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THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA



PRESENTED BY

PROF. CHARLES A. KOFOID AND
MRS. PRUDENCE W. KOFOID



M367786



18/8.] MR. H. SEEBOHM ON SYLVIA BLANFORDI. 9/8



[From the PROCEEDINGS OF THE ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF
LONDON, Decembers, 1878.]



On a new Species of Sylvia from Abyssinia, and on some
other Abyssinian Sylvians. By HENRY SEEBOHM, F.Z.S.

The only species of the genus Sylvia obtained by Jesse on the
Abyssinian expedition, was the common Whitethroat. This species
was also obtained by Blanford ; and in addition he records (Geol. and



9/9 MR. H. SEEBOHM ON SYLVIA BLANFORDI. [Dec. 3,

Zool. of Abyss, p. 379) a single specimen of Sylvia melanocephala,
Gm., shot at Rairo in Habab. We learn from the personal narrative
that 'Blanford was at Rairo between the 10th and loth of August
The skin, doubtless obtained between these two dates, is in the
British Museum, and appears to me to belong to a hitherto unde-
scribed species, which I propose to call

SYLVIA BLANFORDI.

The general colour of the upper parts is brown, the innermost
secondaries, the quills, and the wing-coverts being narrowly
margined with brownish white. The cheeks, head, and nape are
brownish black. The tail is very dark brown, the outside tail-
feathers (which are much abraded) showing traces of having been
tipped with white. The general colour of the underparts is white,
shading into brown on the sides of the breast, flanks, axillaries, and
under tail-coverts. The bastard primary projects *3 inch beyond the
primary-coverts ; and the second primary is between the eighth and
ninth in length. The bird is moulting some of the primaries
between the third and the eighth. Both mandibles of the bill are
dark, and the tarsus and feet are dark slate-grey. The wing
measures 2'52, and the tail 2'62. The culmen, which is slightly
injured, measures about '5 1 when perfect.

The only species with which this bird can be confounded are S.
curruca (Linn.), S. melanocephala, Gm., and S. rubescens, Blanf.
From S. curruca it is easily distinguished by its head being brownish
black instead of pale slate-grey, and by its tail being longer instead
of shorter, than its wing. From S. melanocephala it may be dis-
tinguished by the length of wing being 2'52, instead of varying from
2-15 to 2-35, and the colour of the tarsus and feet being dark slate-
grey instead of brown. Besides being a larger bird with darker feet,
it has a larger bastard primary, a shorter second primary, and has
less white on the outside tail-feathers. From S. rubescens it may be
distinguished by its tail being longer, instead of shorter, than the
wing, by its feet being dark slate-grey instead of palish brown,
and by its larger size, the less amount of white on the outside
feathers of its tail, its longer bastard primary, and more rounded
wing.

Sylvia blanfordi appears to be quite distinct from any of the birds
described by Riippell in his ' Neue, Wirbelth. Abyss.', or by Heuglin
in his 'Orn. Nordost-Afrika's/and also from the types of Hemprich
and Ehrenberg, in the Berlin Museum, described by Dresser and
Blanford in the Ibis (1874, p. 335).

Another error of identification in Blanford's 'Abyssinia* will be
found on page 358. The skin from Senape in the British Museum,
labelled Ruticilla phcenicura, Linn., does not belong to that bird, but
to the nearly allied species Euticilla mesoleuca, Ehr. I have also exa-
mined the Pratincoles from the Abyssinian collection in the British
Museum ; and Mr. Sharpe has pointed out to me that Pratincola
semitorquata, Heugl., is undoubtedly the breeding-plumage of
P. albofasciata, Riipp., and that Blanford's skins labelled Pratincola
[2]



1878.] MR. H. SEEBOHM ON SYLVIA BLANFORDI. 980

pastor, Strickland, are undoubtedly P. indica, Blyth. This species,
distinguished, amongst other characters, from P. rubicola (Linn.), by
its pure white unspotted rump, and its almost entirely black axil-
laries, was first discovered in Europe by Harvie-Brown and myself
in the valley of the Petchora ; Drs. Finsch and Brehm found it on
the Obb; and I brought home several skins from the Yenesay.
Although Severtzoff records both species from Turkestan, there can
he scarcely any doubt that Pallas's birds from the Irtish and the
Tobol belong to the eastern species, which must therefore stand as
Pratincola maura, Pall. (Reise Russ, Reichs, ii. p. 708).



[3]



1878.] MR. H. SEEBOHM ON HORORNIS FORTIPES, ETC. 980



[From the PROCEEDINGS OF THE ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF
LONDON, December 3, 1878.]



On the Identity of Horornis fortipes, Hodgs., Neornis
assimilis, Gray, Horeites robustipes, Swinhoe, Horeiles
pallidus, Brooks, and Horeites brunnescens, Hume. By
HENRY SEEBOHM, F.Z.S.

CETTIA FORTIPES (Hodgson).

Salicaria ?, Hodgson, icon. ined. nos. 900 & 928.

Horornis fortipes, Hodgson, J. A. S. Beng. xiv. p. 584 (1845).

Drymceca brevicaudata, Blyth, J. A.S. Beng. xvi. p. 459 (1847).

Horornis assimilis, Gray, Cat. Mamm. &c. Nepal coll. Hodgson,
p. 30, no. 143 (1863, ex Hodgson).

Horeites robustipes, Swinhoe, Ibis, 1866, p. 398.

Neornis assimilis, Gray, Hand-list of Birds, no. 3006 (1869).

Horeites pallidus, Brooks, J. A. S. Beng. xli. p. 78 (1872).

Horeites brunnescens, Hume, Ibis, 1872, p. 109.

An examination of tbirty-two skins of Horornis fortipes, Hodgson,
H. assimilis, Gray, Horeites robustipes, Swinhoe, and Horeites pal-
lidus, Brooks, leads me to the conclusion that they all belong to one
species.

They agree in having the general colour of the upper parts russet
(not olive) brown, somewhat yellower on the rump. The wings are
brown, fringed externally with russet-brown, and margined inter-
nally with white. The tail is brown, fringed with russet-brown. An
indistinct eyebrow and the underparts are huffish white, shading
into ochraceous brown on the flanks, thighs, and under tail-coverts.
Axillaries and under wing-coverts pale yellow. Young birds have
the underparts yellower. The bill is moderately stout, dark horn-
colour above, pale horn-colour below, but darker towards the tip.
Rictal bristles slender. The wing is very rounded, the first primary
rather more than half the length of the second, and the fifth, sixth,
and seventh are nearly equal and longest. The tail consists of ten
feathers only, and is rounded, its outside feathers being about 0'45 inch
shorter than the longest. The foot and tarsus are robust, pale brown
in colour ; and the latter is very indistinctly scutellated in front. The
length of wing varies in adults from 1*9 to 2*28, the tail being about
one-twentieth shorter. The culmen measures about 0'5.



981 MR. H. SEEBOHM ON HORORNIS FORTIPES, ETC. [Dec. 3,

Brooks obtained this species in Cashmere ; Mandelli has sent skins
from Darjeeling ; Hodgson found it in Nepal, and Godwin- Austen
in Assam. Swinhoe's type from Formosa seems less remotely
situated when we remember that Pere David obtained the nearly allied
species (Horeites major and H. brunneifrons) in China, where the
species under consideration doubtless also occurs.

I place this species in the genus Cettia, because it agrees with the
type of that genus in having only ten tail-feathers, somewhat simi-
larly graduated, and because both species have a somewhat similar bill,
and a rounded wing, not flat like that of a Thrush, but twisted like a
plough-plate to fit the body, evidently adapted less for extended
flight than to be out of the way when the bird is creeping through
dense foliage. Both species agree in having the feathers of the
rump considerably developed, and in laying eggs of a uniform dark-
red colour in a cup-shaped nest.

The position of this genus is somewhat intermediate between the
Turdina and the Timeliince. So far as I can see at present, I feet
disposed to restrict the Turdince to birds with a comparatively flal
wing, in which the first primary is almost obsolete, whilst the second
is lengthened with the other primaries, forming a long pointed
wing, adapted for the extended flight of species whose winter-home
may be thousands of miles away from their breeding-stations. This
scheme would include the Chats, Thrushes, Redstarts, Warblers,
and Accentors in the Turdince, and leave the short-winged Warblers,
such as Prinia, Cisticola, &c., to take their place along with the
Babblers and Bulbuls in the Timeliince. This latter group of birds
is characterized by having strong legs and feet, adapted for creeping
through tangled foliage, whilst their wings, instead of being flat, are
moulded to fit the body of the bird and to occupy as little room as
possible. The conformation of the wing is ill-adapted to extended
flight. The first primary is large and takes its place naturally beside
the shortened second primary, so that it no longer deserves to be
called a bastard primary. The other primaries are also short and
graduated in length, making a short rounded wing, sufficient for birds
whose annual migrations are confined to such narrow limits that they
can often look down from the mountains where they breed onto the
plain or into the valleys, where they find an abundant supply of
winter food.

It must be admitted, however, that in many genera of the Tur-
dince we find approaches to the Timeliince, so as to make the two
subfamilies not only to come into contact with each other but some-
times to overlap, so that we may have occasionally a turdine species
of the Timeliince more turdine than the most timeliine species of the
Turdince. These little difficulties are very puzzling to the systematic
ornithologist ; but possibly they may be evidence that his system is
a natural one rather than otherwise.

The following list of skins examined will show how impossible it
is to draw any distinction in respect of size between the four reputed
species which I propose to unite :

PROC. ZOOL. Soc. 1878, No. LXIV. 64

[2]



18/8.] MR. H.SEEBOUM ON UORORNIS FORTIPES, ETC.



982



Length
of
wing.








in.








2-28


Sikkim.


G. Austen.


Horornis fortipes.


2-24


Naga lulls.


j?


Neornis assimiiisc^.


2-2


Sikkim.


Brooks.


Horornis fortipes.


2-2


Darjeeling.


Hume.


Horeites brunnescens.


2-2


Nepal.


Hodgson.


Neornis assimilis.


2-2


Naga hills.


G. Austen.


?


2-18


Shillong.


n




2-18


Nepal.


Hodgson.


j)


2-15


Darjeeling.


Brooks.


Horeites pallidus.


2-15


Khasa.


G. Austen.


Neornis assimilis.


2-14


Sikkim.




Horornis fortipes.


2-14


Shillong.


n


Neornis assimilis rf .


2-14


Cashmere.


Brooks.


Horeites pallidus.


2-13


Shillong.


G. Austen.


Neornis assimilis $ .


2-13
2-11


Darjeeling.
Nepal.


Blyth.
Hodgson.


Drymoeca brevicaudata.
Neornis assimilis.


2-11


jj


})


91


2-1


}J


n


M


2-1




n




2-1


Shillong.


G. Austen.


c?.


2-07


Naga hills.


it


?


2-05


Munipur




i>


2-0
2-0


Formosa.
Nepal


Swinhoe.
Hodgson.


Horeites robustipes.
Neornis assimilis, juv.


196


}t


>}


it


1-95


n


ri


Neornis assimilis.


1-95


Khasi.


G. Austen.




1-9


Formosa.


Swinhoe.


Horeites robustipes.


1-9
1-9


Darjeeling.
Nepal.


Brooks.
Hodgson.


Horeites pallidus.
Neornis assimilis, juv.


1-88











1-88







ft


1-81




n


n



[3]



18/9.] ON BIRDS FROM THE ATRECK VALLEY. 764



Mr. Seebohm exhibited a small collection of birds made by Capt.
the Hon. G. C. Napier in the valley of the Atreck river which flows
into the Caspian Sea not far north of Asterabad, and forms the
boundary line between Russia and Persia. The species were as
follows :

Falco cenchris, Cuv.

Coracias ffarrulus, Linn.

Pratincola caprata, Linn. [This species has not hitherto been
found further west than Baluchistan, though it ranges eastward as
far as the islands of the Malay archipelago. H. S.~\

Ember iza luteola, Lath. [Not hitherto found west of Turke-
stan.]

Emberiza hortulana, Linn. ( $ ).

Hypolais caligata, Licht.

Cypselus melba (Linn.). Shot on 12th April, flying in company
with the Common Swift, at 3000 feet elevation.

Pterocles alchata (Linn.) Shot near Teheran, 26th September,
at 4800 feet elevation.

Glareola pratincola (Linn.). Shot 10th May.

Botaurus stellaris (Linn.).

CEdicnemus scolopax (Gmel.). Shot 26th April at 3000 feet
elevation.

Plegadis falcAnellus (Linn.). Shot 26th May.

Phalaropus hyperboreus, Linn. Shot 25th May. [Doubtless on
migration towards its breeding-grounds in the valley of the Petchora,
where it arrives during the first or second week of June. H. S.~]



[From the PROCEEDINGS OF THE ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF
LONDON, December 16, 1879.]



1879.] MR, H. SEEBOHM ON SOME ASIATIC THRUSHES. 803



[From the PROCEEDINGS OF THE ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF
LONDON, December 16, 1879.]



ON
CERTAIN OBSCURE SPECIES



OF



SIBEEIAN, INDIAN, AND CHINESE
THEUSHES.



BY

HENRY SEEBOHM.



(Plate LXIV.)

In the year 1833 Tickell described (J. A. S. Beng. ii. p. 577) a
Thrush from India under the name of Turdus unicolor. In 1837
Gould described the same species (P. Z. S. v. p. 136), and, curiously
enough, gave it the same name. In 1842 Blyth, apparently thinking
it impossible that an accidental coincidence of name could be accom-



804 MR. H. SEEBOHM ON SOME ASIATIC THRUSHES. [Dec. I 6,

panied by a real coincidence of species, proposed (J. A. S. Beng. xi.
p. 460) the name of Turdus modestus as a substitute for Turdus
unicolor, "Gould, nee Tickell" apud Blytb. In 1847 Blyth discovered
that he had fallen into precisely the same blunder that he had tried
to correct in Gould ; for the name T. modestus had already been ap-
plied by Eyton, in 1839 (P. Z. S. vii. p. 103), to a different species of
Thrush. Blyth accordingly proceeded (J. A. S. Beng. xvi. p. 144) to
give a third name, Geocichla dissimilis, to this species. In doing so,
however, he further complicated the question by adding to his new
name the description of the immature male or female of anew species
which he erroneously imagined to be the adult male of T. unicolor,
Gould.

In 1850 Bonaparte described what he considered to be a new
species of Thrush from a skin in the Leyden Museum labelled
" Central Asia." He gave it (Consp. Gen. Av. i. p. 273) the name of
Turdus pelios, but afterwards, in 1854 (Compt. Rend, xxxviii. p. 5),
carelessly identified an Abyssinian Thrush (Turdus icterorhynchus,
Pr. Wiirt.) with his description of P. pelios, and needlessly threw
doubt on the correctness of the Leyden locality. The skin in the
Leyden Museum is undistinguishable from the female or immature
male which Blyth described as T. dissimilis.

After a lapse of twelve years Jerdon, in his ' Birds of India,' further
complicated matters by erroneously identifying T. dissimilis (Blyth)
with T. cardis, Temm., including it in his work (i. p. 521) as Tur-
dulus cardis (Temm.).

The following year Sclater described (Ibis, 1863, p. 196) a new
species of Thrush from Amoy as Turdus hortulorum, the male
(doubtless immature) and female of which are undistinguishable from
T. dissimilis (Blyth).

Seven years later Cabanis received a Thrush from Dr. Dybowsky,
collected in the valley of the Avnoor (likewise undistinguishable from
T. dissimilis (Blyth), and identified it with T. pelios, Bonap., point-
ing out (Journ. Orn. 1870, p. 238) the error into which Bonaparte
afterwards fell.

Further complications now followed thick and fast. In 1871
Hume described a new Thrush from Assam (Ibis, p. 411) as Geo-
cichla tricolor. In 1873 Swinhoe described a new Thrush from
Cheefoo (Ann. Nat. Hist. ser. 4, vol. xii. p. 374) as Turdus camp-
be.lli. In the following year, forgetting that he had described it in
the 'Annals,' he redescribed the same skin in 'The Ibis' (1874,
p. 444, pi. xiv.) as Turdus chrysopleurus.

My first attempt to unravel this complicated tangle of facts was
to draw the inference that whereas in the nearly allied species
T. cardis, Temm., T. obscurus, Gmel., T. pallidus, Gmel., and
T. unicolor, Tick., the females and immature males have streaks or
spots on the throat, which disappear in the fully adult male, it was
highly probable that the fully adult male of T. dissimilis, Blyth,
would also have an unspotted throat. Having arrived at this con-
clusion, it was an easy step to identify T. campbelli, Swinh., or
T. tricolor (Hume), as the fully adult male. Hume's description



1871K] MR. H. SEEBOHM ON SOME ASIATIC THRUSHES. 805

was that of a somewhat darker bird than Swinhoe's type ; but finding
in the Museum at Philadelphia a second skin agreeing precisely with
the latter (obtained, I was informed, by the Perry Expedition to
Japan), I cut the Gordian knot by assuming Swinhoe's bird to be the
normal adult male and Hume's to be a partially melanistic form not
uncommon among Thrushes. Since then the return of Mr. Wardlaw
Ramsay from Afghanistan has placed the Tweeddale collection within
reach ; and I find in it the ski a of a Thrush from Assam (which I pro-
pose to be figured as an illustration to this paper) which apparently
agrees with Hume's description of G. tricolor ; and I also hear that
Captain Elwes possesses two skins from the same locality. These facts
have obliged me to alter my opinion as to the identity of the Indian
with the Chinese specimen. I am now inclined to identify Hume's bird
as the fully adult male of T. dissimilis (Blyth). Both Hume's type
and the skins in the Tweeddale collection were shot in Assam ; and
in 'The Ibis' for 1872 (p. 136, pi. vii.) is an excellent figure of the
immature male or female of T. dissimilis (Blyth), the original of
which was shot by Colonel Godwin-Austen in the same locality.
The two species will therefore stand as follows :

TURDUS DISSIMILIS (Blyth). (Plate LXIV.)

Geocichla dissimilis, Blyth, J. A. S. Beng. 1847, p. 144.

Turdulus cardis (Temm.), apud Jerdon, B. India, i. p. 521 (1862).

Geocichla tricolor, Hume, Ibis, 1871, p. 411.

Adult male with the entire head, neck, and throat dark slate-grey,
nearly black, shading into paler slate-grey on the rest of the upper
parts. Axillaries, under wing-coverts, sides of the breast, and upper
portion of the flanks brilliant orange-chestnut, shading into brown
on the lower portion of the flanks, and into white on the centre of
the breast, belly, and under tail-coverts.

Female and immature male. Upper parts differing from the adult
male in being pale slate-grey suffused with russet-brown on the
forehead, and with olive-brown on the centre of the back. Throat
nearly white in the centre, the feathers on the sides of throat and
chest having dark-brown fan-shaped terminal spots. Rest of the
plumage similar to that of the adult male.

Hab. Assam, occasionally straying westward as far as Calcutta.

TURDUS HORTULORUM, Sclater.

Turdus pelios, Bonap. Consp. Gen. Av. i. p. 273 (1850, nee plur.
auct.)?.

Turdus hortulorum, Sclater, Ibis, 1863, p. 196.

Turdus campbelli, Swinhoe, Ann. Nat. Hist. 1873, xii. p. 374.

Turdus chrysopleurus, Swinhoe, Ibis, 1874, p. 444.

Until a fully adult male has been obtained from Southern Siberia,
we can never be absolutely sure to which of the two species Bona-
parte's name properly belongs ; but the bird from the Amoor is
more likely to be identical with one from China than with one from
Assam. According to the new-fashioned system adopted by the



806 MR. H. SEEBOHM ON SOME ASIATIC THRUSHES. [Dec. 16.

extreme Ritualist party in ornithology, who attempt to carry out
the Stricklandian code regardless of consequences, Bonaparte's name
would hang in terror em over Sclater's, to be substituted for it as
soon as it could be proved that it certainly referred to the same
species; or, following the practice of the blindest followers of
this unfortunate innovation, Bonaparte's name would at once be
given the benefit of the doubt, regardless of the fact that it
had been extensively applied to a diifertne species. I cannot for a
moment lend myself to such ornithological immorality, and must
look upon Bonaparte's name as one tainted for ever, and debarred
for the future from being used for any species of Thrush.

In the fully adult male of T. hortulorum, Sclater, the general
colour of the upper parts is a dull slate-grey, shading on the sides
of the neck into a very pale slate-grey on the throat and chest. The
axillaries, under wing-coverts, and flanks are brilliant orange-chest-
nut, shading into white on the centre of the belly and under tail-
coverts.

The female and immature male are undistinguishable from those
of T. dissimilis (Blyth).



[4]



of the Genus Setophaga. 321

and fro. Subsequently our Indian hunters used not unfre-
quently to bring us specimens from the same district ; but
nowhere else did we meet with it, nor am I aware that spe-
cimens are ever included in the large collections sent home
from time to time from Vera Paz.

Many species of various genera have from time to time been
placed in the genus Setophaga, but have since been relegated
to their proper systematic positions ; so that I need not refer
to them here. One species, however, calls for remark ; and
that is Setophaga multicolor, briefly described by Bonaparte
in his ' Conspectus Avium' (i. p. 312), from a specimen in
the Senckenberg Museum said to be from Mexico. It must
be observed that Bonaparte adopts with doubt Gmelm's name,
Motacilla multicolor, for D'Aubenton's { Figuier noir etjaune
de Cayenne' (PL Enl. 391. f. 2) an older title for which is
Motacilla tricolor a, Mull. (Natursyst. Suppl. p. 175). Judg-
ing from the figure, I should think it intended to represent
Setophaga ruticilla, a species already traced to British Guiana.
Bonaparte's diagnosis, however, hardly suits this figure, but
answers very well to Gmelin's description of his Muscicapa
multicolor (Syst. Nat. i. p. 944), founded on the Re*d-bellied
Flycatcher of Latham, a bird now known as Petrceca multi-
color, and which comes from Australia. In the absence of
all trace of a species of Setophaga in Mexico answering to
Bonaparte's diagnosis, I am inclined to think that he took his
characters from a specimen of Petrceca multicolor to which a
wrong locality had been attached.

In conclusion, I beg leave to express my thanks to Mr.
Thomas Moore and the authorities of the Derby Museum of
Liverpool, and also to Professor Peters of Berlin, for the loan
of specimens which have helped me most materially in working
out the synonymy of this genus.



SER. iv. VOL. ii.



322 Mr. H. Seebohm on the Ornithology of Siberia.

XXIII. Contributions to the Ornithology of Siberia.
By HENRY SEEBOHM.

[Continued from p. 184.]
(Plate IX.)

THE following notes on the birds of Siberia are of course
extremely fragmentary. It is very seldom that the first ex-
pedition to a strange land is successful. The pioneer can do
little more than discover the localities where future researches
may be successfully made. My great mistake was that I
wintered too far north. Had I waited the arrival of migra-
tory birds at Yen-e-saisk', instead of on the Arctic circle, my
ornithological bag would have been increased fourfold in
value. My list is almost as remarkable for what it omits as for
what it includes. There is no doubt that the Merlin is common
in the valley of the Yen-e-say'; and a little further south, most
likely they would have been found chasing the Snow-Buntings.
I was probably only just beyond the northern range of the
Siberian Jay. On my return journey my time was neces-
sarily very limited, and I was obliged to husband my ammu-
nition. It was also the most unfavourable time of the whole
year for making ornithological observations. During the
breeding-season many birds forsake the neighbourhood of
the villages and the cultivated land, and scatter themselves
through the forests ; and whilst they are moulting in the
autumn, they seem to be fully aware that their powers of flight
are limited, and that consequently they are an easy prey to
their Raptorial enemies, and therefore they seem afraid to
trust themselves on the wing. For the most part they are
silent at this season, and skulk amongst the underwood, and
it is only by chance that one can obtain a shot at them.

My plans were also considerably disarranged by the two
shipwrecks, which did not form a part of my original pro-
gramme ; nevertheless I trust that the observations I was able
to make may prove interesting to the student of ornithology.

HALIAETUS ALBICILLA (Linn.).

The Sea-Eagle was common on the banks of the Yen-e-say',



Mr. H. Seebohm on the Ornithology of Siberia. 323


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