Art. XXXIII.—Notes on a New Species of Apteryx. (A. Haastii, Potts.)
[Read before the Philosophical Institute of Canterbury, 2nd August, 1871.]
In the collection of the Canterbury Museum the Apterygidœ are well represented, more especially in the species which are peculiar to the Middle Island.
Some time last summer, amongst a consignment of skins received from Westland, was a specimen of a large Apteryx, which presented such peculiarities
that it was considered to be a new species by the writer, and named A. Haastii in compliment to Dr. Haast. From a note by the collector it appears to have been obtained high on the ranges. Subsequently a second specimen was procured, the precise locality not given, but probably from the ranges above Okarita. The first specimen (No. 1) which we take to be that of an adult female, may be described thus:–Face, head, and neck, dull brown, darkest in a line from the gape to, and immediately behind the ear, and on the nape; upper surface indistinctly barred with blackish brown and rich fulvous, each feather crossed with marks of dark brown, and fulvous, approaching to chestnut on the apical bars; chin greyish brown; throat dull brown, indistinctly marked with fulvous; breast and abdomen dull brown, barred with pale fulvous; straggling hairs about the base of the bill, black, some produced to the extent of 3 . 5 inches; bill yellowish ivory, measuring from the gape to the end of the upper mandible, 5 . 6 inches; upper mandible over-reaching lower mandible by 0 . 3 of an inch; tarsus, 2 . 5 inches; middle toe, with claw, 2 . 6 inches.
Specimen No. 2.—Face, head, and neck, dark brown, blackish brown on the nape; entire plumage richer in colour than specimen No. 1; on the back of the thighs a chestnut bar, a bar of chestnut crossing the plumage above the tarsal joint; upper mandible measuring, from the gape to point, 5 . 4 inches; tarsus, 2 . 5 inches; middle toe, with claw, 2 . 75 inches.
Note.—In the “Cat. Birds N.Z.,” Hutton, Colonial Museum, Wellington, 1871, the compiler appears anxious to refer the new species to A. maxima, Verr., on the strength of a foot and tarsus of a very large species of Apteryx, the plumage and other characteristics of which are unknown. It is there stated that the bird to which the said tarsus and foot pertained, was as large as a turkey, and weighed nearly 14 lbs. Now for A. Haastii, we cannot claim the possession of such grand proportions, both the specimens of the new species, described in this paper, are equalled, sometimes excelled, by fine examples of A. Australis, Shaw, which, in the flesh, would not exceed 7lb.; this, an outside weight, is given on the authority of the collector, who has literally slain his thousands of Apterygidœ, and through whose exertions colonial and foreign museums have been supplied with examples of the Middle Island Apterygidœ.—Nov. 23.