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becoming gradually rarer north of the Arctic circle. I had
a fine male brought me which had been caught in a fox-trap.


I frequently saw the Rough-legged Buzzard on the wing
near our winter- quarters, but failed to secure a specimen.


I did not notice the Black Kite on the Yen-e-say' until we
reached lat. 61 on the return journey. From this point it
increased in abundance as we proceeded south and west, until
in Tomsk it swarmed to as great an extent as it does in Con-
stantinople. I did not shoot one of these birds.


The Peregrine Falcon was first seen on the Koo-ray'-i-ka
about the middle of May ; and on the 25th of that month I
secured a fine male. I once saw one of these birds dash into
a flock of Snow-Buntings and bear one off in its talons. On
the tundra they were breeding on the steep mud-cliffs on
the banks of the Yen-e-say'. In lat. 69| I spent the night
of the 13th-14th July on shore, shooting. I had no sooner
landed than a couple of Peregrines showed me their nest by
their loud cries. A glance at the cliffs decided the place
where the nest ought to be on the top of a steep mud pro-
montory, which stretched out to a sharp ridge beyond and above
the surrounding coast. I climbed up a valley in which the
snow was still lying, and walked straight along the ridge to
the little hollow where the four red eggs were placed upon a
dozen small flakes of down. The eggs were considerably


I did not observe the Kestrel until I reached Yen-e-saisk'
on my return journey, about the middle of August. The
banks of the river to the south of the town are very flat ; and
a wide extent of meadow-land, which had recently been cut
for hay, stretches southward for miles. This plain is sur-
rounded by forests and intersected with numerous half-dried-
up river-beds running parallel to the Yen-e-say'. In this

z 2

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

locality I found the Kestrel very abundant, and I frequently
saw as many as a score on the wing together. It was also
very common on the road-side as we drove through Kras-no-
yarsk' to Tomsk, frequently alighting on the telegraph-posts.


The Sparrow-Hawk was one of the numerous enemies which
the Snow-Buntings had to guard against as long as they
stayed at our winter-quarters. I shot a male on the 1st of
June, but had frequently seen this bird earlier.


I saw the first Hen-Harrier on the 24th May, and one or
more were almost daily seen as long as we remained at the
Koo-ray-i-ka. I shot two old males, one young male, and
one female.


We frequently saw a large Owl, which I have little doubt
was of this species, sailing over the ship in the evenings whilst
she was frozen up in winter-quarters ; but it took care never
to come within range of our guns.


I twice saw the Short-eared Owl, once in lat. 66^, and the
other time in lat. 67, but failed to secure a specimen.


I did not see the Snowy Owl on the wing, but had a very
white specimen sent me in the flesh, which had been caught
in a fox-trap. In lat. 70^ the natives told me that this bird
and the Willow-Grouse were the only species which wintered
on the tundra.


This remarkable bird has not yet been recorded from poli-
tical Siberia, but occurs almost on the frontiers, in the Eastern
Palsearctic region. When I was passing through Omsk, Pro-
fessor SlofftzofF presented me with a skin of this bird, which had
been shot by a shepherd on the Chor'-na Ear'-tish, or Black
Irtish, a river which flows through Lake Saisan and joins the
Ear'-tish near Semipalatinsk. The shepherd described it as

Mr. H. Seebohm on the Ornithology of Siberia. 325

very wild and difficult to approach, and said that he had
chased it for a couple of days before he succeeded in se-
curing it.

This specimen differs from Hume's description in having
no spots on the head. Only a few of the feathers on the nape
have slight indications of spots, almost like gold dust, at the
tips. The plate of this bird in ' Lahore to Yarkand 3 (p. 244)
is by no means a good one. The bar on the wing in my
copy is coloured very pale blue, instead of pure white ; and
the conspicuous white feathers on the carpal joint are entirely
concealed by the feathers of the breast.


Picus tridactylus, Linn. Syst. Nat. i. p. 177 (1766).

Apternus crissoleucus , Bouap. Consp. Vol. Zyg. p. 9 (1854),
ex Brandt, MS. in M us. Petrop.

On my arrival at the wintering-place of the ' Thames ' on
the Arctic circle, I found the Three-toed Woodpecker common
in the pine-forests on both banks of the Koo-ray'-i-ka, and was
assured by the sailors that it had frequently been seen there
throughout the winter. I brought home seven skins of this
bird, six of which are representative examples of the form P.
crissoleucus (Bp.), in which the underparts are much, whiter
than usual, the feathers on the belly and under tail-coverts
being very slightly barred with black, and the outside tail-fea-
thers also displaying more white than in the common form.
The seventh skin agrees exactly with skins of the usual
colour in my collection from the Petchora, Archangel, and
Norway. It seems doubtful whether P. crissoleucus be an
Eastern form of P. tridactylus, or merely a very old bird
of the latter species. I may remark that in my series of
skins the yellow on the head of the male is more developed in
the paler-coloured birds than in those more profusely barred,
favouring the idea that the difference is one of age.


Birds are very rare in the Siberian forests in winter. I
have often silently threaded my way between the pines on
snow-shoes for hours without hearing a note or seeing a fea-
ther. Then, perhaps, I should suddenly find myself in the

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

midst of a small party of Lapp-Tits. What few birds there
are in these vast solitudes are very sociable. I generally
found the Lapp-Tits accompanied by a pair of Pine-Grosbeaks,
and occasionally by a pair of Nuthatches. The Nuthatch of
the Yen-e-say' cannot be separated specifically from the com-
mon European form. It is undoubtedly a whiter form. The
forehead is whiter, and the flanks are much less rufous. These
paler forms are characteristic of Siberia, and have given rise
to many new synonyms. Thus the Siberian form of Picus
tridactylus has been called P. crissoleucus by Brandt, that of
Parus cinctus P. grisescens by Dresser ; and the pale form of
Sitta europaea is the S. uralensis of Lichtenstein, the S.
asiatica of Gould, and the S. roseilia of Bonaparte.

Dresser, in his ' Birds of Europe/ describes the legs of S.
europcea as ' ' plumbeous grey/' in contradistinction to those
of S. c&sia, which he describes as " pale dull brown/' This
does not at all agree with my observations in Siberia. The
following note was written on the spot, with several fresh-
killed birds of each of the two species referred to before me :
" The Nuthatch and the Titmouse which are found here are
remarkably alike in their general distribution of colour, but
differ considerably in the bill and feet. The feet of the Lapp-
Titt are lead- colour, almost black. The bill of the Nuthatch
is dark lead-colour above, and pale lead-colour below, almost
the colour of the back." The feet, on the other hand, seem
to have been painted with the same colouring matter as the
under tail-coverts, and are pale chestnut-brown, with the soles
a dirty yellow.


I first heard the Cuckoo on the 5th June, and shot a male
a few days later. I did not myself hear this bird further
north than 67, but was assured that it was not unfrequent
at Doodin'-ka, in lat. 69, nearly at the limit of forest-growth.


On the 15th of June a second species of Cuckoo presented
himself, with an entirely different voice to our bird, a gut-
tural and hollow -sounding hoo, not unlike the cry of the
Hoopoe. This cry can be heard at a great distance, and is

Mr. H. Seebohm on the Ornithology of Siberia. 327

generally repeated two or three times in succession. The
bird was very wild, and I only succeeded in shooting two of
them, both females one an old bird in grey plumage, the
other in the red plumage of the first year. This Cuckoo is
almost an exact miniature of our bird, though the bill is
slightly larger than that of the common European Cuckoo,
and the barring on the underparts somewhat more distinct.
If it had not been for the difference in voice, I should have
scarcely supposed it to be more than a small race of our bird.
The wings measure 7'6 in.


" Cuculus striatus, Drapiez," Jerdon, B. Ind. i. p. 328.

"Cuculus optatus, Gould," Radde, Amurl. ii. p. 135.

In Dresser's exhaustive article on the Common Cuckoo in
the ' Birds of Europe/ of which he has kindly lent me the
proof sheets, he refers to the nearly allied species. Two of
these come into my Siberian region, Cuculus optatus, Gould
apud Radde, and Cuculus sparverioides , Vigors apud Schrenck.
Dresser identifies C. optatus with C. himalayanus. In this I
cannot agree with him. After comparing Jerdon's excellent
description of the note of the Himalayan species with Radde's
minute account of the note of the Amoor bird, I think we
may positively state that C. optatus, Gould apud Radde, is
not C. himalayanus, Vigors apud Jerdon. The dimensions
given by Radde are much too large for those of C. himalay-
anus, and agree best with those of C. striatus. After exam-
ining the cuckoos in the British Museum, I do not feel much
doubt that Radde's bird was a specimen of C. striatus.


Von Schrenck gives an excellent figure of what he thinks,
somewhat doubtfully, to be an immature male of Cuculus
sparverioides, Vigors. I have two skins lately brought from
Japan by Mr. Heywood Jones, which agree exactly with
Schrenck's plate. They appear to me to be much too small
for C. sparverioides -, and I am inclined to identify both the
Amoor and the Japan birds with the Cuculus hyperythrus of
Gould, described by him in the P. Z. S. of 1856, p. 96, and
figured in the ' Birds of Asia ' (pt. 8) .

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


We occasionally noticed Ravens during almost the whole
of our long sledge-journey ; but at the Koo-ray'-i-ka they did
not appear until the middle of May. After their arrival a
day seldom passed without one or more being seen. They
seemed to me to be less shy than Ravens usually are, and I
had no difficulty in shooting half a dozen to skin. I was
told, upon good authority, that in summer they are found as
far north as the Russian fishermen go, about lat. 72. I
brought home eight skins of this bird with me. They varied
in length of wing, from carpal joint, from 16'2 to 17 '2 inches.
The exposed portions of the bastard primary varied from 6 to 7
inches, and the distance from the end of the first primary to
the end of the second primary from 3*3 to 4 inches, the
bastard primary exceeding in length the end of the inner-
most secondaries.


During the whole of our long sledge-journey from Nishni
Novgorod as far as Tomsk the Hooded Crow abounded on the
road-sides ; and in returning during the autumn I found it
equally common on the banks of the various rivers which the
steamer navigates between Tomsk and Tobolsk, and between
the latter town and Tyu-main'. Indeed, so far as my obser-
vation goes, the whole of Russia and West Siberia may be
described as a vast colony of Hooded Crows. East Siberia,
on the other hand, is an equally vast colony of Carrion-Crows. "
From Kras-no-yarsk' to Yen-e-saisk' I saw nothing but the
Carrion-Crow. Middendorff records the same on the Lay'-ria,
and eastwards to the sea of Okotsk ; and southwards Prje-
valsky (pronounced Psheval'sky) found it common in Mon-
golia. The distance between Tomsk and Kras-no-yarsk' is
about 550 versts. As you travel eastwards from Tomsk for
the first 200 versts the Hooded Crow only is to be seen.
During the last 200 versts before reaching Kras-no-yarsk' the
Carrion-Crow alone is found. In the intermediate 150 versts
about one fourth of the Crows are thoroughbred Hoodies,
one fourth are pure Carrion, and the remaining half are

Mr. H. Seebohm on the Ornithology of Siberia. 329

hybrids of every stage ; mulattoes, quadroons, octoroons, and
so on ad infinitum. The line of demarcation between the
two species may be roughly taken at the meridian of Calcutta,
extending north of Yen-e-saisk' along the valley of the Yen-
e-say', and south of that town along the watershed of the
Obb and the Yen-e-say'. That this state of things is not of
recent origin is proved by the fact that it is recorded by
Middendorff, who remarked the presence of hybrid Crows at
Yen-e-saisk 7 as long ago as 1844. Hybrids between C. corone
and C. comix occur occasionally in Scotland, on the Elbe, in
Turkestan, and probably wherever both species occur. The
fact that these hybrids present a series of every intermediate
form between the two species is primd facie evidence of their
fertility. I succeeded, however, in getting positive evidence of
this fact. On the 1 1th May, whilst the ground was still covered
with six feet of snow, I found a pair of hybrid Crows in pos-
session of a nest near the top of a pine tree. The nest con-
tained one egg. On the 21st I climbed up to the nest again,
and found it to contain five eggs. Two of these I took. On
the 31st one egg was hatched, and the other two were chipped
ready for hatching. On the 26th June I again climbed up
to the nest, and found that one of the young birds had either
died or flown. I took the other two and shot the female.
She proved to be at least three parts Carrion-Crow. The
feathers on the sides of the neck, and on the lower part of
the breast and belly, are grey, with dark centres. I was
unable to .shoot the male; but I had on various occasions
examined him through my binocular. He had more Hoodie
blood in him than the female, having a very grey ring round
the neck, and showing a good deal of grey on the breast and
under the wings.

My total bag of Crows at the Ku-ray'-i-ka was three
thoroughbred Hoodies (two males and a female), ten thorough-
bred Carrions (nine males and one female), and fifteen hy-
brids (seven males and eight females) . These figures, as far
as they go, lead me to the conclusion that the female Carrion-
Crows were all breeding, away in the woods, so that I rarely
got a shot at one, whereas the female hybrids were most of

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

them barren, so that I was able to shoot as many of one sex
as of the other. The following descriptions of these hand-
some birds may be worth recording :

No. 161. The thoroughbred Hooded Crow of the Yen-
e-say' has the wings, tail, head, throat (extending as far as
the upper part of the breast), and thighs black. The rest
of the body is ashy grey, slightly darker on the under tail-
coverts. The upper tail-coverts begin grey, gradually become
darker in the centre until they are only edged with grey,
and finally become black as they join the tail. The axillaries
are grey. The grey is much lighter than in Western-European
birds, being almost as light as in Corvus capellanus of Sclater,
from Persia. The latter bird, however, has a longer bill.

No. 181 can only be called a Hooded Crow. The grey is
a shade darker than in the preceding, and the shafts of the
grey feathers on the back are very dark.

No. 162 has traces of black on the centres of the feathers
across the back, but perhaps not more than one might expect
to find in an accidental variety.

No. 128. The grey on the back is very similar to the pre-
ceding ; but the upper and under tail-coverts are so much
darker than usual that I have no hesitation in saying that
this bird is not thoroughbred.

No. 164 has still more Carrion-Crow blood in its veins.
All the feathers of the back are black, with grey edges. The
axillaries and upper and under tail-coverts are nearly black.
The breast and belly are much darker than usual.

No. 166 I take to be about half-bred. It differs from the
latter bird in having more or less grey edgings to the fea-
thers on the back between the shoulders, in having the fea-
thers of the breast and belly broadly edged with grey, and
in having more or less grey on the axillaries and under tail-

No. 141 is very similar to the preceding ; but the grey edges
to the feathers are less distinct.

Nos. 12, 143, 144, 146, 163, 165, 167, and 168 are evi-
dently the commonest form (possibly octoroons) . They are
black, with a band of grey feathers (many of them with black

Mr. H. Seebohm on the Ornithology of Siberia. 331

centres) extending round the neck, below the black head,
across the shoulders, above the wings, and crossing the breast
below the black throat.

Nos. 139 and 140 are nearly thoroughbred Carrion-Crows :
but they show a little grey on each side of the neck, between
the head and shoulders.

These hybrids average 13'2 inches in length of wing from
carpal joint, varying from 12*3 to 13'8. The exposed por-
tion of the first primary varies in length from 4' 2 to 4*8
inches ; and the distance from the end of the first primary to
the end of the second primary averages 3 '3, varying from
3*1 to 3-6.

My Yen-e-say' Carrion-Crows average 13'3 in length of
wing from the carpal joint, varying from ]2'7 to 14 inches.
The exposed portion of the first primary varies in length from
4*3 to 5*2 ; and the distance from the end of the first primary
to the end of the second primary averages 3'4, varying from
3 to 3-9.


I was disappointed not to find any bird which I could iden-
tify with any of the eastern forms of this species, such as C.
orientalis or C. japonensis. Both C.'corone and C. comix
appear to winter south of lat. 60. When we arrived at the
Arctic circle we were surprised to find a pair of black Crows
frequenting the banks of the Koo-ray'-Uka. The sailors
called them Ravens, and assured me that they had wintered
near the ship. I succeeded in shooting the male; but, with
the exception that he is slightly larger than any other Car-
rion-Crow which I shot, I cannot find any point of difference.
He measures 14 inches in length of wing. The exposed por-
tion of the bastard primary is 4*5 ; and the distance from the
end of the first primary to the end of the second primary is
3'9. The end of the bastard primary falls considerably short
of the end of the innermost secondaries.

After leaving the Arctic circle both this and the preceding
species rapidly became rarer. We saw the last Hooded Crow
in lat. 69, and the last Carrion-Crow in 69i, about the limit
of forest-growth.

332 Mr. H. Seebohrn on the Ornithology of Siberia.


As we sledged over the snow in March and April from
Nishni Novgorod to Yen-e-saisk', we never by any chance saw
a Rook amongst the Magpies, Ravens, Crows, or Jackdaws
on the road-side. Nor did I meet with this bird within the
Arctic circle ; but I was informed, upon very good authority,
that a pair had once been seen two stations south of Vare-
shin'-sky, about lat. 68^. On the return journey I kept a
sharp look-out for the Rook, but did not see it until we were
threading the labyrinth of the Toor'-a, a little to the east of
Tyu-main'. Here large flocks of Rooks were feeding on the
banks of the river.


Jackdaws were common on the road-sides and in the villages
through which we sledged as far as Tomsk, but became
gradually rarer as we neared Kras-no-yarsk', and disappeared
altogether at Yen-e-saisk'. Mr. Boiling told me that a stray
bird of this species was occasionally seen at the latter town,
but that he had not seen any further north.


As we sledged down the Yen-e-say' in April we first saw
the Nutcracker in lat. 64; and from that time we rarely
missed seeing these birds at the different stations where we
stopped to change horses. When we reached the ' Thames '
we found this bird quite common and remarkably tame. At
one time I counted as many as eight in one tree together.
They are wonderfully sociable birds. "Whilst the sailors were
working at the ship, cutting away the ice all round her, there
were frequently two or three Nutcrackers in different parts
of the rigging, apparently watching the operation with great
interest. They seem to be well aware of the fact that offal
and scraps of food of all kinds are always to be found in winter
near the habitations of man. Their tameness was quite
absurd. Sometimes the Ost-yak children shot one with a bow
and arrow ; and occasionally one was caught by the dogs. On
the bushes round the house they allowed us to approach within
four 01 five feet of them, and when disturbed moved to the

Mr. H. Seebohm on the Ornithology of Siberia. 333

nearest tree with a peculiar slow undulating flight. I care-
fully preserved them, and fed them with the bodies of the
birds I skinned, as I was anxious to secure a good series of
their eggs. They treated me, however, in a most ungrateful
manner. They continued to be abundant until about the
7th of June, when the snow was pretty well melted from the
ground. They then vanished altogether, and, with the ex-
ception of a couple of birds I picked up later, in full moult,
I saw no more of them until they reappeared in flocks at
various stations on the return journey. I offered considerable
sums for a nest containing eggs ; but both the Russian peasants
and the natives informed me that they had never heard of
any one who had seen the nest of a " Ve-roff'-ky," as they
call this bird. They doubtless retire into the recesses of the
forest to breed.


Magpies were very common as far as Yen-e-saisk', but dis-
appeared further north, at about lat. 60. I did not see any
during the summer within the Arctic circle; but Mr. Ulemann,
an exile from West Poland, and a very intelligent observer
of birds, assured me that he saw a pair every year at Vare-
shin'-sky, in lat. 69, and had occasionally seen one as far
north as Doo-dink'-a, in lat. 69.


I did not observe the Starling until we had almost reached
Yen-e-saisk' on the return journey. At that town it was
extremely abundant, for the most part in large flocks.


This Shrike was very common on the roadsides as we drove
from Yen-e-saisk 7 to Tomsk. It was very fond of perching
on the telegraph-wires. It differs from L. excubitor in only
showing one white bar across the wings. The white bases to
the primaries, from the second to the ninth inclusive, extend
for about half an inch beyond the wing-coverts; whilst in
the secondaries the white bases are entirely concealed by the
wing-coverts, or are absent altogether. Russow, at the St.
Petersburg Museum, told me that this is the common eastern

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

form, that L. excubitor breeds near St. Petersburg, whilst
L. major only passes through on emigration. It winters in
Asia Minor. It does not appear to be a very clearly differ-
entiated species. I have a skin from Asia Minor with the
basal half of the eleventh quill white, whilst the tenth, twelfth,
and succeeding quills scarcely show a trace of white at the
base; and, curiously enough, this is the same in both wings.
Birds like these may be intermediate forms ; or, after my ex-
perience of the Crow, I should not be surprised to find that
on the boundary line of their geographical distribution they
occasionally, if not habitually, intermarry.


The common Sparrow abounded in all the towns and vil-
lages through which we sledged as far as Yen-e-saisk', and
disappeared about lat. 60. On the 16th of June a solitary
pair appeared at the Koo-ray'-i-ka, the only occasion on
which I met with this bird within the Arctic circle.


Tne only place between Nishni Novgorod and Yen-e-
saisk' where I observed the Tree-Sparrow was at a little village
about forty miles west of Kasan. In Yen-e-saisk' it was as
abundant as the common Sparrow ; but I did not meet with
it further north.


The very handsome large variety of the Bullfinch with the
brick-red breast was very abundant wherever the road passed

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