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place of the Razor-bill's thin white line, while the bill itself bore eight or more deep transverse grooves instead of the smaller number and the ivory-like mark possessed by the species last named. Otherwise the coloration was similar in both, and there is satisfactory evidence that the Gare-fowl's winter-plumage differed from that of the breeding-season just as is ordinarily the case in other members of the Family Alcidæ to which it belongs. The most striking characteristic of the Gare-fowl, however, was the comparatively abortive condition of its wings, the distal portions of which, though the bird was just about twice the linear dimensions of the Razor-bill, were almost exactly of the same size as in that species—proving, if more direct evidence were wanting, its inability to fly.
The most prevalent misconception concerning the Gare-fowl is one which has been repeated so often, and in books of such generally good repute and wide dispersal, that a successful refutation seems 'almost hopeless. This is the notion that it was a bird possessing a very high northern range, and consequently to be looked for by Arctic explorers. How this error arose would take too long to tell, but the fact remains indisputable that, setting aside general assertions resting on no evidence worthy of attention, there is but a single record deserving any credit at all l of a single example of the species having been observed within the Arctic Circle, and this, according to the late Prof. J. T. Reinhardt, who had the best means of ascertaining the truth, is open to grave doubt. It is clear that the older ornithologists let their imagination get the better of their knowledge or their judgment, and their statements have been blindly repeated by most of their successors. Another error which, if not so widely spread, is at least as serious, since Sir R. Owen (Encycl. Brit. ed. 8, xvii. p. 176 ; Palæontology, p. 400) unhappily gave it countenance, is that this bird “has not been specially hunted down like the dodo and dinornis, but by degrees has become more scarce.” Now, if any reliance can be placed upon the testimony of former observers, the first part of this statement is absolutely untrue. Of the DoDo we know that the mode of its extinction is open to conjecture, a strong suspicion existing that though indirectly due to man's acts it was accomplished by his thoughtless agents. The extinction of the Dinornis (MoA) lies beyond the range of recorded history, and evidence that the whole population of Moas was done to death by
i I cannot attach importance to the later statements of Herr L. Brodtkorb (Mitth. Orn. Ver. Wien, 1884, pp. 67-69). His story was sifted nearly 30 years before by the late Mr. Wolley.
? The specimen is in the Museum of Copenhagen ; the doubt lies as to the locality where it was obtained, whether at Disco, which is within, or at Fiskernäs, which is without, the Arctic Circle.
man, however likely it may seem, is wholly wanting. The contrary is the case with the Gare-fowl. In Iceland there is the testimony of a score of witnesses, taken down from their lips by one of the most careful naturalists who ever lived, the late John Wolley, that the latest survivors of the species were caught and killed by expeditions expressly organized with the view of supplying the demands of caterers to the various museums of Europe. In like manner the fact is incontestable that its breeding-stations in the western part of the Atlantic were for three centuries regularly visited and devastated with the combined objects of furnishing food or bait to the fishermen from very early days, and its final extinction, foretold in 1792 by Cartwright (Labrador, iii. p. 55), was due, according to Sir Richard Bonnycastle (Newfoundland in 1842, i. p. 232), to “the ruthless trade in its eggs and skin.” No doubt that one of the chief stations of this species in Icelandic waters disappeared, as has been before said (pp. 220, 221), through volcanic action
"A land, of old upheaven from the abyss
By fire, to sink into the abyss again”and that the destruction of the old Geirfuglaskér drove some at least of the birds which frequented it to a rock nearer the mainland, where they were exposed to danger from which they had in their former abode been comparatively free; yet on this rock (Eldey = fire-island) they were “specially hunted down ” whenever opportunity offered, until the stock there was wholly extirpated in 1844, and whether any remained elsewhere must be deemed most doubtful.
A third misapprehension was that entertained by Gould who, in his Birds of Great Britain, said that “formerly this bird was plentiful in all the northern parts of the British Islands, particularly the Orkneys and the Hebrides. At the commencement of the present century, however, its fate appears to have been sealed; for though it doubtless existed, and probably bred, up to the year 1830, its numbers annually diminished until they became so few that the species could not hold its own."
Now of the Orkneys, we know that Low, who died in 1795, says in his posthumously-published Fauna Orcadensis (p. 107) that he could not find it was ever seen there ;' and on Bullock's visit in 1812 he was told, says Montagu (Orn. Dict. App.), that one male only had made its appearance for a long time. This bird he saw and unsuccessfully hunted, but it was killed in the following year, and its
1 However, from his more recently published (Kirkwall : 1879) Tour, made in 1774 at the instance of Pennant, we learn that he did not visit Papa Westray, the only locality assigned for the bird. His negative evidence is therefore not to be taken as conclusive.