in the latt
shallow nest is made in the turf and lined with a little dried grass. Many of its breeding-places are a most valuable property to those who live near them and take the eggs and young, which, from the nature of the locality, are only to be had at a hazardous risk of life. In St. Kilda it is said that from 18,000 to 20,000 young are killed in one week of August, the only time when, by the custom of the community, they are allowed to be taken. These, after the oil is extracted from them, serve the islanders with food for the winter. This oil, says Mr. Gray, having been chemically examined by Mr. E. C. C. Stanford, was found to be a fish-oil and to possess nearly all the qualities of that obtained from the liver of the cod, with a lighter specific gravity. It, however, has an extremely strong scent, which is said by some who have visited St. Kilda to pervade every thing and person on the island, and is certainly retained by an egg or skin of the bird for many years. Whenever a live example is seized in the hand it ejects a considerable quantity of this oil from its mouth. Though abounding in certain seasons on the banks of Newfoundland, where, according to Montagu (Suppl. Orn. Dict.), it was called by the fishermen “John Down," it seems to have no breeding-place on the east coast of America, but it has several, which are thronged, on either side of Baffin's Bay. The Fulmar is said by Mr. Darwin (Origin of Species, ed. 4, p. 78) to be the most numerous bird in the world ; but on whose authority the statement is made does not appear, and to render it probable we should have to unite specifically with the Atlantic bird, not only its Pacific representative, F. pacificus, which some ornithologists deem distinct, but also that which replaces it in the Antarctic seas and is considered by most authorities to be a perfectly good species, F. glacialioides. The differences between them are, however, exceedingly slight, and for Mr. Darwin's purpose on this particular occasion it matters little how they are regarded. It is a more interesting question whether the statement is anyhow true, but one that can hardly be decided yet.
FURCULA, a name for the two CLAVICLES when coalescent, as generally is the case among Birds ; in English commonly known as the Merrythought or Wishbone. Some very peculiar forms of the Furcula are presented in certain species of CRANE, GUINEA-FOWL, and Swan, chiefly adaptations to convolutions taken by the TRACHEA, as well as in the FRIGATE-BIRD, HOACTZIN, and some others.
FURZE-CHAT, a name often given to the STONE-CHAT.
1 Cotgrave, in his Dictionary (1660), explains the former name as “the forked craw-bone of a bird which we use in sport to put on our noses." The latter comes from the practice of two persons, mostly children, each holding one prong of the furcula and expressing a wish before breaking it asunder. The one who carries off the greater portion expects the fulfilment of his or her wish.
GABBLE - RATCHET. In many parts of England, but especially in Yorkshire, the cries of some kind of Wild GOOSE,1 when flying by night, are heard with dismay by those who do not know the cause of them, and are attributed to “Gabriel's Hounds,” an expression equivalent to “Gabble-ratchet," a term often used for them, as in this sense gabble is said to be a corruption of Gabriel, and that, according to some medieval glossaries, is connected with gabbara or gabares, a word meaning a corpse (cf. Way, Promptorium Parvulorum, p. 302, sub voce “ Lyche"); while ratchet is undoubtedly the same as the Anglo-Saxon ræcc and Middle English racche or rache, a dog that hunts by scent and gives tongue. Hence the expression would originally mean “corpse-hounds,” and possibly has to do with legends, such as that of the Wild Huntsman, on which it would be out of place here to dwell. The sounds are at times very marvellous, not to say impressive, when heard, as they almost invariably are, on a pitch-dark night, and it has more than once happened within the writer's knowledge that a flock of Geese, giving utterance to them, has continued for some hours to circle over a town or village in such a way as to attract the attention of the most unobservant of its inhabitants, and inspire with terror those among them who are prone to superstition (cf. Atkinson, Notes and Queries, ser. 4, vii. pp. 439, 440, and Cleveland Glossary, p. 203 ; Herrtage, Catholicon Anglicum, p. 147; Robinson, Glossary Whitby (Engl. Dial. Soc.), p. 74; and Addy, Glossary Sheffield (Engl. Dial. Soc.), p. 83). Mr. Charles Swainson (Prov. Names Br. B. p. 98), gives “Gabble-Ratchet” as a name of the NigHTJAR ; but satisfactory proof of that statement seems to be wanting.
GADWALL, a word of obscure origin,” the common English name of the Duck, called by Linnæus Anas strepera ; but, from
i Presumably the BRANT, on the rare occasions when, losing its way, it comes inland, for the call-notes proceeding from a flock of this species curiously resemble the sound of hounds in full cry (Thompson, B. Irel. iii. p. 59), though some hearers liken them to the yelping of puppies. The discrepancy may to some extent depend on distance.
Webster gives the etymology gad well="go about well ”—which is nonsense. The late Dr. R. G. Latham suggested that it is taken from the syllables quedul, of the Latin querquedula, a Teal. The spelling “Gadwall” seems to be first found in Willughby in 1676, and has been generally adopted by later writers; but in 1667 Merrett (Pinax Rerum naturalium Britannicarum, p. 180), had “Gaddel,” saying that it was so called by bird-dealers. The synonym “Gray,”. given by Willughby and Ray, is doubtless derived from the general colour of the species, and has its analogue in the Icelandic Grádnd, applied