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Middendorff found it still further to the east, and it is com-
mon on the Amur. I examined a number of skins at various
stations between Tomsk and Tobolsk, and found both species
represented in nearly equal numbers.


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


We saw the first Swan on the Koo-ray'-i-ka on the 5th of
May ; but it was not before the 31st of that month that Swans
passed over in any number. After the latter date thousands
passed us, all flying north. I brought several eggs of Bewick's
Swan home with me, obtained in lat. 69 J. I found the
easiest way of identifying these birds was by measuring
their footprints in the sand. From the centre of the ball
of the heel to the centre of the ball next the claw of the
middle toe, the impression of the foot of Bewick's Swan
measures 5J inches, whilst that of the common Wild Swan
measures upwards of 6 inches. Even in very slight impres-
sions on hard wet sand I found it easy to make these measure-


The first Goose was seen at our winter quarters on the 9th
of May. Whenever the weather was mild during May small
parties of Geese flew over the ship in a northerly direction.
When the wind changed and brought us a couple of days'
frost or snow, we used to see the poor Geese migrating south-
wards again. The great annual battle of the Yen-e-say'
lasted longer than usual the year that I was there. We had
alternate thaws and frosts during the last three weeks of May.
Summer seemed to be always upon the point of vanquishing
winter, but only to be driven back again with redoubled
vigour. During all this time there must have been thousands
and tens of thousands of Geese hovering on the skirts of
winter, continually impelled northwards by their instincts,
penetrating wherever a little open water or an oasis of grass was
visible in the boundless desert of ice and snow, and continually
driven southwards again by hard frosts or fresh falls of snow.
It was not until the ice on the great river broke up that the
great body of Geese finally passed northwards. On my return
journey I had an opportunity of again witnessing a great
stampede of Geese on the tundra in full moult and unable to
fly. The first time I witnessed this interesting sight was near
the delta of the Petchora two years previously. Then it was

Mr. H. Seebohm on the Ornithology of Siberia. 159

on the 27th of July, and in the valley of the Yen-e-say' on the
25th of that month.


On the 1st of June a small flock of Geese passed close over
my head as I was lying hors de combat in a snow bank, the
treacherous crust of which had given way and left me strug-
gling up to my breast endeavouring to extricate myself with-
out wetting my gun. These Geese were smaller than the
Bean-Goose, and showed some black on the belly. I after-
wards shot some of the same species and brought two skins
home, which proved to be the Little White-fronted Goose.


On the 1st of July the two mates belonging to Capt.
Schwanenberg's schooner were out on the next island to that
where their unfortunate vessel was lying wrecked. I had
chartered them to collect eggs for me on the Brek'-off-sky
islands in the Yen-e-say', in lat. 70i. They were fortunate
enough on that day to come suddenly upon a Red-necked
Goose upon her nest. They shot her before she flew off, and,
unfortunately, broke one of the two eggs upon which she was
sitting. The other egg is now in my collection. It measures
2f - by If $, and is of a dirty-white colour, more or less in-
clining to cream-colour.

On the 28th of July, as we were slowly steaming up the
river, against stream and close inshore, I saw several of these
very handsome birds with their young broods on the banks
of the river. The captain was very anxious to get to Du-
dinka before Sot-ni-kofFs steamer arrived there ; so there was
no possibility of going on shore. This was a few miles south
of the island where my egg was taken.


I shot a fine male Shoveller on the tundra near the village
of Koo-ray'-i-ka on the 18th of June. This was a piece of
moorland surrounded with forest, where many species of Duck
were breeding. I very seldom saw this species in the valley
of the Yen-e-say'.


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


As soon as the ice broke up on the river, Teal became very
numerous ; and on the 20th of June I took a nest with two
eggs. I took the last Teal's nest on the 15th of July, in lat.
70|, with fresh eggs.


The Pintail was one of the commonest Ducks on the Yen-
e-say'. I took a nest with six eggs on the 20th of June.


The Widgeon was very common at our winter quarters as
soon as the ice began to break up ; and its weird cry, mee'-yoo,
harmonized with the grating of the pack-ice and the splashing
of the " calving " icebergs. I took the first nest, with seven
eggs, on the 18th of June.


The only example of the Wild Duck which I procured was a
female which I shot near Yen-e-saisk' on my return journey.


I did not succeed in shooting a Scaup, but frequently recog-
nized their harsh screams.


The Golden-eye was not uncommon at the Koo-ray'-i-ka. I
had a nest with thirteen eggs brought me on the 17th of June.


The Long-tailed Duck was common on the lakes on the


Black Scoters were abundant at the Koo-ray'-i-ka, but so
wary that I was never able to get within shot of them.


I never actually shot a Smew on the Yen-e-say', but had
several opportunities of identifying the bird beyond doubt.


The Goosander was not uncommon at the Koo-ray'-i-ka ;
and I brought home several skins of this handsome Duck.

Mr. H. Seebohm on the Ornithology of Siberia. 161


The Red-breasted Merganser was common near the village
of Koo-ray'-i-ka. I brought home skins of males in two plu-
mages and one of a female.


Kitmanoff, the captain and part owner of the steamer
' Yen-e-say V in which I returned from Gol-cheek'-a to Yen-
e-saisk, had a King Eider stuffed in his cabin. He told me
it was shot at Gol-cheek'-a. Capt. Wiggins told me this bird
breeds in great numbers together with the common Eider
on a large island in the By-der-at'-sker-y bay. Both these
birds are probably exclusively maritime in their habits, and
are only accidentally seen so far from the coast.


Besides the Black-throated and Red-throated Divers, I was
frequently told of a still larger species of Ga-gar'-a with a
white bill which frequented the lakes on the tundra.


The Black-throated Diver was very common on the Yen-
e-say 7 from the Koo-ray'-i-ka to Gol-cheek'-a.


The Red-throated Diver was not quite so common as the
preceding species. The cries of these birds, exactly like the
screams of a child in great pain, were constantly heard during
the grand crash of ice in which our first shipwreck occurred.


On the 6th of June I saw the first Arctic Tern, and found
it abundant in various localities further north.


The Common Gull arrived at the Koo-ray'-i-ka on the 1st
of June, and remained to breed. I got fresh eggs on the 17th
of June. As in the Petchora, so also in the Yen-e-say' valley,
I noticed its somewhat singular habit of perching in trees.
I did not observe this species of Gull on the tundra.


I did not succeed in shooting a bird of this species ; but on

162 Mr. H. Seebohni on the Ornithology of Siberia.

several occasions I saw large Gulls without the black tips to
the wing-feathers, which were doubtless L. glaucus.


This yellow-legged Herring-Gull, with a mantle nearly as
dark as that of L.fuscus, was first seen on the 31st of May.
During the breaking up of the ice the wild cries of these birds
were an appropriate accompaniment to the grand crash which
shipwrecked us in the Koo-ray'-i-ka. As the ice broke up
further north these Gulls left us ; and we saw them no more
until we reached lat. 69. Here a large colony frequented an
island in the river where several parties of Russians and Ost'-
yaks were fishing. This colony was almost entirely composed
of birds in immature plumage ; and there was nothing to lead
us to suppose that any of them were breeding. Between
lat. 70i and 71J we passed several breeding-stations of these
birds, where it was a very rare thing to see a Gull in imma-
ture plumage. I should have been too late to secure fresh
eggs of this species; but, fortunately, I had chartered a Russian
at Brek'-oif-sky and a Samoyede at Gol-cheek'-a to collect
for me, and at each station I found a large basket of unblown
eggs. As might have been expected, they vary somewhat in
size and colour, and are not distinguishable from eggs of L.
fuscus or L. argentatus. So far as it is possible to compare
the cries of birds from memory, I may confidently affirm
that these do not vary from those of L. argentatus or L.

When I was in St. Petersburg Russow was kind enough
to unpack for me the whole of the splended series of Gulls in
the Museum, which gave me an opportunity of obtaining some
valuable information as to the geographical distribution of
these closely allied species. Larus affinis appears to breed in
the extreme north of Europe and Asia from the White Sea
to Kamchatka. It has been obtained in the breeding-season
on Bear Island, south of Solovetsk, in the White Sea (Midd.,
in Mus Petr.), on the Petchora (Seebohm fyHarvie Brown), on
the Ob (Finsch fy Brehm), on the Yen-e-say 7 , on the Boganida
and Taimyr, near the North-east Cape (Midd., in Mus. Petr.),

Mr. H. Seebohra on the Ornithology of Siberia. 163

and in Kamchatka (Kittlitz, in Mus. Petr. fide Schrenk).
In spring and autumn on migration it has been found in the
Caspian Sea (Karelin, in Mus. Petr.) and at Ayan, in the Sea
of Okotsk ( Wosnessensky , in Mus. Petr.). The type of this
species is a skin from Greenland ; and it is described as not
uncommon at St. Michael's, in Alaska ; but until we have
evidence that it breeds on the American continent we can
scarcely consider it as more than an occasional visitant there.


Larus affinis is, par excellence, the Arctic Herring-Gull.
L. cach'mnans might with equal propriety be called the Lake
Herring-Gull. It appears to confine itself during the breed-
ing-season to lakes, rivers, and inland seas. It is the common
Herring-Gull of the Mediterranean, the only species known
at St. Petersburg, and the only species known to breed in the
Caspian Sea (Radde Karelin, in Mus. Petr.) . It is found in
the breeding- season near the Aral Sea (Sever tz off, in Mus.
Petr.), Lake Saissan (Finsch fy Brehm), S.E. Mongolia (Preje-
valsky, in Mus. Petr.), Lake Baical and the island of Olchon,
in a lake to the south-east (Radde 3 in Mus. Petr.) . This Gull
has yellow legs when fully adult, with a mantle intermediate in
shade between that of L. argentatus and L. affinis. Mr. Howard
Saunders has also pointed out to me the difference in the
respective lengths of the tarsus and the middle toe, including
the claw. In L. fuscus and L. affinis the tarsus is longer than
the foot, whereas in L. cachinnans and L. argentatus the con-
trary is the case. In L. fuscus and L. affinis it is the excep-
tion for the second primary to have a subterminal white spot,
whilst in L. cachinnans and L. argentatus it is the rule.

In the St. -Petersburg Museum there are three skins of
L. occidentalis collected by Wosnessensky on the coast of
Southern California. This is a large form of L. fuscus, with a
short thick bill, very dark mantle, no wedge-shaped markings
on the primaries, and, as far as one can judge from dried skins,
very yellow legs. There is also a skin obtained by Wosnes-
sensky at Kodiak, on the North-American coast, which looks
like a skin of L. argentatus.

[To be continued,]

164 Mr. F. Nicholson on some Birds from Western Java.

XII. On a Collection of Birds made by the late Mr. E. C. But-
ton in Western Java. By FRANCIS NICHOLSON,, F.Z.S.

THE unfortunate dispersion of Mr. Wallace's valuable Javan
collection without the publishing of a scientific record of
its contents has been a source of regret to many ornitho-
logists, since no complete list of the birds of this island has
yet been compiled. Feeling sure that the time is not far dis-
tant when a work on the Javan avifauna will be a necessity,
I venture to put forward a small contribution to this work,
by giving a list of the birds collected for me in Western Java
by my late friend Mr. E.G. Buxton. The collection was made
in that part of Java opposite Lampong, in Sumatra, where
Mr. Buxton obtained the important collection of skins de-
scribed by the Marquis of Tweeddale in ' The Ibis ' for 1877,
p. 283. Owing to want of time the birds were put into spirit,
but have been cleverly manipulated since their arrival in
England, and have turned out very fair specimens. I have
followed Lord Tweeddale's paper as closely as possible, desi-
ring to make the present essay, an account of Mr. Buxton's
Javan collection, a supplement to his Sumatran collection
described by the Marquis, to whose labours I am substantially
indebted. I have also to thank Mr. Bowdler Sharpe, of the
British Museun, for assisting me in my identifications ; and I
have placed a complete series of the skins in the collection of
that institution. I have also given references to Count Sal-
vadorr's ' Uccelli di Borneo/ by far the most complete work
on the avifauna of the Indo-Malayan region.


Tiff a javanensis (Ljungh), Salvad. Ann. Mus. Genov. v.
p. 54; Tweedd. Ibis, 1877, p. 288.

Meiglyptes tristis, Horsfield, Tr. Linn. Soc. xiii. p. 177.

A pair of birds, concerning which a few remarks are neces-
sary. I compared them with the series of Meiglyptes in the
British Museum j and I cannot allow that, if, as seems certain,
I have before me the true M. tristis of Horsfield, the Ma-
laccan and Bornean birds usually called M. tristis are really

" Perroquet mascarin " of Brisson. 307

and described the various Parrots observed by him on the
latter island, including one which is clearly the present bird
(cf. Ibis, /. c. p. 286).

As regards the systematic position of Mascarinus duboisi,
the available material is so scanty that we shall probably never
(for the bird is certainly extinct) be able to arrive at any satis-
factory conclusion about it. In the form of the beak, the fea-
thered nostrils and lores, the narrow orbital ring, and the
structure of its feet, it more resembles the genera Tanygnathus
and Palaornis than any of the African genera of Parrots now
existing (Psiltacus, Coracopsis } Pceocephalus, and Agapornis) ;
and the forms of the wings and tail point to a similar con-
clusion. In its general coloration it is decidedly aberrant ;
but the fact of its beak being red is also a confirmation of its
Palseornithine affinities, Prof. Garrod having shown (P. Z. S.
1874, p. 598) that none* but species with normal carotids
(a group including Pal&ornis, Tanygnathus, &c., but not Co-
racopsis, Psittacus, and Pceocephalus) have their beaks so
coloured. We already know that in both Mauritius and
Rodriguez a very different genus f of Parrots existed in each
island, along with a species of Palceornis, and therefore there
is no primd facie reason against a similar state of things
having also been the case in Bourbon. On the other hand
there is no evidence that Coracopsis ever occurred in a state
of nature on any of these three islands.

To briefly recapitulate, then, I submit :

(1) That the " Perroquet mascarin " of Brisson belongs to
a genus, Mascarinus, distinct from Coracopsis.

(2) That, failing any older name that can with propriety
be applied to it, it may be termed Mascarinus duboisi.

(3) That, so far as can be judged from the material that
exists, Mascarinus is allied rather to such Palseornithine genera
as Palceornis and Tanygnathus than to Psittacus, Coracopsis,
or allied forms.

Cambridge, May 8, 1879.

* Piomis corallmus is the only exception to the above rule that I have
yet met with.

t Lophopsittacus and Necropsittacus.

308 Mr. H. Seebohm on the Genus Sylvia.

XXVI. Remarks on the Genus Sylvia and on the Synonymy
of the Species. By HENRY SEEBOHM.

THE classification of birds will probably occupy the attention
and tax the ingenuity of ornithologists for some years to come.
This branch of zoology has undoubtedly made rapid strides
during the last half century; but it is nevertheless only
within the last generation that its study has emerged from
the literary into the scientific stage. Much has been done
to illustrate the anatomy and physiology of birds ; their litera-
ture and synonymy have been unravelled from much of the
confusion into which they had drifted ; and their geographical
distribution has been extensively, if not exhaustively, worked
out ; but the clue to their classification remains undiscovered.
Of every new system of classification which has been pro-
posed, one can only say that it is as unsatisfactory as its pre-
decessors. One reason of this may be found in the attempt
to make a linear arrangement of the families of birds. This is
as impossible as to make a linear arrangement of the countries
of Europe. A scientific arrangement of birds, classified ac-
cording to their natural affinities, cannot be represented by
a line, nor yet by a plane, but rather by an inverted cone, of
which the base represents the existing avifauna of the world,
and the underlying sections the birds of past geological ages.
Nor can we assume that the birds at present existing repre-
sent a uniform flat plane. There are doubtless deep valleys,
which, like the Marsupials of Australia, belong to lower
sections, whilst the more rapidly developed families or genera
may represent ranges of mountains. Some genera are islands,
isolated by the extinction of their nearest allies ; whilst some
families represent inland countries, closely connected with
many surrounding families.

The classification of birds thus resembles the fitting together
of one of the puzzle-maps of our childhood, with this dif-
ference, that we have not only to fit the various pieces to-
gether, but we have first to get them into their right shapes.
In all probability our knowledge of ornithology is not yet
ripe for any classification to be successfully attempted. The

Mr. H. Seebolim on the Genus Sylvia. 309

ornithological student must patiently labour at shaping his
pieces, at working his families into shape, and fitting them
into the families nearest allied to them.

The genus Sylvia has by many ornithologists been placed
at the head of the family Sylviidse. Wallace, in his ingenious
classification of the Passeres, founded on the comparative
development of the bastard primary (Ibis, 1874, p. 409),
places this family between the Turdidae and the Timeliidae.
Professor Newton (Newton's ed. Yarr. Brit. B. i. p. 300) admits
his inability to give any structural characters by which the
Sylviidae may be separated from the Turdidae. Sharpe, in
his modification of SundevalFs classification of this group of
the Passeres (Cat. of Birds, iv. p. 7), proposes three families,
Muscicapidae, Turdidae, and Timeliidae. In the former he in-
cludes many species hitherto placed in the Sylviidae. The
Turdidae he restricts to such species as have small bastard
primaries and comparatively flat wings, whilst his family of
Timeliidae appears to be a general refuge for the destitute,
including the round-winged Turdidae (Mimus &c.) , the round-
winged Sylviidae (Drymceca &c.), the Timeliidae, as hitherto
estricted, the Cinclidae, the Troglodytidae the Leiotrichidae,
the Phyllornithidae, and the Pycnonotidse.

I venture to suggest that the characters by which these
three proposed families are separated, the width of the bill,
the development of the rictal bristles, and the shape of the
wing, are characters of comparatively modern date, and may
form excellent lines of demarcation between subfamilies.

I propose to throw these three families as defined by Mr.
Sharpe together, and to subdivide them into two large families,
separated from each other by characters which, I venture to
suggest, are much older (i. e. extending further back into
remoter geological ages), and which, at the same time, will
give to Prof. Newton the desired characters which separate
the Thrushes from the Warblers.

I propose to include in the Turdidae those species con-
tained in the group under consideration which possess the
following characters :

The young in first plumage are spotted on the upper parts

310 Mr. H. Seebohm on the Genus Sylvia.

as well as on the uiiderparts. This plumage is completely
moulted in the first autumn before migration ; so that young
in first winter plumage differ very slightly from adults. Adult
birds have only one complete moult in the year, in autumn,
before migration. The spring plumage is obtained by casting
the ends of the feathers. There is no complete moult in the
spring, only such feathers being renewed as have been acci-
dentally injured. So far as I have been able to ascertain,
these peculiarities are always in this group correlated with
a plain tarsus. This family will contain the genera Turdus,
Saxicola, Ruticilla, a considerable portion of the Muscicapidse,
and probably several American genera.

The family which I propose to call the Sylviidse is charac-
terized as follows :

The young in first plumage are unspotted on the upper
parts (except in those cases where the adult birds are so also),
and only in rare instances are traces of spots to be found on
the breast. The adult birds moult twice in the year, in spring
and autumn, both moults being complete. Birds in first
plumage, having an opportunity of moulting in spring, do
not require to moult in the first autumn, and only renew a
few feathers then ; consequently there is frequently a differ-
ence, principally in the colour of the underparts, between the
the young and the adult in winter plumage. This family
will contain the genera Sylvia, Acrocephalus, part of the
Muscicapidse, and probably the greater portion of Mr. Sharpens
Timeliidse. So far as I have been able to ascertain, the cha-
racters I have mentioned as belonging to this family are
always associated with a scutellated tarsus.

Difficult as is the assignment of its proper position in the
classification of birds, the synonymy of many of the species
of the genus Sylvia presents still greater difficulties.

The Barred Warbler stands undisputed as Sylvia nisoria
(Bechst), Naturg. Deutschl. iv. p. 530 (1795).

The synonymy of the Orphean Warbler is not perfectly
clear. (C La Fauvette " of Brisson, Buffon, and D' Aubenton
is obviously the female Orphean Warbler. The male bird
appears to have been unknown to Brisson ; but Buffon treats

Mr. H. Seebohra on the Genus Sylvia. 311

it as a variety of the Blackcap. Gmelin founded his Mota-
cilla hortensis on the " Fauvette " of Brisson and Buffon ; and
according to the strict letter of the law his name ought to
be adopted. But inasmuch as Gmelin only defined the female,
and that in terms insufficient to distinguish it from the im-
mature Barred Warbler, and inasmuch as his name has been
applied so universally to the Garden-Warbler for more than
half a century, we arc perfectly justified in ignoring it in
favour of Sylvia orphea of Temminck (Man. d'Orn. p. 107,
1815), on the ground that the latter ornithologist was the
first to ' ( clearly define " the Orphean Warbler, and to give
it a name which remains free from the taint of having been
misapplied to other species.

RiippelPs Warbler stands undisputed as Sylvia rueppelli of
Temminck (PL Col. iii. p. 245, 1823).

The specific name of the Whitethroat given by Linnaeus
having been adopted for the genus, it becomes necessary to
discover the next earliest name which has been clearly defined.
Professor Newton decides in favour of rufa of Boddaert ; and
this decision is accepted by Mr. Dresser. Boddaert's name is
founded upon D'Aubenton's figure of ' ' La Fauvette rousse "
(PL Enl. 581. fig. 1). But it is impossible to accept this
figure as a clear definition of a Whitethroat, a common and

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