Copyright
Andrew Smith.

Sir Andrew Smith's Miscellaneous ornithological papers online

. (page 4 of 13)
Online LibraryAndrew SmithSir Andrew Smith's Miscellaneous ornithological papers → online text (page 4 of 13)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


or reddish gray ; chin, throat, sides of neck, and breast, light
bluish gray or pale slate color ; belly and thighs banded light-
ish black and clear white. Primary quill feathers nearly an
uniform dark brown on the outer vanes, whilst the inner ones
are marked by alternate bands of blackish brown and dirty
light white ; secondaries nearly similarly colored, and all tipt
with white. Tail slightly rounded, feathers brownish black,
crossed by three transverse bands which appear, when viewed
above, of a pale dusky white or grayish white, and, when
seen below, of a pure white ; the tips of all pure white ; legs
and toes red; claws horn coloured. Length from bill to base
of tail six inches ; length of latter six inches and a quarter.

Female. Length from bill to base of tail seven inches ;
length of latter seven and a half. The color of back, throat,
and breast less clear than in the male ; the black lines of the
belly rather broader, and the tarsi and toes of a duller yellow.

Young. Bill nearly as in mature specimens ; cere and

F f [27]



226 A Description of the Birds

eyes yellow ; head and neck variegated blackish brown and
rufous, the latter most abundant on the sides of the last
named part ; interscapulars and back an uniform dark brown,
with the exception of some very slight variegations, occasioned
by many of the feathers being indistinctly tipt with rufous ;
shoulder feathers dark brown, tipt and edged more broadly
with light rufous; tail coverts white. Chin, throat, and breast
light rufous, more or less variegated by longitudinal stripes of
dark brown or blackish brown ; belly and thighs marked by
alternate narrow bands of dirty black and pale rufous ; pri-
mary and secondary quill feathers nearly as in old specimens ;
tail blackish brown, crossed by four white bands, besides each
feather having a white tip and some spots of a like color
near quill ; legs and toes yellow ; claws horn coloured.

This bird occurs, though not very abundantly, throughout
the whole of the known parts of South Africa. Le Vaillant
found a nest in the month of September, which contained
three young ones. It was constructed, externally, of small
flexible twigs ; internally, it was lined with feathers, and
occupied the cleft of a Mimosa tree. It is, perhaps, more
common about the banks of the Oliphant River, in the district
of Clan William, than in any other part of the colony.

ACCIPITER MINTJLLUS.

Falco Minullus, Latham. Le Minule, Le Vaillant Ois d'Afr.
pi 34.

A. supra, cceruleo-niger ; subtus, albus nigro-fusco fasciatus ;
crissum album maculis cordiformibus subnigris notatum ; remiges
nigro brunnece, pogoniis internis fasciatis ; rectrices ad apicem
albce et pogoniis internis tribus maculis albis notatis.

Male. Bill black ; cere yellow ; head, neck, and inter-
scapulars shining bluish black or deep slate color, with, in
some lights, a tinge of green ; back less shining, though of
the same color ; shoulders varied with light tints of olive ;
upper tail coverts white, with transverse blackish bands or
spots, the one nearest the tip of each feather somewhat tri-
angular. Chin and throat white, slightly mottled or indis-
tinctly rayed with brownish black ; breast and anterior part of
belly pure white, transversely rayed with close set brownish
black bands, sides of former, indeed sometimes of both, a
little tinged with rufous or tawny ; hinder part of belly and
under tail coverts also banded, but with the lines much more
apart. Primary and secondary wing coverts dark brown ; pri-
mary wing feathers brownish, the inner vanes banded trans-
versely with dusky black ; secondaries brownish, with the
exception of a little white on the inner edges of inner vanes,
which last are distinctly crossed by dusky black bands; insides



inhabiting the South of Africa. 227

of shoulders light tawny, inclining to white, and variegated
with irregular narrow brownish lines. Tail slightly rounded,
with the outer vanes of all the feathers brownish black,
spotted or irregularly banded with reddish brown, and the
inner ones nearly pure black, and partially crossed by pure
white in three different places ; tips of all the feathers white ;
legs and toes yellow ; claws black. Length from bill to base
of tail five inches ; length of tail four and a half inches.

Female. The colors of the head, neck, and inter scapulars
are duller, and exhibit less lustre than those of the male.
Length from bill to base of tail about six inches and a half ;
length of latter five and a half.

Young. Color above blackish brown, much variegated
about the back and sides of neck with white, arising from the
feathers in those situations being, with the exception of
brown tips, of a white tinge ; interscapulars and shoulders
mottled by the feathers having rufous tips ; upper tail coverts
nearly marked as in mature specimens ; chin and throat light
tawny white, with some longitudinal brown streaks ; breast
and centre of belly white, with oblong or roundish brown or
black spots, and many of the feathers narrowly tipt with
white ; sides of belly white, with broad brown bands, and a
more or less general tinge of rufous ; under tail coverts white,
with some heart-shaped blackish spots ; thighs rufous white,
with irregular transverse brownish bands. Primary wing
feathers brownish, with the inner vanes towards quill marked
in a dentated form by tawny ; secondaries brown, with a large
proportion of tawny disposed as in the primaries, and with
the edges of outer vanes and the tips of the feathers marked
by the same color. Tail a little rounded, the outer vanes of all
the feathers dull brown, the inner ones dusky black and tawny
white in alternate transverse bands ; the tips of all the
feathers white ; legs, toes, and base of bill yellow ; claws
black ; " eyes orange yellow."

This bird is met with in the forests of Sitsikamma, and
also about the Baviaan's River, and other situations where
forests occur in the eastern districts of the colony. Its food
consists usually of the smaller birds, but when those are not
procurable it devours grasshoppers and some other insects.
According to Le Yaillant, it constructs its nest externally of
flexible twigs, together with moss and dried leaves, internally
with wool and feathers, and lays about five eggs.

Obs. It will readily be seen by those whose have an oppor-
tunity of consulting the beautiful work of Le Vaillant, that
the bird figured in it under the name " Le Minule," is what has
just been described as a young bird. The evidence I possess,
leaves no doubt as to its being the plumage of the first

[29]



228 A Description of the Birds

year which he describes and represents ; and, therefore, forces
me to dissent from an authority I so much admire.

ACCIPITEB TACHIRO.

Speckled Sparrowhawk, Latham. Le Tachiro, Le Vaillant
Ois d'Afrique, pi. 29.

A. supra brunneus ; infra albus faciis nigro-brunneis trans-
versis variegatus. Remiges brunnece, pogoniis internis nigro
fasciatis et versus bases variegatis ; rectrices brunnece faciis
latis nigris notatce ; tarsi et digiti flavce.

Male. Bill bluish black, with a small yellowish spot on the
edge of the tooth of upper mandible, and another opposite it on
base of lower ; cere yellow ; front, crown, back of neck, in-
ter scapulars, back, upper tail coverts, and shoulders dull
brown ; the feathers of nape all white towards quills, thereby
giving rise, in certain position, to a mottled appearance. Chin
and throat pure white ; sides of neck white, with narrow
transverse brown bands ; breast and belly white, banded trans-
versely with brown, the bands few towards the middle, but
numerous on the sides ; under tail coverts white, irregularly
crossed by a few narrow brownish lines ; thighs tawny white,
with broadish transverse brown bands. Primary wing feathers
brown, banded on the inner vanes by black towards their
tips, and by black and nearly clear white towards quills ;
secondaries the same as primaries, with the exception of the
white being more abundant on the inner vanes. Tail slightly
rounded, of a light brown color, and crossed by four broad
blackish bands*, and the tips of all the feathers more or less
white ; legs and toes yellow ; claws black. Length from bill
to base of tail seven inches ; length of tail seven and a half
inches.

Female. Length from bill to base of tail nine inches ;
length of latter eight inches ; body considerably larger than
in the male, and the colors similarly disposed as in it, only
they are of a duller tint.

Young. Above brown, but of a lighter tint than in mature
specimens, and the feathers of the back and shoulders edged
and tipt with clear rufous ; chin and throat tawny white, the
former with a longitudinal black streak towards its centre ;
breast and belly tawny white or pure tawny, and each feather
marked in the middle by a large oval or oblong blackish spot ;
under tail coverts tawny white, variegated by cordiform or

* It will often be observed that in the same bird the number of bands are
not alike in all the tail feathers, particularly about the moulting season,
which will generally be found to arise from old and new ones existing in the
same specimen.

[30]



inhabiting the South of Africa. 229

roundish dusky blotches ; thighs rufous, with transverse
brown bands or irregular cordiform or roundish spots. Pri-
mary wing feathers dirty brown, inner vanes banded towards
tips by black, and towards quills by white and black ; secon-
daries brown, with the inner vanes banded by black, and
their edges irregularly and broadly marked by white, the outer
edges and tips rufous. Tail slightly rounded, with four broad
blackish transverse bands, and the spaces between these
tawny or rufous, tips of all the feathers whitish ; legs and toes
greenish yellow ; claws black. The colors of the male and
female are nearly alike, and there exists the same difference
in size between them when young as when old.

Le Vaillant found this bird in the forests of Auteniqualand,
and I have seen several which were killed in the eastern dis-
tricts of the colony, as well as in Cafferland. Its nest, ac-
cording to the author just named, is placed upon trees, and
constructed externally of small twigs and moss, and internally
of feathers. From some small portions of shell which he
found about a nest, he considered the eggs as white, with red
spots. In the nest itself, as well as on the branches of the
tree on which it was placed, were found the remains of grass-
hoppers, &c.

Obs. Though " Le Tachiro," as figured in the work upon
African birds is considered by its author as an adult specimen,
yet I have every reason to be satisfied that it is only the
young of the species just described.

ACCIPITER MELANOLEUEUS.

A. niger ; remiges nigrce, pogoniis internis albo maculatis
aut fasciatis ; cauda sordido-fusca fasciis transversis nigris
quatuor.

Bill black, with the exception of the tooth of the upper
mandible, and a small portion of the lower directly opposite it,
which are yellowish ; cere yellowish ; color above black, with
a faint tint of brown, beneath pure deep black ; primary and
secondary wing coverts black ; primary wing feathers black,
with their inner vanes towards quills spotted, or irregularly
banded with white ; secondaries dusky brown clouded with
black, and the inner vanes spotted with white; scapulars
brown, with some white blotches on both vanes. Tail slightly
rounded, with four broad black transverse bands, the in-
termediate spaces dirty tawny brown, and the outer vane
of the outermost feather of each side with some oblique short
white stripes towards quill, and internally with white
blotches ; the two next with blotches on the inner vanes, and
the centre ones without such marks ; legs and toes greenish

[31]



230 A Description of the Birds

yellow ; claws black. Length from bill to base of tail eleven
inches ; length of latter nearly the same*.

Young. Bill nearly as in mature specimens ; head rufous,
with the centres of all the feathers black ; back and sides of
neck similarly marked, but the spots largest on the former,
whereby the latter exhibits a greater proportion of rufous ;
interscapulars, back, shoulders, and tail coverts brown, the
latter broadly tipt with rufous ; the feathers of the back and
shoulders with narrow edgings and tips of the same color.
Chin and throat tawny, variegated by a few black longitu-
dinal streaks; breast and belly similarly colored, but the
streaks considerably larger and more numerous ; under tail
coverts and thighs tawny, without, or with but very few
variegations. Primary and secondary wing coverts brown,
tipt with tawny; primary wing feathers dark brown, the
inner vanes towards tips banded with black, and towards
quills with black and white or pale tawny; secondaries
brown, banded with black on their inner vanes, and mottled
towards the edges of latter with tawny white, all the tips
tawny. Tail slightly rounded, each feather with four or five
transverse bands of black, and between these brown, finely
mottled with white, some of the black bands are, in some
specimens, somewhat arrow-shaped, and have a line of tawny
white on the edge most distant from the body. Instead of an
uniform brown between the black bands, there is, in several
of the lateral feathers a mixture of white, either in the form
of blotches or partial bands, the tips of all the feathers are
tawny white ; legs and toes greenish yellow ; claws black.
The only specimen of this species which I have seen ex-
hibiting the mature plumage was shot on the Baviaans River,
and the two young ones which I have had the means of com-
paring with it, were killed near Wynberg.

Obs. Though there are many and strong points of simi-
larity between the three specimens just viewed as belonging
to the same species, yet there are some others also, which
warrant the existence of doubt ; and, therefore, till more satis-
factory evidence can be obtained, the fact of identity or non-
identity must remain undecided. The great approximation,
however, does not appear to me to sanction their being
described as two species, more particularly as two out of the
three are decidedly young, and not referable to any other
species I have yet met with here.

* As the history of the bird described is not well known, I have purposely
avoided referring it to either sex, though a minute comparison with two
young specimens would incline me to view it as a female.

[32]



inhabiting the South of Africa. 231

ACCIPITEB EUFIVENTBI9.

A. supra brunneus; infra subfulvus ; remiges brunnece,
pogoniis internis nigro fasciatis, cauda fuscis quinque nigris et
quatuor cceruleo-griseis notata.

Falco rufiventris, Latham's History of Birds, vol. 1, p. 284.
Daud. Orn. torn. 2, p. 86. Epervier bleuatre, Voy. d'Azara,
3, No. 26.

Male. Bill, with the exception of a small yellow spot near
base of upper mandible, and another opposite it on the lower,
black; head, hinder part of neck, back, upper tail coverts,
and shoulders brown, with a tinge of deep slate color, which
is particularly strong soon after moulting; sides of neck,
chin, throat, breast, anterior part of belly, and thighs light
rufous, the three first the palest ; hinder part of belly dirty
white, banded transversely with rufous ; under tail coverts
white. Primary wing feathers dirty brown, the inner vanes
banded with black, and towards quill marked on their inner
edges between the bands by pure white ; secondaries brown,
with the inner vanes banded with dusky black, and varied
with white in the same situations as the primaries. Tail
slightly rounded, and marked by five broad transverse bands
of dusky black, and four of a dusky or pure bluish gray, tips
of all the feathers white ; legs and toes yellow ; claws black.
Length from bill to base of tail five inches and a half; length
of tail four and a half.

Female. Length from bill to base of tail seven inches ;
length of tail seven inches ; colors more dull above, and
rather deeper beneath.

Young. Color above brown, without the dark slate tint of
the mature bird, and varied particularly about the shoulders,
head, neck, &c. by each feather being narrowly edged with
rufous ; legs pale yellow ; claws dark horn colored.

This species occurs along the South-east coast and to some
very considerable distance inland, at least I have seen several
specimens from the neighbourhood of Baviaans River, and
from the country towards the southern branches of the Orange
River; I have also seen examples of the same bird which
were killed near Constantia, and between that and Cape Town.

Obs. This appears to agree with the description of the
Falco rufiventris of Shaw ; and, though he describes his bird
as being a native of Cayenne, it might possibly have been
obtained from the Cape, or the species may be an inhabitant
of both countries.

F [33]



232 A Description of the Birds

Stirps. FALCONINA. (FALCONS.)

Rostrum breve a bad aduncum ; alee longce ; remex secunda
longissima.

Beak short, hooked from the base ; wings long j the second
quill feather longest.

Genus. FALCO Auctorum. FALCON.



Beak short, the upper man-
dible strongly dentate, the
under e mar ginate. Acrotarsia
reticulated. Wings with the
second quill longest, the first
and second strongly emargi-
nate internally near the tip.



Hostrum breve ; mandibula
tuperior fortiter dentata, infe-
riore emarginata. Acrotarsia
reticulata. Eemex secunda
longissima, prima et secunda
prope apicem interne fortiter
emarginata.

FALCO FRONTALIS. Daud.

Falcogalericulatus, Shaw, vol. 7, p. 149. Le Faucon Huppe,
Le Vaillant, Ois d'Afrig. pi 28.

F. cristatus, crista brunnea, dorsum plumbeum et plumce li-
neis longitudinalibus nigris ; subtus albo, flavescens et fasciis
brunneo nigris transversis notatus ; cauda grisea, nigro fasciata.

Male. Bill bluish at base, and black at tip ; cere yellow ;
eyes orange yellow; head crested, the latter of a brownish
color ; behind the angle of the mouth on each side a longitu-
dinal blackish brown streak or blotch ; black bluish gray, the
feathers each with a dark streak in the course of the vane,
and with transverse dusky bands, besides light bluish white
edgings and tips ; sides of neck dirty white, with a slight
tinge of tawny ; chin and throat tawny white ; breast and
belly the same, and crossed by narrow black bands, as are
also the feathers of the thighs. Primary quill feathers black-
ish ; secondaries deep bluish gray, with blackish transverse
bands, and all broadly tipt with the same color as the back.
Tail grayish, with seven or eight transverse narrow black,
bands, and all the feathers tipt with light grayish white ; legs
and toes yellowish ; claws black. Size that of the common
pigeon.

Female. Crest shorter than that of the male, and her size
nearly a fourth larger.

Toung. All the colors exhibit somewhat of a yellowish
tinge, and the dirty white of the chin, throat, and breast is
variegated with red and grayish brown ; the crest does not
appear till some months after it leaves the nest.

This bird inhabits the borders of lakes, the sea shore, and
the banks of rivers abounding with fish ; which last, together

[34]



inhabiting the South of Africa. 233

with crabs, forms its favorite food. It builds its nest amongst
rocks, or on trees upon the banks of rivers, and lays four
eggs of a whitish red color.

FALCO TIBIALIS. Shaw.

Le Faucon a culotte noire, Le Vaillant, Ois d'Afriq. pi. 29.

F. griseo-fuscus ; gula alba, ; corpore subtus rufescente striis
longitudinalibus nigro-bnmneis, femoribus fasciis longitudina-
libus nigris.

Male. Bill yellow at base, horn colored elsewhere ; cere
yellow ; eyes bright hazel ; head blackish brown ; interscapu-
lars and shoulders grayish brown, with a deeper colored
streak along the middle of each feather ; throat white ; breast,
belly, arid under tail coverts reddish white, with brown
blotches, which are smaller behind than before ; thighs
blackish brown, with the feathers edged and tipt with
whitish. Primary wing feathers and tail also blackish brown,
with whitish edgings and tips ; tarsi feathered to within a
little distance of the toes ; bare part yellow, as are also the
toes ; claws black ; wings, when folded, considerably shorter
than tail. Size between that of the Accipiter Musicus and
the last described species.

Le Vaillant killed a male, of which the foregoing is the
description, while feeding upon a young hare, which it had
just killed on the mountains of Great Namaqualand ; and he
says he was informed that the same species was very common
on the Sneeuwbergen, in the District of G-raaff-Eeinet.

Obs. Though the shortness of the wings, and the partially
feathered tarsi, might appear to establish this as a separate
species from the last, yet there are many circumstances which
suggest the identity of the two, and that the present is the
description of a young bird. As I have neither met with the
one nor the other, the descriptions given are copied nearly
verbatim from Le Vaillant.

FALCO CHIQTJEEOIDES.

F. capite rufo, nigro variegato ; dorso et humeris griseis, li-
niis obscuris transversis fasciatis ; duabus fasciis longitudinalibus
sub oculos ; infra subfulvus aut rubro-albus ; remigibus brunneis
pogoniis internis maculis subfulvis notatis ; cauda subgrisea
fasciis decem aut undecim transversis nigris, et apicibus plu-
marum albis.

Male. Bill bluish, with shades of black, and the base of
the lower mandible yellow ; cere yellow ; eyes dark brown ;

o g [35]



234 ^ Description of the Birds

front and anterior part of crown black, rest of crown and nape
rufous, the last with some dark variegations, or a transverse
black band extending from the black of the cheeks ; back of
neck, interscapulars, back, upper tail coverts, and shoulders
hoary bluish gray, with dark slate colored or blackish blue
transverse bands ; from the eye, on each side, extends a black
stripe as far as the nape, and another from each angle of the
mouth for a short way down the side of the neck ; sides of
latter pale tawny white, which is also the color of the chin,
throat, breast, belly, under tail coverts, and thighs. Primary
and secondary wing coverts hoary blue, with dusky grayish
white transverse bands ; primary wing feathers brownish,
with the inner vanes, for the greater part of their length,
partially crossed by somewhat conical white spots ; seconda-
ries the same ; tail hoary white, with ten or eleven moderate-
ly-broad black bands, and the intermediate spaces thinly
sprinkled with minute brownish black dots or lines ; tips of the
feathers all white ; legs and toes yellow ; claws black. Length
from bill to base of tail eight inches ; length of latter seven
inches.

Female. Length from bill to base of tail nine inches and
a half ; length of tail seven inches and a half ; front, and
nearly all the crown black ; the two black bands on sides of
head less deep, and smaller than in the male ; the rufous of
head less clear, and the back with its colors duller, and its
transverse bands more inclined to brownish black.

Young. Head rufous, with the front and nape a little
variegated with black ; back of neck and interscapulars
blackish, with the feathers finely tipt with rufous ; back,
upper tail coverts, and shoulders blackish brown, with the
feathers all broadly tipt with rufous ; the black stripes on
sides of head less strongly marked than in full grown
specimens ; sides of the neck rufous ; chin and throat tawny
white ; breast and anterior part of belly pale rufous, with a
roundish or oviform black blotch towards the middle of each
feather ; hinder part of belly, under tail coverts, and thighs
pale rufous, without variegations. Primary and secondary
wing coverts blackish brown, clearly tipt with rufous ; pri-
mary wing feathers blackish, with the inner vanes marked
by transverse oviform pale tawny spots, the extremities of
which neither reach their shafts nor inner edges; all the
feathers finely tipt with light rufous ; secondaries similarly
colored, marked as the primaries, and all broadly tipt with
rufous. Tail blackish, with seven or eight irregular transverse
rufous bands, and all the feathers broadly tipt with the last
color ; bill bluish green, with shades of black, and the lower
mandible with a very faint tinge of greenish yellow at base ;

[361



inhabiting the South of Africa. 235

cere dusky greenish yellow ; eyes dark brown ; legs and toes
yellowish white ; claws a dark horn color.

Specimens of this hawk are not unfrequently found along
the western coast, and I have also met with some about the


1 2 4 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Online LibraryAndrew SmithSir Andrew Smith's Miscellaneous ornithological papers → online text (page 4 of 13)