Art. XXIII.—Notes on some of the Birds brought from the Chatham Islands, with Descriptions of the New Species.
[Read before the Wellington Philosophical Society, 23rd October, 1872.]
In the following notes I have alluded only to those birds which are either new to our fauna or which have some special point of interest. A complete list of the birds known to inhabit the Chatham Islands will be given by Mr. H. Travers (see Art. xxii.) as well as descriptions of all the eggs that he collected.
Gerygone albofrontata, Gray.
G. albofrontata, Gray, “Voy. Ereb. and Terr.,” Birds, p. 5, Pl. IV., fig. 2.
Two specimens of this species were obtained on Pitt Island, but neither are in good condition; they differ considerably from the measurements given by Mr. G. Gray, but as Dr. Buller says in his “Birds of New Zealand” that the original specimen in the British Museum is labelled as coming from the Chatham Islands, there can be no doubt as to their identity.
Above olivaceous brown; forehead, over the eye, region of the ears, and all the under surface, white; tinged with yellow on the flanks, abdomen, and vent; quills brown, narrowly edged on the outside with olivaceous; secondaries the same but with a broader edging; tail brownish rufous, with a brownish black band near the tip, followed on the three outer feathers with a pale rufous band; tips brown; irides light red.
Length 4.5 in.; wing from flexure, 2.25; bill from gape, .65; tarsus, .87.
In the “Ibis” for last July, Mr. Potts describes a specimen of Gerygone procured by him on the west coast of the South Island (see Art. xix), which specimen Dr. Buller refers, from Mr. Potts' description, to G. albofrontata; but in this opinion I cannot agree, for Mr. Potts' specimen, as he describes it, differs from G. albofrontata not only in the absence of the white forehead but also in the dark colour of the wings, in having the two centre tail feathers
black, and in the chin, cheeks, and breast being grey, in all which respects it agrees with G. flaviventris.
Miro traversi, Buller.
Petroica traversi, Hutton, “Ibis,” July, 1872. Miro traversi, Buller, “Birds of N.Z.,” p. 123.
Entirely black, except the wing feathers, which are brownish. Length, 6 in.; wing from flexure, 3.25; bill from gape, .77; tarsus, 1.13. There is no difference between the sexes.
Rhipidura flabellifera, Gml.
R. flabellifera, Gray, “Voy. Ereb. and Terr.,” Birds, p. 8.
One specimen only was procured, which on a second examination I find has the white of the tail feathers purer than in specimens from New Zealand, those from the North Island especially having the white on the tail more or less clouded with brown.
Platycercus auriceps, Kuhl.
P. auriceps, Hutton, “Cat. Birds N.Z.,” p. 19.
Two specimens, both of which are larger than any that I have seen from New Zealand, measuring 11 inches in length, and wing from flexure 4.7. The bill and tarsus are of the same size as New Zealand specimens.
Chrysococcyx plagosus, Lath.
Lamprococcyx plagosus, Gould, “Handbook to Birds of Australia,” I., p. 623.
The Chatham Island birds have but faint traces of rufous bars on the inner web of the second tail feather, thus agreeing, I suppose, with the Australian species and not with the one from New Zealand, but I have no Australian specimens for comparison.
Rallus? modestus, Hutton.
R. modestus, Hutton, “Ibis,” July, 1872.
Olivaceous brown, bases of the feathers plumbeous; feathers of the breast slightly tipped with pale fulvous, those of the abdomen and flanks with two narrow bars of the same colour; throat dark grey, each feather slightly tipped with brown; quills soft and short, brown, the first three faintly barred with reddish fulvous; fourth and fifth quills the longest; tail very short and soft, brown; irides light brown; bill longer than the head, rather slender, curved downwards, brown; legs dark brown (dry).
Length, 8.75 in.; wing, 3.15; bill from gape, 1.4; tarsus, 1; middle toe and claw, 1.4.
Young covered with brownish black down.
This curious bird was found on Mangare only; it will, doubtless, form the type of a new genus, as no other rail has a curved bill.
Halodroma berardii, Quoy.
Pelecanoides berardii, Q. and G., “Voy. de l'Uran.,” Zool., pl. 31. Pl. col. 517.
This species is distinguished from H. urinatrix by its narrow bill, which is only .17 inches in breadth at the end of the nasal tubes, while in H. urinatrix it is .25 in.
Phalacrocorax carunculatus, Gml.
Graculus cirrhatus, Gray, “Voy. Ereb. and Terr.,” Birds, p. 19.
Several specimens were obtained. Legs and feet flesh coloured.
Length, 27.5 in.; wing, 10.5; bill, 3.25; tarsus, 2.
As soon as the breeding season is over they lose the dark blue-black on the back, and get instead brown with a broad white transverse band.
Phalacrocorax africanus, Gml.?
Graculus africanus? Hutton, “Ibis,” July, 1872.
Head, neck, throat, lower part of the back, thighs, vent, and over the tail, dark blue- or green-black; upper back and wing-coverts greenish bronzy brown, each feather with a black apex; breast and abdomen grey; quills and tail brownish black; head crested; neek ornamented with white feathers in the breeding season; bill dark coloured; legs and feet yellowish orange.
Length 19 in.; wing, 9.5; bill, 2.75; tarsus 2.
In the “Ibis” for last July I referred this beautiful species to G. africanus with some doubt, as the only descriptions available, those of Linnæus, Cuvier, and Layard, in his “Birds of South Africa,” were very short and disagreed among themselves, but still seemed to indicate a bird very like ours. By the last mail, however, I heard from Dr. Finsch that Dr. Buller has sent him a specimen for examination, and that he (Dr. Finsch) considered it as a new species; it is certainly distinct from G. longicaudus, Swainson (“B. of Africa,” II., p. 253) which Mr. Gray considered the same as G. africanus. It is also found in New Zealand, for I have seen fragments in a lady's hat of a specimen that was shot at the Wade near Auckland.