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en Belgique," being supplementary to that of his above named.
In 1870 Anton Fritsch completed his Naturgeschichte der Vogel
Europas (8vo, with atlas in folio); and in 1871 Messrs Sharpe and
Dresser began the publication of their Birds of Europe, which was
completed by the latter in 1879 (8 vols. 4to), and is unquestionably
the most complete work of its kind, both for fulness of information
and beauty of illustration — the coloured plates being nearly all by
Keulemans. This work has since been completed by H. E. Dresser's
Supplement to the Birds of Europe (1896). H. Noble's List of Euro-
pean Birds (1898) is a useful compilation, and Dresser's magnificent
Eggs of the Birds of Europe is another great contribution by that
author to European ornithology.

Coming now to works on British birds only, the first of the present
century that requires remark is Montagu's Ornithological Dictionary
(2 vols. 8vo, 1802; supplement 1813), the merits of
which have been so long and so fully acknowledged both
abroad and at home that no further comment is here
wanted. In 1831 Rennie brought out a modified edition of it
(reissued in 1833), and Newman another in 1866 (reissued in 1883) ;
but those who wish to know the author's views had better consult
the original. Next in order come the very inferior British Ornithology
of Graves (3 vols. 8vo, 181 1-1821), and a work with the same title
by Hunt (3 vols. 8vo, 1815-1822), published at Norwich, but never
finished. Then we have Selby's Illustrations of British Ornithology,
two folio volumes of coloured plates engraved by himself, between
1821 and 1833, with letterpress also in two volumes (8vo, 1825-1833),
a second edition of the first volume being also issued (1833), for the
author, having yielded to the pressure of the " Quinarian " doctrines
then in vogue, thought it necessary to adjust his classification
accordingly, and it must be admitted that for information the


' Copies are said to exist bearing the date 1814.




second edition is best. In 1828 Fleming brought out his History
of British Animals (8vo), in which the birds are treated at consider-
able length (pp. 41-146), though not with great success. In 1835
Mr Jenyns (afterwards Blomefield) produced as excellent Manual
of B:itish Vertebrate Animals, a volume (8vo) executed with great
scientific skill, the birds again receiving due attention (pp. 49-286J,
and the descriptions of the various species being as accurate as they
are terse. In the same year began the Coloured Illustrations of
British Birds and their Eggs of H. L. Meyer (4tu), which was com-
pleted in 1843, whereof a .second edition (7 vols. 8vo, 1842-1850)
was brought out, and subsequently (1852-1857) a reissue of the
latter. In 1836 appeared Eyton's History of the rarer British Birds,
intended as a sequel to Bewick's well-known volumes, to which no
important additions had been made since the issue of 1 82 1. The
year 1837 saw the beginning of two remarkable works by Macgillivray
and Yarrell respectively, and each entitled A History of British
Birds. Of Yarrell's work in three volumes, a second edition was
published in 1845, a third in 1856, and a fourth, begun in 1871, and
almost wholly rewritten. Of the compilations based upon this work,
without which they could not have been composed, there is no need
to speak. One of the few appearing since, with the same scope, that
are not borrowed is Jardine's Birds of Great Britain and Ireland
(4 vols. 8vo, 1838-1843), forming part of his Naturalist's Library;
and Gould's Birds of Great Britain has been already mentioned.
The local works on English birds are too numerous to be mentioned ;
almost every county has had its ornithology recorded. Of more
recent general works there should be mentioned A. G. Butler's
British Birds with their Nests and Eggs (6 vols., 1896), the various
editions of Howard Saunders's Manual of British Birds, and Lord
Lilford's beautifully illustrated Coloured Figures of the Birds of the
British Islands (1885-1897).

The good effects of " Faunal " works such as those named in
the foregoing rapid survey none can doubt, but important as
they are, they do not of themselves constitute ornithology as
a science; and an inquiry, no less wide and far more recondite,
still remains. By whatever term we choose to call it — Classifica-
tion, Arrangement, Systematizing or Taxonomy — that inquiry
which has for its object the discovery of the natural groups into
which birds fall, and the mutual relations of those groups, has
always been one of the deepest interest. It is now for us to trace
the rise of the present more advanced school of ornithologists,
whose labours yet give signs of far greater promise.

It would probably be unsafe to place its origin further back
than a few scattered hints contained in the " Pterographische
Fragmente " of Christian Ludwig Nitzsch, published
in the Magazin fiir den neuesteti Zustand der Natur-
kunde (edited by Voigt) for May 1806 (xi. pp. 393-417), and even
these might be left to pass unnoticed, were it not that we recog-
nize in them the germ of the great work which the same admirable
zoologist subsequently accomphshed. In these " Fragments,"
apparently his earliest productions, we find him engaged on the
subject with which his name will always be especially identified,
the structure and arrangement of feathers. In the following year
another set of hints — of a kind so different that probably no one
then Hving would have thought it possible that they should ever
be brought in correlation with those of Nitzsch — are contained in a
memoir on Fishes contributed to the tenth volume of the Annales
du Museum d'histoire naturelle of Paris by fitienne
Geoff roy St-Hilaire in 1807.' Here we have it stated
as a general truth (p. 100) that young birds have the
sternum formed of five separate pieces — one in the middle, being
its keel, and two " annexes " on each side to which the ribs are
articulated — all, however, finally uniting to form the single
" breast-bone." Further on (pp. 101, 102) we find observations
as to the number of ribs which are attached to each of the
" annexes " — there being sometimes more of them articulated to
the anterior than to the posterior, and in certain forms no ribs
belonging to one, all being applied to the other. Moreover, the
author goes on to remark that in adult birds trace of the origin
of the sternum from five centres of ossification is always more or
less indicated by sutures, and that, though these sutures had been
generally regarded as ridges for the attachment of the sternal
muscles, they indeed mark the extreme points of the five primary
bony pieces of the sternum.

' In the Philosophie anaiomique (i. pp. 69-101, and especially
pp. 135, 136), which appeared in 1818, Gcoffroy St-Hilaire explained
the views ho had adopted at greater length.


k a. St


In 1810 appeared at Heidelberg the first volume of F.
Ticdemann's carefully-wrought Anatomic und Naturgeschichte
der Vogcl — which shows a remarkable advance upon
the work which Cuvier did in 1805, and in some respects mana
is superior to his later production of 181 7. It is, how-
ever, only noticed here on account of the numerous references
made to it by succeeding writers, for neither in this nor in the
author's second volume (not published until 1814) did he pro-
pound any systematic arrangement of the Class. More germane
to our present subject are the Osteographische Beitrdge zur
Naturgeschichte der Vogel of C. L. Nitzsch, printed at Leipzig in
1811 — a miscellaneous set of detached essays on some
pecuharities of the skeleton or portions of the skeleton
of certain birds — one of the most remarkable of which is that on
the component parts of the foot (pp. 101-105) pointing out the
aberration from the ordinary structure exhibited by the Goat-
sucker (Caprimulgus) and the Swift (Cypselus) — an aberration
which, if rightly understood, would have conveyed a warning
to those ornithological systematists who put their trust in birds'
toes for characters on which to erect a classification, that there
was in them more of importance, hidden in the integument,
than had hitherto been suspected; but the warning was of
little avail, if any, till many years had elapsed. However,
Nitzsch had not as yet seenhis way to proposing any methodical
arrangement of the various groups of birds, and it was not until
some eighteen months later that a scheme of classification in
the main anatomical was attempted.

This scheme was the work of Blasius Merrem, who, in a
communication to the Academy of Sciences of Berlin on the
loth December 181 2, which was published in its
Ahhandlungen for the following year (pp. 237-259),
set forth a Tentamen systematis naturalis avium, no less modestly
entitled than modestly executed. The attempt of Merrem must
be regarded as the virtual starting-point of the latest efforts
in Systematic Ornithology, and in that view its proposals deserve
to be stated at length. Without pledging ourselves to the
acceptance of all its details — some of which, as is only natural,
cannot be sustained with our present knowledge — it is certainly
not too much to say that Merrem's merits are almost incompar-
ably superior to those of any of his predecessors. Premising then
that the chief characters assigned by this systematist to his several
groups are drawn from almost all parts of the structure of birds,
and are supplemented by some others of their more prominent
peculiarities, we present the following abstract of his scheme: — ^


1. Aves aereae. ^

A. Rapaces. — a. Accipitres — Vultur, Falco, Sagittarius.

b. Strix.

B. Hymenopodes. — a. Chelidoncs: a. C. nocturnae —

Caprimulgus; /3. C. diurnae —
b. Oscincs: a. O. conirostres —
Loxia, Fringilla, Emheriza, Tan-
gara; /3. O. tcnuirostres —
Alauda, Motacilla, Muscicapa,
Todus, Lanius, Ampelis, Tur-
dus, Paradisea, Buphaga, Stur-
nus, Oriolus, Gracula, Coracias.
Connis, Pipral, Parus, Sitta,
Certhiae quaedam.

C. Mellisugae. — Trochilus, Certhiae et Upupae plurimae.

D. Dendrocolaptae. — Pious, Yunx.

E. Brevilingues. — a. Upupa; b. Ispidae.

F. Levirostres. — a. Ramphastus, Scythropsl; h. Psillacus.

G. Coccyges. — Cuculus, Trogon, Bucco, Crotophaga.

2. Aves terrestres.

A. Columba.

B. Gallinae.

3. Aves aquaticae.

A. Odontorhynchi : a. Boscades — Anas; b. Mergus;
c. Phoenicopterus.
^ - ^ ^1

- The names of the genera are, he tells us, for the most part those
of Linnaeus, as being the best-known, though not the best. To some
of the Linnaean genera he dare not, however, assign a place, for
instance, Buceros, Haematopiis, Merops, Glareola (Brisson's genus,
by the by) and Palamedea.




B. Platyrhynchi. — Pelicanus, Phaeton, Plolus.

C. Aptenodytes.

D. Urinatrices: a. Cepphi — Alca, Colymbi pedibus

palmatis; b. Prodiceps, Colymbi pedibus lobatis.

E. Stenorhynchi. — Procellaria, Diomedea, Larus, Sterna,

4. Aves palustres.

A. Rusticolae: a. Phalarides — Rallus, Fulica, Parra;

b. Limosugae — Ntimenius, Scolopax, Tringa, Char-
adrius, Recurvirostra.

B. Grallae:a. Erodii — Ardeae ungue intermedio serrato,

Cancroma; b. Pelargi — Ciconia, Mycteria, Tantati
quidam, Scopus, Platalea; c. Gerani — Ardeae
cristatae, Grues, Psophia.

C. Otis.

II. AvES RATITAE. — Struthio.

The most novel feature, and one the importance of which
most ornithologists of the present day are fully prepared to
admit, is the separation of the class Avcs into two great divisions,
which from one of the most obvious distinctions they present
were called by its author Cariiiatae'- and Ratitae,- according as
the sternum possesses a keel (crista in the phraseology of many
anatomists) or not. But Merrem, who subsequently communi-
cated to the Academy of Berlin a more detailed memoir on
the " flat-breasted " birds,^ was careful not here to rest his
divisions on the presence or absence of their sternal character
alone. He concisely cites (p. 238) no fewer than eight other
characters of more or less value as peculiar to the Carinate
Division, the first of which is that the feathers have their barbs
furnished with hooks, in consequence of which the barbs, includ-
ing those of the wing-quills, cling closely together; while among
the rest may be mentioned the position of the furcula and
coracoids,'' which keep the wing-bones apart; the limitation of
the number of the lumbar vertebra to fifteen, and of the
carpals to two; as well as the divergent direction of the iliac
bones — the corresponding characters peculiar to the Ratite
Division being the disconnected condition of the barbs of the
feathers, through the absence of any hooks whereby they might
cohere; the non-existence of the furcula, and the coalescence
of the coracoids with the scapulae (or, as he expressed it, the
extension of the scapulae to supply the place of the coracoids,
which he thought were wanting) ; the lumbar vertebrae being
twenty and the carpals three in number; and the parallelism
of the iliac bones.

As for Merrem's partitioning of the inferior groups there is
less to be said in its praise as a whole, though credit must be
given to his anatomical knowledge for leading him to the percep-
tion of several affinities, as well as differences, that had never
before been suggested by superficial systematists. But it must
be confessed that (chiefly, no doubt, from paucity of accessible
material) he overlooked many points, both of alliance and the
opposite, which since his time have gradually come to be

Notice has next to be taken of a Memoir on the Employment
of Sternal Characters in establishing Natural Families among
Birds, which was read by De Blainville before the
Academy of Sciences of Paris in 1815,^ but not pub-
lished in full for more than five years later (Journal
de physique . . . ei des arts, xcii. 185-215), though an
abstract forming part of a Prodrome d'une nouvelle distribution
du regne animal appeared earlier (op. cit. Ixxxiii. 252, 253,
258, 259; and Bull. soc. philomath, de Paris, 1816, p. no).
This is a very disappointing performance, since the author
observes that, notwithstanding his new classification of birds
is based on a study of the form of the sternal apparatus, yet,
because that lies wholly within the body, he is compelled to have
recourse to such outward characters as are afforded by the

' From carina, a keel.

- From rales, a raft or flat-bottomed barge.

^ " Beschrcibung des Gerippes eines Casuars nebst einigen beiliiu-
figen Bemerkungen (iber die flachbriistigen Vogel," Abhandl. der
Berlin. Akademie, Phys. Klasse (1817), pp. 179-198, tabb. i.-iii.

* Merrem, as did many others in his time, calls the coracoids
" claviculae "; but it is now well understood that in birds the real
claviculae form the furcula or " merry-thought."

' Not 1 81 2, as has sometimes been stated.

De Blain


proportion of the limbs and the disposition of the toes — even as
had been the practice of most ornithologists before him! It
is evident that the features of the sternum of which De Blainville
chiefly relied were those drawn from its posterior margin, which
no very extensive experience of specimens is needed to show are
of comparatively slight value; for the number of " echavcrures "
— notches as they have sometimes been called in English — when
they exist, goes but a very short way as a guide, and is so variable
in some very natural groups as to be even in that shoit way
occasionally misleading. '^ There is no appearance of his having
at all taken into consideration the far more trustworthy characters
furnished by the anterior part of the sternum, as well as by the
coracoids and the furcula. Still De Blainville made some advance
in a right direction, as for instance by elevating the parrots'
and the pigeons as " Ordres," equal in rank to that of the birds
of prey and some others. According to the testimony of
L'Herminier (for whom see later) he divided the " Passereatix "
into two sections, the "faux " and the " vrais "; but, while the
latter were very correctly defined, the former were most arbitrarily
separated from the " Grimpeurs." He also split his Grallatores
and Natatores (practically identical with the Grallae and A7tseres
of Linnaeus) each into four sections; but he failed to see — as
on his own principles he ought to have seen — that each of these
sections was at least equivalent to almost any one of his other
" Ordres." He had, however, the courage to act up to his own
professions in collocating the rollers (Coracias) with the bee-
eaters (M crops), ahd had the sagacity to surmise that Menura
was not a Gallinaceous bird. The greatest benefit conferred by
this memoir is probably that it stimulated the efforts, presently
to be mentioned, of one of his pupils, and that it brought more
distinctly into sight that other factor, originally discovered by
Merrem, of which it now clearly became the duty of systematizers
to take cognizance.

Following the chronological order we are here adopting, we
next have to recur to the labours of Nitzsch, who, in 1820, in
a treatise on the nasal glands of birds — a subject that ^.
had already attracted the attention of Jacobson
(Nouv. Bull. soc. philomath, de. Paris, iii. 267-269) — first put
forth in Meckel's Deutschcs Arcliiv fUr die Physiologic (vi. 251-
260) a statement of his general views on ornithological classifica-
tion which were based on a comparative examination of those
bodies in various forms. It seems unnecessary here to occupy
space by giving an abstract of his plan,* which hardly includes
any but European species, because it was subsequently elaborated
with no inconsiderable modifications in a way that must presently
be mentioned at greater length. But the scheme, crude as it was,
possesses some interest. It is not only a key to much of his
later work — to nearly all indeed that was published in his life-
time — but in it are founded several definite groups (for example,
Passerinae and Picariae) that subsequent experience has shown
to be more or less natural; and it further serves as additional
evidence of the breadth of his views, and his trust in the teachings
of anatomy.

That Nitzsch took this extended view is abundantly proved
by the valuable series of ornithotomical observations which he
must have been for some time accumulating, and almost immedi-
ately afterwards began to contribute to the younger Naumann's
excellent Naturgeschichte der Vogel Dcutschlands, already noticed
above. Besides a concise general treatise on the organization of
birds to be found in the Introduction to this work (i. 23-52), a
brief description from Nitzsch's pen of the peculiarities of the
internal structure of nearly every genus is incorporated with the
author's prefatory remarks, as each passed under consideration,

' Cf. Philos. Transactions (l86g), p. 337, note.

' This view of them had been long before taken by Willughby,
but abandoned by all later authors.

' This plan, having been repeated by Schcipss in 1829 (op. cit. xii.
p. 73). became known to Sir R. Owen in 1835, who then drew to it
the attention of Kirby (Seventh Bridgewater Treatise, n. pp. 444, 445).
and in the next year referred to it in his own article" Aves " in
Todd's Cyclopaedia of Anatomy (i. p. 266), so that Englishmen need
no excuse for not being aware of one of Nitzsch's labours, though
his more advanced work of 1829, presently to be mentioned, was not
referred to by Sir R. Owen.




and these descriptions being almost without exception so drawn
up as to be comparative are accordingly of great utility to
the student of classification, though they have been so greatly
neglected. Upon these descriptions he was still engaged till
death, in 1837, put an end to his labours, when his place as
Naumann's assistant for the remainder of the work was taken by
Rudolph Wagner; but, from time to time, a few more, which
he had already completed, made their posthumous appearance
in it, and, in subsequent years, some selections from his unpub-
lished papers were through the care of Giebel presented to the
public. Throughout the whole of this series the same marvellous
industry and scrupulous accuracy are manifested, and attentive
study of it will show how many times Nitzsch anticipated the
conclusions of modern taxonomers. Yet over and over again
his determination of the affinities of several groups even of
European birds was disregarded; and his labours, being con-
tained in a bulky and costly work, were hardly known at all
outside of his own country, and within it by no means appreciated
so much as they deserved ' — for even Naumann himself, who
gave them publication, and was doubtless in some degree
influenced by them, utterly failed to perceive the importance
of the characters offered by the song-muscles of certain groups,
though their peculiarities were all duly described and recorded
by his coadjutor, as some indeed had been long before by Cuvier
in his famous dissertation ^ on the organs of voice in birds
{LcQons d'anatomic comparee, iv. 450-491). Nitzsch's name was
subsequently dismissed by Cuvier without a word of praise, and
in terms which would have been applicable to many another and
inferior author, while Temminck, terming Naumann's work an
" ouvrage dc luxe " — it being in truth one of the cheapest for its
contents ever published — effectually shut it out from the realms
of science. In Britain it seems to have been positively unknown
until quoted some years after its completion by a catalogue-
compiler on account of some peculiarities of nomenclature
which it presented.

Now we must return to France, where, in 1827, L'Herminier,
a Creole of Guadaloupe and a pupil of De BlainvLUe's, contributed

to the Aclcs of the Linnaean Society of Paris for
mlale'r. ^^^^ X^^"" ('^i- 3"93) 'he " Recherches sur I'appareil

sternal des Oiseaux," which the precept and example
of his master had prompted him to undertake, and Cuvier
had found for him the means of executing. A second and
considerably enlarged edition of this very remarkable treatise
was published as a separate work in the following year. We
have already seen that De Blainville, though fully persuaded
of the great value of sternal features as a method of classification,
had been compelled to fall back upon the old pedal characters
so often employed before; but now the scholar had learnt to
excel his teacher, and not only to form an at least provisional
arrangement of the various members of the Class, based on
sternal characters, but to describe these characters at some
length, and so give a reason for the faith that was in him. There
is no evidence, so far as we can see, of his having been aware
of Merrem's views; but like that anatomist he without hesitation
divided the class into two great " coupes," to which he gave,
however, no other names than " Oiseaux normaux " and " Oiseaux
anomaux " — exactly corresponding with his predecessor's
Carinatae and Ralilae — and, moreover, he had a great advantage
in founding these groups, since he had discovered, apparently
from his own investigations, that the mode of ossification in each
was distinct; for hitherto the statement of there being five
centres of ossification in every bird's sternum seems to have
been accepted as a general truth, without contradiction, whereas
in the ostrich and the rhea, at any rate, L'Herminier found that
there were but two such primitive points,' and from analogy

' Their value was, however, understood by Gloger, who in 1834,
as will presently be seen, expressed his regret at not being able to
use them.

' Cuvier's first observations on the subject seem to have appeared
in the Magazin encyclopcdiqice for 1795 (ii. pp. 330, 358).

^ This fact in the ostrich appears to have been known already to
Geoffroy St-Hilaire from his own observation in Egypt, but does not
seem to have been published by him.

he judged that the same would be the case with the casso-
wary and the emeu, which, with the two forms mentioned
above, made up the whole of the " Oiseaux anomaux " whose
existence was then generally acknowledged.* These are the forms
which composed the family previously termed Cur sores by De
Blainville; but L'Herminier was able to distinguish no fewer
than thirty-four families of " Oiseaux normaux," and the
judgment with which their separation and definition were effected
must be deemed on the whole to be most creditable to him. It

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