albis tectce. Remiges rectrices que nigrce ; rachidibus supra
nigris subtus albis. Tibice (femora) plumis albis dense vestitce
rostrum et pedes incarnata. Orbita denudata colli pars et cera
alba, ungues nigri. Lingua brevis Integra apice rotundata
basi sagittata laciniata.
Bill and feet flesh coloured ; bare part round the eyes
white ; irides of the color of burnt umber ; top of the head
covered with a white feathery wool, which, at the back part,
is longer and stands in a reversed position. Color above
blackish brown, but the thighs, and under parts of the body
and neck are white ; quill feathers, and those of the tail black.
The part of the neck which is bare, together with the base of
the beak, white ; the expanse of the wing is seven feet.
A Vulture of a different species to either of the two first
described, is not unfrequently met with in the northern and
eastern parts of the colony, and though I have often seen ex-
amples thereof, yet I have never been able to procure one for
examination. From the description of the species procured
by Burchelf in the Bechuana country, I am inclined to be-
lieve it is identical with the one under consideration, and,
from the lack of a more detailed description, I have introduced
his mostly in his own words. Were I satisfied that the species
to which Burchel's trivial name is applied by Eupell,^ was
the same, I should have no difficulty in supplying from the
description of the latter, whatever might be wanting in that
of the former. But, as the reverse is the case, I shall, until
such time as I have an opportunity of comparing the characters
of the South African species, consider the two as distinct.
* Burchel's Travels in South Africa, vol. 2, page 329.
j Atlas zu fler Reise im Nordlichen Afrika von Eduard Eupell, erste Abthei-
lung Zoologie, page 33, tal. 22.
K3 A Description of the Birds
Genus. NEOPHRON. San't/iu/.
Caput anterius nudum ; col-
lum plumosum, rostrum per-
gracile elongatum, mandibula
inferiore deorsum curvata go-
nyde nullo. Nares longitudi-
nales, ovales antrorsum spec-
tantes ; remex, 3'" 1 - longissima,
Anterior part of head naked ;
neck feathered ; bill slender
elongated ; lower mandible in-
clined downwards, without go-
nys. Nostrils longitudinal,
oval, directed forwards ; third
quill feather longest ; tail com-
posed of fourteen feathers.
Vultur Lin. Lath. Gin. Gypaetos Bechstein. Cathartes
Meyer, Temminck. Peronopterus Cuvier. Catharista Vieillot.
1. NEOPHRON AEQYPTIACUS. Sav. Witte Kraal of the Colonists.
Vultur Percnopterus Gm. Syst. I. 249, sp. 7. Lath, Vultur
Leucocephalus Lath. Ind. orn. v. 1. sp. 2. L'Ourigourap. Vaill.
Ois. d' Afrique, pi. 14. Le Perenoptere. Cuv. Reg. Animal, v. 1.
V. albus ; remigibus nigris ; crista occipitali, cauda albida,
Bill horn coloured ; cere, forehead ; space round the eyes ;
cheeks, ears, chin, and part of the throat bare, and of a yellow
or saffron color ; eyes light reddish brown ; plumage white,
usually tinted with yellow ; feathers of nape narrow, elongated,
and pointed ; primary quill feathers black ; secondaries gray-
ish black, with the outer vanes more or less broadly margined
with white ; tail fan shaped, and pure white ; legs and toes
dirty greenish white, sometimes inclined to reddish yellow ;
claws dark horn coloured ; length, from one foot ten to two feet
two ; expanse of wings about five feet. The female is a little
larger than the male, but of the same color.
Young. The prevailing color varies between a black and a
brown. In all the specimens I have yet seen, the feathers of
the neck, particularly of the cervical portion, have been of a
deep black tinge, and of a long narrow pointed form. Those
of the shoulders and interscapular region blackish brown,
with, in some instances, chesnut coloured spots towards tips ;
and in others, large whitish or grayish red blotches. The
back and rump feathers are usually of a lighter tint than the
parts just mentioned, and the breast and belly vary, being
brown, rufous brown, or blackish brown in different speci-
mens. The crown of the head, and the skin and upper part of
the breast, when the bird has just acquired its feathers, are
covered with a dirty whitish down, and that becomes more or
less interspersed after a few weeks with black hairy feathers
The bare parts of the head are a livid red, varying in many
places to a fine yellow ; the cere is yellowish ; the upper man-
dible is livid horn coloured, and the lower greenish yellow ;
the tarsi and toes are bluish yellow ; the claws black, and the
eyes dark brown.
inhabiting the South of Africa. 17
Wherever travellers have penetrated, specimens of this
bird have been met with, and though nowhere congregated in
numbers, yet the individuals are so numerous, that there is
scarcely a farm-house in the colony, or a kraal, or a temporary
resting place for travellers beyond it, which are not once or
oftener in the course of the day visited by one or more of
them. In their flight they are constantly in search of carrion,
which forms their only food ; and it is with a view of pro-
curing such that they resort to the localities just mentioned.
They build their nests in crevices of rocks of difficult access,
and lay one or two eggs.
2. NEOPHRON CARUNCULATUS. Smith*
N. obscuro-fuscus ; caput et pars superior gutteris purpurea,
et nudata, ultimum carunculis parvis transversis albis octo
aut decem ; irides fuscce.
Bill greenish black towards base, dark horn colored near
tip ; eyes dark brown ; front, crown, sides of head, and upper
part of throat bare, and of a purple color, with eight or ten
white transverse caruncles on the latter ; nape, upper part of
neck, and lower part of throat covered with a light reddish
brown down, and between that of the latter and the caruncles
already mentioned, a large oval patch of black down ; lower
part of cervix, interscapulars and back deep brown ; the
feathers all edged and tipt with a lighter tint ; shoulders
nearly the same ; primary quill feathers blackish, with a gray-
ish tinge towards quills ; secondaries blackish brown, with
the color of the tips and edges lighter than that of the cen-
tres ; thighs covered with a white down in addition to some
long brown feathers on the outer sides ; legs and toss pale
greenish blue ; claws black. Length two feet two inches ;
breadth from tip to tip of wing five feet six inches. Inhabits
the North-East frontier of the colony, and is not uncommon
towards the sources of the Orange River.
Obs. This species in most of its characters resembles
the genuine Neophron, whilst, in the want of feathers on the
throat, it approaches the Vultures. The Vultur Occipitalis
of Ruppelf is described as having slight transverse caruncles
upon the upper part of the throat, but the form of its bill,
and its other characters, clearly bespeak its position to be
in another genus.
(To be continued.)
* South African Advertiser, May 13, 1829.
f Atlas zu der Reise im Nordlichen Afrika von Eduard Rupell, erste, Abthei-
Jung Zoologie, page 33, taf. 22.
[FROM THE SOUTH AFRICAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL,
No. II., JANUARY to APRIL, 1830.1
A Description of the Birds inhabiting the South of
Africa. By ANDREW SMITH, M.D. Member of the
Wernerian Natural History Society of Edinburgh ;
Honorary Member of the Mineralogical Society of Jena,
[Continued from p. 17.]
Genus. GYPABTUS. Storr.
Caput, plurimum collum
que totum plumosa ; rostrum
subcrassum barbatum ; nares
barba setosa, opertce. B,e-
miges % da - et 3 tia - cequales
longissimce. Tarsi breves plu-
mosi; Rectrices 12.
Head and neck for the most
part covered with feathers;
beak moderately strong beard-
ed ; nostrils covered by a hairy
beard; second and third wing
feathers equal, and the longest;
tarsi short and feathered ; tail
composed of twelve feathers.
Vultur Lath. Briss. Meyer. Falco Gmel.
1. GYPAETUS BARBATTJS.
of the Colonists.
Cuv. Arend and Lammervanger
Vultur barbatus et barbarus, Lath. Ind. Orn. vol. \,p. 3,
sp. 5 and 6. Vultur Leucocephalus, Meyer, Taschenb. Deut.
vi. p. 9. Falco barbatus, Gmel. p. 252, sp. 38. Vultur aureus,
Brisson Orn. Edwards, t. 106.
G. rostro niger ; capite et cervice subalbidus ; dorso et scap-
ulis fusco-nigricans ; subtus subfulvus ; iridibus duobus circu-
lis, interior eflavo, exteriore rubro.
Bill black ; head and cervix dirty sallow white ; circle round
the eyes, and space between them, and bill covered with a
deep black hair as well as each side of lower mandible, at
base, also some similar hair under the bill, which is in the
form of a large tuft pointing forwards ; irides of two colors,
viz. : yellow towards pupil, and fine red towards circumference ;
front and part of sides of head behind eyes, as well as base of
lower mandible, covered with a dense white down ; rest of
head and cervix dusky white, faintly tinged with rufous ;
back and shoulders dusky, inclining to black, the centres of
1 OG A Description of the Birds
the feathers being more or less distinctly, an obscure cinereous
black, and the edges clear black, the shafts white. Primary
and secondary quill feather, together with the tail, more or
less grayish ; throat, breast, belly, and thighs clear or dull
rufous ; toes somewhat granulated, and dusky black. Length
about three feet.
Young. Head and neck brownish black ; upper parts gray-
ish brown with blotches of dirty white ; the anterior part of the
back with large white blotches; the scapulars and wing coverts
blackish with lighter colored spots ; the quill feathers brown-
ish black ; iris brown ; feet livid. (Temmink.)
This bird is found, though scantily, in most parts of South
Africa, and is seldom seen in company either with those
of its own species or of any other genus. It frequently resorts
to spots where carrion occurs, and feeds upon it ; and it often
also, according to the statements of the inhabitants, attacks
and kills the smaller quadrupeds.
Caput plumosum ; aut partim denudatum, rostrum forte,
aduncum, basi cerigerum ; nares laterales, in ceromate positce,
plus aut minus rotundatce, apertce; digiti externi prcecipuc
mediis connexi, ungues validi, acutissimi, maxime incurvi,
Head clothed with feathers or partially naked ; beak strong,
bent down, and furnished with a cere ; nostrils lateral, placed
in the cere, more or less rounded, and open ; outer toes chiefly
connected with the middle one ; claws stout, very acute, much
incurved, and retractile.
Stirps. AQUILINA. (EAGLES.)
Rostrum longum ad apicem solum aduncum; remex quarta
Beak long, hooked at the tip only; the fourth quill feather
Genus. POLYBOR01DES. Mihi.
Rostrum compressum prceci- Sill compsessed, particular-
pue versus culmen, modice un ly to wards culmen; moderately
einatum. Nares longitudinales [ hooked ; nostrils longitudinal
et angustce, ceroma Iceve ; la- jj and narrow; ceroma smooth ;
tera capitis ante et partum \ sides of head to some little
etiam post oculos denudata. distance behind eyes bare.
Tarsi longi graciles et reticu- |j Tarsi long, slender, and reti-
lati ; ungues compressi acuti ; ' culated ; claws compressed and
3< remex longmima. acute ; fourth quill feather the
inhabiting the South of Africa. 107
P. caput, collum, et dor sum, coesia lineis transversis nut
maculis nigris variegatis ; gutture et pectore ccesiis abdomine
et fern -ribus, albis, v>egro transverse, striati* ; remigibus p im-
ariis, nigris, secundariis ccesiis; rectricibus itigris, facia lata,
Bill dark horn colored ; orbits and cere inclined to orange ;
front, crown, neck, interscapulars, and back fine gray ; shoul-
ders and scapulars the same, slightly variegated, however, by
narrow dusky lines, and most of the latter besides have also
a large black blotch towards their tips. Primary wing coverts
dark gray, each with a large black blotch towards the tip,
which last in all of them is white ; secondary coverts the
same, only the gray is a little lighter. Primary wing feather
gray towards quills, elsewhere shining black, with the ex-
ception of some of the innermost, which are white ; seconda-
ries principally gray, having each a broad black bar towards
tip, which itself is white. Tail long, rounded, shining green-
ish black, with a broad band of white mottled with black
towards its extremity, and the apices of all the feathers
white, as well as a little of the vanes of each towards quills ;
chin, throat, and breast an uniform fine gray ; belly, vent,
insides of shoulders, hinder part of back, and whole of thighs
finely marked with transverse black and white lines ; tarsi and
toes yellowish brown ; claws dark horn colored. Length two
feet four inches. Found, though very seldom, in the eastern
districts of the colony and in Caffreland, as also in Madagascar.
Obs. Some years ago I saw a specimen of this species,
though in a very different plumage, viz. chiefly brown ; which
was, doubtless, either a young bird, or else the female, if her
color differs from the male.
GENUS. HALIyEETUS. Savigny. SEA-EAGLE.
Rostrum supra convexum ;
nares lunulatce, transverse ;
ceroma subhispi<iium. Tarsi
semiplumati ; acrotarsia scu-
tellata. Digiti liberi, externus
versatilis ; ungues mcequales,
Beak convex above ; nostrils
lunulated, transverse : ceroma
subhisped. Tarsi half feather-
ed ; acrotarsia scaled. Toes
free, the outer one versatile ;
claws unequal acute.
HALI^EETTJS VOCIFEE. Groote Vischvanger of the Colonists.
Falco vocifer, Shaw, 7, p.94<; Le V^cifer, Le Vaillant,
Ois Afr. pi 4.
T. capite, collo, parte anteriore dorsi, pectore, et cauda albis,
humeris abdomine cruribus que, ferrugineis ; ceroma et digitis
Male. Bill black ; cere yellow ; space between cere and
108 -1 7 V.sr ///)/ /o// of the Bird*
eyes yellow, and thinly covered with black hair ; " eyes
reddish brown." Head, neck, interscapulars, anterior part of
back, and breast pure white ; the feathers of the head, back
of neck, and interscapulars, with their shafts brownish red ;
belly and thighs deep chesnut. Primary and secondary wing
coverts, as well as primary and secondary wing feathers, deep
shining black ; tail slightly rounded, and pure white ; legs and
toes deep yellow ; claws black. Length from bill to root of
tail twenty -five inches ; length of latter eight inches.
Female. The black color is less clear ; the white is more
dusky ; and the chesnut lighter ; which, together with the
greater size, form the only differences between the sexes.
Young. " The parts that are white in the old bird, are ashy
gray in the young ; " those that are chesnut in the former, are
brownish in the latter ; and the shoulders and back are also of
a brown color ; the wing feathers are black, but not so deep
as in mature specimens. " In the third year it acquires its
In the vicinity of most of the large rivers of South Africa
this bird occurs, and it is also now and then met with about
the different bays along both coasts ; but particularly the South-
east one. " They build their nests upon the tops of trees or
on rocks, and the female lays three or four white eggs, rather
larger than those of the turkey." When this bird is observed
to make much noise as perched upon the trees on the banks
of rivers, the inhabitants consider rain as near at hand.
HALI^ETUS BLAGRTJS. Fishing Eagle of the Colonists.
Falco blagrus, Shaw 7, p. 96; Le Blagre, Le Vaill. Ois
Afr. pi. 5.
H. fuscus, capite, collo, cauda, corporeque subtus albis hume-
ris fuscis ; iridibus fuscis ; tarsis flavis ; unguibus nigris.
" Bill brownish ; eyes deep brown ; head, neck, breast,
belly, and thighs satin white, with the feathers of the head
and back of the neck edged with brown. Scapulars and
secondary wing coverts light grayish brown ; tail the same,
with the exception of the tip, which is white. Primary wing
feathers blackish ; outer vanes of secondaries like the scapu-
lars ; legs and feet yellowish ; claws black." Length about
" two feet."
" This bird is found inhabiting the sea coast and the banks
of rivers abounding with fish ; and is hence seldom met with
far in the interior." Near the mouth of the Boscheman river
I once saw a bird of prey, which was, evidently, one of the
species above described ; and on another occasion one perched
upon a large tree over-hanging the Keiskamma. I have
never, however, been able to procure specimens for examina-
inhabiting the South of Africa. 109
Genus. CIRCLE KTUS. Vieillot.
Beak above convex ; nostrils
lunulated ; ceroma subhispid.
Tarsi elongated, naked ; aero-
tarsia reticulated . Toes snort ;
the outer connected at the base
to the middle one ; claws stout,
Rostrum supra convexum;
nares lunulatce ; ceroma subhis-
pidum. Tarsi elongati, nudi;
acrotarsia reticulata. Digiti
breves ; externus cum medio ad
basin connexus; ungues breves
C. nigro-fuscus aut niger, guttere et pectore nigris, abdo-
mine, crisso ; et cruribus albis ; cauda faciis transversis nigris
que albidis striata ; Iridibis flavis ; tarsis subalbidis, unguibus
Male. Bill dark horn colored ; eyes fine yellow ; head,
together with the back and sides of neck blackish brown,
the former often with a slight tinge of gray ; interscapulars,
back, tail coverts, and shoulders blackish brown, each feather
more or less distinctly tipt with a dusky or pure white ;
throat variegated black and white ; breast pure black or
brownish black ; belly, under tail coverts, and thighs pure
white. Primary quill feathers black, with the exception of
the greater portion of the inner vane of each towards its base,
which is white ; secondaries marked by transverse black and
grayish, or grayish white bands, and distinctly tipt with
white. Tail nearly even and composed of twelve feathers,
each of which has, or may be said to have, white or gray
and white as the ground color, and to be crossed more or less
completely by three broad black bands. When the two colors
first mentioned occur in the same specimen, the gray occu-
pies only the outer vanes towards the tips, and sometimes a
little of the inner ones near the shafts, whilst the white
appears in all other situations. When viewed below the
whole ground color appears a pure white, and the three
transverse bands a dusky black. Legs and toes livid white,
with a tint of greenish ; claws black. Length from bill to
base of tail fourteen inches ; length of tail nine inches and
Female. In point of color the male and female are nearly
alike, but the latter is always considerably larger than the
Young. When it leaves the egg it is covered with a dense
white down, which, after a few months, is concealed by an
uniform light chesnut or a dull earthy brown plumage*. The
* I have met with young specimens of this species of both colors, which
might possibly have been different sexes.
110 A Description of the Birds
primary quill feathers are the same as in old birds, but the
secondaries ;uv less distinctly baiuk-d, and the proportion of
the white in the bands is smaller, or indeed almost wanting,
gray being the prevailing color ; the tips are white. The tail
is banded, but the colors are in a reversed proportion, dark
brownish black, or black being the most abundant or ground
hue, and reddish white the most scanty. The latter occurs in
the form of narrow transverse bands, about four or five on
each feather, and the tips of all have besides a narrow edging
of dusky white ; the tail is also considerably longer in young
specimens than in old ones*. Legs and toes shaded with
brown ; claws nearly black ; bill dark horn colored, shaded
with yellow ; eyes yellow ; length of the tail ten inches and
Examples of these species are sometimes met with in a very
different plumage to either of the above described ; namely,
with the under parts principally white, slightly spotted with
black or dark brown, and more or less clouded with pale
rufous or dirty light chesnut. The head nearly white, or
only with shades or streaks of brown, and the back and
shoulders brownish, with the feathers more or less distinctly
tipt with white.
This bird builds its nest on trees, and constructs it exter-
nally with dried twigs, and internally with wool, hair, &c.
It lays usually one, though sometimes two eggs, which are
very large, and of a pure white color. Wherever South
Africa has been explored, the present species has been met
with, and though no where in great numbers, yet it is not so
rare as to enable us to imagine how it escaped the notice of
Le Vaillant. It feeds upon snakes, lizards, mice, &c. and I
have been assured by many of the colonists that it even, at
times, catches and devours fish. The male and female are
usually found together ; the young birds acquire the plumage
of maturity about the months of May or June of, perhaps, the
second or third year.
GENUS. HELOTARSUS. Mihft.
Rostrum superne convexum,
modice curvatum et uncinatum ;
narei lunulatce ; ceroma Iceve ;
lor a sulpilosa. Tarsi breves
Bill convex above,moderate-
ly curved and hooked; nos-
trils lunulate ; cere smooth ;
lores thinlv set with hair.
* This is not peculiar to the Circfleetus, but also occurs in the young of
many other genera.
f In relation to the position I have chosen for this Genus, as well as for
that of Polyboroides, I may observe that I atn not inclined to view either as
well placed. The want, however, of the means of comparing them with the
vanous other genera to which they are more or less allied, renders it neces-
sary for me to leave their immediate affinities to be discovered by others
enjoying better opportunities.
inhabiting the South of Africa. Ill
partim plumis et partim squa-
mis rigidis elevatis tecti ; digiti
squamosi et prope ungues scu-
tullati ; ungues incequales mo-
dice curvati. Remex 2^ a -
longissima, \ma. ^ %tia. f ere
Tarsi short, partly covered
with feathers, and partly with
rough elevated scales ; toes
scaly, and towards claws scu-
tulate ; claws unequal, mo-
derately curved. The second
wing feather the longest, the
first and third nearly equal.
HELOTAESTJS TYPICUS. Boot or Berghaan of the Colonists.
Falco ecaudatus, Shaw, vol. 7, p. 98. Le Bateleur, Le Vail-
lanl Ois. Afr. pi. 7 and 8.
H. niger, dor so, caudaque rufis ; humeris griseo-fuscis ; tectrici-
bus alarum nigris ; primariis et secundariis, griseis aut cinereis
prope bases, nigris versus apices.
Male. Tip of bill black ; base and the cere orange ; eyes
deep red ; head, neck, and under parts clear black ; inter-
scapulars, back, and tail clear deep chesnut ; shoulders gray-
ish brown ; primary and secondary wing coverts black ; pri-
mary wing feathers with both vanes gray, and the inner ones
edged near quills with white ; secondaries cinereous gray,
with the inner vanes edged with white ; and each feather
broadly tipt with fine shining black ; scapulars black ; tail
slightly rounded, and the wings, when folded, about three
inches longer than it. Tarsi reddish, more or less inclined
to orange ; toes similarly colored ; claws black. Length from
bill to base of tail seventeen inches ; length of latter five
inches and a half.
Female. Colors disposed as in the male, only less bright ;
size a little greater.
Young. Cere bluish ; bill horn colored ; feet and tarsi
yellowish ; plumage brown, lightest on the head and neck,
most of the feathers with the edges and tips of a fainter hue;
primary and secondary wing feathers blackish, tinged with
gray ; tail blackish brown ; claws black.
It is found in Autniqua land and in the eastern districts of
the colony, as well as in the country around Lattakoo. It flies
very high, and exhibits a peculiar appearance on account of
the shortness of the tail and the length of the wings. Le
Vaillant says it kills young antelopes, lambs, ostriches, &c.,
but I have seen it only feed upon carrion, which it did
with great avidity.
Genus. AQUILA. Auct.
Rostrum supra subangulare ;
nares rotundatce ; ceroma sub-
hispidum. Tarsi usque ad
Beak somewhat angular a-
bove; nostrils rounded; ceroma
rather hispid. Tarsi clothed
with feathers to the toes.
112 A Description of the Birds
1. AQUILA BELLICOSA. Daudin.
Falco Armiger,Shaw8 Zoology, vol. 7, p. 57. Falco bellicosus,