Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
Volume 2, 1869
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Art. IX.—Description of two Birds new to the Fauna of New Zealand.

[Read before the Auckland Institute, September 20, 1869.]

Nyroca Australis, Gould.
White-winged Duck.

I first noticed this bird, about two years ago, on the Whangape Lake, Lower Waikato, and since, on the Waikare Lake, near Rangiriri, and on Rotomahana Lake, where it was abundant in March, 1868. On the lakes of the Lower Waikato it is not uncommon, but is so wary that as yet I have only been able to obtain three specimens, the first of which was kindly

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procured for me by A. M. Sheppard, Esq., of Ahiruna. This bird is known to the natives, both of Tarawera and Waikato, by the name of Karakahia. Like all the Pochards, it frequents the lakes only, and is rarely, if ever, seen in the rivers and creeks. I have not yet ascertained where it breeds. The specimen I got from Mr. Sheppard, I sent to W. Buller, Esq., of Whanganui, who identified it with the Nyroca australis of Gould's “Birds of Australia.”

Male.—Head and neck, dark reddish-brown; back, brown with the feathers of the upper part tipped with yellowish-brown; breast, white; sides, light-brown; abdomen, brown; wing feathers, white, tipped with brown; under wing-coverts, white; speculum, white; tail, dark-brown; bill, black, with a slate-coloured band near the tip; irides, white; tarsi, grey, front part very light-grey; membranes, black, bordered with light-grey on the side of each toe.

Length, 1 foot 8 inches; bill, from gape to point, 2 inches 2 lines. Wing, from carpal joint to tip 8 inches 3 lines; tarsi, 1 inch 6 lines.

Female.—Head, neck, and breast, reddish-brown, speckled with white on the throat, and black on the breast; upper abdomen, dirty white; wings, same as male; but the white of the primaries is shaded with brown; rest of plumage same as male; bill, greenish-grey, tipped with slate-blue; lower mandible, greyish-blue; irides, light-brown.

Length, 1 foot 7 inches; wing. from carpal joint, 8 ½ inches; bill, 2 inches; tarsi, 1 ⅜ inches. The wind-pipe of the male is much swollen, but not that of the female.

æstrelata Gouldii, n. s.
Procellaria macroptera, Gould, nee A. Smith.

This bird I first noticed in May, 1866, off Tasmania, and thought, at the time, that it would be an undescribed species; but I was never able to examine a specimen until a few months ago, when one was left at the Museum of the Auckland Institute, the donor's name not being known. It is very common on the Tasmanian and New Zealand coasts, and is, undoubtedly, the bird that Mr. Gould refers to as “the dark Petrel with a grey face,” which he shot off the coast of Tasmania, and which he suggests might be the Procellaria macroptera, of Dr. A. Smith. According to that author, however, the bird he called P. macroptera, has no grey face, but a white circle round the eye, and reddish-brown legs and feet, in all of which respects it differs from the present bird, as well, probably, as in its dimensions, although more specimens will have to be measured before this can be determined.

Considering, therefore, this bird to be a new species, I have named it after Mr. John Gould, to whose labours we are so largely indebted for our knowledge of the Petrels of the Southern Seas.


Upper parts with wings and tail sooty-black, some of the wing coverts with brownish tips; under parts, dark-brown; forehead, cheeks, and chin silvery-grey, shading off gradually into the black before reaching the eye.

Tail rather long, cuneate; wings, when folded, reaching about half-an-inch beyond the tip.

Legs and bill black.

Length from tip of bill to end of tail 16·75 inches
Bill, from gape to point 1·6 "
Wing, from carpal joint to tip 13·5 "
Tail 5·0 "
Tarsus 1·6 "
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Note.—Dimensions of P. Macroptera, Smith.
Lenth from tip of bill end of tail 17·0 inches.
Bill, from gape to point 1·75 "
Wing, from carpal joint to tip 13·75 "
Tail 6·0 "
Tarsus 1·5 "