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perfectly well-known bird, fairly figured (PL Enl. 579. fig. 3)
under its familiar name of " La Fauvette grise ou la Grisette."
It is equally impossible to determine what bird stood as model
for D'Aubenton's plate of " La Fauvette rousse/' I venture
to suggest that the artist "evolved" the figure (< out of the
depths of his moral consciousness," and coloured it to agree
with Buffon's description of " La petite Fauvette rousse." It
is impossible to identify either Brisson's " Fauvette rousse "
or Buffon's ' ' petite Fauvette rousse " with any known bird ;
but we may confidently assert that neither description can be
accepted as a clear definition of a Whitethroat. In my
opinion Boddaert's name falls to the ground for want of a
clear definition. There is no evidence to prove that Bod-
daert attempted to define any species ; and probably no one
would have been more astonished than he himself to hear

312 Mr. H. Seebohm on the Genus Sylvia.

that his name of Motacilla rufa was applied to " la Grisette."
Boddaert's unambitious object was to apply the binomial
system of nomenclature introduced by Linnaeus to the birds
figured in the ' Planches Enluminees ' of D'Aubenton, which
Buffon and Montbeillard had neglected to do. Referring to
the work of the latter gentleman, he finds that the ' ' Fauvette
rousse " is the Curruca rufa of Brisson ; and turning over his
f Systema Naturae/' he finds that all the Fauvettes are in-
cluded by Linnaeus in his genus Motacilla ; so he modestly
names " La Fauvette rousse " of D'Aubenton Motacilla rufa,
instead of Curruca rufa. But had there been no doubt what-
ever attaching to Boddaert's name, it must have been rejected
on other grounds. The object of nomenclature being to attain
absolute scientific precision, it is obvious that the name of
Sylvia rufa having been in general use for more than half a
century for the Chiffchaff, could under no circumstances
be transferred to any other species of the genus Sylvia.
To do so would be to violate the spirit of the British- Asso-
ciation rules in the endeavour to follow the letter of the law
too blindly.

It is unfortunate that the familiar name Sylvia cinerea,
inappropriate as it is, cannot stand ; but Latham himself had
previously (in 1787) given the appropriate name Sylvia
communis (Gen. Syn. Suppl. i. p. 287) to the Whitethroat.
The species is " clearly defined" beyond all cavil; and orni-
thologists have only their own neglect to blame if the name
appears a novel one to them.

The Blackcap stands undisputed as Sylvia atricapilla (Linn.,
Syst. Nat. i. 332, 1766).

It is unfortunate that the Garden- Warbler cannot retain
its familiar name of Sylvia hortensis. We have already seen
that Gmelin's name applies to the female Orphean Warbler.
It might probably be possible to argue that Gmelin confounded
the male Orphean Warbler with the Blackcap and the female
Orphean Warbler with the Garden-Warbler, so that his name
might stand by stretching the law a little as " partim " but all
discussion of the subject is rendered useless by the fact that
Gmelin's name is superseded by Latham's Sylvia simplex (Gen.

Mr. H. Seebohm on the Genus Sylvia. 313

Syn. Suppl. i. p. 287, 1787), of the clear definition of which
there cannot be any doubt. The adoption of Latham's name
would be a very simple solution of the difficulty, were it not
that there exist two earlier names which have a claim upon
our attention. The first of these is the Motacilla borin of
Boddaert. This name was founded upon D'Aubenton's figure
of ' ' la petite Fauvette " in the Planches Enluminees.' There
seems to be little doubt that Brisson's " petite Fauvette" is
the Garden-Warbler. Buffon's Description of the bird also
agrees fairly well with this species ; but he confuses it with
two other birds. A local name for the Whitethroat is ({ la
Passerine/' and for the Spectacled Warbler (which is an almost
exact miniature of the Whitethroat) " la Passerinette."
Buffon calls his bird " la Passerinette ou petite Fauvette."
The other species which BuiFon apparently mixes up with the
Garden-Warbler is the ChiffchafF, the note and nest of which
are erroneously ascribed to " la Passerinette." I submit that
D'Aubenton's figure cannot be accepted as a clear definition
of the Garden- Warbler. I do not deny that it may have been
drawn from a stuffed specimen of this species ; but the posi-
tion does not admit of the structural characters being seen,
and the coloration is faulty in the extreme, so much so that
Dresser, in his ' Birds of Europe,' identified it with the Lesser
Whitethroat. But I am not sure that the name cannot be
rejected on its merits. The name borin does not appear to
be a classical name at all. I take it to be simply the local
name of the bird ; and to apply it as a scientific name would
probably appear as absurd to the ornithologists of " le pays
de Genes " as the names Pica magpie or Sylvia blackcap
would to us.

The other name is the Motacilla salicaria of Linnaeus.
This name has been adopted by Prof. Newton and accepted
by Mr. Dresser. I am sorry to be obliged to differ from our
greatest authority on ornithological nomenclature, and would
willingly have indorsed his name if I had not been convinced
that others would have repudiated it, and that by so doing I
should only be prolonging the agonies of its death. There is
considerable circumstantial evidence that Linnaeus intended


314 Mr. H. Seebohm on the Genus Sylvia.

to describe the Garden- Warbler as Motacilla salicaria.
Nevertheless he not only failed to define the species clearly,
but described it inaccurately as having "supercilia alba"
and "pedes fulvi," and in his 'Fauna Suecica' (where the
name appears for the first time) refers to Albin (Nat. Hist.
B. iii. p. 56, pi. 60). The bird described by Albin under the
name of Sedge-bird is undoubtedly an Acrocephalus, any
Swedish species of which would have pale supercilia and
pale legs. It is appropriately figured perched upon a willow-
bush, which probably suggested to Linnaeus the name of sali-
caria, a most inappropriate one for the Garden- Warbler.
Inasmuch as the Garden-Warbler has no superciliary stripe,
and the colour of its legs and feet are bluish grey, I submit
that Linnaeus has no claim whatever to have clearly defined
this species. An equally fatal objection to the adoption of
this name is that the term salicaria of Linnseus has been,
in consequence of the faulty description alluded to, trans-
ferred from one bird to another until it has ceased to have a
definite meaning. Motacilla salicaria, Linn., apud Nilsson et
Newton, is the Garden-Warbler; Motacilla salicaria, Linn.,
apud Bechstein (Orn. Taschenb.) et Meyer et Wolf, is the
Aquatic Warbler ; Motacilla salicaria, Linn., apud Latham
et Fleming, is the Sedge-Warbler ; Motacilla salicaria, Linn.,
apud Brehm, is the Marsh- Warbler ; Motacilla salicaria,
Linn., apud Bechstein (Naturg. Deutschl.), is the Iteed-
Warbler; Motacilla salicaria, Linn., apud Pallas, is the Booted
Warbler ; and Motacilla salicaria, Linn., apud Heuglin et
Sharpe, is the Icterine Warbler. So completely has the term
salicaria been identified with the Reed- Warbler, that Selby
adopted it for the genus, in which he has been extensively
followed by both British and continental ornithologists. Under
these circumstances it seems to me that the spirit of the
British- Association rules will be best carried out by calling the
Garden- Warbler Sylvia simplex, Lath.

The Lesser Whitethroat appears to be unquestionably en-
titled to stand as Sylvia curruca (Linn.) (Syst. Nat. i. p. 329).
I take it to be " la Fauvette babillarde " of Brisson, Buffon,
and D'Aubenton. Three forms of this bird appear to be en-
titled to rank as subspecies : affinis, Blyth (J. A. S. Beng.

Mr. H. Seebolim on the Genus Sylvia. 315

xiv. p. 564), which has a slightly more rounded wing ; althea,
Hume (Stray Feath. vii. p. 60), a large form, which I have
not yet seen; and minula*, Hume (Stray Fcath. i. p. 198), a
desert-form, of a pale isabelline colour.

The Spectacled Warbler stands as Sylvia conspicillata,
Temm. Man. d'Orn. i. p. 210 (1820), ex Marmora, MS.

The Desert-Warbler stands as Sylvia nana, Ehr. Symb.
Phys. Aves, fol. cc (1829).

The Subalpine Warbler stands as Sylvia subalpina, Temm.
Man. d'Orn. i. p. 214 (1820), ex Bonelli, MS.

Blanford's Warbler, Sylvia blanfordi, Seebohm, P. Z. S.
1878, p. 979, appears to be a good species, intermediate
between S. curruca and S. rubescens and S. melanocephala,
differing from the former in having a darker head, a more
rounded wing, and a longer tail, and from the two latter in
having darker legs and feet, a more rounded wing, and darker
outside tail-feathers.

The Sardinian Warbler stands as Sylvia melanocephala
(Gmel.) (Syst. Nat. i. p. 970, 1788, ex Cetti).

Marmora's Warbler must, I think, stand as Sylvia sarda,
Temm. Man. d'Orn. i. p. 204 (1820), ex Marm. MS.f It has
a doubtful claim to bear the name of Sylvia moschita, Gmel.
(Syst. Nat. i. p. 970) . Gmelin takes his description from
Cetti's Ucc. di Sard. p. 218 (1776). After describing the
bird upon which Gmelin founded his Motacilla melanocephala ,
Cetti proceeds, " Ad un uccelletto lungo non piu di 5 pollici,
di color piombino e incappellato andr* esso una d'un cap-
pellino rosseggiante, danno i Sardi il nome di moschita, o
come altri dicono noschita. }J

There can be no question that this is intended to apply to
the bird hitherto known as Sylvia sarda. There can scarcely
be a doubt that Gmelin's name has the priority of that of

* Probably a misprint for " minuta" there being no such Latin word
as " minula." EDD.

t Temminck calls this bird "Sylvia sarda, Marmora," and refers to
an article by Marmora in the " Annales de 1' Academic de Turin, 28 Aout,
1819." But at the close of Marmora's article on Sylvia cetti (Mem. Ace.
Sci. Torino, xxv. p. 254) Bonelli adds a note that the paper thus quoted
by Temminck was never published.


316 Mr. H. Seebohm on the Genus Sylvia.

Temminck ; but since this bird has been in undisturbed posses-
sion of the latter for upwards of half a century, we may fairly
ignore the former on the ground that Gmelin's description
does not clearly define the species. His name does not de-
serve to stand, inasmuch as he obviously never saw the biid,
or he would scarcely have copied Cetti's error in ascribing
the rufous tint to the head instead of to the flanks.

Tristram's Warbler, Sylvia deserticola, Tristram (Ibis, 1859,
p. 58), is an excellent species, which has most unaccountably
been confused with Sylvia nana. It is a much darker- coloured
bird, with a more rounded wing and a much longer tail. It is
nearer to S. conspicillata, but can always be distinguished by its
more rounded wing, longer tail, and darker chin and throat.
Another of Tristram's species, Bowman's Warbler, appears
to me to be a good one. It differs from S. melanocephala in
having a shorter tail, and in being, in both sexes, but espe-
cially in the female, paler in colour. Tristram named it Sylvia
bowmanni (Ibis, 1867, p. 85) ; and Blanford subsequently
described it as Sylvia rubescens (Ibis, 1874, p. 77) ; but both
these names are superseded by Cabanis, who named it Meli-
zophilus nigricapillus (Mus. Hein. i. p. 35, 1850). Cabanis
described his species from Hemprich and Ehrenberg's types
in the Berlin Museum ; and if the existence of a type in a
public museum is to be held as legally supplementing an in-
sufficient description, which I take to be in accordance with
ornithological judge's law, Bowman's Warbler must stand as
Sylvia momus (Ehr. Symb. Phys. Av. i. fol. bb, 1829).

The Dartford Warbler must, I presume, stand as Sylvia
undata (Bodd.) . Boddaert's name is accompanied by no de-
scription, but is published as the Latin name of " le Pitte-chou
de Provence/' figured by D'Aubenton in the c Planches Enlu-
minees' (Bodd. Table PL Enl. p. 40, 1783). The figure is
sufficiently good to leave no reasonable doubt as to the species
intended to be designated ; and Boddaert's name may there-
fore be held to have been, in this instance, " clearly defined."
Under all circumstances, Sylvia dartfordensis, Lath., would take
precedence ofMotacillaprovincialis, Gmel. The former name
appears in Latham's list of British birds appended to the sup-
plement of his < General Synopsis.' This most important list,

On the Zoology of New Guinea. 317

with references to full descriptions, has, most unaccountably
been ignored by all writers on ornithological nomenclature.

The Palestine Warbler will doubtless stand as Sylvia me-
lanothorax, Tristram (Ibis, 1872, p. 296). I have only seen
skins obtained by Canon Tristram in Palestine and by Lord
Lilford in Cyprus. The immature birds come so near Riip-
pell's figure and Heuglin's description of Sylvia lugens (Riipp.
Neue Wirb. p. 113, pt. 42, 1835), that I should have hesi-
tated to consider the two species distinct if I had not had
the opportunity of examining the type of Curruca lugens in
the Senckenberg Museum at Frankfort. RuppelPs bird has
far too large a first primary to be admitted into the genus
Sylvia at all, and is certainly not S. melanothorax.

I am unable to find any characters to entitle Melizophilus
to stand as a genus. All the species which I have enumerated
have the tail shorter than the wing, except the following :

S. blanfordi has the tail JQ longer than the wing.

S. deserticola has the tail -fa longer than the wing.

S. melanocephala has the tail also - Q longer than the wing.

S. sarda has the tail -fa longer than the wing.

S. undata has the tail varying from 1 to \ longer than the

I have much pleasure in doing tardy justice to the dis-
coveries of a distinguished field-naturalist by rescuing two of
his new species from the oblivion in which cabinet-naturalists
had buried them ; but I venture to suggest that, if my friend
Canon Tristram had described his species in honest English,
instead of in ornithological Latin, they could scarcely have
been overlooked so long. The attempt to give them a cos-
mopolitan fame has resulted in their absolute seclusion for
half a lifetime.

XXVII. Remarks on the Second Part of Mr. Ramsay's
( Contributions to the Zoology of New Guinea. 3 By T.

MR. RAMSAY has been so kind as to .send me an early copy
of his " Contributions to the Zoology of New Guinea/' con-
taining a list of the Mammals and Birds obtained during

318 Prof. T. Salvador! on the

Mr. Goldie's second expedition to New Guinea, with de-
scriptions of some new birds recently forwarded to the
Australian Museum by Mr. Kendel Broadbent, from the
same localities.

Mr. Ramsay's paper, published in the ( Proceedings of the
Linnean Society of New South Wales/ vol. iii. pp. 241-305,
1879, is an important one, as the materials at his com-
mand were very extensive ; and I have thought that it would
be interesting to the readers of 'The Ibis' to have some
remarks on the part of the paper relating to the birds,
especially as there are not a few species described as new, on
which, as well as on others, I think I am able to make some
apposite criticisms.

Mr. Ramsay's paper treats of not less than 214 species of
birds, which were represented by about 2500 specimens.
These were mostly collected along the southern coast of the
eastern peninsula of New Guinea; but some were from
Deboyne Island and Teste Island in the Louisiade archi-


Mr. Ramsay mentions 11 species of this order; the fol-
lowing require some notice.

BAZA REINWARDTI, Ramsay, /. c. p. 246.

Mr. Ramsay, after having mentioned a specimen from the
Laloki river, goes on to say that " it is most certainly dif-
ferent from the New-Ireland species, which Dr. Sclater places
under the same name (P. Z. S. 1877, p. 109) ." I have seen
the specimen mentioned by Dr. Sclater ; and I noticed that
it differed from twenty specimens from New Guinea, Waigiou,
Salwatty, Amboyna, &c. in the under wing-coverts being
white without the buff tinge, which was constant, although
more or less intense, in those twenty specimens. As to the
other differences in the tail and in the wing, mentioned by
Mr. Ramsay, they are dependent on age.

A fine pair is mentioned by Mr. Ramsay. At present,
with the specimen previously noticed by Mr. Sharpe (Journ.

new Tanagers of the Genus Buarremon. 427

Salv.*, and B. elaoprorus, Scl. et Salv.f, form a group dis-
tinguishable by their chestnut-red caps and yellow under sur-
face, of which the seven species may be descriminated as
follows :

a. gutture nigro 1. B. melanolcemus.

b. gutture flavo, ventre concolori.

b'. dorso nigro.

b". speculo alari nullo.

I loris nigris 2. J9. melanops.

I loris flavis 3. B. rufinmhus.

c". speculo alari albo 4. B. latinuchus.

c>. dorso cinereo | loris ni ^ ris 6 ' *' ^dionoti^s.

I Ions navis 6. B, comptus.

d'. dorso olivaceo 7. B. elceoprorus.

Buarremon brunneinuchus, Scl. P. Z. S. 1859, p. 138.
Olivaceus, alis caudaque brunnescentibus ; pileo castaneo,
striga utrinque cinnamomea ; fronte et capitis lateribus
nigris, ilia albo trimaculata ; subtus albus, lateribus et
ventre imo cum subalaribus cinereis olivaceo indutis,
campterio flavo ; rostro nigro ; pedibus carneis : long,
tota 7'5, alae 3'2, cauda 3'0.

Hab. in rep. ^Equatoriana : Pallatanga (Fraser) ; Jima

Mus. P. L. S. et S.-G.

Obs. Similis B. brunneinucho, sed torque collari nullo.
Two examples of this species, collected by Fraser at Pal-
latanga, were considered by Sclater to be the young of B. brun-
neinuchus. The receipt of further specimens, in exactly the
same plumage, renders it necessary to separate the species.

We have not had an opportunity of examining Peruvian
specimens which have been called Arremon frontalis by
Tschudi (Faun. Per. Aves, p. 213) and B. brunneinuchus by
Taczanowski (P. Z. S. 1874, p. 515).

* P. Z. S. 1876, p. 253. t P. Z. S. 1879, p. 504.

428 Mr. H. Seebohm on certain Points in

XXXVII. Remarks on certain Points in Ornithological
Nomenclature. By HENRY SEEBOHM, F.Z.S.

THE attempt which Strickland made to introduce order into
the chaos of zoological nomenclature, by constructing a code
of laws to save it from the hopeless confusion into which it
was drifting, deserves the highest praise. Though these
rules were carefully amended by a zoological committee, and
passed by the parliament of the British Association for the
Advancement of Science, no one who is familiar with the
imperfections of statute-law will be surprised to learn that,
like all other codes, the Stricklandian rules proved inade-
quate to meet the multiplicity of cases with which they had
to deal. The difficulty was met by allowing a liberal inter-
pretation of the rules when necessary, or even by tacitly
ignoring them where a blind adherence to the letter of the
law would have increased the confusion it was constructed to
avoid. Around the Stricklandian statute law there has thus
arisen an uncodified ornithological "judges' law," founded
upon the practice of the best ornithologists, which has, until
recently, secured the important objects at which Strickland

But, unfortunately, during the last few years three ornitho-
logical works have put in an appearance, which threaten
to undo much of the good which Strickland's efforts have
accomplished. Ornithological nomenclature is once more
disturbed by frivolous changes, and is rapidly drifting from
the position of exact scientific accuracy to that of mere
popular indefmiteness. These three works, Newton's ' Birds
of Britain/ Dresser's ' Birds of Europe,' and Sharpe's ' Cata-
logue of the Birds of the British Museum,' so far as each
has proceeded, have gradually undermined the principles
which Strickland endeavoured to embody in his code ; so that
now a state of confusion has arisen in ornithological nomen-
clature little, if at all, better than the pre- Stricklandian
chaos. Newton, in his edition of Yarrell's ' British Birds,'
has apparently ignored the practice of Strickland and other
eminent ornithologists, and too frequently, in opposition to

Ornithological Nomenclature. 429

the spirit of the law, has endeavoured to carry out the British-
Association rules to the " bitter end," and, as he himself
admits, " regardless of consequences " ! In an obscure writer
such a reckless course would have been of 110 consequence,
but pursued by Professor Newton, who is admitted by the
majority of British ornithologists to be the greatest authority
on ornithological literature, its effects have been truly disas-
trous. Even in the small instalment of Newton's work
which has been hitherto published, there has been a great
slaughter of the innocents. It seems very hard to have to
give up Bubo maximus, Strix brachyotus, Phylloscopus rufus,
Sylvia cinerea } Sylvia hortensis, and many other names familiar
as household words to us from our childhood. Dresser, in
his ' Birds of Europe/ has, however, " outheroded Herod."
Wherever Newton has made a change, Dresser has blindly
followed him ; and in too many instances, instead of being
satisfied to carry out certain of the British-Association rules
to the uttermost, he has gone even further still, and given
the doubtful name the benefit of the doubt, apparently for no
other reason than because of its novelty. To make confusion
more confounded, Sharpe, in his ' Catalogue of Birds/ after
following Newton's unfortunate lead through two volumes,
then turned suddenly round, and in his third volume openly
violated the rules, choosing for the purpose, amongst others,
an instance especially selected by Strickland for disapproval.
I may be doing Sharpe an injustice in charging him with
inconsistency. Probably he came to the conclusion that
Newton, Dresser, and he had given the British- Association
code rope enough, and that it had hanged itself before his
third volume was published.

For a year or two I have urged upon several of my orni-
thological friends the importance of taking action on this
disgraceful state of our favourite science, a position of affairs
which has excited the derision of some of our continental
associates, but hitherto in vain. Now that a decision is forced
upon me, I have come to the conclusion that the only course
open to a conscientious ornithologist, is to attempt to codify
the existing ornithological "judges' law/' in fact, to alter

430 Mr. H. Seebohm on certain Points in

the rules to suit the cases which have been left unprovided
for in the Stricklandian code, so as to carry out, as far as
possible, the great objects which that excellent reformer
aimed at.

The principal objects of a code of nomenclature ought to
be the following :

1. To ensure that every genus and every species of bird
shall have a definite name, about which there can be no man-
ner of doubt as to the exact genus or species intended to be
discriminated by such name.

2. To make as little change as possible in the names of
birds, and to effect the adoption of the same name for the
same bird by as many ornithologists as possible.

3. To ensure the adoption of the name given by the writer
who first clearly defined the genus or species to which it
belongs, as far as practicable.

The revolutionary changes introduced by Messrs. Newton,
Sharpe, and Dresser, render a codification of ornithological
judges' law necessary to reestablish the principles of the
Stricklandian code. Perhaps the simplest way to approach
this subject will be to select a few of the most flagrant offences
of which the above-named writers have been guilty, to point out
where these are in violation of the existing code, and, in the
cases in which the letter of the law is obeyed in violation of its
spirit, to draft out a rider to the present law to meet such case.

Before proceeding to these cases I should like to say a few
words upon the binomial system of nomenclature. Upon
this question ornithologists are divided into two camps. We
have the Utopian party, who assert that ornithological no-
menclature must be strictly binomial, consisting of a specific
and generic name only, and the practical party, who assert
that to these two names must be added the authority for the
specific name. No doubt, in Utopia, where the same name
is never given to two species of birds, where ornithological
names are never misapplied, and where the memories of orni-
thologists are never at fault, such an addition is unnecessary.
Among blundering mortals, like ourselves (and I know of no

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