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nomenclature among North American species, it may be noted that the old
genus ChrvtLs is here much subdivided, so that our Fish-Crow stands as
Coiceus OBsifragus, and the Common Crow as Cqrone americanus ; Nucifraga
(Brisson, 1760) appears in place of Pidcorvus for the Clarke's Crow, and
Cyanunis is regarded as a s3monyme of Cyanocorax, our Blue-Jay (C crU-
tatus) being referred to the genus Cyanodtta. Nearly all of the numerous
forms of Western Jays (genera Perisoretis, Cyanocittay and Apkelocoma),
recognized as varieties by American ornithologists, are raised by Mr.
Sharpe to the rank of species, two of which (Perisoretu capitalis and P.
obscunu) are figured. In this volume, in fact, ver}' few " subspecies " are
recognized.

We are sorry to see in Mr. Sharpens third volume several instances of
the use of the same name in a generic and specific sense for the same
species, with such ridiculous results as " Pica pica** " Pyrrhocorax pyrrho-
caraz" etc., which is not only opposed to good taste, to say the least, but
to a very generally accepted rule of nomenclature. Also that the value of
his very full bibliographical references is impaired by his not adding the
date of publication. This was very uniformly done in the first volume,
and to some extent in the second, and we sincerely hope he will see fit to
resume the practice in his later volumes. — J. A. A.

Rowley's "The Pied Duck." — Mr. Q. D. Rowley's monographic
essay on the Labrador or Pied Duck {Somateria lahradoria) ♦ is a timely and
exhaustive contribution to the history of a species believed to be rapidly
approaching extinction. Nearly all that relates to its literary history is
here brought together, the paper consisting largely of excerpts gathered
from the writings of all authors who have referred to the species. While
apparently of rather frequent occurrence along our Atlantic coast, as far
south at least as Long Isltfnd, New Jersey, and Delaware, fifty to thirty
years ago, it has of late been rarely observed and few specimens appear to
have been taken since 1868. Its last-recorded capture, as appears from a
letter from Mr. Gkorge N. Lawrence, published in Mr. Rowley's paper,
seems to have occurred " in the fall of 1874," when a specimen was ob-
tained by Mr. J. Wallace, from Long Island, from which source the same
gentleman had obtained four or five others during the previous five years.
All were females or immature males, and only one adult male is known to
have been taken in the last twenty years.

♦ Somateria labradoria (J. F. Gmelin). The Pied Duck. By G. D. Rowley,
M. A, F. L. S., F. Z. S., etc., etc. Ornithological Miscellany, Vol. II, Part
VI, ppw 205-223, with 5 plates, 1877. London, Quaritch, 15 Piccadilly, W.;
Triibner k Co., Ludgate Hill, E. C; R. H. Porter, 6 Tenterden St., Hanover
Square, W.



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80 Recent Literature.

Mr. Rowley here gives not only the literary history of the species, but
discusses its relationship to the Eiders. Although following Mr. A. New-
ton in placing it in the genus Sovfiateria, he does it with some degree of
reservation. His paper is enriched with five plates, in which are figured
the sterna of all the Eiders (Somateria stelUri, S. spectabilis, and S, moUis-
aima), with that of the present species, and the bill and feet of this species
and of the common Eider. A beautifully colored plate is also devoted to
the illustration of the adult male, female, and young male. He has,
however, to lament his ignorance of the nest and ^gs, of the nestling
plumage of both sexes, as well as of some of the subsequent immature
stages, and calls the attention of American ornithologists to the impor-
tance of securing a scientific examination of the body of any specimen
which the future may afford, notes of the color of the soft parts, and the
preservation of the skeleton.

The paper also contains extracts from letters from Professors S. F.
Baird and the late James Orton, and Messrs. D. O. Elliot and Qeoi^ N.
Lawrence, concerning the recent occurrence of this bird along the Atlantic
coast of North America, and closes with a list of all the specimens known
to the author to be extant These number only thirty-three, of which
about twenty are preserved in different collections in the United States,
and the remainder in European museums. About one half are adult
males, and most of the remainder adult females. The localities, so far as
known, are Long Island, New York, thirteen specimens ; Calais, Me.,
two ; Halifax Harbor, one ; " Labrador," one, and one is recorded from
Delhi, Michigan ; eighteen in all, leaving fifteen from unknown localities.
— J. A. A.

Street8*8 Notes on the Birds op Lower Calitornia aih) the
Hawaiian and Fanning Islands. — Dr. Thomes H. Streets's report of
his Natural History explorations made in connection with the United '
States North Pacific Surveying Expedition of 1873 - 75 ♦ includes notes
on about fifty species of birds, of which rather more than one half were
collected on the coast of Lower CaHfomia and adjoining portions of the
Mexican coast. The author acknowledges his indebtedness to Dr. Elliott
Coues, U. S. A., for the identification of the birds, and adds that he has
" kindly furnished the notes accompanying that portion of the ornithological
collection from the Califomian Peninsula.** The collection contains two
specimens of Mr. Lawrence's rare Passerculus guttatus (known previously,
from a single specimen from San Jos^ del Cabo), which, though formerly
regarded as a variety of the P. rostratus, is here provisionally accepted as

* Contributions to the Natural History of the Hawaiian and Fanning Islands
and Lower California, made in connection with the United States North Pacific
Survejring Expedition, 1878-75. By Thos. H. Streets, M. D., passed Assistant
Surgeon, U. S. Navy. Bulletin of the United States National Museum, No. 7,
p. 172 (Birds, pp. 9-38), Washington, 1877.



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Becent Literature. 81

a good species. It also embraces specimens of the rare Euhrs Parrot
{Coriphilus kuhl%) of the Fanning Islands, the precise habitat of which is
now for the first time determined, and three new species, one of which,
Puffinus (Nectrii) nativitatis, from Christmas Island, is here for the first
time described. The others are a Qalliniile (Gallinula sandviceruis^ Streets,
Ibis, 1877, p. 25) from the Hawaiian Islands, and a Duck {Chaukkumus
couen. Streets, Bull. Nut. Cm. Club, Vol. I, 1876, p. 46) from Washing-
ton Island. The breeding habits and eggs of Craver's Auk {Brachyrham-
phxis craven) are also described, and there are many A'aluable biographical
and other notes on several hitherto little known species. — J. A. A.

Bbndire's Notes on the Birds of Southeastern Oregon. — In a
list embracing one hundred and ninety -one species and varieties, Captain
Bendire * gives the results of field observations made in the vicinity of
Camp Harney, Oregon, covering a considerable period. Aside from some
former notes by the same author,t which treated more especially of the
winter birds of this locality, we have here our first detailed information
respecting the ornithology of the immediate region under consideration.
Camp Harney, the central point, is situated on the southern slope of one of
the western spurs of the Blue Mountains, and has an altitude of about
four thousand eight hundred feet The country to the northward is moun-
tainous, and well forested with pine, spruces, and fir, intermixed with
groves of aspen and juniper ; in all other directions it is open, consisting
of desert wastes of sagebrush and greasewood, with here and there more
fertile tracts covered with nutritious grasses. As would be naturally ex-
pected, fully one half of the species are emphatically Western, or are
represented by Western varieties. The fauna is distinctly, however, that
of the Middle Province, although a few forms usually considered as con-
fined to the Pacific slope are here represented. The list is enriched with
copious biographical notes, including descriptions of the breeding-habits,
nests, and eggs of a large number of the less well-known species, and
forms a most important contribution to the ornithology of the West. —
J. A. A,

Ridgway's Report on the Ornithology of the Fortieth Par-
allel. — This long-delayed work J has by no means lost its importance

* Notes on some of the Birds found in Southeastern Oregon, particularly in
the Vicinity of Camp Harney, from November, 1874, to January, 1877. By
Captain Charles Bendire, U. S. Army. Proc Bost Soc. Nat Hist, YoL
XIX, pp. 109-149, Nov. 1877.

t Notes on Seventy-nine Species of Birds observed in the Neighborhood of
Camp Harney, Oregon, compiled [by Dr. T. M. Brewer] from the Correspond-
ence of Captain Charles Bendire, 1st Cavalry U. S. A. Proc. Bost. Soc. Nat
Hist, VoL XVIIl, pp. 158-168, Nov. 1875.

X Report of Geological Explorations of the Fortieth Parallel Clarence King,

vol. III. 6



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82 Becent Literature.

through its late appearance, due to circumstances wholly beyond the con-
trol of its author. Based on field-work extending from about June 1,
1867, to the middle of August, 1869, and restricted to a comparatively
limited field, not previously to any great extent explored, we have just
what all the circumstances of the case would seem to warrant one in ex-
pecting, a thorough and exhaustive account of the ornithology of an in-
teresting belt of country. The observations were mainly limited to that
portion of the Great Basin included between the thirty-ninth and forty-
second parallels, and extending from the Sierra Nevadas to the Wahsatch
Mountains. First is given an account of the route of the survey, with a
list of the camps. Then follows a short account of the physical features
of the region, with a discussion of its ^ local avifaunse," especial reference
being had to the station of the different species represented. The term
"avifauna'' is hence here used in a rather unusual sense, referring rather
to the habits of the species than to geographical areas. Thus we have
(I) an "Arboreal: Avifauna," subdivided into five categories of species, in
relation to whether they frequent (1) the upper coniferous forests, (2) the
cedar or nut-pine groves, (3) the aspen groves or copses, (4) the canon
shrubbery, and (5) the wooded river- valleys ; (II) a " Terrestrial Avi-
fauna," consisting of (1) birds of the sagebrush, (2) birds of the mountain
meadows or peaks, and (3) birds of the lowland meadows ; (III) a " Mural
Avifauna," embracing (1) species strictly saxicoline, (2) species saxicoline
only in nesting habits, and (3) species nesting in earth-banks ; and, (IV)
an " Aquatic Avifauna," consisting of aquatic species. These divisions are
of course serviceable in indicating the station and habits of the different
species, but do not, of course, strictly characterize faunal areas, in their
usual geographical signification. " Descriptions of the localities where
collections or observations were made," numbering forty-three, then fol-
low, including lists of the species observed at each of these, where much
time was spent " General remarks on the Avifauna of the Great Basin,"
with an analysis of the species in reference to their geographical range,
conclude the introductory portion of the Report, which forms, altogether,
nearly ninety pages of exceedingly interesting matter. The "Report

Oeologist in charge. VoL IV, Part III, Ornithology. By Robert Ridgway.
4to. pp. 303-670. 1877.

[As an Important bibliological matter to be remembered, it should be stated
that current literature for a few years has contained repeated anticipatory cita-
tions of such a work as being then "in press,*' — these citations sometimes in-
volving questions of precedence ; but the work, which was stereotyped in 1870,
was entirely remodelled, and never appeared in its original form. The stereotype
plates were melted in 1876, and no perfect copy of the original reix>rt exists
though a single mutilated set of proofs is, or was, in possession of Dr. Coues,
The matter was reset in 1876 or 1877, and the entire remodelling of the subject
renders previous citations of the original suppressed report frequently inapplica-
ble. -E.G.]



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Recent Literature, 83

Proper" consista ol a general list of the species, with limited biblio-
graphical references, and copious biographical and other notes, including
lists of the specimens obtained, their measurements, color of bill, feet,
iris, etc., as recorded from the fresh specimen before skinning, with a record
of nests and the number of eggs found in each. Many of the biographical
notices are quite extended, and add greatly to our knowledge of the species
to which they pertain.* The Report, as a whole, is quite free from strictly
technical matter, and hence attractive to general readers and amateurs, as
well as of great value to specialists. Space forbids particular reference to
even the more noteworthy portions of this part of the Report, but we can
scarcely omit calling attention to the account of the Western Kingbird
(Tyrannus verHcalis), in which is detailed the wonderful intelligence and
affection of several young birds of this species reared as camp pets, and
which became thoroughly domesticated.

Although many of the observations and results of Mr. Ridgwa3r's field-
work with the Survey of the Fortieth Parallel are not now for the first
time placed before the public, the Report seems to have lost little of its
freshness. Although originally prepared, and even stereotyped, as early
as 1870, it has been so recast that in point of nomenclature it represents
the author's later views. — J. A. A.

Recent Lists of the Birds of Central New York. — In "A
Directory of the Ornithologists of the United States,** published at Utica,
N. Y., 1877, by S. L. Willard, Esq., sixteen pages are devoted to " A List
of the Birds of Central New York,** The author's remarks in the way of
a prelude are thus briefly expressed : "The following is a complete list of
the birds of Central New York, with notes on their abundance." This
might lead one to expect a valuable contribution to our science, but a
perusal of the '* List " proves this supposition to be entineous. Two hun-
dred and sixty-seven species are enumerated, and among them are mentioned
Lophophanes hicolor, Polioptila coeruUa, ProUmotaria citrcea (" occasional in
Central districts ; rare in Northern districts "), HelminQiopkaga celata,
^^ Seiunts ludoviciantiSj" Oporamis agilis, Stelgtdopteryx serripennisy Vireo
phikutelphicuSf Ammodromus eaudacuttUj Melospiza lincolni, Chondestes
gram/maccL, Guiraca cterulea, GardinalU virginiantu (" summer resident "),
Quiscaltu major, Corvus " canwvortw "(" resident "), Empidonax acadicus,
Campephilus principalis, Strix pratincola, Carries aura, MeUagris gallo-
pavo var. americana, Tetrao eanadenm (" resident in Northern districts "),
Oupidonia cupido, Lagopvs alhus, jEgialitis wiUonius, Micropa^ma himan-
topus, Ardea egretta, A. candidisiima, A, cceruUa, Fuligula coUaris, His-
trionicus torquatus, Rhynchops nigra ("occasional winter resident "), and
many others of equal interest But the author gives no data whatever
concerning the dates and localities at which the specimens were procured;
nor does he, in a single instance, mention an authority in connection with
the occurrence of a species, thus holding himself responsible for all state-



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84 Recent Literature.

ments made, a mtich graver responsibility than our young friend imagined
when he undertook the task. Being somewhat familiar with the region
to which this list pertains, I was requested to review it for the Bulletin,
which circumstance led me to make inquiries of its author concerning
about seventy of the species therein mentioned. Of this number he had
the candor to admit that about thirty were included upon no grounds
whatever, while some twenty more were taken from Dekay (and some of
these were not known by DeEay, according to his own statements, to
occur at all in New York State, and nearly all the others were known to
him only from the vicinity of the coast, — far beyond the limits of ** Cen-
tral New York "). Quite a number of others rest on the strength of state-
ments made by wholly unreliable boys, who thought they had " seen " the
bird in question ! On the other hand, some few species were inserted on
the authority of perfectly reliable collectors (Romeyn B. Hough of Low-
ville, and Fred. J. Davis of Utica) ; but since the author did not see fit to
mention authorities, it is impossible to discriminate between truth and
error, and he must be held responsible for the whole. Above are the facts;
I refrain from comment. It is due the author, however, to state that the
" List " was prepared in great haste while the " Directory " (in which it ap-
pears) was passing through the press. He is now but " too well aware of
its imperfections," and when next he favors us with a contribution it will,
no doubt, be worthy of a far different criticism from that which it has
been my duty to give in this instance.

A word about local lists in general : There is, I fear, among our
younger and less experienced collectors a strong and lamentably conta-
gious tendency to rush into print before having become sufficiently famil-
iar with the habits, distribution, and relative abundance of our birds, to
be capable of preparing a creditable paper. Thus it is that very truthful
and well-meaning people are sometimes led to display their ignorance in a
most unnecessary and wifortunate manner. And it sometimes happens
that less conscientious observers, who have not yet learned the impor-
tance of substantiating their own statements, or failing to recognize the
value of exact data, so far forget themselves as to yield to the temptation
of swelling their lists by the addition of species concerning which they
know absolutely nothing. Mistakes are always liable to occur in human
productions, and are to be expected — yes, may even be looked for, per-
haps, with no inconsiderable degree of confidence — in works pertaining to
this particular line of research ; therefore, when found, they should be
corrected in a spirit of scientific charity and lenient good- will. But when
a man sits down, and in cold blood writes a list of birds on the authority
of his own fertile imagination, he must expect to take the consequences.
** Bad lists," writes Mr. J. A. Allen, " are, of course, far worse than none at
all, and if incompetent aspirants to fame in this direction will make such
ventures, it is best, I think, not only for science, but for them personally
to show them that such things are not to be done with impunity."



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JRecent Literature. 85

The Rathbun-Fowler list of the Birds of Central New York has already
been noticed in this joamal (Vol. Ill, pp. 34, 35). Its title is " Complete
List of the Birds of Cayuga, Seneca, and Wayne Counties." Like Wil-
lard's list, it assumes too much. Ornithologists of larger experience are
more modest, and seldom employ the term "complete** in connection
with their own works. The paper in question, however, was evidently
prepared with some caution, and when carefully revised (in which task its
author is now engaged) will certainly constitute a valuable contribution to
the Ornithology of the State.

In the " Auburn Daily Advertiser " of September 3, 1877, under the
heading " Ornithological," T. J. Wilson, M. D., remarks : " I would
make the following annotations to Mr. Frank R. Bathbun's ' Liert ' from
my own observations." He then goes on to mention sixteen species ; and
among other equally instructive sentences, occur these : *' Turdu$ muste-
linus. Found breeding in great numbers on Howland's Island." " Pants
atricapillus. Found breeding along the river in numbers, in June
^76." " Geothlypis trichas. Breeds commonly on Rowland's Island, but
leaves for the South in July." ^GoUurio borealii, A not uncommon
winter visitor. I have one now taken by my brother in '76." Unfortu-
nately the author does not deem it necessary to mention, directly, to what
portion of the State his list pertains (though " Central New York" is evi-
dently implied), but if " Rowland's Island " and " the river" fall within
the limits of the United States, the above information is certainly of great
value ! He also states that " Rallus crepitans " was taken on Seneca Ewer
in August, '75, but, if not too presumptuous, I would beg leave to suggest
that the bird may prove to be iJ. elegans. The finding of a nest (two eggs)
of the Black Bail {Porzana jamaicetisis) " in the reeds below Cayuga, May
30, '75," is likewise mentioned, and, if correct, is really a valuable note.

By far the best of these recent lists which I have seen, is that of " The
Summer Birds of the Adirondacks in Franklin County, N. Y.," by Theo-
dore Roosevelt, Jr., and H. D. Minot. Though not redundant with infor-
mation, and mentioning but ninety-seven species, it bears prima facte
evidence of reliability, — which seems to be a great desideratum in bird-
lists nowadays. Based on the sound principle of exclusion, it contains
only those species which the authors have themselves observed there, and
consequently furnishes that which was most needed, i. e. exact and thor-
oughly reliable information concerning the most characteristic birds of the
limited region (Franklin County) of which they treat.

For the benefit of those who have not had experience in this matter,
and who may be contemplating publication, I would suggest the observ-
ance of four simple general rules, which, if adhered to, will place the
authors of future ^^ Local Lists " beyond unpleasant [criticism, and save
much ill-feeling.

1. Never mention a species unless you have positive proof that it has
actually been killed in the region under consideration.



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86 Recent Literature.

2. Never mention the less common species, without stating date and lo-
cality of capture, and name of collector.

3. Always give the authority for all statements which you are not per-
sonally responsible for.

4. Never trust to the identification (much less mere opinion) of an inex-
perienced collector, but make it a rule to see for yourself, and fully iden-
tify each species. If the slightest doubt remains concerning the identity
of a bird, it is far better to send it at once to some acknowledged authority
than run the risk of error. — C. H. M.

Barrows's " Catalogue op the Alcidje." — Of the twenty-one species
of Aldda recognized by Mr. Barrows,* nine appear to be unrepresented in
the Society's collection ; of the remaining twelve short original descriptions
are given, sufficiently detailed for the easy recognition of the species. Mr.
Barrows does not think the family can be subdivided into groups of a
higher than generic value. The true affinities of the species he believes
can only be determined by a thorough study of their embryological devel-
opment. The character of this paper indicates that in Mr. Barrows we
have a valuable accession to our corps of ornithological students. — J. A. A.

Feilden's "List of Birds observed in Smith Sound," etc.t — In
this list Captain Feilden, R. A., enumerates twenty- four species observed
by the recent British Arctic Expedition '^ in Smith Sound and northward,
between the seventy-eighth and eighty-third degrees of north latitude,"
all of which are well-known Arctic forms. The land birds are Falco can-
dicansy Nyctea scandiacaj PUctrophanes nivcUiSy Cortms corax^ and Lagoptu
rupestris. The waders embrace StrepdUu interpres, JSgialitis hiaticula,
Calidris arenariay Pkalarapus fulicariaj and Tringa canuta. The swim-
ming birds include Sterna macruroy Pagophila ehumeay Rissa tridactyla,
Larus glaucuSy Stercorarius UmgicaudattLSy Procellaria glacialisy Uria^grylU,
Mergulus aUe, Alca hruennichiy Colymbtu {septentriancUis 7)y Harelda glacia-
lisy Somateria mollissimay S. gpectabilis, and Bemicla brenta. Most of
them were repeatedly met with at different localities, some of them in
considerable numbers, and many were observed breeding. The quite de-
tailed notes respecting the species of this list render it a paper of imusual
interest. — J. A. A.



* Catalogue of the Alcidse contained in Museum of the Boston Society ot
Natural History, with a i-eview and proposed classification of the Family. By
W. B. Barrows. Proc. Boston Soc. Nat. Hist, Vol. XIX, pp. 150-165, No-
vember, 1877.

t List of Birds observed in Smith Sound, and in the Polar Basin during the
Arctic Expedition of 1875 - 76. By H. W. Feilden. Ibis, Fourth Series, VoL



Online LibraryNuttall Ornithological ClubBulletin of the Nuttall Ornithological Club: a quarterly jjournal of ornithology → online text (page 35 of 50)