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Volume 6, 1873
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Art. XXIV.—Notes on the New Zealand Wood-hens (Ocydromus).

[Read before the Wellington Philosophical Society, 22nd September 1873.]

1.—O. troglodytes, Gml.

The distinguishing marks of this species are its large size, the general olivaceous tint of its plumage, the middle tail-feathers having generally a black streak down the shaft, and the primary feathers of the wing tapering towards the point.

Wing. Tail. Culmen. Height of bill at base. Tarsus. Middle toe, without claw.
Male 7.8 4.8 2.0 .83 2.5 2.4
Female 6.7 4.4 1.7 .7 2.1 2.15

2.—O. hectori, sp. nov.

In size and style of colouring this bird resembles O. troglodytes, but its bill is more robust, its general hue is isabella brown, or fawn-coloured; the primary feathers of the wing are rounded at the tip, and the brown bands on the webs are very narrow, sometimes becoming obsolete. The tail is coloured as in O. troglodytes.

Wing. Tail. Culmen. Height of bill at base. Tarsus. Middle toe, without claw.
Male 7.8 4.8 2.2 .93 2.3 2.2

This species is described from a single specimen only, and more must be obtained before we can feel sure whether it should stand as a separate species, or only as a sub-species of O. troglodytes. The specimen was obtained by Mr. Morton, near the Te Anau Lake, in Otago.

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3.—O. australis, Sparrman.

Distinguished from the two former by its smaller size, the rust-red tint of its plumage, the grey colour of the throat and lower part of the breast (especially in the male bird), the more strongly marked pectoral band, and in the primary feathers of the wing tapering towards the point.

Wing. Tail. Culmen. Height of bill at base. Tarsus. Middle toe, without claw.
Male 6.5 4.4 1.7 .69 2.0 2.0
Female 6.7 4.4 1.8 .68 2.0 2.0

The middle tail-feathers are generally barred, but this is very variable. Except by the size, this species is not always easy to recognize fromO. troglodytes, and it is possible that it may prove to be a variety of it.

4.—O.fuscus, Du Bus.

Distinguished by its dark colour, the absence of any markings on the tail, by the inner webs only of the primaries being either sparingly marked with dull ferruginous, or without spots, and by their being rounded at the point.

Wing. Tail. Culmen. Height of bill at base. TArsus. Middle toe, without claw.
Male 7.4 4.8 2.0 .84 2.3 2.3
Female 6.5 4.6 2.0 .82 2.15 2.1

In the young bird the primaries are acutely pointed, and both webs are banded with ferruginous, but the bands do not extend to the shaft. The general plumage also is much lighter, the feathers being margined with yellowish ferruginous, and the tail-feathers spotted with the same colour. In this state it is not easy to distinguish from the adult of the next species. This species appears to be confined to the south coast of Otago, the western side of the Alps.

5.—O. finschi, sp. nov.

Throat, abdomen, and thighs dark brownish grey; feathers of the rest of the body brownish black, with spots of yellowish ferruginous on the outer margins of each web. Under tail-coverts, and feathers of the flanks banded with yellowish ferruginous. Primary feathers of the wing acutely pointed, brownish black, banded on each web with dull ferruginous; secondaries with yellowish ferruginous spots on the margins of each web. Middle tail-feathers brownish black, the outer ones with spots of yellowish ferruginous on the margins of the webs. Bill dark brown, getting reddish towards the base of the lower mandible. Legs brownish red.

Wing. Tail. Culmen. Height of bill at base. Tarsus. Middle toe, without claw.
Male 7.7 5.0 1.9 .8 2.35 2.25
Female 6.35 4.6 1.7 .64 2.1 2.0

5a.—Variety or immature.

The light-coloured markings on the feathers larger, passing into marginal

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bands. Spots on the secondaries ferruginous. Middle tail-feathers marked like the others. This species appears to be confined to the southern parts of Otago, on the eastern side of the Alps, from Te Anau Lake to the southern slopes of the Takitimu Mountains. It differs from O. fuscus in the markings of the wings and tail, and in the shape of the primaries. From O. troglodytes it differs in its general colouration, and in its smaller size. It may possibly be identical with Gallirallus brachypterus, Lafresnaye.

6.—O. earli, Gray.

Distinguished by its rusty brown back and grey abdomen. The primary feathers of the wing are, in the adult male, rounded at the point and banded with ferruginous on the inner web only; but in the adult female they are more or less banded on both webs and rounded at the tip. In the young bird they are marked as in the female, but are acutely pointed at the tip. The tail is without mark in both sexes and at all ages.

Wing. Tail. Culmen. Height of bill at base. Tarsus. Middle toe, without claw.
Male 6.6 3.9 1.8 .67 2.2 2.1
Female 6.0 3.25 1.8 .67 2.2 2.0

This species is confined to the North Island.