Page images
PDF
EPUB

while no less than 15 out of the 25 families are exclusively tropical, none are confined to, or have their chief development in, the temperate regions. They are best represented in the Ethiopian region, which possesses 17 families, 4 of which are peculiar to it; while the Oriental region has only 14 families, none of which are peculiar. The Neotropical region has also 14 families, but 6 of them are peculiar. The Australian region has 8, the Palæarctic 9 and the Nearctic 6 families, but none of these are peculiar. We may see a reason for the great specialization of this tropical assemblage of birds in the Ethiopian and Neotropical regions, in the fact of the large extent of land on both sides of the Equator which these two regions alone possess, and their extreme isolation either by sea or deserts from other regions,-an isolation which we know was in both cases much greater in early Tertiary times. It is, perhaps, for a similar reason that we here find hardly any trace of the connection between Australia and South America which other groups exhibit; for that connection has most probably been effected by a former communication between the temperate southern extremities of those two continents. The most interesting and suggestive fact, is that presented by the distribution of the Megalamida and Trogonidæ over the tropics of America, Africa, and Asia. In the absence of palæontological evidence as to the former history of the Megalamidæ, we are unable to say positively, whether it owes its present distribution to a former closer union between these continents in intertropical latitudes, or to a much greater northern range of the group at the period when a luxuriant sub-tropical vegetation extended far toward the Arctic regions; but the discovery of Trogon in the Miocene deposits of the South of France renders it almost certain that the latter is the true explanation in the case of both these families.

The Neotropical region, owing to its enormous family of humming-birds, is by far the richest in Picariæ, possessing nearly half the total number of species, and a still larger proportion of genera. Three families, the Bucerotidæ, Meropidæ and Coraciidæ are equally characteristic of the Oriental and

Ethiopian regions, a few outlying species only entering the Australian or the Palæarctic regions. One family (Todidæ) is confined to the West Indian Islands; and another (Leptosomnidæ) consisting of but a single species, to Madagascar; parallel cases to the Drepanididæ among the Passeres, peculiar to the Sandwich Islands, and the Apterygidæ among the Struthiones, peculiar to New Zealand.

Order III.PSITTACI..

The Parrots have been the subject of much difference of opinion among ornithologists, and no satisfactory arrangement of the order into families and genera has yet been reached. Professor Garrod has lately examined certain points in the anatomy of a large number of genera, and proposes to revolutionize the ordinary classifications. Until, however, a general examination of their whole anatomy, internal and external, has been made by some competent authority, it will be unsafe to adopt the new system, as we have as yet no guide to the comparative value of the characters made use of. I therefore keep as much as possible to the old groups, founded on external characters, only using the indications furnished by Professor Garrod’s paper, to determine the position of doubtful genera.

FAMILY 76.-CACATUIDÆ. (5 Genera, 35 Species.)

[blocks in formation]

The Cacatuidæ, Plyctolophidæ, or Camptolophidæ, as they have been variously termed, comprise all those crested parrots usually termed Cockatoos, together with one or two doubtful forms. They are very abundant in the Australian region, more especially in the Austro-Malayan portion of it one species inhabiting

the Philippine Islands; but they do not pass further east than the Solomon Islands and are not found in New Zealand. The distribution of the genera is as follow :

Cacatua (18 sp.) ranges from the Philippine Islands, Celebes and Lombok, to the Solomon Islands and to Tasmania; Calopsitta (1 sp.) Australia ; Calyptorhynchus (8 sp.) is confined to Australia and Tasmania ; Microglossus (2 sp.) (perhaps a distinct family) to the Papuan district and North Australia; Licmetis (3 sp.) Australia, Solomon Islands, and (?) New Guinea; Nasiterna (3 sp.), a minute form, the smallest of the whole order, and perhaps not belonging to this family, is only known from the Papuan and Solomon Islands.

FAMILY 77.-PLATYCERCIDÆ. (11 Genera, 57 Species.)

[blocks in formation]

The Platycercidæ comprise a series of large-tailed Parrots, of weak structure and gorgeous colours, with a few ground-feeding genera of more sober protective tints; the whole family being confined to the Australian region. The genera are :

(1906 1999 2000) Platycercus (14 sp.), Australia, Tasmania, and Norfolk Island; Psephotus (6 sp.), Australia ; Polytelis (3 sp.), Australia; Nymphicus (1 sp.), Australia and New Caledonia; (2002 2003) Aprosmictus (6 sp.), Australia, Papua, Timor, and Moluccas; Pyrrhulopsis (3 sp.), Tonga and Fiji Islands; Cyanoramphus (14 sp.), New Zealand, Norfolk Island, New Caledonia, and Society Islands; Melopsittacus (1 sp.), Australia ; Euphema (7 sp.), Australia ; Pezoporus (1 sp.), Australia and Tasmania ; Geopsittacus (1 sp.), West Australia. The four last genera are ground-feeders, and are believed by Professor Garrod to be allied to the Owl-Parrot of New Zealand (Stringops).

FAMILY 78.—PALÆORNITHIDÆ. (8 Genera, 65 Species.)

[blocks in formation]

I class here a group of birds brought together, for the most part, by geographical distribution as well as by agreement in internal structure, but which is nevertheless of a very uncertain and provisional character.

Palæornis (18 sp.), the Oriental region, Mauritius, Rodriguez, and Seychelle Islands, and a species in Tropical Africa, apparently identical with the Indian P. torquatus, and therefore-considering the very ancient intercourse between the two countries, and the improbability of the species remaining unchanged if originating by natural causes—most likely the progeny of domestic birds introduced from India. Prioniturus (3 sp.), Celebes and the Philippine Islands ; (2061) Geoffroyus (5 sp.), Bouru to Timor and the Solomon Islands; Tanygnathus (5 sp.), Philippines, Celebes, and Moluccas to New Guinea ; Eclectus (8 sp.), Moluccas and Papuan Islands; Psittinus (1 sp.), Tenasserim to Sumatra and Borneo; Cyclopsitta (8 sp.), Papuan Islands, Philippines and North-east Australia ; Loriculus (17 sp.), ranges over the whole Oriental region to Flores, the Moluccas, and the Papuan island of Mysol; but most of the species are concentrated in the district including the Philippines, Celebes, Gilolo, and Flores, there being 1 in India, 1 in South China, 1 in Ceylon, 1 in Java, 1 in Malacca, Sumatra, and Borneo, 3 in Celebes, 5 in the Philippines, and the rest in the Moluccas, Mysol, and Flores. This genus forms a transition to the next family.

FAMILY 79.—TRICHOGLOSSIDÆ. (6 Genera, 57 Species.)

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

The Trichoglossidæ, or Brush-tongued Paroquets, including the Lories, are exclusively confined to the Australian region, where they extend from Celebes to the Marquesas Islands, and south to Tasmania. The genus Nanodes (= Lathamus) has been shown by Professor Garrod to differ from Trichoglossus in the position of the carotid arteries. I therefore make it a distinct genus but do not consider that it should be placed in another family. The genera here admitted are as follows:

Trichoglossus (29 sp.), ranges over the whole Austro-Malay and Australian sub-regions, and to the Society Islands ; (2017) Nanodes (1 sp.), Australia and Tasmania; Charmosyna (1 sp.), New Guinea (Plate X. Vol. I. p. 414); Eos (9 sp.), Bouru and Sanguir Island north of Celebes, to the Solomon Islands, and in Puynipet Island to the north-east of New Ireland; (2039 2040) Lorius (13 sp.), Bouru and the Solomon Islands ; (2041 2043) Coriphilus (4 sp.), Samoa, Tonga, Society and Marquesas Islands.

FAMILY 80.—CONURIDÆ. (7 Genera, 79 Species.)

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

The Conuridæ, which consist of the Macaws and their allies, are wholly confined to America, ranging from the Straits of Magellan to South Carolina and Nebraska, with Cuba and Jamaica. Professor Garrod places Pyrrhura (which has generally

VOL. II.-22

« EelmineJätka »