Arthur Cowell Stark.

The birds of South Africa (Volume 4) online

. (page 28 of 47)
Online LibraryArthur Cowell StarkThe birds of South Africa (Volume 4) → online text (page 28 of 47)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

tions ; median and greater coverts white mottled with black and
grey, with a broad black subterminal bar before the white tip ;
quills dark brown, the inner ones with a good deal of white on the
inner web, and the outer secondaries tipped with white as well ;
tail-feathers with brown bases and four narrow brown transverse
bands ; the intermediate spaces being either white, or white freckled
with dark brown ; below, across the breast, a transverse band of
dark brown more or less complete; rest of the lower surface,
including axillaries and under wing-coverts white.

Iris lemon-yellow, paler towards the centre ; bill light horn ;
feet light yellowish.

Length about 57-0; wing 31-0; tail 13*5 ; culmen 4-0 ; tarsus 7*9;
spread of wings 8 feet 4 inches ; weight 30 Ibs. (Andersson and S. A.
Mus.j, 40 Ibs. (Buxton according to Gurney), 42 Ibs. (Trevelyan).

The female resembles the male, but is much smaller; length
about 44-0; wing 23-5 ; tarsus 6-35.

Distribution. This large Bustard, though nowhere common, is
generally distributed all over South Africa ; beyond our limits its




range extends to Southern Angola on the west, and through Central
and East Africa to Shoa and Somaliland on the east.

The following are South African localities ; Cape Colony con-
fluence of the Orange and Vaal Eivers, October, 1811 (Burchell
type), Cape division, Piquetberg and Beaufort West (S. A. Mus.),
Little Namaqualand, rare (Howard), Jensenville (Bryden), Albany
(Trevelyan) ; Natal Newcastle district (Butler), Upper Umkomas
(Woodward), St. Lucia Lake in Zululand (Woodward) ; Transvaal
near Klerksdorp (Holub), Pretoria district (Distant), near Johannes-
burg, rare (Haagner), Lydenburg bushveld (Kirby and Kendall) ;

FIG. 97. Head of Otis Jcori. x 2.

Bechuanaland Confluence of Notuani and Limpopo (Holub), Pala-
pye, May (Oates), Botletli Eiver (Bryden) ; Ehodesia Mashonaland
(Ayres and Marshall) ; German South-west Africa Great Namaqua-
land and Damaraland to Ondonga (Andersson), Kalahari, May,
Eeheboth, April (Fleck).

Habits. This, the noblest and finest of all South African Game
Birds, is now becoming rather rare. It is found singly or in pairs, or
sometimes in small companies of three or four birds. Its favourite
resorts are open plains with scattered Mimosa-bush. It is specially
fond of a sweet gummy exudation from these trees, and has thus
earned its vernacular name of Gom, or Gum Paauw. It appears to
be partially migratory, its movements probably depending on rainfall.
Its flight is heavy, but rapid for so large a bird, and Andersson states


that at night when changing its feeding ground it can sometimes be
seen flying at a great height above the ground. It also runs with
great speed, using its wings to aid it in balancing, like an Ostrich.
In addition to the gum above mentioned it feeds on locusts and other
large insects and reptiles and snakes of considerable size. Though
it seems to have escaped the notice of most South African observers,
there can be no doubt that the Gom Paauw possesses a gular
pouch ; this is a sac, or bag, lying in the front of the throat and
opening under the tongue into the mouth cavity ; it can be inflated
at the will of the bird, and is probably so used during the breeding
season. The Great Bustard of Europe has a similar pouch, which
is inflated during the breeding season, swelling the neck to a very
large size. Curiously enough, however, in the case of another
species, the Australian Bustard, the swelling of the neck is due to
the filling and blowing out of the aesophagus itself, the gular pouch
being entirely absent.

Like other members of this family, the Gom Paauw makes no
nest, but lays its eggs, two in number, on the bare ground in a
slight hollow. There are three eggs in the South African Museum,
one of which was obtained at Nelspoort, in Beaufort West, by
Mr. Jackson. They are ovals, almost equally rounded at both
ends; the ground colour is a pale olive-brown, sparingly mottled
with a darker shade of the same colour in the one case, in the other
more heavily blotched with purplish and yellowish-brown. They
measure 3-4 to 3-5 x 2-4.


The birds included in this Order are chiefly shore- and marsh-
haunting forms, such as Snipes, Sandpipers, Plovers and their
allies; to these are added the Stone-Curlews, Crab- Plovers, Jacanas,
Coursers and Pratincoles, as well as the members of the two other
families not represented in our fauna the Chionididce or Sheathbills
of the Antarctic Islands, and the extreme southern parts of South
America, and the Thinocorythidce confined to South America.

The members of this Order are characterised by a bill which is
usually slender and has on each side a groove with the nostril
opening at its base ; the wings are generally long, and there are
always eleven primaries ; the legs, too, are generally long and the
lower portion of the tibia naked ; the toes are three or four in


number and are sometimes fully webbed, sometimes not webbed,
but more often partially webbed.

The anatomical characters are as follows : Skull schizogaathous,
and usually schizorhinal, basipterygoid processes present or absent,
sternum usually with two notches ; contour- feathers with an after-
shaft ; no fifth cubital remex to the wing ; caeca present, as a rule ;
oil gland tufted ; two carotids ; hallux, if present, connected with the
flexor longus hallucis, and not with the flexor perforans digitorum.

The Limicolae appear to be allied, on the one hand, to the Gulls,
and on the other to be connected through the Stone Plovers with
the Bustards ; indeed, many authors remove the Stone Plovers
altogether from the present Order and place them with the tides.

The South African representatives of this Order are arranged
here in five families, while two others already mentioned do not come
within our purview. The bulk of the genera and species, however, all
fall into one of these families, the Charadriidce, so that it is necessary,
for purposes of convenience, to divide this again into sub-families.

Key of Genera.

A. Tarsus covered with hexagonal scales before
and behind, no transverse scutes.

a. A small hind toe present.

a 1 . Bill very long, more than twice the length

of the middle toe and claw, mandible up-

curved at the tip Becurvirostra, p. 382.

ft 1 . Bill about as long as the middle toe and

claw, culm en nearly straight, not up-curved Squatarola, p. 359.

b. No hind toe.

a 1 . With a distinct dertruni, or swelling, at the

tip of the mandibles.
a 2 . A sharp-pointed carpal spur at the bend

of the wing Hoplopterus, p. 351.

b 2 . Carpal spur represented by a blunt pro-
jection only.

a 3 . Inner secondaries broad and rounded ;
distance between the shortest secon-
dary and the longest primary not

equal to half the length of the wing... Stephanibyx, p. 354.
b 3 . Inner secondaries long and pointed;
distance between the shortest secon-
dary and the longest primary more
than half the length of the wing ...... JEgialitis, p. 361.

b 1 . With no dertrum.
a 2 . Bill compressed and stout, longer than

the tarsus Heematopus, p. 377.


b-. Bill slender and pointed, shorter than

the tarsus but twice the length of the

head : Himantopus, p. 380.

c 2 . Bill short and stout, not as long as the

head (Edicnemus, p. 315.

B. Tarsus clothed with transverse scutes anteriorly, -

reticulate posteriorly.

a. No hind toe ; facial wattles and a carpal spine

present Xipliidiopterus, p. 348.

b. Hind toe present.

a 1 . Bill with a distinct dertrum.

a 2 . Facial wattles and a strong carpal spine Lobivanellus, p. 345.
b' J . No facial wattles, but a strong carpal

spine Hemiparra, p. 350.

ft 1 . Bill with no dertrum.

a?. Bill straight and conical, about as long

as the head '. Arenaria, p. 342.

b 2 . Bill far longer than the head and down-
curved Numenius, p. 385.

C. Tarsus with transverse scutes before and behind.
a. A web between the anterior toes more or less

a 1 . No hind toe.

a 2 . Bill with the lower mandible down-
curved, in correspondence with the

upper Cursorius, p. 322.

b'-. Bill with the lower mandible not down-
curved RliinoptiliiS) p. 326.

6 1 . Hind toe present.

a 2 . Bill stout and strong, longer than the
head ; tarsus long, more than twice the

length of the middle toe and claw Dronias, p. 320.

6 2 . Bill stout and very short, about half the
length of the head ; tarsus short, hardly
longer than the middle toe and claw.
a 3 . Tail strongly forked, outer tail feathers

half as long again as the inner ones ... Glareola, p. 332.
b 3 . Tail nearly square, outer tail feathers
only slightly longer than the inner

ones Galactochrysca, p. 336.

c 2 . Bill long and slender, about as long as
the head, or longer; tarsus moderate,
never twice the length of the middle toe
and claw.

a 3 . Sexes of equal size Totanus, p. 389.

b 3 . Male with a remarkable sexual breed-
ing dress, and always larger than the
female Pavoncella, p. 401.



b. No web between the anterior toes.
a 1 . Hind toe absent Calidris, p. 410.

6 1 . Hind toe present.

a?. Toes long, far exceeding the tarsus in

a 3 . With a frontal shield

6 3 . No frontal shield

b*. Toes moderate, tarsus about equal to or

exceeding the middle toe and claw.
a?. Ear opening well behind the level of

the hinder edge of the eye

& 3 . Eye placed far back, so that the ear
opening just touches the level of the
hinder edge of the eye.
a 4 . Tail feathers 16 (in South African

species), outer ones narrowed

b 4 . Tail feathers 10, outer ones not
narrowed ,

Actophiluj, p. 337.
Micrqparra, p. 341.

Tringa, p. 404.

Gallinago, p. 412.
Rostratula, p. 418.


Skull holorhinal ; nostrils pervious ; no basipterygoid processes,
and sixteen cervical vertebrae. The external characters are given in
the description of the single South African genus.


FIG. 98. Front half of the skulls of (Edicnemus and of Numenius, from
above, to show the difference between holorhinal and schizorhinal nostrils ;
in the former the posterior end of the nasal opening is evenly rounded off, in
the latter this portion of the aperture is slitlike.




(Edicnemus, Temm. Man. d'Oni. p. 321 (1815) CE. crepitans.

Bill stout and strong, broader at the base than high, hardly as
long as the head and half the length of the tarsus ; nostrils linear
ovals in a shallow groove and pervious ; eyes very large ; wings long
and pointed, the first primary falling but little short of the second,
which is usually the longest ; tail of twelve feathers considerably
graduated ; tarsus long, covered before and behind with reticulate
scales ; no hind toe ; claw of middle toe broad and dilated on its
inner side.

FIG. 99. Left foot of (Edicnemus capensis (x \), together with tlie claw of
the middle toe, from above, enlarged to show the dilation.

Eight species of Stone Curlews or Stone-Plovers, spread over
the temperate and tropical portions of the Old World and Central
and South America have been described. Two of these come within
our limits.

Key of the Species.

A. Larger, wing about 9 ; back rufous with black

markings which tend to form bars ......... (E. capensis, p. 315.

B. Smaller, wing about 8 ; back vermiculated with

two shades of brown, and with dark brown

shaft-marks ...................................... (E. vermiculatus, p. 318.

702. (Edicnemus capensis. Dikkop.

(Edicnemus capensis , Licht. Verz. Doubl. p. 69 (1823) ; Gurnet/ in
Andersson's B. Damaral. p. 266 (1872); Ayres, Ibis, 1874, p. 104,
1880, p. Ill; Oates, Matabeleland, p. 326 (1881); Butler, Feilden
and Eeid, Zool. 1882, p. 340 ; Shelley, Ibis, 1882, p. 363 [Spaldings
and Buluwayo] ; Holub <& Pelz. Orn. Sild-Afr. p. 236 (1882) ; Sliarpe,
c<L Layard's B. S. Afr. pp. 645, 855 (1884) ; Seebohm, Geogr. Distr.
Charadr. p. 81, with text figure (1888) ; Nicolls and Eglington,

^, * 5-






Sportsm. S.A.p. 120 (1892); Fleck, Journ. Ornith. 1894, p. 382;
Sharpe, Cat. B. M. xxiv, p. 15 (1896) ; Shelley, B. Afr. i, p. 194
(1896); Bri/dcn, Nat. and Sport, p. 50 (1897); Woodward Bros.,
Natal Bds. p. 179 (1899); Marshall, Ibis, 1900, p. 264; Oates, Cat.
B.Eggs,ii, pp. 82, 364 (1902) ; Reichcnow, Vdg. Afr. i, p. 198, (1900) ;
Haagner, Ibis, 1902, p. 580; Whitchead, Ibis, 1903, p. 235; Sharpc,
Ibis, 1904, p. 13 [Deelfontein] .

(Edicnemus maculosus, Temm. PL Col. v, pi. 292 (1824) ; Gurney, Ibis,
1860, p. 217 [Natal] ; Layard, B. S. Afr. p. 288 (1867) ; Buckley,
Ibis, 1874, p. 388; Harting, P. Z. S. 1874, p. 457 ; Drummond, Large
Game S. Afr. p. 412 (1875).

"Dikkop" or "Thicknee" of colonists ; " Inqanqolo " of the Amaxosa
(Stanford) ; " Khoho-a-dira," i.e., Fowl of the Enemy, of the Basu-
tos (Murray).

FIG. 100. Head of (Edicnemus capensis.

Description. Adult Male. General colour above pale sandy-
rufous, thickly mottled with black which tends to form streaks on
the head and neck and bars on the back and wings ; wing-coverts
like the back; wing-quills and primary coverts black, the outer
primaries with a white band extending over each web ; some of the
inner ones tipped with white ; central tail-feathers like the back ;
the others tipped with black and with a subterminal band of white ;
eyebrows, lores, a double streak beneath the eye, separated by a
black band, chin and throat white ; front of the neck sandy-rufous,
passing into white on the abdomen, the whole marked with dusky


streaks ; under tail-coverts pale cinnamon ; axillaries white with
dusky shaft-stripes; under wing-coverts white tipped with dusky.
Eye very large.

Iris bright yellow ; bill black, pale greenish-yellow at the base ;
legs and feet yellow, dark along the front.

Length 18-5 ; wing 9'0 ; tail 4-75; culmen 1-5 ; tarsus 3'7.

The sexes are alike. Young birds appear to be rather paler

Distribution. The Dikkop is found all over South Africa from
Cape Town to the Zambesi, but appears to become scarcer in
Mashonaland and the extreme north. It is said to be partially
migratory but its movements are irregular. Beyond our limits the
Dikkop ranges to Angola on the west and through Nyasaland and
East Africa as far north as Khartoum and Massowa on the Bed Sea
in the east, if, as is stated by Keichenow, (E. affinis is identical with
our species.

The following are localities : Cape Colony Cape, Malmesbury,
Bredasdorp, Hanover and Namaqualand divisions (S. A. Mus.),
Port Elizabeth and East London (Rickard), Colesberg (Ortlepp),
Deelfontein, common (Seimund), Orange River near Aliwal North
(Whitehead), King William's Town (Trevelyan), Spaldings in
Barkly West division, February (Ayres) ; Natal Isipingo, Maritz-
burg and Zululand (Woodward), Newcastle, May, June (Reid);
Orange River Colony Vredefort Road, April (B. Hamilton),
Basutoland, early winter (Murray); Transvaal Pilandsberg, July,
Potchefstroom, April and December (Ayres), near Johannesburg
(Haagner), Marico and Swaziland (Bt. Mus.); Bechuanaland
Kanye (Exton), Tati (Bradshaw), Nocana, July (Fleck) ; Rhodesia
Buluwayo, Novembei\(Ayres), Mashonaland, scarce (Marshall);
German South-west Africa Great Namaqualand and Damaraland
(Andersson) ; Portuguese East Africa Tete (Kirk in Bt. Mus.).

Habits. The Dikkop is found in open country on stony flats
or along the slopes of low hills ; in the shooting season it is generally
met with in small parties, though no doubt it pairs in the breed-
ing time. As a rule it tries to escape notice by crouching,
though it runs very well and fast, with curious jerks forward of
its head every few yards. When flushed its flight is very silent,
but it sometimes utters a loud and somewhat doleful note,
"cherara," three times repeated. It is a somewhat nocturnal
bird, seeking for its food, which consists of insects and seeds, after
dusk. Its flesh, though black, is excellent and much esteemed, so


that it is always shot by sportsmen when met with, and generally
considered as a game bird. The eggs, two in number, are laid on
the bare ground in a slight excavation, and the young birds run
as soon as hatched, and are of an ashy-grey colour.

Dr. Sbark found the eggs of this bird at Hondeklip Bay on the
shores of Namaqualand on September 16th, and at Hoetjes Bay
in Saldanha Bay on September 26th. In both cases the eggs were
laid in a slight hollow in the sand near the sea, sheltered by tufts
of grass ; the two eggs were about half an inch apart from one
another and lay parallel with one another, the small ends pointing
in opposite directions. These eggs are now in the South African
Museum ; they are pale stony-grey, varyingly blotched with patches
and smaller irregular spots of rich deep brown ; they average
2-2 x 1-6.

703. (Edicnemus vermiculatus. Water D'Mop.

(Edicnemus natalensis, Gray, List Grallce B. M. p. 59 (1844) ; [norri.

(Edicnemus senegalensis (nee Swains.) Grill, K. Vet. AJcad. Handl.
Stockholm, ii. no. 10, p. 53 (1858) [Knysna] ; Kirk, Ibis, 1864, p. 331 ;
Gurney, Ibis, 1865, p. 270 [Durban], 1868, p. 254 ; Layard, Ibis, 1869,
p. 76 ; Slia.rpe, cd. Layard's B. S. Afr. p.' 646 (1884).

(Edicnemus vermiculatus, Cabanis, Journ. Ornith. 1868, p. 413 ; id.
Von der Decheris Ecise, iii, p. 46, pi. 16 (1870) ; Finsch <& Harll.
Vog. Ost-AfriJtas, p. 622 (1870) ; Shelley, Ibis, 1882, p. 362 [Mashona-
land] ; Sharpe, ed. Layard's B. S. Afr. p. 647 (1884); Seebohm, Ibis,
1881, p. 338 ; id. Geogr. Distr. Charadr. p. 80 (1888) ; Fleck, Journ.
Ornith. 1894, p. 382; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. xxiv, p. 11 (1896) ; Shelley,
B. Afr. i. p. 194 (1896) ; Sharpe, Ibis, 1897, p. 516 [Ivuna Biver] ;
Woodward Bros. Natal B. p. 179 (1899) ; Reiclienow, Vog. Afr. i, p.
200 (1900) ; Short-ridge, Ibis, 1904, p. 202.

Description. Adult Male. General colour above sandy-brown,
vermiculated with dusky and with conspicuous black shaft-marks to
all the feathers ; wing-coverts slaty grey, also with black shaft-
marks, and tipped with black ; wing-quills and greater coverts
black, the first three quills with a broad transverse band of white ;
central tail-feathers like the back, the outer ones tipped with black
and with a subterminal dash of white ; eyebrow and band below the
eye, chin, throat and abdomen white, the breast and under tail-
coverts pale sandy, the former with strong dusky shaft-marks ;
axillaries, edge of the wing and under wing-coverts white, a few of
the latter tipped with dusky.


Iris pale green ; bill black, yellowish at the base ; legs pale

Length (in flesh) 15-0 ; wing 8-0 ; tail 4-25 ; culmen 1-75 ; tarsus 3'0.

The female is somewhat duller in plumage than the male, but of
about the same size.

Distribution. The Water Dikkop is found all over South and
East Africa as far north as Loango on the west, Victoria Nyanza
in the centre, and Mombasa on the east. Though widely distri-
buted in South Africa it appears to be always a somewhat rare
bird, and is not found on the high veld or far away from large
rivers or the sea.

The following are localities : Cape Colony Bredasdorp (S. A.
Mu's.), Knysna in March (Victorin), in October (Marais), Port
Elizabeth, rare (Brown), King William's Town (Bt. Mus.), St.
John's Eiver, April (Shortridge) ; Natal Durban, June and July
(Ayres), Umgeni Eiver mouth (Seebohm), Ivuna River in Zulu-
land (Woodward) ; Transvaal Sabi River, June (Francis, in S. A.
Mus.) ; Bechuanaland Nocana, July (Fleck) ; Rhodesia Quaequae
River and Umfuli River, October (Ayres) ; Portuguese East Africa
Tete (Kirk).

Habits. The Water Dikkop is nowhere very common; it is
nearly always found in pairs or in small parties about the mouths or
along the banks of rivers, where it finds its food, which consists of
small insects and Crustacea. It is very shy and runs swiftly out of
sight, concealing itself among low trees and shrubs which line the
river banks. Ayres noticed that it was only found about Durban
Harbour in winter (June and July), and Mr. Shortridge tells me he
has only seen it on the St. John's River, some distance from the
mouth, in April. It is probably partially migratory.

Two eggs of this species in the South African Museum were
obtained by Mr. Eriksson on the Cunene River ; they were laid on
the bare ground within a couple of feet of the water. They are
somewhat smooth and shiny, of a very pale sandy brown ground-
colour, heavily blotched and spotted with a very much darker shade
of brown. They are slightly pointed at one end, and measure
1 90 x 1-35.



Skull schizorhinal, nostrils pervious, perforated in the bill itself ;
no basipterygoid processes ; fifteen cervical vertebrae ; egg white,
laid in a hole dug in the sand.

This Family contains only one genus and species, concerning the
systematic position of which there has been some controversy ;
Blyth considered that it was related to the Terns, chiefly on account
of its plumage, but later naturalists, such as Milne-Edwards, Gadow
and Fiirbringer, are all agreed as to placing it in the present Order,
though some uncertainty still exists as to its exact position. It is
perhaps best to devote a special family to its reception.

Genus I. DROMAS.


Dromas, Paykull, K. Vet. Akad. Handl. Stockh. xxvi,

p. 188 (1805) D. ardeola.

Bill stout and strong, considerably longer than the head, broader
than high at the base ; culmen only slightly curved ; nostrils at the
front end of a shallow depression near the base of the bill ; wings

FIG. 101. Right foot of Dromas ardeola, from inside, x .

long and pointed, first primary the longest ; tarsus long with trans-
verse scutes before and behind; hind toe present, three anterior
toes with a basal web between them reaching almost half their
length ; claw of the middle toe swollen and somewhat flattened,
pectinated or notched on the inner side feathers of the inter-
scapulary region elongated and decomposed. Only the one species
here described belongs to this genus.




704. Dromas ardeola. Crab Plover.

Dromas ardeola, Paykull, K. Vet. Abaci. Handl. StocWi. xxvi, pp. 182,
184, pi. 8 (1805); Gurney,Ibis, 1865, p. 270 [Natal Coast] ; La yard,
B. 8. Afr. p. 372 (1867) ; Sharpe, ed. Layard's B. S. Afr. p. 694 (1884)
id. Cat. B. M. xxiv, p. 28 (1896) ; Shelley, B. Afr. i, p. 194 (1896) ;
Reichenoiv, Vog. Afr. i, p. 202 (1900).

Description. Adult Male. Head and neck all round, wings, in-
cluding the coverts, scapulars and inner secondaries, rump, upper
tail-coverts and tail and the whole of the lower surface white ; mantle
black, the feathers elongated to form long plumes covering the
centre of the back ; wing quills, primary coverts and bastard wing
black ; the shafts of the primaries white and the inner webs ashy.

Iris dusky ; bill black ; legs and feet bluish-ash.

Length about 15-5 ; wing 8-0; tail 3-0 ; tarsus 3-55 ; culmen 2-1.

FIG. 102. - Head of Dromas ardeola.

The female is rather smaller and the mantle plumes are not so
well developed.

The young bird has the head and nape streaked with greyish-
black and the mantle grey instead of black.

Distribution. The Crab Plover is found along the coasts of
the Indian Ocean, including the Ked Sea and Persian Gulf, from the
Andamans and Nicobars to Madagascar and Natal. It has only
once been recorded from within our limits. Ayres met with a
single specimen nearly forty years ago on the seashore near
Durban. It is probably only an accidental visitor so far south.
21 VOL. iv.


Habits. Blanford gives the following notice of the rather
remarkable habits of this bird: "The Crab Plover keeps to the
seashore or the margin of salt lakes, and is found as a rule in small
or large flocks sometimes much scattered. It feeds chiefly on crabs.
It runs actively and flies well, occasionally uttering a low, rather
musical call. This bird breeds in the Persian Gulf and in Ceylon
about May, and lays a single egg at the end of a hole in sand near
the shore. The hole is dug by the bird obliquely in the form of
a bow, curving up towards the end, which is about four feet from
the entrance ; there is no lining to the nest. The egg is pure white
and remarkably large for size of the bird, measuring 2-54 x 1*77.


Skull (in all South African genera) schizognathous, no basiptery-

Online LibraryArthur Cowell StarkThe birds of South Africa (Volume 4) → online text (page 28 of 47)