Page images

the fine comb-like "teeth” with which its maxillæ are furnished, considered by many modern ornithologists to require removal from the genus Anas to that of Chaulelasmus or Ctenorhynchus, of which

it is the typical species. Its geographical distribution is almost identical with

that of the common Wild DUCK or Thomas Mallard, since it is found over the GadwaLL. (After Swainson.) greater part of the Northern Hemi

sphere; but, save in India, where it is said to be perhaps the most plentiful species of Duck during the cold weather, it is hardly anywhere so numerous ; and both in the eastern parts of North America and in the British Islands it is rather rare than otherwise. Its habits also, so far as they have been observed, greatly resemble those of the Wild Duck; but its appearance on the water is very different, its small head, flat back, elongated form, and elevated stern rendering it recognizable by the fowler even at such a distance as hinders him from seeing its very distinct plumage. In coloration the two sexes agree much more than is the case with any of the European Freshwater-Ducks, Anatinæone only, the Anas marmorata, excepted; but on closer inspection the drake exhibits a delicate ash-coloured breast, and upper wing-coverts of a deep chestnut, which are wholly wanting in his soberly clad partner. She, however, has, in common with him, a pure white patch on the wings, which forms one of the most readily-perceived distinctive characters of the species. The Gadwall is a bird of some interest, since it is one of the few that have been induced, by the protection afforded them in certain localities, to resume the indigenous position they once filled, but had, through the draining and reclaiming of marshy lands, long since abandoned. In regard to the present species, this fact is due to the efforts of the late Mr. Andrew Fountaine, on whose property, in West Norfolk, and its immediate neighbourhood, the Gadwall has, since 1850,1 annually bred in constantly increasing numbers, so that it may again be accounted, in the fullest sense of the word, an inhabitant of England; and, as it has been always esteemed one of the best of wild fowl for the table, the satisfactory result of its encouragement by this gentleman is not to be despised. A second species, C. couesi, from Washington Island, one of the Fanning group, has been described (Bull. Nutt. Orn. Club, i. p. 46).

GALL-BLADDER, the receptacle of the bile secreted by the LIVER, on the right lobe of which it is situated, between that and the proventriculus. When large it hangs down on the right side of almost indifferently, or with some distinguishing epithet, to the female of any of the Freshwater-Ducks, and especially to the present.

1 Stevenson and Southwell, Birds of Norfolk, iii. pp. 160-162.

the stomach into the beginning of the two arms of the duodenal loop. It is present in most Birds, but generally absent in the Columbida, Psittaci, and Trochilida, as also in Cuculus, Numida, Struthio, and Rhea. Its absence has also been noted as an individual peculiarity in Grus, Mergus, Numenius, Tringa, and others; while as a like individual peculiarity it has, on the other hand, been known to occur in Cockatoos, Cuculus, Pigeons (despite the almost proverbial belief to the contrary), and Rheaa fact which shews it to be of minor importance. Its shape is very variable, and in the Capitonida, Picidæ, and Rhamphastidæ it is very peculiar, being a long narrow blind sac, accompanying the duodenum far down. The bile, on leaving the liver, enters the duodenal loop of the intestine by two “hepatoenteric” ducts (of which that coming from its left lobe most frequently opens into the middle of the loop or its ascending branch, and but rarely—as in Struthio and the Columbidænear the pyloric end); while the right duct forms by its dilatation the gall-bladder, and consists therefore of a cysto-hepatic and a cysto-enteric duct. When the gall-bladder is absent the right lobe of the liver is emptied by a simple hepato-enteric duct. Sometimes one of these ducts is obliterated, as the right one is in Struthio, or one of them is double, as in certain Cracida, so that three ducts enter the duodenum (see DIGESTIVE SYSTEM).

GALLEY-BIRD, given as a Sussex name for a WOODPECKER by Mr. Charles Swainson (Prov. Names Br. B., pp. 99, 100), but not mentioned as such by Mr. Borrer or Mr. Knox.

GALLINÆ, the fifth Order of the Class Aves in the arrangement of Linnæus, and taken as a whole a very natural one, comprehending all that are commonly known as Gallinaceous Birds, or those allied to the common Fowl (Gallus). Other systematists have varied its title to Gallinacea or Gallinacei, and it is practically equivalent to the ALECTOROMORPHÆ of Prof. Huxley. By adding to the Order, as defined by Linnæus, the Columbæ (DOVE) and Crypturi (TINAMOU), Illiger in 1811 formed an Order which he called RASORES, a name adopted by many writers for more than half a century, but now generally admitted to be inadmissible.

GALLINEY, a local name for the domestic GUINEA-Fowl.

GALLINULE, a name given in books to the MOOR-HEN, and thence occasionally, with qualification, to others of the Rallidæ (Rail).

GAMBET, Fr. Gambette, Ital. Gambetta (Lat. gamba), which last is said by modern Italian writers to be the common name of the RUFF. The word was anglified by Pennant, and applied to what, in Montagu's opinion (Orn. Dict. Suppl.), was a bird of that species

in one of its varied stages of plumage ; but it has since been used, especially by American writers, indiscriminately for several SANDPIPERS.

GANDER (Anglo-Saxon, Gandra), the male GOOSE.

GANNET (Anglo-Saxon, Ganot) or SOLAN GOOSE, the Pelecanus bassanus of Linnæus and the Sula bassana of modern ornithologists, a large sea-fowl long known as a numerous visitor, for the purpose of breeding, to the Bass Rock at the entrance of the Firth of Forth, and to certain other islands off the coast of Britain, of which four are in Scottish waters-namely, Ailsa Craig, at the mouth of the Firth of Clyde; the group known collectively as St. Kilda ; 2 North Barra or Sulisgeir (otherwise Suleskerry), some 40 miles north of the Butt of Lewis; and the Stack,: about the same distance westward of Stromness. It appears also to have two Irish stations, the Skellig Islands off the coast of Kerry, and the Bull Rock off that of Cork, and it resorts besides to Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel

-its only English breeding-place, though in Wales a considerable settlement occupies Grassholm, off the coast of Pembrokeshire.5

1 The phrase ganotes bæð (Gannet's bath), a periphrasis for the sea, occurs in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, in reference to events which took place 975 A.D., as pointed out by Prof. R. O. Cunningham, whose learned treatise on this bird (Ibis, 1866, pp. 1-23) nearly exhausts all that could then be said of its history and habits. The name, like Gander and Goose in English and German Gans, is from an old base gan, which also supplied the Greek xəy, and the Latin anser. Solan is no doubt from the Scandinavian Sula, whatever that may mean.

Prof. Cunningham (ut supr. p. 15) noticed the wonderful mistake of Robert Browning, which surpasses the licence ordinarily taken on any subject, save natural history, by poets. In Paracelsus (part iii.) “ we find Festus referring to his son Aureole's glee when some stray Gannet builds amid the birch trees by the lake of Geneva !"

? Gannets frequent Rockall in the breeding-season, as Basil Hall, in his wellknown account of that distant rock, states, and as the late Mr. Gwyn Jeffrey told me, but whether they breed there is not known.

3 Cruising round this place in June 1890, my companions and I remarked the large proportion (compared with what we had seen elsewhere) the birds which had not attained their full plumage bore to those perfectly adult. The most likely explanation of the fact seems to be that, the station being so rarely visited and its inhabitants so free from molestation, a greater number of young would yearly grow up; and I was glad to find afterwards that this way of accounting for it is thought to be right by Mr. Harvie-Brown, whose experience is far greater than that of any one else (cf. Buckley and Harvie-Brown, Vertebr. Fauna of Orkney, p. 160).

+ This last seems to have been but recently colonized. Whether it ever bred upon the Stags of Broadhaven, off the coast of Mayo, as has been stated, is doubtful (cf. Barrington and Ussher, Zool. 1884, pp. 473-481).

5 The history of this settlement is very obscure. Its existence was practically unknown to ornithologists until 1890, when a wanton massacre of its inhabitants Further to the northward its settlements are Myggenæs, the most westerly of the Faroes, and various small islands off the coast of Iceland, of which the Vestmannaeyjar, the Reykjanes Fuglaskér, and Grimsey are the chief. On the western side of the Atlantic it appears to have now but three stations, and on them the population is so reduced in numbers that there is every chance of the species ceasing to exist in those parts unless proper steps are taken to protect it. In old times the birds existed in extraordinary numbers, and even in 1860 the late Dr. Bryant reckoned the population of Gannets on the Great Bird Rock at 50,000 pairs. In 1887 not more than 10,000 birds were said to be there, and the numbers, according to Mr. Lucas (Auk, 1888, pp. 129-135), are yearly decreasing both there and on Bonaventure Island, the only other considerable settlement, owing to the brutality of the fishermen in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. There seems to be no recent account of the settlement in the Bay of Fundy. On all these places the bird arrives about the end of March or in April, and departs in autumn when its young are ready to fly; but even during the breeding-season many of the adults may be seen on their fishing excursions at a vast distance from their home, while at other times of the year their range is greater still, for they not only frequent the North Sea and the English Channel, but stray to the Baltic, and, in winter, extend their flight to Madeira, while the members of the species of American birth traverse the ocean from the shores of Greenland to the Gulf of Mexico.

Apparently as bulky as a Goose, and with longer wings and tail, the Gannet weighs considerably less. The plumage of the adult is white, tinged on the head and neck with buff, while the outer edge and principal quills of the wing are black, and some bare spaces round the eyes and on the throat reveal a dark blue skin. The first plumage of the young is of a deep brown above, but paler beneath, and each feather is tipped with a triangular white spot. The nest is a shallow depression, either on the ground itself or on a pile of turf, grass, and seaweed—which last is often conveyed from a great distance. The single egg it contains has a white shell of the same chalky character as a CORMORANT's. The young are hatched blind and naked, but the slate-coloured skin with which their body is covered is soon covered with white down, replaced in due time by true feathers of the dark colour already mentioned. The mature plumage is believed not to be attained for some three years. Towards the end of summer the majority of Gannets, both old and young, leave the neighbourhood of their breeding-place, and, betaking themselves to the open sea, follow the shoals of herrings and other fishes (the presence of which they are attracted attention. Its discovery was made only a short time before by Mr. J. J. Neale (cf. T. H. Thomas, Trans. Cardiff Nat. Soc. xxii. part 2).

most useful in indicating to fishermen) to a great distance from land. Their prey is almost invariably captured by plunging upon it from a height, and a company of Gannets fishing presents a curious and interesting spectacle. Flying in single file, each bird, when it comes over the shoal, closes its wings and dashes perpendicularly, and

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][merged small]

with a velocity that must be seen to be appreciated, into the waves, whence it emerges after a few seconds, and, shaking the water from its feathers, mounts in a wide curve, orderly taking its place in the rear of the string, to repeat its headlong plunge so soon as it again finds itself above its prey.

1 The large number of Gannets, and the vast quantity of fish they take, have been frequently animadverted upon, but the computations on this last point are

« EelmineJätka »