the Salvages, and the Desertas in the Canaries, the Cape Verde Archipelago, and probably
St. Helena. In the Pacific it has been met with in the Hawaiian Isles, and probably also
breeds in the Galapagos, while a specimen has been obtained in Australia, and as a casual
it has occurred in Washington City and in Indiana. In Europe, three specimens have been
obtained in England (Kent and Hants) and two in Denmark. [F. c. K. J.]
1 Vol. iv. p. 380.
CLASSIFIED NOTES 553
WILSON'S PETREL [Oceanites ocednicus (Kuhl). German, buutfursige Sturmschwalbe].
1. Description. Distinguished by the yellow on the webs of the feet. The sexes are alike
in coloration. Length 7 in. [17.S mm.]. General colour of the plumage of the whole body
smoky black ; upper tail-coverts white ; under tail-coverts laterally white, black in the middle ;
wings and tail black ; wing-coverts brownish ; a few of the median coverts marked with
greyish white, forming an indistinct band across the wing ; tail square ; iris dark brown ; bill
black ; legs and toes black ; basal half of the webs of the toes yellow, [w. p. p. and T. w.]
2. Distribution. This is an Antarctic species, which breeds on Kerguelen, South Victoria
Land, the South Shetlands, and South Orkneys. After the breeding season it migrates
northward, and has been obtained about twelve times, since it was first reported in 1838, from
the British Isles ; the Canaries, Azores, and the coasts of Spain, France, and Sardinia on the
east of the Atlantic, and along the American coast to the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the
mouth of Hudson's Strait (Resolution Island). In the Pacific it has not been met with in
the north, but in the Indian Ocean has been recorded from the Mekran coast as well as in the
Australian seas. [K. c. K. J.]
FRIGATE-PETREL [Pelagodroma marina (Latham)].
1. Description. Recognised by the white line on the forehead reaching from the bill to the
eye, and continued through the eye into n broad eyebrow stripe ; sides of the face greyish
black ; top of the head deep smoky brown ; mantle, rump, and secondary coverts smoky
brown ; longer upper tail-coverts grey ; basal half of tail grey, terminal half black ; primary
quills black above, greyish brown below ; under surface of body pure white ; wings very long,
reaching beyond the tail, which is but very slightly forked, [w. p. p. and T. w.]
2. Distribution. Isolated colonies breed in the Australian and New Zealand seas as well
as in the Atlantic. The nearest nesting-places are on the Salvages, the Cape Verde group, and
Tristan d'Acunha. In the Australian seas it has been found breeding off Cape Leeuwin, the
Houtrnan's Abrolhos, Chatham Islands, etc. It occurs frequently on the Canaries, has been
obtained twice in Great Britain (Walney Island and Colonsay), and also on the coast of Massa-
chusetts. [F. c. R. j.]
MEDITERRANEAN-SHEARWATER [Pu/inus kuhlii (Boie). French, puffin cendre
German, Kuhls Sturm- Taucher ; Italian, berta maggiore].
1. Description. Differs from the great-shearwater in having the side of the head and
neck mottled with dusky grey, and by having the flanks and middle of the abdomen
white. The sexes are alike in coloration, and there is no seasonal change of plumage. Length
about 20 in. [507 mm.]. Top of the head uniform greyish brown, shading into lighter
greyish brown, edged with greyish white on the back, wings, and rump ; tail dark brown ;
under surface of body, including the axillaries and under wing-coverts, white ; bill, feet, and
toes yellow, [w. p. p. and T. w.]
2. Distribution. Breeds in the Mediterranean, and is replaced by an allied form on the
Atlantic isles (Canaries, Azores, Salvages, and Madeira), and apparently also by a third on the
east coast of North America. In the Mediterranean it is known to breed on the Balearic Isles,
Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, Malta, Lampedusa, the Tunisian coast, Dalmatia, the Ionian Isles, the
Cyclades, Lemnos, Crete, etc. The Mediterranean form is mainly resident, but one was picked
up on the south coast of England in 1906. The Atlantic form ranges south to the Cape of Good
Hope, Kerguelen Island, etc. [F. c. R. J.]
SOOTY-SHEARWATER [Pu/inus griaeus (Gmelin). Black-hagdon].
1. Description. Recognised by its almost uniform brown coloration. Length 17 in.
554 RARE BRITISH BIRDS
[431 mm.]. The upper parts, including the wings and tail, are of a dark sooty brown, the
under parts lighter ; under wing-coverts greyish white ; bill horn-colour, [w. P. P. and T. w.]
2. Distribution. Only at present known to breed in the Australian and New Zealand seas,
where it has been found nesting on the New Zealand coasts (islands of Kapiti, Karewa, the
Kurima rocks, the Kaimanawa range, the hills near Wellington, Whale Island, the S.E. coast of
Otago and Stewart's Island), also on the Chatham Islands and the Snares group. Its migrations
are extensive, and it ranges in the Pacific to the Chile coast, California, and the Kuriles, while
in the Atlantic it is found along the American coasts as far as Labrador and Cape Farewell, and
on the east side from the Cape of Good Hope to the coasts of Portugal, France, the British Isles,
the Faeroes, and probably Iceland. [F. c. K. J.]
LEVANTINE-SHEARWATER [Pu/inus puffinus yelkouan (Acerbi). French, puffin
yelkouan ; German, sudlicher TaucUer-Sturmvogel ; Italian, berta minore],
1. Description. Distinguished from the former species by its smaller size (wing under
10 inches), and by having the axillaries smoky grey. The sexes are alike in coloration, and
there is no seasonal plumage. Length about 15 in. [381 mm.]. General colour above,
including the wings, dark brownish black ; sides of the head, neck, sides, flanks, and under tail-
coverts smoky grey ; bill dark horn-colour ; legs and toes flesh-coloured, [w. p. p. and T. w.]
2. Distribution. This form breeds in the Mediterranean, where it has been recorded as nest-
ing on islets near Corsica, Sardinia, S. France, the Italian coasts, Dalmatia, Malta, the Sporades and
Cyclades, Crete, Lemnos, Bosporus, etc. Twenty-seven are recorded as having been obtained off
the coasts of Great Britain, and Buturlin states that it is found on the Black and Caspian Seas,
while either this race or the Manx form breeds in the Atlantic isles. [F. c. R. J.]
LITTLE DUSKY-SHEARWATER [Puffinus obscurus (Gmelin) ; Puffinus assimilis Gould.
Madeiran-shearwater. German, Afri/canischer kleiner Sturmtaucher].
1. Description. Distinguished by its small size (wing under 7 inches). Length 11 in.
[279 mm.]. Top of the head, neck, back, rump, and upper tail-coverts dark blackish brown ;
cheeks white, streaked with blac3^ ; remainder of the under surface, including the under wing-
coverts and axillaries, white ; iris dark brownish black ; bill dull slate-grey ; tarsus, inner sides
of outer toe, two inner toes and their webs bright lavender ; webs livid ; back of tarsus, soles,
and nails black, [w. p. p. and T. w.]
2. Distribution. The form of this widely distributed species which occurs in the British
Isles as a casual is P. obscurus godmani Allen, which breeds in the Atlantic isles and the
Cape Verde group. In the Cape Verde Archipelago it nests on the Rombos Isles ; also on Porto
Santo (Madeira), probably on the Azores, and on the Salvages and the Canaries. It is replaced
by other allied forms in the western North Atlantic (United States coast and islands of Bahamas
and Bermudas), the Mascarene Isles, the Australian and New Zealand seas, the Galapagos Isles,
and the Central Pacific. As a casual it has occurred seven times in the British Isles, and also
on the Italian coast and in Sardinia. [F. c. R. J.]
SCHLEGEL'S PETREL [Pterodroma neglecta (Schlegel)].
1. Description. Differs from P. hcesitata, the next species, in having the inner webs of the
primaries white. The sexes are alike in size and coloration. Length 15| in. [393 mm.].
General colour of the upper surface dark brown, with the bases of the feathers white and the
edges indistinctly marked with lighter brown ; under surface of the body white ; breast marked
with dirty grey; under tail-coverts smoke-brown; primary flight-feathers blackish brown,
whitish at the base of the inner web, and with the shafts ivory-white for the greater part of
CLASSIFIED NOTES 555
their length; iris dark brown; bill black; tarsus and basal portions of toes yellow, tips black.
[ \v. p. p. and T. w.]
2. Distribution. A South Pacific species, whose range is as yet very imperfectly known.
It breeds on Raoul and Meyer Islands in the Kennadec group, and has been obtained on Juan
Fernandez. It has not been recorded from the Continent, but has been found dead on one
occasion in England (Cheshire, 1908). [F. c. u. J.]
CAPPED-PETREL [Pterodroma kcesitdta (Kuhl) ; (Extrelata lia-sitdta (Kuhl). French, dlable
1. Description. Recognised by its black crown and the white collar round the neck.
Length about 14'5 in. [368 mm.]. Mantle brownish grey, shading into deep blackish brown
on the lower back, rump, shorter upper tail-coverts, and wings ; base of the tail and longer upper
tail-coverts, and the whole under surface, white ; bend of the wing blackish brown ; under
wing-coverts white; bill black; legs and base of toes light-coloured; extremity of webs and
toes black, [w. p. p. and T. w.]
2. Distribution. Probably extinct now, but formerly bred in the western Tropical Atlantic.
Amongst its recorded breeding-places were the Lesser Antilles, where it formerly nested at the
Morne du Diable in the island of Dominica at 2000 feet, and also on Guadeloupe. Asa
straggler it has occurred in the United States (Florida, Long Island, New York State, Virginia,
Vermont, etc.), Canada (Toronto twice), possibly in N. France, and once in England in 1850.
[F. c. R. J.J
COLLARED PETREL [Pterodroma brtvipes (Peale) ; (Estrelata brevipes (Peale)].
1. Description. As its name implies, has a blackish grey band, interrupted in front, across
the upper chest. Length about 12 in. [305 mm.]. Forehead and lores white ; top of the
head and below the eye deep brownish black, shading into blackish grey on the mantle ; wings
deep brownish black ; chin, throat, breast, and belly pure white ; under wing-coverts and
axillaries white ; edge of the wing black, [w. i>. p. and T. w.]
2. Distribution. Probably breeds in the Western and Southern Pacific. Macgillivray found
it nesting on Aneiteum in the New Hebrides, and specimens were obtained from Tanna and
Erromanga, and in the Fiji Isles. The type was secured near the southern ice barrier, in
lat. 68 S. It has been once recorded from Japan and once from the Welsh coast (Cardigan,
1889). [F. c. R. J.]
BULWER'S PETREL [Bidweria bulwerii (Jardine and Selby). German, Bulwers Sturmvogel].
1. Description. A small sooty brown petrel about 11 in. [279 mm.] long. It may
readily be distinguished from all the other species of petrels by the nostrils, which are fleshy at
their extremity, with the openings directed forwards and upwards. The plumage is of a nearly
uniform sooty brown, paler on the under parts ; bill black ; tarsi and toes yellow ; webs black ;
the tail is long and cuneate. [w. p. p. and T. w.]
2. Distribution. Breeds in the islands of the temperate East Atlantic and also in the
North Pacific Ocean. In the Atlantic it is known to breed on the Madeiran Desertas, on the
Salvage Islands, and on Alegranza and many of the islets in the Canarian group. There is no
evidence of nesting on the Azores, where it is said to be a casual visitor. In the Pacific it is
found nesting in the Hawaiian group (on Laysan, French Frigate Island, Necker and Bird
Islands), in the Bonin and Volcano Isles, south of Japan, where it probably breeds, and on
islands off the Fokien coast (Ibis, 1905, p. 63). It is said to have occurred casually in Green-
land, and five specimens have been obtained in England (Sussex four, Yorks one), while on
the west of the Atlantic it is said to occur on the Bermudas. [F. c. R. J.]
556 RARE BRITISH BIRDS
[CAPE- PIGEON [Ddption captnse (Linnaeus)].
1. Description. Has the top of the head, cheeks, sides of the neck, upper neck, mantle,
and upper back uniform greyish black ; lower back, rump, upper tail-coverts, secondaries and
their coverts white, terminating in a broad, rounded marking of greyish black ; basal two-thirds
of the tail pure white ; terminal third greyish black ; primary quills margined outwardly and
with the tips blackish brown, inner margins and base white ; chin and throat white, with a rounded
spot of greyish black at the extremity of each feather ; remainder of the under surface white ;
bill and feet black. Length about 16 in. [406 mm.], [w. p. p. and T. w.]
2. Distribution. This species inhabits the southern seas, and is only a casual wanderer
to the North Atlantic. Its normal range extends from the southern tropic to the Antarctic
ice barrier, but it has only been found breeding in Kerguelen and the S. Orkneys, though it
probably nests also on S. Georgia and the S. Shetlands. It has occurred as a casual on the
coasts of Ceylon, Madagascar, the United States, Peru, and three times in the British Isles, but
in most cases it is probable that the birds had been captured and afterwards liberated.
[F. c. B. J.] ]
[ORDER : Procellariiformes. SUBORDER : Tubinares. FAMILY : Procella/riidce.
SUBFAMILY : Diomediince]
BLACKBROWED-ALBATROSS [Diomedea melanophrys Temminck. Mollymawk. German,
1. Description. Distinguished from any other of the British petrels in that the nostrils
open on either side of a wide and rounded culmen, and by the black line running through the
eye. The sexes are alike in plumage, and no seasonal change takes place. Length about 30 in.
[762 mm.]. Head, neck, and under parts white ; a black patch in front of and continued in a
line behind the eye ; back anil wings slaty grey, shading into the white neck ; rump and upper
tail-coverts white ; tail coloured like the back and wings ; iris hazel ; bill yellow, reddish at the
tip ; legs, feet, and webs fleshy grey ; nails yellowish horn. [w. p. p. and T. w.]
2. Distribution. This species is also an inhabitant of the southern oceans, and as a rule
does not range much north of the bays of the South African coast and those of South America.
It breeds chiefly on the island groups in the New Zealand seas, nesting in large numbers on the
Chatham, Auckland, Campbell, Bounty, and Antipodes Islands, and also in the Falklands,
Crozets, and Kerguelen. As a casual visitor it has occurred several times in the North Atlantic,
once on the Faeroes, once in lat. 80 11' N. and long. 4 E., once in Cambridgeshire (1897);
and an albatross, which was probably of this species, was seen twenty miles N.W. of the Orkneys
by Harvie-Brown. In America it has been recorded north to California. [F. c. R. j.]
THE GREBES 1
[ORDER : Colymbiformes. SUBORDER : Colymbi. FAMILY : Colymbidce]
[AMERICAN PIEDBILLED-GREBE, Podilymbus podiceps (L.). Is said to have been killed near
Weymouth in 1881 ; was probably due to an exchange of skins. [F. c. R. j.] ]
1 Vol. iv. p. 405.
CLASSIFIED NOTES 557
THE DIVERS 1
[OHDKK: ('<>lyiii!>if<>i-/i*. SUBORDER: Gavice, FAMILY:
WHITEBILLED-DIVER \(ii'i.ri,t <t</,nn;i (Gray); Coli'iinlm* <i,l<iw; Gray. Yellowbilled-
1. Description. Diners from the great northern-diver (C. ylucudis) (see vol. iv. p. 435) by
its much stouter and distinctly upturned beak, which is of a yellowish horn colour, not black as
the first-named species. The sexes are alike in coloration, but the female is smaller. Length
32 in. [813 mm.]. The adult in summer plumage has the upper parts deep glossy greenish
black ; feathers of the upper back and mantle with a square white patch on either web near the
extremity; scapulars similarly marked, but the white patches are four times the size; rump
spotted with white ; head and neck uniform greenish black ; throat and fore-neck deep
glossy bluish black : on the lower throat and on each side of the neck are patches of white
heavily streaked with black ; remainder of the under parts and under surface of wings pure
white. Adult male and female in non-breeding plumage similar to the great northern-diver
(see page 435), but the bill is yellowish horn colour ; upper parts brownish black; feathers of
the back margined with greyish white ; under parts pure white, [w. p. p. and T. w.]
2. Distribution. An Arctic species, which breeds in the Old World east of the Kara Sea
and also in Arctic America. It probably nests on Novaya Zemlya, where specimens have been
obtained in July and August, and has been recorded from Kolguev, the Kola Peninsula, and the
Ob valley. It breeds sparingly on the Taimyr Peninsula, and thence eastward to the Kolyma
delta, Chukchi Land, and Karntschatka, and according to Buturlin its southern breeding limit
in E. Siberia is about lat. 67 i. In North America it seems to be chiefly confined to the north-
west from Liverpool Bay on the east to the mouth of the Yukon on the west, and apparently
also on the islands in Bering Sea. At Franklin and Liverpool Bays it is plentiful in the breeding
season, and is said to be common also at Great Slave Lake. In winter it has been recorded
from the Caspian, Finland, Upper Austria, Italy, once in Sweden, and commonly along the
Norwegian coast, while there are about six records from Great Britain (Argyll, Northumber-
land, Yorks, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Hants). On the Pacific side it has been met with south to
Colorado and Japan. [F. c. R. J.]
1 VoL IT. p. 435.
VOL. IV. 4B
STRUCTURAL CHARACTERS AS MEANS OF
[W. P. PYCRAPT]
WHETHER we are discussing the Class Aves as a whole, or merely such species as are
regarded as " British," some definite plan must be adopted. One must either follow the
dictionary system, or some scheme of classification. To the former there are many objections ;
and the choice of the latter is by no means easy, as those who are even superficially acquainted
with this subject must know. It becomes necessary, then, to choose between a purely arbitrary
system, as into land birds and water birds, and so on, or into birds with hard beaks and soft
beaks, and so on, after the fashion of the older systematists, or a system based, as nearly as
we can, on natural affinities, on blood-relationship and not superficial likeness a phylogenetic
system, in short.
There can be no doubt but that this is the only true system of classification, even though,
at present, opinions differ widely as to the degrees of relationship, thereby leading to more
or less strikingly different sequences in the order of different groups, large and small. It
was therefore decided to follow, in these volumes, in the main that formulated by Dr. Gadow
and employed by Mr. Evans in his most invaluable work on "Birds," published in the
Cambridge Natural History. For all departures from this arrangement I am myself respon-
sible, the editor having alleged me this privilege. In this, however, I am referring to the
major divisions Orders, Suborders, and Families. In the matter of Genera the case is far
otherwise. Here it became impossible for me to impose my own judgment, owing to the
breach of continuity it would have occasioned with all other similar works, and the consequent
inconvenience to those using these volumes. I have had to adopt genera which no one
with even an elementary grasp of the meaning and principles of classification would dream
There are few better illustrations of this lack of appreciation of what should constitute
a genus than are to be found in Howard Saunders Manual of British Birds. Many of the
characters there given are meaningless, and more are utterly inconsequent, as when he sagely
remarks in the case of some genera of Ducks that the toes are webbed, or in the case of some
of the Alcidse, when we are told that there are " three toes, all in front, and webbed " ! Let any
one analyse the formidable array of generic characters he gives as distinctive of Passer,
Fringilla, and Linota, and then estimate how many of these are really points of difference, and
what is their value.
No attempt is made to furnish diagnostic characters for the Orders, Suborders, Families,
and Subfamilies, though such divisions are indicated by headings. He depended mainly, as
most ornithologists depend for systematic characters, on colour, and this is a factor which
should be ignored, if classification is to be framed on sound, scientific lines. When groups
of species display a common type of coloration they should be made sections (a), (6), (c), etc.,
of one genus based on structural characters.
STRUCTURAL CHARACTERS 559
There seems to be an irresistible desire on the part of amateurs in the task of classification
so to arrange the various groups of birds that an apparently easy transition from one to the
other is secured. Thus the Passeriformes are linked on to the Coraciiformes by making the
former end with the Swallows and the latter begin with the Swifts. The Owls are made to
provide the transition to the Accipitres. The Gulls are placed in close proximity to the
Petrels, and we are invited to pass from the Auks to the Grebes and 1'ivcrs, and so on.
Tliis looks simple and natural enough. But when we come to inquire into the reason,
or rather the evidence for this arrangement, we find no satisfactory answer forthcoming. As
a matter of fact, all such systems are founded on the fallacy that superficial likeness is an
indication of affinity. Nothing could be further from the truth. The likenesses which these
" links " possess to the members on either side of the chain are purely imaginary. And this
can be immediately proved by an appeal to anatomy, an appeal which those who frame such
schemes are unable to make.
It is not always so easy to understand the vagaries of the systematists who pursue these
methods. What reason, to quote actual and recent examples, can be assigned for placing
the goldcrested- wren with the Titmice? Or for placing all the surface-feeding ducks in the
genus Anas save only the shoveler and the pintail, each of which represents a genus in
itself? Or why, again, is the goldeneye included in the genus Nyroca, which is made to
include all the diving ducks save the Eiders, Scoters, and Mergansers ?
The classification adopted in these volumes, I am painfully aware, leaves much to be
desired. But it would have been impossible to hold back their publication till the tangled
skein which this theme presents had been unravelled. In many cases the information at my
disposal has been most unsatisfactory ; but the facts I needed were such as demanded more
leisure for original investigation than I am likely to possess for a long while to come.
In the matter of plumage-changes, it might be imagined I had every opportunity of study
from the vast collections in the British Museum. But this is by no means true. Much, very
much, needs yet to be done to fill in gaps in the series possessed by the Museum. These
Mr. Ogilvie-Grant, since he assumed the reins of government, is endeavouring to fill up as
speedily as possible, but he has much to accomplish before he achieves his end. Male, female,
and young, in every season of the year, and from many localities, must be obtained before we
are able to give a complete account of the sequences of plumages of a species.
For the sake of the field-naturalist who has to rely on standard works of reference, I had
to endeavour to justify as many genera as I could, though it went much against my inclination
to do so, and in some cases I have had to abandon the attempt.
The diagnoses of Orders and Suborders and Families are of necessity based on internal
structural characters. This must always be so if our classification is to represent pedigree.
Blood relationship, descent, must be the key-note of all our endeavours at classification, and
this relationship can only be discovered by dissection. In using this unfamiliar material,
however, I have drawn as little on anatomy as I possibly could. Muscles I have almost entirely
left out of account, such, for example, as the shoulder and thigh muscles and the plantar tendons.
The field-ornithologist is little, if at all, concerned with anatomical details ; his work, an
essential and all-important side of ornithology, is concerned rather with birds as living things ;
and commonly also with their external characters after death. But here he touches on the
border-line of anatomy. And no field-naturalist who concerns himself with plumage sequences
can hope to do really first class work who does not master at any rate the rudiments of