Art. VIII.—The Kohoperoa or Koekoea, Long-tailed Cuckoo (Urodynamis taitensis): An Account of its Habits, Description of a Nest containing its (supposed) Egg, and a Suggestion as to how the Parasitic Habit in Birds has become established.
[Laid on the Table at the Annual General Meeting of the Otago Institute, November, 1903.]
So little is known of the breeding-habits of the Long-tailed Cuckoo that the description of a nest containing what I believe to be the egg of this interesting bird may be considered of some ornithological importance.
The Long-tailed Cuckoo is a native of the South Sea Islands, and visits us annually in the spring, breeding with us, but the task of feeding its young is very frequently carried out by the Grey Warbler (Gerygone flaviventris), a species which actually hatches and brings up the young of the Bronze or Shining Cuckoo (Chalcococcyx lucidus), another summer visitant(1). How the egg of the Shining Cuckoo is placed in the nest of the Warbler is as yet unknown; the Cuckoo probably lays the egg on the ground and then places it in the nest with its beak, for it can hardly get inside the nest without seriously damaging it; and when we come to consider the size of the Long-tailed Cuckoo the difficulty is immeasurably increased. Sir Walter Buller says of this point, “It is difficult to conceive how a bird of the size and form of the Long-tailed Cuckoo could deposit its egg in the domed nest of Gerygone flaviventris; and, even supposing that it did, it would seem almost a physical impossibility for so small a creature to hatch it; and, again, were this feasible, it is difficult to imagine how the frail tenement of a suspension nest could support the daily increasing weight of the young cuckoo”(2). This objection has been raised by others,(3) and from my own observations of the nests of Gerygone, and the fact that the barely fledged Shining Cuckoo fills the nest to almost bursting-point, I am convinced that the Warbler rarely, if ever, hatches the egg of Urodynamis. Sir Walter Buller was long of the opinion that the Cuckoo hatched its own egg and then cast its offspring upon a charitable world
for support. This view was suggested by the fact that he once shot an adult female of this species in which the under-parts were quite denuded of feathers, as though the bird had been long incubating(4). In addition to this the strange fact that birds of many different species had been seen to feed cuckoos(5) gave him the idea that the true parent hatched the egg, and then left the chick to the “bird world in general” for its support and maintenance.
It is reported of the Kermadec Islands that a resident, thoroughly familiar with the birds there, and a reliable observer, has frequently seen the old Cuckoos feeding their young, and considers that they build their own nest, and bring up their young themselve(6). It is not, however, stated whether this nest-building is mere surmise or gathered from actual observation. It is quite possible that an occasional Cuckoo may, under the influence of atavism, actually build a nest and hatch an egg or eggs. An instance is recorded of the Great Spotted Cuckoo of Europe having been said to have built a nest and hatched its young; but all ornithologists of the time discredited the accuracy of the observer, and said that it was a manifest error(7).
In Australia we find Cuckoos, almost without exception, depositing their eggs in the nests of other birds. The Channel-bill (Scythrops nova-hollandia) lays her egg in the open nests of the Crow, Sparrow-hawk,(8) Black-backed Magpie, and Pied Crow-Shrike; and the Koel (Eudynamis cyanocephala) in the nests of the different Friar-birds and Orioles, all open-nested birds; the Pallid Cuckoo also lays in similar open or cup-shaped nests(9). Nearly all the other Australian Cuckoos, including several large ones, and three of the four Bronze Cuckoos, carefully select dome-shaped or covered-in nests for the home of their young(10). Now, the question arises, How are these eggs placed in their respective nests? Dr. Ramsay asserts that they are laid in the nests, and not deposited in any other manner, for he says that the average width of the entrances of the nests of the Acanthiza which have not been visited by the Cuckoo is 1 in.; while those which have contained Cuckoos' eggs vary from 2 in. to 2 ½ in. (11). Mr. Archibald Campbell is of the contrary opinion, asking, “How can the Fantail Cuckoo, a bird about 10 in. long, including a tail 5 in., enter the small, covered, dome-shaped nest of a Tit, Acanthiza species, the longest exterior diameter of which is only 4 ½ in?” The side entrance that hardly admits of one's finger may be enlarged by the Cuckoo thrusting its head in(12). Dr. Brehm gives us an account of the egg of the European Cuckoo, which was deposited in the nest of the Water-wagtail. The hole leading to the nest was large enough for the passage of the Wagtail,
but not of the parent Cuckoo, and the young Cuckoo, which was hatched out in due time, delayed his departure from the nest until too late, his size being the cause of his permanent imprisonment(12a). Mr. Jesse refers to the fact that he has found the egg of the Cuckoo in a nest, where it was impossible for the bird to have deposited it. other than by its bill(12b). M. Oustalet says, “The Cuckoo watches the moment when the mother quits its nest then, laying its egg, seizes it by its mandibles, passes it into the throat with the agility of a conjuror, and flies to deposit it delicately in the stranger's nest.” The fact of the Cuckoo carrying her egg-in her bill is now generally admitted. If such be possible with the European Cuckoo, why not with our Australasian species also? Mr. Best, of Branxholme, Victoria, says, “In the season of 1888 I shot a Fantail Cuckoo, and on dissection it proved a specially interesting specimen, as in its ovary I found a nearly perfect egg, and in its gizzard another egg, which, though much broken, was evidently an egg of the same species, probably of the same bird. The season was a late one, and the conclusion I drew was that the bird had carried the egg about for a considerable time, and, being unable to find a suitable nest, had simply swallowed it. In Tasmania a fresh egg of the Fantail Cuckoo was found deposited on a bare stump. Doubtless it had been laid there by the bird, which was probably disturbed before it could convey it away to some suitable nest”(12).
There have been a few fortunate observers who have actually seen the deposition of the egg upon the ground by the Cuckoo, who then, taking it in her bill, introduces it into the nest. The most positive evidence on this point is that of Herr Adolph Muller, a forester at Gladenbach, in Darmstadt, who says that through a telescope he watched a Cuckoo as she laid her egg on a bank and then conveyed the egg in her bill to a Wagtail's nest(13). With one exception, all the Australian Cuckoos are parasitic, and it seems to me reasonable to believe the same of the Long-tailed Cuckoo of our Islands. The occasional supervision by adult Cuckoos of their young ones, and even feeding of them, to which I shall presently refer, has possibly led to the belief that these birds sometimes hatch their own egg; but there is no evidence that this ever occurs, beyond the curious fact mentioned by Sir Walter Buller as to the female bird he shot. We may therefore assume that the Long-tailed Cuckoo, like its Australian kindred, either lays its egg on the ground and then carries it to a suitable nest, into which it drops it by its bill, or else it finds a nest with a good-sized opening and, settling upon it, lays its egg therein. It no doubt chooses the nest of a bird which is insectivorous, and trusts to Providence, and
the fact that most of the smaller birds will minister to any unfortunate fledgling which by plaintive piping shows signs of hunger. During the months of October and November it is no uncommon sight to see the smaller Australian birds feeding the young of the Cuckoos. Even the little Acanthiza, which are seldom, if ever, the foster-parents of the Pallid Cuckoo, join in supplying the wants, which are made known by the continual peevish cry, which stops only while feeding is going on or when the appetite is fully appeased. So with the New Zealand birds: the Mocker, the Tui, the Warbler, the Tomtit, the Robin, the Brown Creeper, the Canary, the White-eye, and the imported House-sparrow are all known to feed the Cuckoo bantlings, not because they are purely duped, but very often from a true philornithic spirit(19). There is no doubt that at times the parent Cuckoos exercise a sort of general supervision over their young ones, to watch, as it were, in order to see if they are well tended. and at times to actually assist in feeding the youngsters. This is at variance with what we are told by Professor Newton, who says, “The assertion that the Cuckoo herself takes any interest in the egg that she has foisted on her victim, or of its product, there is no evidence worth a moment's attention”(14). To show that there is some evidence that the parent bird does occasionally take interest in the welfare of the product of the egg we need only refer to Miss Bell's report of the Kermadec Cuckoos, and to Mr. Archibald Campbell's book, which mentions several instances: “Channel-bill Cuckoos make their appearance just before or during floods, laying principally in Crow's nests. Later on, or prior to leaving, the old Channel-bills go round and gather up their young, when some hard fighting between the Channel-bills and the Crows usually ensues”(15). The young Koel, or Flinders Cuckoo, was found in the nest of the Friar-bird near Chinchilla, Queensland. Mr. Broadbent watched the young Cuckoo coming out and the old Friar-birds feed it. The adult Koel used to come about the nest at night, remain until dawn, and then fly away till next night(16). Miss Fletcher, writing to the Australasian, 30th May, 1896, says, “I myself have seen a full-grown Pallid Cuckoo feeding a young one of the same species. The young one when flushed flew feebly, and I judged it had only recently left the foster-parents' nest”(17). Mr. Campbell asks, “Do Cuckoos sometimes assist the foster-parents in feeding their young, or had these particular youngsters lost their foster-parents?” He further adds, “I am inclined to believe that many birds by instinct feed young Cuckoos, whether they be the rightful foster-parents or not. Only last season Master Bardwell watched a young Cuckoo, either a Pallid or a Fantail, being fed,
first by a Scarlet Robin (Petroica leggii) and then immediately after by a Spine-billed Honey-eater.” With reference to the statement that young Cuckoos are sometimes fed by old Cuckoos, Dr. Ramsay says, “While walking through a half-cleared paddock I was not a little surprised, upon hearing the cries of a young Cuckoo, to see two adult birds of the same species (Cuculus pallidus) flying after it, settling beside it, and apparently paying it great attention. Several times they flew away, but returned to it again, and from their actions I am convinced that they were feeding it, though I was unable to obtain a view sufficiently close to make sure of the fact”(18). Of the Indian Koel (Eudynamis honorata) Allan Hume says, “I have never seen Crows feeding fully fledged Koels out of the nest, but I have repeatedly watched adult Koels feeding young ones of their own species. I am pretty nearly convinced that after laying their eggs the females keep somewhere about the locality, and take charge of the young directly they can leave the nest, but I never saw more than one young one in the charge of an old female”(16a).
Mr. Ivy gives several instances of South African Cuckoos lurking about nests in which they had deposited their eggs, and undoubtedly keeping an eye on them; and he says that he saw two adult birds, Coccystes glandarus, with five young ones, all flying together late in February(110). This may have been a pair which had mated, built a nest, and hatched out a brood; but this bird is considered always parasitic, and Mr. Ivy was of the opinion that the old birds had merely collected their brood previous to migrating. One of the most remarkable facts in this connection is the deposition in other birds' nests of eggs already partly incubated(38). This shows that the egg has been either already sat on by the mother Cuckoo, or removed from one foster-nest to another. This is known to have occurred, Mr. Bendire narrating a most interesting account of it(112). Is it possible that there is still another way in which the egg could be partly incubated—namely, by the heat and moisture of the bird's own mouth and throat while carrying the egg about in the search for a suitable home for it(111)? Nests found one day with fresh eggs in them, and next day with partly incubated eggs of Cuckoos in addition, give one food for reflection(96). Many observers have recorded the feeding of the New Zealand Long-tailed Cuckoo by the Grey Warbler, but I can find no instance of a young one being found in the nest of that bird, and but a single occurrence of a supposed egg. An egg stated to be that of the Kohoperoa was sent to Sir Walter Buller by the Rev. Mr. Taylor, of Wanganui, but he did not say from what nest he had removed it, though it seemed to correspond in appearance.
with one taken in 1885 by Mr. W. Smith (of Oamaru, now of Ashburton) from the nest of Gerygone flaviventris(20). It was almost spherical in shape, with a slightly rough or granulate surface, of a pale-buff or yellowish-brown colour; length 1.25 in., breadth 1.15 in. A third egg somewhat similar in appearance was found by Mr. Smith in 1888 in the nest of the Wood robin (Myiomoira albifrons), and, being allowed to hatch out, proved conclusively to belong to the Long-tailed Cuckoo(20). As this is the only case on record of the discovery of the egg and its subsequent proof of identity by successful incubation I shortly refer to it. He found the Robin's nest with four eggs, and next day the egg of the Cuckoo among the rest. When the eggs hatched the young Cuckoo was of enormous size compared with his mates, and was a very helpless creature, with the skin almost entirely naked and the eyes closed. It throve well, being kept supplied with food by the Robins, and grew rapidly, and was soon too large for the nest, and had to lie on top of the young Robins, which appeared instinctively to crouch at the bottom of the nest for self-preservation, for if the young Cuckoo could have displaced them he could have occupied the whole of the cavity of the nest. Finally Mr. Smith removed two of the young Robins in order to make room for the increasing size of the Cuckoo. The remaining Robin did well, being soon nearly ready to fly. Unfortunately, Mr. Smith did not describe the egg further than to say that “it was almost round in shape, and of a deeper shade of colour than the specimen in the Canterbury Museum.” In Buller's book there also appears from the pen of Mr. Smith a graphic account of the hatching of the egg of the Bronze Cuckoo by Gerygone flaviventrus, and it seems from this that the young intruder was practically fledged and ready to fly in about ten days, and in a fortnight voluntarily quitted its home, which it is, however, right to mention had been placed on the ground. It had accomplished this remarkable development by appropriating all food which came to the nest, and had doomed its unfortunate companions to a cruel death by starvation(21). No doubt the Shining Cuckoo chooses the domed nest of the Warbler because this is large enough for the young bird until it is nearly fledged and ready to fly, and the young bird can escape from the nest without fear of injury by falling. The Long-tailed Cuckoo, on the other hand, would seldom select this nest for its young, as the bird, owing to its size, would have to leave long before it could fly, and might easily be seriously injured, at that tender age, by falling from the height at which these nests are built. For this reason the parent Cuckoo has, through myriads of generations, probably come to deposit her egg in an open nest close to the
ground; or one, at any rate, in which the young can attain to a fairly good size before leaving, and can thus reach terra firma without much fear of injury. In Mr Smith's case the young Urodynamis at a fortnight quite filled the nest, and at three weeks was well plumaged, but only able to move about weakly on its legs; it does not seem to have made any attempt to fly, but was still a huge helpless creature. This bears out what I before said as to the unsuitability of the nest of the Warbler as a habitation for this Cuckoo; and the fact that no one has ever found the young bird in such a nest makes it probable that the deposition of the egg of the Long-tailed Cuckoo in the nest of the Grey Warbler is of very rare occurrence. The picture in Buller's book showing the feeding of the young Cuckoo by the Warbler is, however, an accurate representation of what often takes place; the helpless youngster crawls from the nest to the ground or large tree-trunk, and on the ground or trunk do the various kind-hearted little insectivores feed it. I wish some of our Australian ornithologists would refer to the young of the Fantail Cuckoo, and give us details of their upbringing in the tiny little nests of the Acanthiza. Do many of these birds perish for the reasons I have mentioned? How soon do they leave the nests? and have many instances occurred of the actual discovery of the young Cuckoo in one of these nests? The eggs are deposited therein, but are they hatched, and, if so, what is the ultimate result? Does the Cuckoo throw out its mates? How does it get out of the nest, and when? How long can the nest support its weight? In searching for the egg and young of Urodynamis taitensis I have paid special attention to the nests of three birds—the Native Canary (Orthonyx ochrocephala), the Robin (Myiomoira albifrons), and the Tomtit (Myiomoira macrocephala). Sir Walter Buller says that a Maori at Wellington told him that the Blue Crow (Glaucopis cinerea) lays a single egg, and after hatching it leaves the care of the chick to the Popokatea, or Canary (Orthonyx albicilla)(21). Sir Walter could not accept so strange a fact in natural history, and later contributions by the same writer(22) and others quite dispose of the idea that the Blue Crow is ever parasitic(23). It occurred to me that the Maori had very probably mistaken the young unfledged Kohoperoa for the young of the Blue Crow, and that it was the former bird that the Canary had been seen feeding. All nests of the South Island Canary (Orthonyx ochrocephala), however, which I have personally examined have shown the natural occupants, and no sign of an intruder; but my surmise proves to be the correct one, for Mr. Elsdon Best sends me the following interesting information concerning the Cuckoo from the Tuhoe natives: “The Koekoea does not build a nest, but takes
possession of and lays its eggs in the nest of the Tataeto bird, sometimes called Tataeko, or Tataihore, the same as the Popokatea, or White-head. I have not seen the eggs of the Koekoea, but I have seen the young Koekoea sitting together with the young of the Tataeto on a branch just after they could leave the nest, and being all fed alike by the Tataeto, which would bring food, feed one after the other, and then fly away to procure more food “(23a). Mr Robert Riddle, of Orepuki, found the young Urodynamis in the nest of the Yellow-headed Canary, and says that the young Canaries were all ejected by the intruder(100).
The following is an account of a young Cuckoo which had probably just left the nest of the Canary, narrated by Mr. McLean, of Te Tua: “My boy saw a Cuckoo dart several times among a flock of Native Canary, but could not see if any damage was done. The birds did not seem very much afraid of the Cuckoo, but when he came among them they would scatter, and then when he flew to another tree would follow him, and when he uttered his call they also would start chirping: then a larger Cuckoo came and joined it, and they both flew away a short distance.” Mr. Westenra, of Akaroa, found a nearly fledged Koekoea in the nest of the Tomtit (Myiomoira macrocephala)(23b).
Mr. Buckland informs me that the young Koekoea has been seen calling for food, which was being brought regularly to it by a Tomtit(23b), and Mr. Potts records a case where the duty of rearing the young of the Shining Cuckoo was intrusted to the same bird, Myiomoira macrocephala(23c), and Captain Mair says that he has seen the Bell-bird (Anthonis melanura) acting in the same kind capacity(24). It is probable that the Bell-bird is called upon to hatch the egg and rear the young of the Kohoperoa, for one may often see the latter bird chased and harried by the Bell-bird, each one giving vent to its rage in a brassy note, like “Peng, peng, peng,” frequently repeated, a series of notes or sounds never heard from the Bell-bird or Mocker unless it is in a savage mood. As to the nests of the two species of Myiomoira, they are as a rule built on a solid foundation—on a rock, or on the side of a tree, in the hollow of the broad-leaf (Griselima lucida), or in a large fork, and often close to the ground. These are favourable conditions; and another important point is that these nests have fairly large-sized cavities, in which the Cuckoo can easily lay or deposit its egg. I took an egg from a nest in a manuka fork in Richardson's Gully, West Taieri, some years ago. The nest was about 5 ft. from the ground, cup-shaped, and built of moss and ribbonwood-bark, and was extremely like that of the Tomtit (Myiomoira macrocephala), but the only egg it contained was of a red
colour, beautifully speckled all over and considerably larger than that of the Tomtit. I have now a strong suspicion that the nest did belong to the Tomtit, and that the egg had been deposited in it by the Kohoperoa. I have for some years. corresponded with Ross Bros. who have until lately been working on the Te Anau - Milford Sound route. The Messrs. Ross are keen naturalists, and were always willing to give assistance to tourists interested in the flora or avifauna of their district. I am glad to make mention here that these gentlemen were always determined that no native birds should be killed on or near the track save in case of absolute necessity for food. I trust that the new guides will act similarly. In February of last year I received a letter from Mr. Donald Ross giving an account of a nest and eggs found on the track, and sent to me by same post. It was supposed by those who found it to belong to the Fern-bird, or Utick (Sphenoeacus rufescens), and the strange egg in it to the Grey Cuckoo(25). Mr. John Ross, who is well known to the scientific world of New Zealand as the fortunate finder of the latest specimen of Notornis hochstetteri, wrote as follows: “The nest was found just opposite Mid-camp Hut, in a small fern-bush, not fern-tree. It was underneath the leaves and very hard to find, as you had to lift up the leaves before you could see it. There were four eggs in the nest, three small and one large one, and they were quite fresh. There were several Long-tailed Cuckoos about, and they seemed much annoyed when the boys came on the nest, and kept singing out a good deal all the time they were about it” (26). The nest on examination proves to be that of the Tomtit (Myiomovra macrocephala), and contains three Tomtit's eggs and one strange one. It is round in shape, and measures 6in. in diameter and 3in. in depth. The cavity is 2 in. in diameter and 1 ½in. in depth. It is composed of the ordinary fine bush moss, interwoven with shreds of fine ribbonwood-bark, and ornamented on the outside with pieces of dry white lichen and leaves of the black-birch. It is lined ‘with strips or shreds of ribbonwood-fibre and a minute quantity of wool. The eggs of the nest-builder are ovoido-conical in shape and of a cream-colour uniformly speckled all over with greyish-brown, very similar to the colour and marking of the egg of the Common-Lark (Anthus novoe-zealandioe. The three in this nest are slightly smaller than the specimens of the Tomtit's eggs which I have, but the egg of this little bird is very variable. These measure 0.75in. in length and 0.55in. in breadth. That which I think is undoubtedly the egg of the Kohoperoa, for I can refer it to no other species, is white with purplish-brown speckles, becoming thicker and darker at the larger end. It is something like that of the
Canary, but is more elliptical in shape—I should call it ovoidoelliptical—and its length is 0.94in., and its breadth 0.7 in. I have requested the Messrs. Ross, if another egg is found, to allow it to hatch out and in this way positively settle the identity of the egg. I think it likely that many of the eggs are hatched by Orthonyx and Anthornis, and very soon the young bird crawls from the nest, to be still fed by its foster-parents, Gerygone or any other kind-hearted strangers. The egg is quite near enough in appearance to that of the Canary to be easily overlooked in most clutches of eggs of that little bird. It may be objected that this egg differs markedly from the specimens before discovered, but I think you will agree with me presently that that is no reason for our doubting its identity. In the first place, nearly all species of birds at one time or other produce eggs differing markedly from the normal in size and colouring. For instance, I have some specimens of pure-white eggs of Anthornis and of Prosthemadera; also in my series of eggs of the little Tomtit much variation occurs, but that is not a point I am about to rely on. My opinion is that this is another instance of that wonderful power in nature of producing “protective resemblance.” We all know the difficulty in finding the eggs of the Tern among the pebbles of the river-beds; and the eggs of the Dotterel (Charadrius bicinctus) are similarly protected. The eggs of the Ground-lark (Anthus novoe-zealandioe) much approach in colour the dusty earth around the depression in which they lie, and it is almost impossible for them to be refound if once lost sight of amidst the dried tussocks and grass around. The same species of Gull lays eggs which differ markedly in ground-colour and blotches according to the part of the beach. or to the character of the debris and stones among which they lie(26).
The extraordinary difference between the eggs of the two species of Chalcococcyx, lucidus and basalis, has excited much comment, but can, I think, be accounted for in the same way. As we find among the New World Cuckoos several which build their own nests and hatch their own delicate green eggs, let us assume that this is the original natural colour of many of these species. Now, I do not know of very many birds which lay eggs like this, and it may come about, assuming the habit of parasitism to have been first established, that these birds must get their eggs into nests where the wrong colouring will not be noticed, or where the bird is so easily duped as not to object to the peculiar appearance of the strange egg(27). Such dupes do occur, as, for example, the Common Hedge-sparrow will brood with complacency the egg of the Redbreast (Erythracus rubecula), so unlike her own that for all we know to the contrary she may be colour-
blind (28). Few birds are so easily imposed upon as this, and these Chalcococcyx species, lucidus and plagosus, have come to find that they are best perpetuated in nests which are dome-shaped or covered in like that of Gerygone or those of the Australian Bush-wrens or Tits. The eggs which are deposited in these covered-in nests remain of the original seagreen or olive-green colour, there being no necessity, as the eggs are in comparative darkness, for “protective mimicry” to be established. Now, when we examine the egg of Chalcococcyx basalis we find that the egg is white, spotted with pinkish red, quite a different type of egg altogether. Campbell says of this point, “It will be observed that the eggs of the two little Bronze Cuckoos, plagosus and basalis, are totally dissimilar in colouring, notwithstanding that their respective reputed parents are exactly alike both in colour and size. Both wear coats of glorious green; the young birds are hardly to be separated in appearance, and the adults are extremely alike in plumage, and it would be of great interest if some of our oologists could explain the apparent anomaly in the coloration of the eggs, for experience teaches us that in nearly every genus the true typical egg of each species is not without characteristic resemblance “(29). Now, the remarkable change in the colouring of this little egg is, I think, easily explained. This bird, as one would expect, lays its eggs more often in open or cup-shaped nests than in closed or domed nests, and the eggs have gradually assumed a speckled colouring very nearly approaching in appearance the egg of our Gerygone and many of the smaller Australian birds. In this the Narrow-bill Cuckoo is quite distinct from the other three species of Chalcococcyx, whose eggs, being hidden in domed nests, have not required to assimilate themselves to their surroundings. As regards the dark closed nests of the Common English Wren, no adaptation of the egg of the Cuckoo to the eggs of the owner has ever been noticed(87). Many of the European Cuckoos lays eggs which are wonderfully approximate in their colouring to the eggs of those species in whose nests they are deposited; many are abnormally coloured, and quite unlike the ordinary egg of the Cuckoo, but have been proved to belong to that bird on examination of the contained embryos(30). Among the Australian birds the Koel lays an egg which much resembles that of the Friar-bird, one of its foster-parents, and the Channel-bill Cuckoo's egg is very like that of the Hill Crow-Shrike (Streperaarguta)(31, 32). Enough has been said to show that much variability may be expected in the eggs of parasitic birds all the world over, and consequently differences in the various specimens of the Kohoperoa need not be considered remark-
able. The egg shown here soems to have assumed an appearance approaching those of the different Myiomoira species; it is also very like that of the Canary, and has a faint resemblance to that of the Ground-lark. It is quite within the bounds of possibility that the egg which was found in a Lark's nest by Mr. Reisehek, and described by him as a red egg, belonged to the Kohoperoa(33). Unfortunately, he does not say whether the nest was near the edgo of the bush, or in a place easily and safely accessible to the Cuckoo. The bird would hardly venture into the opon, except for a few seconds at a time, and even then would probably have to return procipitately to its loafy sholter, lest it should be hunted by all and sundry in the neighbourhood. I might here refer to the extraordinary attacks made on Cuckoos by other birds all the world over, and in New Zealand, as elsewhere, they are persistently hunted. Here the Tui and the Mocker are the chief offenders, chasing and tormenting them in the same, way as they harry and hunt our Owl Sceloglux albifacies and its smaller congener Spiloglaux novoe-zealandioe. The Cuckoo is seminocturnal, and seldom seen, though often heard, by its persecutors; they know it for a stranger, and object to its habits, which drive it to prowl round looking for a convenient lodging for its egg. Besides this, its harsh cry, quietness of flight, its peculiar colouring, hawk-like beak, and cruel yellow iris are all combined to make birds which are otherwise sociable very savage at its approach. It is interesting to note that the Piopio, or Native Thrush (Turnagra crassirostris), and the Long-tailed Cuckoo, birds of widely divergent genera. are somewhat similarly plumaged, cruel-beaked, yellow-irised. and hawk-like in appearance. I have never read or heard of the Thrush being chased by other birds, but I have always been struck with its savage appearance. In confinement it is carnivorous, and has been known to devour the eggs of the Ringdove as soon as they were laid, and to actually kill two adult Parrakeets and partially devour one of them(34). It certainly seems to merit the attention of the Tui or Mocker quite as much as if not more than the Cuckoo. The latter bird is said to devour the eggs and young of other birds, and, curious irony of fate, the only instance I can find recorded of this shows the victim to be the very bird I have just referred to, the Thrush, a true case of the “the biter bit.” Buller says, “From the stomach of one of them I took the body of a young bird, apparently a Native Thrush, or Piopio, partly fledged and only slightly mutilated, showing the enormous capacity of the Cuckoo's throat”(35). Buller, Potts(36), and Handly(37) all affirm that our Cuckoo is predatory, but I have vainly endeavoured to find recorded any other evidence
of this. Even in Australia one comes across numberless instances of eggs of the various Cuckoos being placed among cutches of eggs of other birds, but not one is recorded in Campbell's book of the Cuckoo having thrown out or devoured the egg of the nest-builder or of any other bird. On the other hand, many instances are reported of the builder having thrown out the egg of the parasite, or covered it up with feathers, before laying its own eggs. This genorally happens when the Cuckoo is foolish enough to deposit its egg in the nest before it is fully completed, or before the eggs of the rightful tenants are laid. Many cases are recorded of the destruction or desertion of the Cuckoo's egg by the nest-builder, but few or none of the Cuckoo throwing out or eating the eggs of other birds (38).
Bendire says of the American Yellow-billed Cuckoo, “I am aware that this species has been accused of destroying the eggs, and even of eating the young, of smaller birds, but am strongly inclined to believe that this accusation is unjust, and requires more substantial confirmation. I have never had any reason to suspect their robbing small birds' nests, and I am upheld in this position by a number of careful observers whom I have questioned on this important subject.” Of all the American Cuckoos mentioned by Bendire two instances only are mentioned of this unpleasant habit. The Road-runner (Geococcyx), of South California, was stated by Mr. Anthony to have devoured a nest of young Finches, and the Mangrove Cuokoo, of Florida and Key West, was said by Audubon “to be fond of sucking the eggs of other kinds of birds in the absence of their owners.” No specific instance is given of any of the Cuckoos being caught nest-robbing, and here, as in other countries, the accusation is manifestly unfair(38a). Among the parasitic Cowbirds the curious habit obtains of puncturing the eggs of the nest-builder, but seldom of throwing them out of the nest. This is done purposely by the Cowbird with beak or claws, probably to prevent the eggs from hatching. The parasite has evidently learned that it is as well to refrain from openly interfering with the eggs of the host, but that by making minto punctures in them it will insure their destruction, as the owner, on finding an egg will not hatch, will undoubtedly throw it out herself. Bendire says this puncturing is so often seen that he is certain it is done intentionally, but whether by beak or claws is not known. It is undoubted that eggs of the builder are found beneath the nest at times, but there is sufficient reason to think that this is due to the disappointed parent discarding the addled eggs. This habit of puncturing may. have arisen from mere accidental contact in the first place, and this, by enabling the young Cow-
birds in those nests to have less competition for food, would be transmitted as an advantage, while the young Cowbirds which had large families to compete against would have less chance of obtaining sustenance, and would ultimately become extinct(38b). Although writers on the American, Australian, and Indian Cuckoos do not report a thieving character thereof, Buller, Potts, and nearly all the writers on the New Zealand bird make the general statement that it devours- the eggs of other birds; but no specific instance is given. Mr. Potts gives it as his opinion that many of the eggs of the Blue Crow (Glaucopis cinerea) are destroyed by the Cuckoo, but he brings forward no proof of this(39). Personally, I think that if this theory of universal egg-robbing were true it would soon bring about the robbers' extinction, by the nests of all birds which contained an egg of the marauder being deserted, or the egg promptly thrown out by the builder. The “protective resemblance” to a Hawk is, to my mind, acquired partly for the bird's own protection, as it seems to be a poor fighter, but also for the purpose of frightening small birds away from their nests, so that it can quickly seize the opportunity of safely depositing its egg in a comfortable home The sudden appearance of a large savage-looking bird would make any little Tomtit fly from its nest, and the marauder in this way could utilise her resemblance for the perpetuation of her species.
Professor Newton says, “So far as I can find there is nothing to show that any instance has been known of the Cuckoo stealing an egg, and the whole theory of egg-robbing seems to have arisen from the numberless instances of Cuckoos having been found with eggs in their mouths, throats, or stomachs. When these instances are carefully investigated the egg invariably proves to belong to the Cuckoo itself. Cuckoos, too, have been not infrequently shot as they were carrying a Cuckoo's egg, presumably their own, in their bill, and this has probably given rise to the vulgar but seemingly groundless belief that they suck the eggs of other kinds of birds”(40).
When we carefully investigate the habits of the Kohoperoa we do find that instances have been known of his eating an egg, but more often young birds, though this is a habit by no means universal, and no more common than in many other birds which are not credited with these villainous proclivities. The Native Kingfisher (Halcyon vagans), which preys on mice and small fish, &c., has been seen to attack and devour a fully adult Fantail (Rhipidura flabellifera), and fly off with several inches of tail-feathers protruding from its beak(40a); and the Thrush (Turnagra crassirostris) has similar propensities(35). The fact that our bird is so per-
sistently mobbed has called man's attention to it; but like the Owl, she is saddled with regular habits which, when looked into, prove in a large number of instances to be absolutely false. According to Mr. Bosworth Smith, the Owl does very little robbing of nests at all, and is a cruelly maligned bird; and our Cuckoo gets the discredit of being far worse than it actually is because of the objection of other birds to its prowling round their nests. The female Cuckoo must place her egg in some nest, and each householder is determined that hers shall not be the domicile chosen if she or her mate can prevent it. Birds all the world over object to the intruding egg, and often throw it out of the nest, and this is the main reason, I think, for their hunting the Cuckoo. I have endeavoured to disprove the accusation against our bird; but, notwithstanding a strong opinion on my part that the tale was an idle one, I have had reluctantly to give way to good evidence. The following instances show that at our end of the world the Cuckoo has latterly acquired mischievous habits, which are, however, not to be wondered at, seeing the continued ill-treatment it has to put up with.
Many Cuckoos have been seen with fresh yolk smeared over their beaks and necks, and an instance of this was reported to me by a gentleman in Nelson Province(40a). This, of course, is not conclusive, as the yolk might well have belonged to an egg of the Cuckoo itself, which had been broken by the bird in an endeavour to place it in a nest. As a rule the information one gets is only circumstantial evidence. For example, the same man says, “My opinion is that they live entirely on small eggs and young helpless birds, but they are so shy and cunning that it is almost impossible to catch them at work; but I believe their thieving is done at night, as I have often found nests empty in the morning that contained eggs or young the night before, and you can hear their scream at all hours of the night”(40a). “We had a lot of trees in front of the house, and the Cuckoos used to come into the gums at night and scream, and all the Sparrows and other birds could be heard fluttering in the branches and making a great noise”(40b). “Frequently in summer, when it has grown dark, we hear cries of fright and anger from the small birds, and then the loud scream of the Cuckoo”(40c). “As to the Cuckoo robbing the nests of other birds, I have not seen one in the act, but have heard of lots of instances where nests have been found robbed of both eggs and young birds immediately after the Cuckoo has been seen in the neighbourhood, more especially the nests of the pretty little goldfinch”(40d). “I cannot say that I have actually seen it robbing a nest, but I have seen it very busy about Sparrows' nests in a
tree, and considered that that was what it was doing. The Sparrows were greatly excited, and followed it from tree to tree as it moved. My two boys say they saw eggs fall when the bird was so employed, and that one boy climbed the tree and found a mutilated nestling in the nest”(40e). “It can fly down any one of the small birds with the greatest of ease, picking it up in its claws when flying swiftly over it. It is very fond of going into smaller birds' nests and eating the young birds, but rarely stops to eat them near the nest, but flies off to a tree with its prey”(40f). A lady from Queenstown says, “One day I surprised a Cuekoo in a gully, and it flew off with a small object in its beak. A pair of Goldfinches seemed in great distress, and on searching I found the nest with a few feathers in it. The nest had apparently been recently occupied by young birds, though I am not positive of this, and I was not near enough to see the small object held by the Cuckoo”(40g). “I once saw in a paddock a strange bird which I took for a Sparrow-hawk. It was at the time eating a small bird, and it flew about 5 chains towards a gorse hedge. It appeared in its movements quite unlike an ordinary Hawk, otherwise I should not have noticed it. It did not rise high off the ground, but swooped along at a tremendous rate about 3 ft. off, and simply rose over the hedge without apparent wing-motion, and, I think, rounded on the other side”(40h). When ordinary food is scarce, as in early spring, and the birds have just arrived on the coast, they have to take what they can get, and are then carnivorous at times, for one of my lighthouse correspondents says, “The birds I saw were very much the colour of a Hawk spotted underneath, and with a very long tail, and flew very fast. There were half a dozen of them flying about, and I saw a Hawk and Seagulls chasing them. One I fired at had a small piece of rabbit—it looked like a leg—and it was pecking at it and flew off with it”(40i).
I now come to more positive evidence: “It is undoubtedly true that the Cuckoo robs the nests of other birds, as several members of our family witnessed last year. Our attention was attracted by a great commotion in the garden, and on going out we found two Blackbirds in a state of great excitement, uttering loud cries, and flying round a birchtree. As we watched out flew a Cuckoo with a small bird in its beak; it flew into the orchard, and the Blackbirds chased it, dashing past it on one side and then the other, making an incessant noise”(40j). “I have seen a Cuckoo repeatedly with young birds in its bill, and have examined the nest after the Cuckoo has been at them, and have found nothing but the shell of the egg left. It chiefly robs Sparrows' nests”(40f). “I have seen one go into a red-pine tree and take from a hole in the trunk a young Sparrow, fly off into the scrub with it,
and in a short time return and repeat the performance with another nestling”(92). “Only last year I noticed one come out of a willow-tree from a Thrush's nest carrying a Thrush's egg in its mouth, the adult Thrush chasing it”(93). A Riversdale correspondent says, “I shot a very fine specimen as it was flying from out of a hedge of gorse, and it had a young Linnet in its beak, evidently just kidnapped”(94). “Last summer I saw a Cuckoo fly across the garden with a Thrush's egg in its beak, and two Thrushes in hot pursuit, uttering wild cries of distress”(99).
Mr. W. Milne, of Normanby, once saw his dog catch a Cuckoo alive and bring it to him. The Cuckoo had a fullgrown Mocker (Anthornis melanura) in its claws. The letter was only just dead, was still warm, and the Cuckoo had already taken some pieces out of him, as the flesh was exposed and torn in several places(95). Mr. Riddle, of Orepuki, saw a Cuckoo chasing a number of Brown Creepers (Certhiparus novoe-zealandioe). One of these the Cuckoo struck at and killed, and on attempting to pick the bird up from the ground at Mr. Riddle's feet was nearly captured by him(101). Sir Walter Buller's case of the Cuckoo which contained a Piopio I have already referred to. Mr. George Byers, of Stirling, wounded a Cuckoo with his “shanghai,” and when the bird fell to the ground it vomited up three little unfledged birds(40k). Mr. Alfred Reynolds saw a Cuckoo one day in his garden at Riveton. It was eating an egg, which he thinks was that of a Thrush(40l). Mr. Gallien, of Winton, when preparing a Cuckoo for stuffing, found in its crop a complete young Sparrow, barely feathered. He also saw a Cuckoo on one occasion swoop on to a young Sparrow and fly away with it. At another time he saw a Cuckoo attack a Sparrow's nest, and, as far as he could see, either eat the eggs or young ones, while the old Sparrows were flying round, very much upset and making a great noise(40m). Mr. Charles Bills gives particulars of a Cuckoo dashing into his nets and attacking a Parrakeet so fiercely that it was taken while so engaged(40n). But there is no need for me to multiply instances. I have gathered sufficient to prove the occasional hawk-like carnivorous habit of the Kohoperoa. There is no doubt that he often robs Sparrows and other imported birds of their young and eggs; and this is very probably done by the male Cuckoo alone. The female Cuckoo, if ever a thief, is no fool, and almost certainly refrains from touching the eggs of birds in whose nests she deposits her progeny. There are very few instances of egg-robbing recorded, and those only since the introduction of English birds; and, as the natural food of the Cuckoo has become
scarcer, the bird has acquired the habit of helping himself from the nests of those who have largely been responsible for the diminished food-supply. Many of my correspondents say that the Cuckoo is now more common than it used to be, and attribute this to the abundance of imported birds. Thus Mr. Arthur, of Lawrence, “I have never seen it in dense, but always in thin bush, and along the edges of the bush, and especially in any patch standing out apart from the main bush, if frequented by a lot of small birds. The Cuckoo seems to have changed its habits during the last twenty years. Before that one heard them often, and saw them occasionally; but it was very difficult to get near them. Now they come into the trees in one's garden, and I have seen one in a clump of willow-trees not 12 ft. from my back door. I have no doubt that the change is caused by the importation of ‘Home’ birds of different habit from the native ones. Imported birds seem to live and breed in the vicinity of cultivated country, consequently, near townships, their nests and young are much more easily found, and are much more numerous than the native ones, and it seems to me that the Cuckoo is living on the eggs and young of these birds; and, as they are more numerous near dwellings and gardens, the Cuckoo also comes closer, and is more in evidence than it was. I may be wrong in my surmise, but I cannot see how the change in the habits of the bird can be otherwise accounted for. I think if the matter is gone into it will be found that the Cuckoo does the best he can towards combating the Sparrow plague”(40o). I am strongly of opinion that the Cuckoo seldom, if ever, touches the eggs of the Tui or the Mocker, its two chief enemies, and I should require very positive evidence before accepting this accusation as a true one. The Kohoperoa is often chased by these birds because they are frequently his unwilling foster-parents. The Waikato natives say that the Cuckoo lays its eggs in the nests of Tuis, but first eats the Tuis' eggs; similarly, the Urewera natives very naturally say that they know the Koekoea eats the Tuis' eggs because they see the Tuis chasing them. Mr. Crawford Anderson, of Stirling, saw an adult Kohoperoa sitting on the nest of the Mocker: the bird flew off as soon as he moved under the tree. The nest was rather difficult to get at. so he did not examine it for eggs(40p). Mr. Reynolds saw a Cuckoo being fed by a Tui, and the presumption is that it had been hatched in the Tui's nest, as the enmity between the birds is notorious, and one can hardly believe that the Tui would fail to recognise and attack its opponent, even though only half-fledged, were it not that it had hatched it out itself(40q).
Some writers assert that the Cuckoo excites the fury of her dupe by turning out one or more of the eggs, and in this
way assures more than ordinary(41) attention to the remaining egg or eggs. This is to my mind purely supposititious, for I can find but few instances of eggs being found on the ground beneath or near nests containing Cuckoo's eggs, and no proof that the Cuckoo herself has performed the eviction. There have, however, since the days of Jenner been numberless instances recorded of the young, blind, helpless, and unfledged Cuckoo instinctively wriggling under and deliberately striving to hurl, and eventually succeeding in hurling, to destruction the rightful tenants of the nest(42). It is indisputable that the Shining Cuckoo throws out the young Warblers, and I have my self found them on the ground beneath the nest containing the young intruder; and that the larger Cuckoo sometimes does the same is also undoubted(100).
Darwin says that “The offspring of the foster-parents of the European Cuckoo are commonly ejected from the nest within three days after the Cuckoo is hatched, although the latter is at this age in a most helpless condition. Trustworthy accounts have been received of the young Cuckoo, while blind and not able to hold up its head, ejecting its own foster-brothers. With respect to the means by which this strange and odious instinct was acquired, if it were of importance for the young Cuckoo to receive as much food as possible soon after birth I can see no difficulty in its having gradually acquired, during successive generations, the blind desire, the strength and structure, necessary for the work of ejection, for those young Cuckoos which had such habits and structure best developed would be the most securely reared. The first step towards the proper instinct might have been mere unintentional restlessness on the part of the young bird when somewhat advanced in age and strength, the habit having been afterwards improved and transmitted to an earlier age”(45a). In Mr. Smith's case the young Robins seem to have inherited an instinct that unless they kept to the bottom of the nest the young tyrant above them would speedily bring about their doom.
I should now like to review what evidence we have as to the migration of the Kohoperoa from the South Seas to these Islands. That it was known to the early colonists to appear annually, and as regularly to disappear, is shown by the startling statement made by the Rev. Mr. Taylor in his book “Te Ika a Maui,” for he says, “The Long-tailed Cuckoo in the autumn buries itself in the mud of the river-beds, and there hibernates till the following spring”(46).
In the Rev. William Yate's “Account of New Zealand,” published in 1835, he says, “This bird, which is remarkable for its long body and short cock's beak, is one of the sweetest
songsters of the woods, but it is only seen or heard for about four months in the height of summer. It secures itself during the winter months in the holes of the puriri-tree, and does not leave its retreat till all danger of its being overtaken with cold has passed away. The natives say that always when the wind is about to blow from the south the Kohoperoa ceases its song, and does not commence again until the west wind blows or a breeze springs up in the north.” A good many of Mr. Yate's statements appear to have been got secondhand, for he has evidently confused the two Cuckoos. He says, “The Pipiwharauroa, or Shining Cuckoo, has no song at all,” whereas we know it is the finest whistler we have in the Islands. He also says, “It is a bird of passage, and supposed to come from the islands north of New Zealand, though the natives assure us that it retires in the winter into the holes of trees or into the crevices of the rocks, and does not fly away for winter quarters to other and warmer climes”(48).
According to Mr. Elsdon Best, the Urewera natives say, “These birds disappear into the earth in autumn and come forth during the spring; we do not see them appear from the earth, but such was told us by our elders. Perhaps they retire to caves. They do not eat berries, but lizards, &c. There is no sign of the coming of this bird, as a wind or any other tohu—nothing but its cry; that is the only sign. We take the Koekoea for the sake of its kotare, or tail-feathers, which we prize as plumes for head-ornaments. I have not seen it eaten”(49c).
Mr. Taylor says the natives call it “Kawekawea” and “He piri rewa,” the “Flying-lizard” or “Tree-lizard.” The name Kawekawea may have been formed from the word kaweau, which means a “large lizard,” or from a mere misspelling of the word koekoea, which has an entirely different origin.
Mr. Tregear says, “The natives have a curious fancy that the bird loses its feathers at the approach of winter, hibernating in holes in the ground. Its feathers begin to grow as spring advances, its tail drops off, and it again becomes a bird. In its lizard form it is called Gnaha at Taupo and Wanganui. To the native mind the green lizard is moko kakariki, a very fearsome creature, from its spiritual influences, and is the incarnation of a god. It is born from the shells left in the nest of the Kakariki, or Green Parrakeet, after the young birds are hatched out; but the Cuckoo is the child of a lizard that is mottled or speckled, and the name of this lizard is Mokotapiri or Gnarara-papa or Moko-papa”(49a).
The name Kawekawea may thus have arisen from the idea that the bird turns into a lizard; or it may be called the Tree-lizard from the peculiar mottled markings on the feathers, or from the fact of its appearing about the time that the
lizard casts its skin, which is similarly mottled. The name Koekoea is possibly formed from the word koe, to scream, and means the “Screamer,” the word koë being evidently formed from the squeak or scream of any bird on being captured. It may have been applied to this particular bird from the peculiar grating whistle or whizzing sound that it makes. Oe-oe in the Hawaiian language means “to grate or whiz.” “Koekoea,” although so near in' sound to the old Dutch “koekoek” and the English “cuckow,” has no onomatopoeic reference to the actual call of this bird, which at no time approaches the soft cooing of the Old-World Cuckoo. This onomatopoeia is, however, well seen in many Maori words, as in “Kuku,” the Wood-pigeon (Carpophaga novoe-zealandioe), which makes a soft cooing sound; the high shrill calling Kea (Nestor occidentalis); the harshly screaming Kaka (Nestor meridionalis); and the sweetly whistling Piopio, or Native Thrush. The name “Koekoea” is used by the Urewera natives for “wanderers,” or people who ever roam about, have no settled place of abode; and that the Maori recognises the significance of the parasitic habit of both Cuckoos is evident from many of his sayings or proverbs. “Penei me te Pipiwharauroa,” “You are like the Shining Cuckoo” (in your actions—that is, You are no good, you desert your children). Again, “Te parahika te koekoea,” a term used for a deserted child, means “the offspring of the Cuckoo”(49b). “E kua rite koe ki te koekoea,” “You are exactly like the Cuckoo”—that is, You are a lazy fellow like the koekoea; you let other people feed you: a term of reproach used for an idle vagabond who “sponges” on others for his food. Referring to the hibernating of the bird, they say, “Ko enei manu a rua, ka hou ki roto i te whenua noho ai i te ngahuru”:” These two birds dig their way inside the earth [under the soil] in the autumn.” The following is a whakatakiri, or child's song, sung'to an infant in arms:-
Ko te uri au i te whenakonako,
I te koekoea,
E riro ne i ma te tataihore e whangai:
“I am the offspring of the Bronze Cuckoo, of the Long-tailed Cuckoo, left here for the White-headed Canary to feed.” When the call of the Bronze Cuckoo is first heard in the spring-time the children(49c) greet the bird with the following brief quatrain:-
E manu tena koe. Kua tae tenei ki te mahanatanga. Kua puawainga rakau katoa.
Kua pa te kakara ki te ihu o te tangata. Kua puta ano koe riinga, tioro ai.
Tioro i te whitu, tioro i te waru. Me tioro haere ano e koe tenei kupu e whaia.
Ake nei, ki te marae o tama ma, o hina ma: Kui, kui, kui whitiwhiti ora.
O bird, greeting to you. The warm season appears and all trees have blossomed:
The fragrance reaches the nose of man. You again appear trilling on high.
Trilling on the seventh [month], trilling on the eighth [month]. Trill you ever forth as you fly
The following message to the homes of lads and lasses: Kui, kui, kui, whitiwhiti ora(105).
In other parts they say, “Ka tangi te Pipiwharauroa ko nga karere a mahuru”—that is, “The cries of the Shining Cuckoo are the messengers of warmth or spring”(49c).
Another and commoner name for the bird is Kohoperoa or Koehoperoa, the latter, I believe, the correct spelling, though the vowels are often variously transposed. The word is very probably formed from the words koe, hope, roa, meaning the “long tail”(106). Miss Sinclair, in her book of poems entitled “The Huia's Homeland,” speaks thus of the Cuckoos:-
Hearken friends to this quaint idyll from the love-lore of the Maori, From the ancient native records of the Rotorua beauty, of the beautiful wahine.
Hinemoa heard the birds sing in the bush all dark and dewy, Heard the Shining Cuckoo's welcome to the tender flowers of springtime,
Pretty Pipiwharauroa, fostered by Te Riroriro, Heard the Long tailed Swallow also, heard Te Koehoperoa, In the winter-time a lizard, in the summer-time a swallow(50).
Sir Walter Buller tells us that, finding the birds arriving at the same time as the crane-flies, the Maoris say, “They come with the mosquitos”; and also from time immemorial the Maoris have called them “birds of Hawaiki.” These facts, adds Sir Walter, “seem to indicate that they annually come from the warm islands of the Pacific”(51). In his essay in the first volume of our Transactions he says that they appear earlier at the extreme North, and linger there when their notes are no longer heard in the South. Like the Cuckoos in other parts of the world, they appear before rainy weather or coincident with it, and have thus come to be known in many widely different localities as “Rain-birds” and “Storm-birds.” In many parts of Otago and Canterbury they were called by the early settlers “Potato-birds,” as they invariably came on the scene as the potato-planting was going on; similarly, in the North Island they got the name of “Kumara-birds.”
When the suggestion that they come all the way from the Pacific islands was first made by New Zealand ornithologists the statement was questioned by Mr. A. R. Wallace in the following words: “Resident ornithologists believe that the two New Zealand Cuckoos migrate annually, the one from Australia and the other from some part of Polynesia, dis-
tances of more than a thousand miles. These facts seem to have been accepted without sufficient evidence, and to be in themselves extremely improbable. It is observed that the Cuckoos appear annually in certain districts and again disappear, but their course does not seem to have been traced; still less have they been seen arriving or departing across the ocean. In a large and practically unexplored country there is really no reason why the birds should not recede from one end of the Islands to the other “(53, 52). From observations made in the last twenty years it is now certain that they do come from the South Sea Islands annually, and return there after breeding in New Zealand. How they persistently escape observation seems to me to be extraordinary, for I can find no instance of any person having witnessed the arrival of the bird from over the sea, as was reported of the Shining Cuckoo by Mr. Potts(57), and it is curious that no one seems to have found the bird on the sea-shore.
I have recently communicated with a number of the lighthouse-keepers on our coast-line, and have gathered some interesting information on this subject. The earliest intimation of the appearance of the bird this year comes from Mr. John Duthie, at Cape Palliser, who says that the first Cuckoo arrived on the 6th June, and six or seven a few days later. They hung about the lighthouse for six or eight weeks, and then suddenly disappeared the first week in August(57a). Mr. Hansen, from Pencarrow Head Lighthouse, reported that “one morning in the first week in September, exact day uncertain, when coming from the tower after putting out the light, at 6.30 a.m.,” he saw a Long-tailed Cuckoo. The bird was flying low and swiftly, just skimming the tops of the tawhina scrub(57b). They have been seen at Doubtless Bay(57c), at Stephen Island Lighthouse(57d), at Hunterville, and on the Kermadecs(54), and at Akaroa about the middle of the same month. At Mokohinou Lighthouse Mr. Sandager caught several on the lantern at night in October(56), and Mr. Elsdon Best reported a young one at Ruatahuna on the 10th of that month. This was probably one which had wintered in the Urewera country, as it is rather early for the arrival of a last year's bird from Tahiti. The Maori who saw the bird said, “Wainehu ana te ahua,” which means that the feathers were greyish or pale, the markings were not plain(49c). Mr. McNeill saw the birds at Cape Campbell Lighthouse in thick dirty weather at night in October(41): they have been frequently seen at Cape Farewell Lighthouse; East Takaka(40a); Nelson(97); Queen Charlotte Sound(102); Sumner and New Brighton(103); Waikouaiti, Otago(104); Riverton(40l); and Te Tua, Southland(107), in the second week in October: and I myself
saw the bird on the 20th and 25th October and subsequently in the bush at Newington, Dunedin. Reischek found them on the Barriers in November(55); and Mr. Byers, of Stirling, Otago, who has for years noted their arrival carefully, finds that they invariably come to his locality from the 5th to the 7th November(56b). That they keep on arriving from the north-east until about the end of November is shown by the fact of one being caught on the lighthouse at Cape Maria van Diemen at 5 in the afternoon of the 28th of that month. There was a strong easterly gale blowing at the time, and the barometer registered 29.83in., the thermometer 63° Fahr. The bird was exhausted and quiet, but its plumage was fresh and not in any way draggled or weather-beaten(108). On the 4th December four female birds made their appearance on the lighthouse. They remained three days. The wind was light easterly; barometer 29 65in., thermometer 65°. I have only noted the dates on which the birds were actually seen. I have numbers of references to their having been heard on various dates, from the 3rd September at Queenstown, the 4th at Winton, the 13th at Akaroa, the 28th at Te Kumu(109), onwards to the end of October at Waiau, Southland, and elsewhere; but as there is a possible doubt as to the accuracy of some of these reports I have relied on eye-witnesses alone. I heard what I took to be the call of the Cuckoo in the gum-trees opposite the University at 9 p.m. on the 19th October, and saw the bird next morning for the first time this year at Newington. Numerous other notes as to its arrival can be found in the pages of the “Transactions of the New Zealand Institute,” and they all point to the advent of this mysterious bird from the north-east, probably in small parties and generally at night. I do not think it is yet clear that they always come gradually along the Islands from the extreme north, for they arrive suddenly at points so widely separated from each other that it is hard to account for this other than by the assumption that they come down in streams from the north-east and hit the coast-line of New Zealand at various places at about the same time. Mr. Witherby says, “On bright nights undoubtedly most migrating birds fly at a great height and pass over the lighthouses without being attracted by the light. It is on dark and especially misty nights that they come nearer to the earth and dash themselves against the lanterns. Birds run great and varied risks during their migration, and much mortality is the result. At the end of a long flight across the ocean they often encounter bad weather and heavy adverse winds, and many on such occasions become so fatigued that they never reach the land”(58). The Kohoperoa, having accomplished its spring migration, is fairly plentiful in most parts of the southern
portion of the South Island by November, and it may be noted that the first arrivals sit about among the trees or fly from tree to tree and are silent. Some say that this is due to the fact that they are all of the male sex; and the same observation has been made about the first arrivals of the Pallid Cuckoo in the southern parts of Australia(60). Nearly a century ago Colonel Montagu remarked that in the spring male Nightingales always arrived in England before the females, and since that time many observations have confirmed this statement concerning the Nightingale and many other birds. Herr Gatke has gone beyond this, and affirms that the forerunners of the spring migration to the north are invariably old males, next come the females, then younger males and females, and finally only birds of the previous year. Supposing these Cuckoos all start about the same time, it is conceivable that during the longest journey they would tail out, and the strongest birds, usually the males, obtain a lead(61).
In November the birds become active, and begin to utter their harsh grating “whiz-z-z-z-z-t.” This grating whistle is no doubt the call between the sexes, and is uttered, it is probable, by the male alone. I am of opinion that in those cases where birds are heard calling from tree to tree, and apparently answering each other, the calls are really those of several males; but on this point I should like positive evidence. The birds keep to the tops of the tall pines and creeper-covered trees in the day-time, and are often hard to locate, and it is extremely difficult to decide whether a particular tree is the hiding-place. This is for two reasons, one that the bird, like its fellow-migrant the Shining Cuckoo, is endowed with what Sir Walter Buller calls “ventriloquistic powers”—that is, of increasing the volume of its notes from a very quiet call to a loud piercing succession of sounds, which performance produces exactly the impression that the bird is at first a long way off, and then gradually approaches the listener. Even when one has fairly decided that the bird is in a certain tree it is very hard to detect it with the eye, for the Kohoperoa has the habit of frequently perching along, instead of across, the branch, a method of concealment easy of performance to a bird with the characteristic zygodactyl feet of this family(40a).
The Kohoperoa likes the thickly foliaged English trees, which stand well out from the native bush—macrocarpas, firs, Pinus insignis, trees which are seldom frequented by our indigenous birds, and never inhabited by them. In this way the Cuckoo escapes a good deal of the incessant harrying which he used to undergo; and, besides this, these trees are especially suited to his peculiar modern appetite, as, in addition to the myriads of insects which infest them, Sparrows,
Linnets, and Greenfinches build their nests there in great numbers From the shelter of these masses of foliage the Kohoperoa sends forth his extraordinary call, which is loud, penetrating, and very frequent during the early morning and forenoon, getting gradually quieter, uttered at longer intervals; and becoming very drowsy and low as noon approaches. It then ceases, and the bird probably sleeps for a few hours. The call is again uttered as evening approaches, and the Cuckoo becomes active and restless, getting ready to leave its retreat. The peculiar call is heard all through the summer nights, and is mistaken by many persons for the cry of the Smaller Owl, or Morepork (Scelcglaux novoe-zealandioe). The cry of the latter, however, is quite distinct, being a weird purring sound, much more disturbing to the belated wayfarer who passes through the dense bush than the not unpleasant notes of the Cuckoo. On the other hand, a number of people mistake the thin grating whistle of the Green Linnet for the call of the Kohoperoa; but this also can be readily distinguished, as it is not nearly so loud, nor has it the ascending series of notes of the latter bird Sometimes when the Cuckoo is chased by the Tui he will settle along a good-sized bough, and, turning towards his pursuers, make a curious defiant crowing sound(90b). And it has yet another cry, difficult to describe, which is only heard at night when the bird is flying low among the trees. This is a queer sort of rattling noise, something between the curious chuckle of the Kaka and a very quick clucking of the Hen (Gallus domesticus)(38q).
The moment our Cuckoo shows itself in the day-time it is pounced upon by all the small fry in the way of native birds, who pursue and torment it until it reaches the safety of long grass or thicket once more.
It flies with a peculiar swooping movement at times, and by some observers is credited with strong volant powers; but, as it is only seen on the wing for a few seconds at a time, little is at present known of this. The flight is peculiar, with a very rapid motion of the wings, and Mr. Potts says that “it flies but a short distance at a time, and in the young bird the flight is awkward; the bird alights heavily on the ground, turning each time it settles so that it faces the direction from whence it flew” (62). This is a curious habit; can any one suggest an explanation? Can it in any way be an indication in the young bird of turning toward or against the wind, and does it afford any clue towards the elucidation of the migratory instinct? Is it, on the other hand, an indication in the young bird of an instinctive turning to face its enemy, a feeling that the instant it alights it should turn its face to its foes? Is this the same instinct which causes the bird when it perches on a branch to immediately turn sideways along it, partly to assist
in concealment, but also perhaps to get another bough alongside it, leaving only one side visible and unprotected?
In watching the bird this year in the Newington bush I have been struck with its Pigeon-like aspect. On leaving a tree it first falls with little wing-motion, but more of a swoop, to about 20 ft. from the ground, and then with a very rapid regular motion of the wings proceeds with incredible speed through the air; suddenly, with the least little cant to one side, and slight spreading fanwise of the tail, it turns in an instant at right angles to its original course and is off like an arrow in the new direction, with its long tail streaming out behind it; then, with another quick swoop upwards, reaches its perching-place, where, just as is settles with a little flutter, the tail is again slightly fanned. I have the excellent authority of Mr. Elsdon Best for saying that when the Cuckoo is struck at by the Tui he instantly turns over, doubles back, and thus escapes; this, his Maori informant says, is never seen save when the Cuckoo is attacked in the air by the Tui. The same native says that he has seen as many as five Cuckoos flying slowly in a line, one after another, each one a little higher than the one just preceding it. These birds were evidently migrating; and Mr. Arthur, of Lawrence, gives the same curious piece of information, “I have seen them high in the air, as if arriving or leaving for long flight. The flight is not nearly so fast then, the wings not being moved so quickly as when amongst trees”(40o). Burroughs says of the American Yellow-billed Cuckoo that “it has certain peeuharities that remind one of the Passenger Pigeon; his eye with its red circle, the shape of its head, and its motions on alighting and taking flight quickly suggest the resemblance, though in grace and speed, especially when on the wing, he is far inferior. His tail is disproportionately long, and his flight among the trees very still, contrasting strangely with the honest clatter of the Pigeon”.(38c)
Many of the larger Cuckoos have extraordinarily long tails, and this has often been pointed out with respect to the Indian, American, European, and Australian birds; so with our own bird the same disproportionate appendage is displayed. Now, there must be something more than mere sexual adornment in this, and it has appeared to me that, as Cuckoos are universally mobbed by other birds, on account of their parasitic habit, the long tail is a protective adaptation of structure—in other words, a “provision of nature” to allow of rapid turning in the air, as an aid in obtaining insect food and as a means of escape from its tormentors. Brehm says of the European Cuckoo that “it will dart round corners with the rapidity of an arrow, between bushes and through branches with the greatest address; it rarely, however, cares to traverse a large
space at a time”(12a). Bendire says of the American Cuckoo, “It can dart at full speed through trees, between boughs, and round corners as quickly as though in clear open space” (38). Mr. Arthur, speaking of our own bird, says that “its flight is rapid, and that it usually flies in a direct line from point to point without any turning, unless pursued by a Tui, when it can turn amongst trees at an amazing speed”(38b). This long tail may be of service if spread fanwise during the long flight, enabling the Cuckoo to rest its wings by soaring for a time, and that it is fanned on alighting I have already mentioned; but to my mind the “steeringoar” is its main function. The Sparrow-hawk, which it greatly resembles, spreads his fan when soaring in the air(20), though his tail is not nearly so long in proportion to the size of the bird, but he has the faculty of very rapid wing-motion and quick steering for matters of offence; and in the same way the Long-tailed Goatsuckers of Africa utilise their tails when on the wing after small insects(12a). The beautiful little Fantails, of our own Islands, also show the same marvellous turning and doubling in the air, and in their case undoubtedly utility is as much the cause of their wonderful appendage as is mere sexual adornment.
Our Kohoperoa being semi-nocturnal, like the Cuckoo elsewhere, is noiseless in its flight, and this is, no doubt, the main reason for the success the female achieves in getting her eggs into the nests of other birds. So far as I can find, no one has been fortunate enough to witness this, though it is undoubted that it must take place during the day-time, when the builders are absent or have been driven from the nest. Many eggs must be lost in attempts at deposition, a large number probably swallowed or broken by their owners, others dropped on the ground. From what I hear of strange eggs in imported birds' nests, it is likely that the Cuckoo is now beginning to make use of them as homes for her young, though the Robin, Canary, and Tomtit, less frequently the Tui and Mocker, are the best-known sufferers.
The following is a list of reputed foster-parents and of birds which have been seen feeding the Cuckoo, with name of observer:-
Gerygone flaviventris. Egg not described taken from nest. W. W. Smith.
Gerygone flaviventris. Bird seen feeding young Cuckoo. Buller and others
Myiomoira albifrons. A round egg, deeper in colour than the one in the Christchurch Museum. Smith. From this egg hatched out in due course the Long-tailed Cuckoo.
Myiomoira albifrons. Young bird fed by the Robin. R. Riddle.
Myiomoira macrocephala. Bird seen feeding the Cuckoo. H. Robinson, Akaroa.
Myiomoira macrocephala. Koekoea found in the nest of the Tomtit. Westenra.
Myiomoira macrocephala. Egg reddish-purple, &c. (vide ante). John Ross's assistants, W. Millar and A. Pittaway.
Orthonyx albicilla. Bird seen feeding young supposed to be that of Glaucopis cinerea. Buller's Maori informant.
Orthonyx albicilla. Cuckoo in nest fed along with young Canaries. Elsdon Best's Maori informant.
Orthonyx ochrocephala. Young Cuckoo found in nest. R, Riddle, Orepuki.
Orthonyx ochrocephala. Young Cuckoo seen among flock of Canaries. McLean.
Carpophaga novoe-zealandicoe. Bird seen feeding fully fledged Cuckoo. R. Riddle.
Certhiparus novoe-zealandioe. Bird seen feeding young Cuckoo. R. Riddle.
Prosthemadera novoe-zealandioe. Waikato natives. No details given.
Prosthemadera novoe-zealandioe. Tui seen feeding, young Cuckoo. A. Reynolds.
Anthornis melanura. Cuckoo seen sitting on nest. Crawford Anderson.
Zosterops lateralis. A long egg of dark colour, tapering to one end, about 1 ¼in. in length. Cuckoo seen coming out of tree. McLean.
There are several other nests which have been reported to me as containing eggs belonging to this bird, but I have received no details in time for this paper. Of imported birds Mr. Jules Tapper, of Clifden Station, has kindly allowed me to examine an egg taken from the nest of the Brown Linnet. There is no doubt of the identity of the egg, as he saw the Cuckoo sitting on the nest. There were two Linnet's eggs in the nest. The egg is almost the same in size and colouring as the one found at Milford, and is described as oval, ¾in. in length, light brownish-pink, with brown blotches. The Grey Linnet is also considered a host, as a large white egg over an inch long was taken by Mr. Geo. Byers, jun., from the nest of that bird. Large white eggs have also been reported from the nest of the House-sparrow, possibly belonging to the Cuckoo. In November and December the bird is laying, and young Cuckoos appear in January and February. It is probable that they lay well on in the season, as I have heard them calling
loudly in the Dunedin Town Belt as late as the 12th February. Professor Benham saw some making a disturbance in the tops of some Pinus insignis in the Rangitata district in February of last year, and I saw several disporting themselves in the garden of the late Mr. Robert Gillies on the 7th February, 1897. Captain Mair tells us that he has seen them in flocks on the Hurukaureo River in February, and this is another point deserving of attention, to which I shall refer later on(63). The Cuckoo at Milford Sound seems to have laid as late as the middle of January, and, giving a month or six weeks, the nearly adult birds would appear about March. The young, being distinctly spotted on the back, are readily distinguished from the adult.
About February or March they begin to disappear from Otago, some receding gradually north, others probably leaving direct, the young ones remaining till the last. Mr. McLean, of Te Tua, says, “Several years ago, some time in February, I saw a number of them—there must have been over a dozen— assemble on some trees near Orepuki one morning. This was the first time I had ever seen such a thing. I was passing at the time, and when I returned they were gone, in what direction I do not know, but as I did not see any more that season I presume they were preparing to migrate. Mr. Tapper, of Waiau, in March, 1902, saw as many as nine or ten Cuckoos in the gum-trees near his house, within a distance of 20 yards, and they were making a great noise amongst themselves(101). Mr. Byers, of Stirling, informs me that “one morning in early February I saw six Cuckoos all on one tree together; they were making a great noise, not their usual long-drawn-out chirp, but a twittering call; my impression was that they were mustering their forces for migration”(38n). From this it will be seen that they do not always recede gradually northwards, but are often seen in the autumn assembling in flocks and suddenly disappearing, and I am of opinion that in many cases they start off on their return journey direct from any one point in New Zealand, and that when once they have risen into the air they probably do not alight until they have reached their tropical home. Mr. Smith, of Lake Brunner, says that they arrive in that neighbourhood about the first week in October and leave about the middle of March(64). Hamilton records an instance of the bird being seen in the Petane Valley, Hawke's Bay, the last week in March, and asks whether any evidence is to be had as to its wintering there(65). To this query I may say that a young one was seen at Queenstown in April, 1902, and its plaintive cry was heard from day to day up till the 5th May(40j). Travers mentions an instance of one being shot at New Plymouth in
June, and suggests that some spend the winter with us(66). Buller thinks this unlikely, save on very rare occasions; but, commenting on the good condition of this bird, expresses himself as astonished at the need for migration when there is evidently in New Zealand abundance of winter food for the Cuckoo(67). That the birds migrate here for breeding purposes alone, and not for food, which must be ample in the tropical islands of the Pacific, is now quite certain(81). Cheeseman, quoting Bell, of the Kermadecs, says that the birds are annual visitants there, though by no means common(68); but in a subsequent volume of the Transactions quotes, from the same informant, that the bird is a permanent resident of that island(69). Kirk states that both the Long-tailed and Shining Cuckoos may occasionally be seen in New Zealand all through the winter season(70). Sandager says that two wintered at Mokohinou in, 1888(71). There is little doubt that the birds reported to me this year from Cape Palliser had wintered near there, visited the neighbourhood of the lighthouse, stayed for a few weeks, and then left for their breeding-haunts in the south(40i). A correspondent from the Bay of Plenty tells me that he has known of their having been seen in the bush there in the winter-time(71a). Mr. McLean, of Te Tua, Southland, assures me that one was heard there all through the winter of 1903, and that he had never known of such a thing before. They are to be found on the Chatham Islands and the Auckland Islands, according to Travers, but I can find no details of their arrival or departure therefrom(72); in New Caledonia in March and April(73); and in the Solomon Islands in April and May; and, as Captain Hutton says, the evidence is strong that they leave New Zealand in the autumn and travel north-west to the tropical islands of the Pacific(75). Finch and Hartlaub give Fiji(74), Marquesas Islands, Tonga, Samoa, Cook Islands, and New Zealand as their habitat, and we can now accept as certain that these birds, which are often referred to as being feeble in wing-power, twice annually perform the extraordinary feat of flying through the air for a distance of over a thousand miles before obtaining rest for their weary pinions.
Before concluding I should like, in a few words, to give some suggestions as to how the habit of parasitism in birds has become established. What is the reason for this extraordinary habit of imposing eggs upon other birds? Why this utter neglect of parental responsibilities? Among other parasitic birds known to science are Molothrus, or Cowbird, of America; Cassidix, or Rice Grackle, of South America; and Indicator, or Honey-guide, of South Africa; and among these species are to be found all the stages between true nest building and true parasitism. The generally accepted idea
is that set out by Darwin—that the occasional laying of an egg in another bird's nest may reduce the work of tending a very large brood, and be of service to the parent in enabling her to migrate earlier; and at the same time the mistaken instinct of the host may make the young more vigorous than if fed by its true parent, and thus prove of advantage. That the eggs are laid at considerable intervals of time was thought by Darwin to have increased the difficulty of self-hatching, and to have helped to advance the onset of parasitism. On carefully looking into the habits of all of these parasites the most important point that strikes one is the universal prevalence of promiscuous breeding and polyandry—that is, of the occurrence of small flocks of five or six cock birds and only one hen(113). What is the cause of this preponderance of males is the key to the mystery. The only reason the writer can find is the fact that during migration the strongest birds, usually the males, obtain a lead, and are known always to arrive first in any one locality. Male Cuckoos, silent for days or weeks, are seen in Australia and elsewhere, and it is only on the arrival of the females that they begin their calling. That there are non-migrating parasitic Cuckoos in India and many non-parasitic migrants everywhere makes it certain that there are other causes as well for this preponderance of males, but that migration is one of them seems feasible. Now, taking these birds with their peculiar habits of breeding, there is no pairing in the true sense of the word, though it is undoubted that the assistance of both male and female is necessary in the construction of a nest. Wallace tells us that the male bird of a pair, often a young one, may learn from his mate, who has had previous experience of nest-building, and, vice versa, a young female is often helped by an old male bird and a very neat nest constructed. On the other hand, a pair of young birds new to the business often construct a very poor habitation indeed. The female Cuckoo or Cowbird, whose companions roam about the bush, has no mate to help her, her feet and bill are ill-adapted for nest-construction, so she is either content with a few poor sticks on which she lays her eggs or else she drops them one by one into the nests of other birds. In order to make this the more easily effected she has acquired the faculty of irregular egg-laying, so that her chicks are hatched out at intervals of several days, a habit also seen in our Native Harrier (Circus gouldi) and in our Shags (Phalacrocorax). Male Cuckoos and Cowbirds are always in the majority, especially at the beginning of the breeding season, and, for reasons before mentioned, this may be partially due to the long flight of migration. From lack of domestic habits and assistance of the male bird the female has not acquired the
faculty of nest-building, save in a very rude, flimsy form, or in a great combined clumsy structure in which a number of females lay. Cowbirds and Cuckoos show all the stages between true nest-building and parasitism. Some of the American Cuckoos and Cowbirds and our own and the Old World Cuckoos, having probably passed the stages of nesting in common and of depositing their eggs in common “boardinghouses,” but retaining the habit of irregular ovipositing, find, it expedient, in order to be ready for the return autumn migration, to drop their eggs one by one into the nests of other birds.
Bibliography and References.
(1) A History of the Birds of New Zealand (Buller), 2nd ed., vol, i., p 129.
(2) Ibid., p. 131.
(3) Trans. N.Z. Inst, vol. vii., p. 324.
(4) A History of the Birds of New Zealand, p. 131.
(5) Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. vi., p. 147.
(6) Ibid., vol. xxiii., p. 219.
(7) A Dictionary of Birds (Alfred Newton), pt. i., p. 120.
(8) Nests and Eggs of Australian Birds (Campbell), vol. ii., p. 589.
(9) Ibid., p. 565.
(10) Ibid., p. 585.
(11) Ibid., p. 570.
(12) Ibid., p. 570.
(12a) Bird Life (Dr. A. G. Brehm), p. 156.
(13) A Dictionary of Birds (Newton), pt. i., p. 121.
(15) Nests and Eggs of Australian Birds, vol. ii., p. 589.
(16) Ibid., p. 588.
(16a) Nests and Eggs of Indian Birds (Allan Hume), pt. i., p. 140.
(17) Nests and Eggs of Australian Birds, vol. ii., p. 567.
(18) Ibid., p. 568.
(19) Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. vi., p. 148.
(20) History of the Birds of New Zealand, vol, i., p. 131.
(21) Ibid., p. 136.
(23) Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. vi., p. 146.
(23a) Letter from Mr. Elsdon Best, Ruatahuna, Urewera Country, 8th October, 1903.
(23b) Letter from Mr. J. C. Buckland, Akaroa, 1st November, 1903.
(23c) History of the Birds of New Zealand, vol. i., p. 136.
(24) Ibid., 2nd ed., p. 135.
(25) Letter from Mr. John Ross, Milford Sound Track, 12th February, 1903.
(26) Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. x., p. 200.
(27) A Dictionary of Birds, pt. i., p. 121.
(28) Ibid., p. 123.
(29) Nests and Eggs of Australian Birds, vol. ii., p. 585.
(30) A Dictionary of Birds, pt. i., p. 130.
(31) Nests and Eggs of Australian Birds, vol, ii., p. 587.
(32) Ibid., p. 589.
(33) Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. xviii., p. 125.
(33a) Letter from Mr. A. Arthur, Lawrence, Otago, 17th September, 1903.
(34) History of the Birds of New Zealand, vol. i., p. 132.
(35) Ibid., p. 123.
(36) Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. vi., p. 147.
(37) Ibid., vol. xxviii., p. 362.
(38) Nests and Eggs of Australian Birds, vol. ii., p. 571.
(38a) Life-histories of North American Birds (Bendire), p. 21.
(38b) Ibid., pp. 442 and 437.
(38c) Locusts and Wild Honey (Burroughs), p. 60.
(38d) Letter from Miss N. A. Sinclair, Thames, Auckland, 27th July, 1903.
(38e) Nineteenth Century, Nov., 1902, p. 758.
(38f) Ibid., p. 764.
(38g) Ibid., p. 766.
(38h) Nests and Eggs of Australian Birds, vol. ii., p. 584.
(38i) Ibid., p. 589.
(38j) The Birds of Australia (Gould), vol. i., p. 629.
(38k) Birds of the North-west (Captain Elliott Coues), p. 182.
(38l) Ibid., p. 278.
(38m) Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. xii., p. 142.
(38n) Letter from Mr. R. Byers, Stirling, Otago, 21st September, 1903.
(38o) Letter from Mr. Charles Thomson, Opotiki, Auckland, 2nd October, 1903.
(38p) Letter from Mr. H. L. Gallien, Winton, Southland, 8th October, 1903.
(38q) Letter from Mr. Charles McLay, Waikouaiti, Otago, 10th February, 1903.
(38r) Letter from Mr. Elsdon Best, Ruatahuna, Urewera Country, 8th October, 1903.
(38s) Letter from Mr. J. Crawford Anderson, Riverton, Otago, 9th October, 1903.
(39) Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. vi., p. 147.
(40) A Dictionary of Birds, pt. i., p. 121.
(40a) Letter from Mr. R. Sparrow, East Takaka, Nelson, 1st October, 1903.
(40b) Letter from Mr. John McLay, Waikouaiti, Otago, 10th October, 1903.
(40c) Letter from Miss Turton, Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, 26th September, 1903.
(40d) Letter from Mr. R. Byers, Stirling, Otago, 21st September, 1903.
(40e) Letter from Mr. A. Arthur, Lawrence, Otago, 17th September, 1903.
(40f) Letter from Mr. Charles McLay, Mackenzie Country, Otago, 7th October, 1903.
(40g) Letter from Miss Turton, Queenstown, 26th September, 1903.
(40h) Letter from Mr. Lionel Orbell, Orari, Canterbury, 2nd October, 1903.
(40i) Letter from Mr. John Duthie, Cape Palliser Lighthouse, 10th September, 1903.
(40j) Letter from Miss Turton, Queenstown, 23rd October, 1903.
(40k) Letter from Mr. J. Crawford Anderson, Riverton, Otago, 9th October, 1903.
(40l) Letter from Mr. Alfred Reynolds, Riverton, 24th September, 1903.
(40m) " Mr. H. L. Gallien, Winton, 9th October, 1903.
(40n) Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. xxxvi.
(40o) Letter from Mr. A. Arthur, Lawrence, 17th September, 1903.
(40p) " Mr. J. Crawford Anderson, Stirling, 9th October, 1903.
(40q) " Mr. Alfred Reynolds, Riverton, 24th September, 1903.
(41) Encyclopædia Britcannica, 9th ed., vol. iii., p. 772.
(42) A Dictionary of Birds (Newton), pt. i., p. 126.
(43) The Birds of India (Jerdon), vol. i., p. 321.
(44) The Century Dictionary, 1902 ed., vol. v., p. 3825.
(45) Nests and Eggs of Australian Birds, vol. ii, p. 591.
(45a) Origin of Species, 6th ed., chap. viii., p. 215.
(45b) Ibid., p. 216.
(45c) Naturalist's Voyage round the World (Darwin), p. 75.
(45d) Origin of Species (Darwin), p. 214.
(46) Te Ika a Maui (Rev. R. Taylor, 1870), p. 45.
(47) Pearson's Magazine, April, 1903, p. 357.
(48) An Account of New Zealand (Rev. William Yate, 1835), p. 65.
(49) A Dictionary of the Maori Language (E. Tregear).
(49a) Letter from Mr. E. Tregear, Wellington, 1st July, 1903.
(49b) Dictionary of the Maori Language.
(49c) Letter from Mr. Elsdon Best, 8th October, 1903.
(50) New Zealand Illustrated Magazine, April, 1903, p. 213.
(51) A History of the Birds of New Zealand.
(52) Geographical Distribution of Animals (Wallace), vol. i., p. 452.
(53) Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. i., p. 13.
(54) Ibid., vol. xx., p. 154.
(55) Ibid., vol. xiv., p. 274.
(56) Ibid., vol. xix, p. 181.
(57) Ibid., vol. xxii., p. 288.
(57a) Letter from Mr. John Duthie, Cape Palliser, 10th September, 1903.
(57b) Letter from Mr. Anders Hansen, Pencarrow Head Lighthouse, 15th September, 1903.
(57c) Letter from Mr. Charles Hertslet, Doubtless Bay, 23rd September, 1903.
(57d) Letter from Mr George Jamieson, Stephen Island Lighthouse, 14th August, 1903.
(58) Pearson's Magazine, April, 1903, p. 362.
(59) A History of the Birds of New Zealand, vol. ii., p.131.
(60) Nests and Eggs of Australian Birds, vol. ii., p. 564.
(61) Chambers's Journal, 3rd May, 1902, p. 410.
(61a) Birds of India (J. C. Jerdon).
(62) History of the Birds of New Zealand, vol. i., p. 131.
(63) Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. iii., p. 91.
(64) Ibid., vol. xxi., p. 213.
(65) Ibid., vol. xviii., p. 123.
(66) Ibid., vol. xxxi., p. 17.
(67) Ibid., vol. xxxi., p. 17.
(68) Ibid., vol. xx., p. 154.
(69) Ibid., vol. xxiii., p. 219.
(70) Ibid., vol. xxviii., p. 8.
(71) Ibid., vol. xxii., p. 288.
(71a) Letter from Mr. Campbell Thomson, Opotiki, 2nd October, 1903.
(72) Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. xv., p. 187.
(73) Ibid., vol. xxxiii., p. 258.
(74) Ornithologie de Vitis (Finsch and Hartlaub), p. 27.
(75) Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. xxxiii., p. 258.
(76) Encyclopædia Britannica, 9th ed., vol. iii., p. 772.
(77) Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. v., p. 235.
(78) Nature, vol. x., p. 459.
(79) A Dictionary of Birds, part ii., p. 568.
(80) Encyclopædia Britannica, vol. iii., p. 769.
(81) Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. xxxiii., p. 258.
(82) A Dictionary of Birds, part ii., p. 568.
(83) Ibid., part ii., p. 569.
(84) History of British Birds (Bewick), Memorial Edition, 1885, vol. i.
(85) Cuckoos and Shrikes in relation to Agriculture (Merriam), p. 11.
(86) The Birds of India (Allan Hume), vol. i., p. 135.
(87) Proc. Zool. Soc 5th January, 1892, pp. 270-71.
(88) Ibis, vol. for 1900, p. 640.
(89) Ibis, vol. for 1897, p. 363.
(90) Latter from. Mr. John White, Dunedin, 9th October, 1903.
(91) " Mr. John McNeill, Cape Campbell, 12th November, 1903.
(92) " Miss Frew, ‘Edendale, 26th November, 1903.
(93) " Mr. R. Riddle, Orepuki, 16th November, 1903.
(94) Otago Witness, Notes and Queries, 9th December, 1903.
(95) Statement of Mr. W. Milne, Normanby, 10th December, 1903.
(96) Ibis, vol. for 1902, p. 587.
(97) Letter from Mr. R. G. Sparrow, Nelson, 22nd October, 1903.
(99) " Mr. James McLean, Orepuki, 26th November, 1903.
(100) " Mr. R. Riddle, Orepuki, 16th November, 1903.
(101) " Mr. Jules Tapper, Waiau, 20th November, 1903.
(102) " Miss Beauchamp; Anakiwa, Picton, 22nd November. 1903.
(103) " Lighthouse-keeper, Akaroa, 16th November, 1903.
(104) " Mr. Allan Orbell, Waikouaiti, 16th November, 1903.
(105) " Mr. Elsdon Best, Ruatahuna, 12th December 1903.
(106) " Mr. Edward Tregear, 1st July, 1903.
(107) " Mr. John McLean, Te Tua, 26th November, 1903.
(108) Telegram from Mr. A. Voyle, Cape Maria van Diemen, 30th November, 1903.
(109) Telegram from Mr. Norman Fulton, Te Kumu, Hunterville, 30th September, 1903.
(110) Ibis, vol. for 1902.
(111) Birds of the North-west (Elliott Coues).
(112) Bendire's Life-history of American Birds.
(113) Trans. Aust. Assoc. for the Advancement of Science, vol. for 1904.