Art. XIX.—On Megapodius Pritchardi, Gray. Megapodius Huttoni Buller.
[Read before the Auckland Institute, 31st July, 1871].
In the third volume of the Transactions of the New Zealand Institute, p. 14, Mr. Buller has described a bird in the Auckland Museum as Megapodius Huttoni. This bird was presented to the Museum by Captain Rough, of Nelson, who brought it from the island of Nuifo (not Nuipo), and gave me the following information concerning it.
Nuifo is one of the Friendly Island group, and is under the Government of Tonga; it lies 100 miles west of Keppel's Island, and about 300 miles south-west of the Navigator Islands. It consists of a ring of high land which is the summit of a volcano, the interior crater of which is occupied by a lake of brackish water, studded with two or three islands. It is on these islands that the Megapode, called Malau (not Malan) by the natives, lives.
At the breeding season the bird scratches a hole in the ground, in which it lays several (about six) eggs, and then covers them up with earth. The young bird comes out of the egg fully fledged and able to fly.
The specimen now under notice was brought to the Museum in spirits, but was afterwards skinned and set up by order of the Council of the Auckland Institute; the body, however, is still preserved in spirits in the Museum.
There can, I think, be little doubt but that Nuifo of Captain Rough is identical with Niafu, or Niufu of Dr. Finsch; and Mr. Buller, in his description of M. Huttoni, has omitted to mention that the tail feathers are whitish at the base, and that a ring round the neck is almost bare of feathers. With the exception of the tail, the general plumage of the bird corresponds exactly with the description of M. Pritchardi, as quoted by Mr. Buller, but no mention is there made of the quill feathers. The bill and feet certainly do not quite correspond, which may be owing to the Auckland Museum specimen having been kept for some time in spirits, but I can see no difference between the two sufficiently great to warrant the establishment of a new species, and think, therefore, that this bird must be referred to M. Pritchardi, Gray.