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The plumage is as follows--the feathers of the head and hindneck are grey, minutely tinted with rufous on the edges : those of the back, dusky black, broadly and clearly margined with red: scapulars, the same : wings-coverts, especially the lesser ones, ashy grey : quills dusky black, with shafts that are white, especially on the inner surface : upper tail-coverts having the lateral feathers, pure white : the central ones, same as the back : the tail, dusky black, tipped with rufous. Proceeding now to the bird's under surface-the throat is impure white : the neck and higher breast, pale dirty yellow : inner surface of the wings, lower breast, abdomen, thighs, vent and under tail-coverts, snowy white : beak, black : irides, dusky : feet, dusky grey.
With the large species above described, a smaller one comes to Nipal. It is, in length, barely 10 inches. Its legs have a bluish tinge over the grey colour; and the feathers of its back want that fine rufous margin which adorns those of the larger bird's back, being edged instead—and less broadly, with dirty white. In all other respects the lesser resembles the greater species. I find it extremely difficult to contra-distinguish the innumerable shadowy genera of the grallaceous birds, according to the new arrangement of them. But I believe the birds now described to be of the same genus with the
Squatarolle” of the new systems of ornithology. They come to Nipal at the same time with the Golden Plover depart hence with it, and while abiding here, seem to affect the same feeding ground with it. But then, these birds have a little toe behind, and so must quit for ever the ancient fellowship of their golden cousin !
The snipes. also make their appearance here with the birds now described, and have the same haunts and manners with them. Indeed various genera of the Grallatorial and Cursorial orders seem naturally linked together-despite the ornithologists—by the strong bond of common habits and manners : and, accordingly, the Hindustanies class all such under the head of · Chàh.'
These birds certainly convey to the untutored eye the impression of a close affinity to the snipe-tribe, owing to the prevalent similarity of their wings, bill and legs--of their quasi-game plue mage—and of their babits, to those of the snipe. But, more criti cally examined, they are found to differ (perhaps materially) from that genus in possessing a bill very considerably shorter in proportion to their size—in having only the two outer front toes united at their base--and' a plumage which, tho' bearing a similar gamelike stamp, varies materially in detail from the snipes.
As above indicated, I suppose these birds to belong to the new genus Squatarolle, the generic character of it answering
* The solitary species of the new genas is that which the old ornithologista ranked with the Plovers, and distinguished by the epithet "grey.
sufficiently well,* the size of its single described species tallying exactly with that of my larger bird and even the colours, of the irides, legs and bill of that species, being those of the same parts of both
birds. THESE birds therefore agree with the Squatarolle in generic character; and the larger one differs solely in the pointing of its plumage. That difference is, however, almost entire. And further, my two birds are too diverse in size to be confounded under one species. I therefore conclude them to be two new species of this new and cacophonous genus ; unless indeed the larger bird be merely a variety of the species entitled "grey.”
z. P. S.- The playful allusion, in the above description, to the Temoval of the Squatarolle, not only from the genus Plover, but also from the order containing that genus, was founded on the arrangement followed by Shaw in the body of his great work. That arrangement, however, (as I have since discovered), is altered in the concluding volumes, which form a kind of supplement to the work, and the Squatarolle restored to the same order and family with the Plover. If I were permitted to name the two birds described, I would-supposing them to be nameless as yet-call the larger one, snipe-backed Squatarolle; and the smaller one, the little Squatarolle.
PHEASANT OF NIPAL.
PHASIANUS Nipalensis - Khalidge Lophyrus Cuvieri?
(Shaw 14. 300.) This elegant bird is in size and shape very like our English Pheasant. It measures twenty-two inches from beak to tail; of which the tail alone is eleven inches. Its bill is about as long as the head; thickened ; convex above; tip bent down; base naked. The nostrils are lateral, basal, half covered with an arched scale. The feet are four-toed : anterior toes connected at the base by a membrane : tarsi with moderate-sized, sharp, incurved spurs. The wings are short and rounded. The ears are covered. The tail is very long, compressed, and slightly bent down--especially the points of its central feathers, which are considerably longer than the rest, and also slightly bifurcate at their extremities. There are 14 feathers in the tail which are placed in pairs—the lowest, shortest, and each successive pair gradually increasing in size. The
That is, as far as it goes. But methinks I can spy deficiencies in this generic character, which could not have been fitted up without obscuring the obscure diagnostics of this new genus. For example, the nostrils are not mere. ly lateral” but also linear--and so far like the Plorer's. Again, the tip of the bill is not merely " tumid and abtuse," but also rugose - and so far like the snipe's, &c. &c.
region of the eyes and the cheeks have a naked, rough-grained, blood-red skin, which is pointed in front and reaches to the base of the bill; is rounded behind; and prolonged beneath into a very small wattle falling just below the edge of either cheek. The head is furnished with a delicate pendant crest composed of about 18 feathers, having loose webs that do not project, as usual, from their shafts, but slope parallel to them and lie discomposedly close to them. The feathers of the crest are of various lengths, the central ones longest and reaching to top of the back. The feathers of the breast and upper stomach are elongated, narrow, and pointed like a Cock's--the rest of the feathers of a square form.
Of the plumage it may be said, in general, that its prevalent and radical colour is dull or souty black-highly glossed on the bird's upper surface, with violet and green and variegated on the lower back and breast with white. It may be as well, however, to be more particular on this head, as there is a printed description of the Khalidge by no means strictly accurate.
The bill is, at its basal part, black-green, towards the point, steenish white or horn colour: the legs, grey: the irides, dull red dish brown. The crest, the neck, (above and below), the back, the scapulars, wings-converts nearest the body and tail, are dull black--but so richly glossed with violet as to seem of this colour : the shafts of all these feathers (save those of the tail, which are black) white. The feathers of the higher back are, besides, minutely edged with impure white-those of the lower back and the upper tail coverts margined with a broad, snowy white zone.
The wings-converts——those excepted which are nearest the body and before mentioned-are dull black, glossed with green: the quills (shafts and all) dusky brown and unglossed. Proceeding to the bird's inferior surface we have the neck beneath, same as above: junction of neck and breast, dirty wbite: breast and higher stomach, pure white : lower stomach, vents and under tail-covert, sooty, with white shafts and minutely tipped with white : thighs, sooty. The bird's under surface is entirely void of gloss except on the neck; where the line of the violet glows in all its beauty, as on the upper surface. The female is rather less than the male : her tail is shorter; and she has no crest on the head ; her colour, reddish brown, variegated with black, and in a word, resembling the plumage of the English hen-pheasant, the tarsi have blunt knobs,
IN manners the Khalidge agrees with the Pheasant. It tenants those parts of the mountains between the Gagra and the Teesta, which are about equidistant from the snows on one hand, and the plains of India on the other. In the woods that skirt the valley of Nipal it is particularly abundant.
There is a variety (or another species) of the Khalidge found somewhat nearer the snows, which is characterised by its white crest, yellow bill, and yellowish grey legs. In other respects, it is like the common Khalidge.
The Khalidge is described by Stevens and ranged (apparently by Cuvieri in the first instance) under the genus • Monaul: most inaccurately; for it wants every one of the diagnostics assigned to that genus, and doubtless is a Pheasant, though it has some seemingly closer points of affinity to the Cock.
The figure given by Stevens (14.300) might serve tolerably to represent the Impegan Monaul, or the Chêer (which is also a Monaul), but is totally unlike the slight and elegant Khalidge-of which, by the way, there has long been before the world a very faithful drawing, in Kirkpatrick's Nipal.
I have said that the Khalidge has some points of affinity to " the Cock." These are its compressed tail of 14 feathers—the sharp incurved spurs on its tarsi, and the elongation and pointedness of its breast feathers. On the other hand, its ears are covered like the Pheasant's—and its head, legs, size, figure and man. ners belong rather to the Pheasant than to the Cock.
As to the bill, nostrils, and feet, comparing the generic character of these parts of the 2 genera in Shaw, I can see no difference, but only a greater detail in respect to the Cock. Those fuller details hold true in regard to the Khalidge—its“ anterior toes being united at the base". “ its beak being convex above" as well as thickened and bent down at tip—and lastly, its nostrils being not only basal and lateral, but also “half covered with an arched scale."
I dare not draw any inference from these nice facts; but I own my impression is that they are of no weight; and that the Khalidge) such as he has been described) is decidedly a Pheasant.
Z. Nipal, September, 1828.
P. S.-Why is this bird called after a Frenchman ?—“ Lophyrus Cuvieri.” Have we, as usual, allowed the foreigner to rifle us of our own treasures? If so, it is a sort of comfort to see what a poor affair they have made of this bird after all. If Cuvier described it, it was doubtless from a single, dead and injured specimen. No one who has seen the Khalidge alive can doubt the figure of it in Shaw-borrowed from Cuvier—was drawn from a dead bird. Why could not the learned Frenchman adopt Mr. Davies's admirable drawing from life which has been published, these 20 years past, in Kirkpatrick ?
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