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■irij

THE BIRDS OF AUSTRALIA.

a

\

THE

BIRDS

OF

AUSTRALIA

BY

GREGORY M. MATHEWS

F .E) . S . E ,

MEMBER OF THE AUSTRALIAN ORNITHOLOGISTS’ UNION AND THE BRITISH ORNITHOLOGISTS’ UNION

CORRESPONDING FELLOW OF THE AMERICAN ORNITHOLOGISTS’ UNION

WITH HAND-COLOURED PLATES

VOLUME V.

WITHERBY & CO.

326 HIGH HOLBORN LONDON

1916—1916

COINTENTS

AND

LIST OF PLATES.

PAGE

Order FALCONIFORMES 1

Genus CIRCUS 10

No. 291. Spotted Harrier, Circus assimilis .... 18

Plate 234 lettered Circus rogersi, to face . . . . 18

No. 292. Allied Harrier (Swamp-Hawk),^ Circus apfroximans 24 Plate 235 lettered Circus gouldi^ to face .... 24

Genus LEUCOSPIZA 34

No. 293. Grey Goshawk, Leucospiza cinerea .... 36

Plate 236 lettered Astur clarus, to face . . . . 36

No. 294. White Goshawk, Leucospiza novcehollandice . . 43

Plate 237 lettered Astur novoehollandicB, to face . \^\ . 43

Genus UROSPIZA 54

No. 295. Australian Goshawk, Urospiza fasciata . . . 56

Plate 238 lettered Astur cruentus, to face .... 56

Genus ACCIPITER 73

No. 296. Collared Sparrow-Hawk, Accipiter cirrhocephalus . 76

Plate 239 lettered Accipiter cirrhocephalus, to face . . 76

V.

THE BIEDS OF AUSTRALIA.

Genus ERYTHROTRIORCHIS

No. 297. Red Goshawk, Erythrotriordiis mdiatus

Plate 240 lettered Erythrotriorchis rufotibia, to face

Genus UROAETUS

No. 298. Wedge-tailed Eagle (Eagle-Hawk), Uroaetus avdax Plate 241 lettered UroaMus audax, to face . . . .

Genus HIERAAETUS

No. 299. Little Eagle, Hieraaetus pennatus . . . .

Plate 242 lettered Eutolmaetus morphnoides, to face

Genus BUTASTUR

White-eyed Buzzard, Butastur teesa . . . . .

Genus CUNCUMA

No. 300. White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Cuncuma leucogaster Plate 243 lettered Haliaeetus leucogaster, to face .

Genus HALIASTUR .........

No. 301. White-headed Sea-Eagle (Red-backed Sea-Eagle), Haliastur Indus ........

Plate 244 lettered Haliastur leucosternus, to face .

No. 302. Whistlihg-Eagle, Haliastur sphenurus Plate 245 lettered Haliastur sphenurus, to face .

Genus MILVUS ..........

No. 303. Allied Kite, Milvus migrans . . . . .

Plate 246 lettered Milvus affinis, to face . . . .

Genus LOPHOICTINIA

No. 304. Square-tailed Kite, Lophoictinia isura .

Plate 247 lettered Lophoictinia isura, to face

PAGE

84

87

87

94

95 95

116

118

118

127

129

131

133

133

145

147

147

160

160

170

171 171

181

182

182

VI.

CONTENTS.

PAGE

Genus GYPOICTINIA

No. 306. Black-breasted Buzzard, Oypoictinia melanosterna Plate 248 lettered Gypoictinia decepta, to face

187

188 188

Genus ELANUS .......

No. 306. Black-shouldered Kite, Elanus notatus Plate 249 lettered Elanus axillaris, to face

No. 307. Letter-winged Kite, Elanus scriptus Plate 250 lettered Elanus scriptus, to face .

197

199

199

208

208

Genus LOPHASTUE 211

No. 308. Crested Hawk, Lophastur suhcristatus . . .216

Plate 251 lettered Baza suhcristata, to face . . . 216

Genus FALCO 221

No. 309. Little Falcon, Falco longipennis .... 226

Plate 252 lettered Falco longipennis, to face . . . 226

No. 310. Grey Falcon, Falco hypoleucus .... 234

Plate 253 lettered Falco hypoleucos, to face . . . 234

Genus EHYNCHODON 240

No. 311. Black-cheeked Falcon, BJiyncJiodon peregrinus . 241

Plate 254 lettered Rhynchodon submelanogenys, to face . 241

Genus NOTOFALCO

No. 312. Black Falcon, Notofalco suhniger

Plate 255 lettered Notofalco suhniger, to face

Genus lEEACIDEA .......

No. 313. Brown Hawk, leracidea berigora

Plate 256 lettered leracidea occidentalis, to face .

252

253 253

259

260 260

Genus CEECHNEIS

No. 314. Nankeen Kestrel, CercJineis cencJiroides .

Plates 257 and 258 lettered CercJineis cencJiroides and G. unicolor, to face

281

283

283

vu.

THE BIRDS OF AUSTRALIA.

PAGE

Genus PANDIOK 293

No. 315. White-headed Osprey (Fish-hawk), Pandion Jialimtus 295 Plate 259 lettered Pandion. cristatus, to face . . . 295

Order STEIGIFORMES 303

Genus SPILOGLAUX 308

No. 316. Boobook Owl, Spiloglaux novceseelandice . . . 309

Plates 260, 261, 262 and 263 lettered Spiloglaux mixta ; ,

8. halmaturina /' 8. howeri 8. clelandi, to face . . . 309

Genus HIEEACOGLAUX . . . . . . . .334

No. 317. Winking Owl, Hieracoglaux connivens . . . 335

Plate 264 lettered Hieracoglaux occidentalism to face . . 335

Genus EHABDOGLAUX . 349

No. 318. Eueous Owl, Rhabdoglaux rufa .... 350

Plates 265 and 266 lettered Rhabdoglaux m/u,and Rhabdoglaux queenslandica,^ to face ....... 350

Genus BEENEYOENIS 355

No. 319. Powerful Owl, Berneyornis strenuus .... 356

Plate 267 lettered Hieracoglaux strenua, to face . . 356

Genus TYTO ... 360

No. 320. Delicate Owl, Tyto alba ..... 365

Plate 268 lettered Tyto delicatula, to face .... 365

No. 321. Masked Owl, Tyto novmhollandice .... 373

Plates 269, 270, 271 and 272 lettered Tyto novcehollxindice ;

Tyto castanops ; Tyto kimberli ; Tyto melvillensiSm to face 373

No. 322. Grass-Owl, Tyto longimembris ..... 398

Plate 273 lettered Tyto walleri, to face .... 398

vm.

CONTENTS.

Genus MEGASTEIX

No. 323. Sooty Owl, Megastrix tenehricosa

Plate 274 lettered Megastrix multipunctata, to face

APPENDIX

INDEX

ix.

PAGE

402

404

404

411

425

PREFikCE.

The completion of my Fifth Volume sees the world still at war but the ornithological world at peace, probably through the pre-occupation of ornithological students in the greater study. Certainly all the younger generation are otherwise engaged than attacking ornithological problems, commonly attacking a more intricate and complex problem. Nevertheless, let us hope that ere I am called upon to compose the Preface to another volume, the success of the younger ornithologists in the greater venture will have given them the well-earned leisure to continue peaceful inquiries among the avian fauna of their native land.

Consequently the present opportunity simply serves to reiterate my thanks for the continued assistance given me by my valued friends Captain S. A. White, Dr. W. MacgUlivray, Messrs. T. Carter, H. L. White, J. W. Mellor and E. Ashby amongst others. I would mention that some have raised an objection to my criticisms of fellow Australian workers, judging them to be too severe. I would emphasize the fact that no personal belittling was intended, and that all my remarks should be read in the impersonal manner in which they are written. My only aim is to secure the truth and put the Australian Avifauna into such a state that my successors will be able to treat it with the fewest complications, and to this end criticism is sometimes necessary, though never a pleasing task.

GEEGORY M. MATHEWS.

Foulis Court,

Fair Oak, Hants.

1th August, 1916,

XI,

Order— F ALCONIFORMES.

I USE this name in preference to the one hitherto used by me, foUowing Sharpe in the Handlist,” viz., Accipitriformes, as it is based on the oldest genus name in the group. As a matter of fact Vultur has page precedence, but the exact position of Vultur cannot be said to be settled. The genus does not occur in Australia, and as there proves to be serious disagreement as to the actual relationship of that genus I prefer to make use of the above term.

The Order covers birds of various sizes and forms, but all the members are easily recognised from those of any other group, save the following, by superficial characters, viz., the sharp-hooked bill with a cere at the base and the powerful feet provided with sharp-hooked claws.

These show the birds to be predaceous in nature, and for that reason they were long placed at the head of the Avian system.

Linne, in 1758, began his Aves with the Accipiters, his genera being Vultur, Falco, Strix and Lanius. The admission of the last-named genus seems strange at the present time, but it was of consistent inclusion.

The recognition of the Birds of Prey at the head of affairs lasted almost a hundred years without cliallenge, and it must be remembered that the famous Catalogue of the Birds in the British Museum began in 1873 with this group. Their position had, however, been ridiculed by the greatest student of the group, viz. Kaup, some thirty years previously. The exact relationship is not perfectly defined even at the present time, and I here give a short account of the vicissitudes of the constituents of the group. I, how- ever, cannot hope to throw any light upon the phylogeny of the family, as they offer a most perfect example of convergence in evolution, or llomoplasy, in almost every direction. Superficially they* are so alike that one must grasp the slightest characters that are offered to define the genera. Gler ra-splitting has become universal, and the more study a worker has given this group the more genera has he recognised. This is also seen, as will hereafter be recorded, in the work of the osteologist, who has shown genera regarded superficially as closely related to be internally very different and who, moreover, has recognised that genera doubtfully so considered are very peculiarly defined when their osteology is consulted. Under such circumstances genus-splitting is the only course really available.

VOL. V.

1

THE BIRDS OF AUSTRALIA.

and the names utilised in my List of the Birds of Australia will be generally maintained here.

For the purpose of these notes it would not be worth while going back beyond 1840, when G. R. Gray, in his List of the Genera of Birds, divided his Order Accipitres into two suborders: “A. diumi^^ and “A. noctumi.^^ The latter will be discussed later.

The “A. diurni was divided into two families, Vulturidae and Falconidse, the former of which had no Australian representatives. The latter was divided into seven subfamilies, viz., Polyborinse, Buteoninse, Aquilinse, Falconinse, Milvinae, Accipitrinse and Circinse.

Numerous genera were recognised, many of which have since been further subdivided, though some of the ones there admitted have been recently rejected, probably on account of lack of deep study of this family.

The monographic study made of this group by Kaup shortly afterwards was not accepted in its entirety mainly on account of the views held by that author. Kaup published a long account in 1844, and adding to it in the Isis 1845-8, then published in Jardine’s Contributions to Ornithology 1849-51 a r^ume, with additions and corrections. I wiU deal with the last-named article only.

J. J. Kaup was probably the most philosophical ornithologist of his time and he became captivated by the Macleay quinary system.” This apparently futile system captured the brains of some of the cleverest heads of Europe and Kaup fell a victim to it. The idea is so dead now that it is quite probable that many of my readers have never heard of it, and as the founder has a sentimental interest of the greatest value to Australians, I would here make a few notes regarding it.

A very recently published comment of a practically contemporaneous worker may be here cited. In the Journ. Proc. Royal Soc. N. S. Wales, Vol. XLVIII., pp. 141-151, 1914, Hedley has reprinted the “Australian Journal of Dr. W. Stimpson.” On p. 146 is reprinted the note made by that voyageur in Sydney on the 29th Dec., 1853, as follows : I spent this day in the city examining Wilcox’s collection. That gentleman gave me some curious accoimts of some naturalists whom I had long known by reputation, but did not dream of finding in propria persona in this part of the world. He informed me that Macleay, the originator of the circular theory of classification in natural history, was now residing at this place and that Swainson, who carried out that theory so fully in zoology (see his works in Lardner’s Cyclopedia) was now wandering in these parts, poor and neglected, though still hopelessly moping over zoological subjects, though old and past

FALCONIFORMES.

active and useful labor in the field of science. As I listened to Wilcox’s account, the conceit entered my mind that these two men were banished, as it were, from the scientific world of the Atlantic shores, for the great crime of burdening zoology with the false though much labored theory which has thrown so much confusion into the subject of its classification and philosophical study.”

It is probable a different view may now be taken of Macleay’s theory, inasmuch as it endowed Swainson with the desire to test its working and consequently, as in many other cases, a wrong theory is better than none at all. It is more than probable that the theory and its great advocacy by many master minds was responsible for more accurate work by its opponents and this would entail greater research and consequently greater benefits would accrue.

The theory was an intricate one, which endeavoured to see analogies to a quinary cycle of life in every object, and workers such as Swainson and Kaup set out to prove this. The necessity of seeing these analogies demanded close attention to the objects under observation and this close application was necessarily conducive of new results. That these observations were wrongly construed is at present a matter of small import : the fact that they were put on record constitutes the great value of the work. Kaup, then, being enamoured of this theory, took up the Birds of Prey as a suitable object of study, and his first result was their dethronement. He then criticised all the birds available to recognise and fix; his analogies, as demanded by his theory, and discovered many new facts. His diagnoses in the paper under notice show how carefully he examined the birds. His writings show him to have been careful and thoughtful and he was one of the first to recognise that monography was the only real means of advancement. He came to England to study the birds in the British Museum, and then observed that had he the whole of the specimens of one family from every Museum in his own place he could do better work by studying that one family thoroughly than in any other way. Scores of years afterward his dictum is absolutely true. Yet he laboured under the false theory so much despised by Stimpson. It seems, here, that the theory was productive of good, though itself inherently bad.

Kaup’s conclusions as shown in the Contributions can be summarized thus. It was the object of the theory to show that all nature was divisible into series of fives, and the first was closely related to the fifth so that a circle was completed. Consequently he divided the family Falconidse into five subfamilies, commencing with the Falconinse, followed by Milvinse, then Accipitrinse, then Aquilinse, and lastly Buteoninse, which was considered

3

THE BIRDS OF AUSTRALIA.

as approaching, in many respects, the Falconinae again. The difficulty of being tied down to such a system is obvious : each form must fall into these five, and as each subfamily again was only allowed five genera and each genus five subgenera, the limits of the Falconidse was one hundred and twenty-five subgenera. I have not studied the system to see if each subgenus was limited to five species, but if so the species were also absolutely limited. To this drawback was contrasted the fact that many generic and subgeneric forms to fit into the circle had not been discovered, so that if a genus or subgenus were becoming overcrowded, the species could be drafted into another circle. Such an ingenious arrangement seems quite unnatural and met with violent opposition which soon killed it, yet the workers who were attracted by it were the most accurate and persevering of their day.

Kaup then divided the subfamily Falconinse into the genera Hierax, Tinnunculus, Harpagus, Falco and leracidea. The first, thirds and fifth proved indivisible, but the second and fourth provided a full quinary complement of subgenera, viz., Polihierax, Eryihropus, PoecilorniSy Tichornis and Tinnunculus in the first case, and Aesalon, Hypotriorchis, Gennaia, Falco and Hierofalco in the other.

In a similar manner the other subfamilies and genera were split up. The majority of these divisions were first proposed by Kaup^ and if Kaup did nothing else he made other workers look at the birds to see whether the differences he recorded existed or not. That is the one advantage of splitting, and it must be as applicable to genera as species. It is a remark- able fact that almost every worker who devotes himself to a group becomes a genus-splitter, and only superficial observers continue genus-lumping. We have not yet studied any group so fully that we can dogmatise what is a genus or not : a genus must be a natural association of species ; if the association of species be proved unnatural on any grounds, then the best purpose will be served by disintegration. Thus, Falco was subdivided by Kaup, as noted above, and it will be observed that he admitted Tinnunculus { CercJineis of this time) and Erythropus. Genus- lumpers would include these latter again in Falco, urging that the last named is a connecting link. I will discuss this item more fully later on, bht I would here state that CercJineis seems absolutely differentiated, and, if included, no line can be drawn with accuracy. The usage of a different name is a slight matter if better definition is thereby secured. If it be convenient to handle hundreds of trinomials, why should convenience stick at a few different generic names ? Kaup’s subdivisions have been more or less admitted since his day and they have been transferred backwards and forwards in endeavours to provide natural systems.

hi

4

FALC0NIF0RME8.

G. R. Gray, the foremost British ornithologist of the last century, in Ms Handlist of Birds, Part I., 1869, divided the Accipitres into four Families, viz-i Gypaetidse, Vulturidse, Falconidse and Serpentariidae. The Falconidae only concern us, and this was separated into the same seven subfamilies he had admitted in 1840. Thus, as regards the larger divisions. Gray had not been influenced by Kaup’s work and arguments, for the latter explicitly states that he discussed his ideas with Gray, and though agreeing in details they had agreed to amicably differ on the larger questions. Soon afterwards Sharpe monographed these birds in the first volume of the Catalogue of Birds, His ideas were somewhat immature, as he had no previous interest in the group as an asset. He admitted two suborders, Falcones and Pandiones : the former was divided into two families, Vulturidse and Falconidse, the latter again into four subfamilies, Polyborinse, Buteoninse, Aquilinse and Falconinse.

The chief result of this Catalogue was its criticism by J. H. Gurney during a period of almost ten years. This worker had made a specialistic study of the group and was admittedly competent to provide a review of Sharpe’s work. The articles in the Ihis from 1875 to 1882 dealing with the species, one by one, show the capability of the writer. This survey was completed by a List, as Gurney arranged the Order. This List is a remarkable example of the splitting of the specialist, and I here reproduce Gurney’s system down to subgenera, as it is certainly the most complete yet provided from a study of skins.

Family Serpentariidse. Genus Serpentarius.

Family Cathartidsa. Genera Sarcorhamphus, Gyparchus, Pseudogry- phus, Rhinogryphus and Catharista.

Family Vulturidse. Genera Vultur (subgenus Lophogyps), Otogyps, Gyps, Pseudogyps and Neophron.

Family Falconidee with thirteen subfamilies.

I. Subfamily Gypaetinse. Genus Gypaetus.

II. Subfamily Gypohieracinse. Genus Gypohierax.

III. Subfamily Polyborinse. Genera Polyborus, Senex, Phalcobsenus,

Milvago, Daptrius and Ibycter.

IV. Subfamily Circaetinse. Genera Herpetotheres, CircaetuSj, Spilornis,

Dryotriorchis, Eutriorchis and Helotarsus.

V. Subfamily Gymnogenynse. Genus Polyboroides.

VI. Subfamily Circinse. Genus Circus.

VII. Subfamily Accipitrinse. Genera Micrastur, Geranospizias, Uro- triorchis, Melierax, Asturinula, Astur, Lophospizias, Nisoides, Scelospizias, Erythrospizias, Tachyspizias, Leucospizias,

5

THE BIEDS OF AUSTRALIA.

Urospizias, Accipiter (subgenus Cooperastiir), Erythrotriorcliis and Mega triorchis.

VIII. Subfamily Thrasaetin^. Genera Morphnus, Harpyopsis and Thrasaetus.

IX. Subfamily Aquilin se. Genera Spizaetus, Limnaetus, Lophotrior- chis, Lophoaetus, Neopus, Spiziastur^ Nisaetus, Aquila and Uroaetus.

X. Subfamily Haliaetinae. Genera Tlialassaetus, Haliaetus and

Polioaetus.

XI. Subfamily Buteoninse. Genera Archibuteo, Buteo, Antenor,

Onychotes, Buteola, Rupornis, Butastur, Asturina, Geranoaetus, Leucopternis, Urubitinga, Harpyhaliaetus, Heterospizias, Buteogallus and Busarellus.

XII. Subfamily Milvinse. Genera Haliastur, Milvus (subgenus Lophoic- tinia), Gypoictinia, Elanoides, Nauclerus, Gampsonyx, Elanus, Ictinia, Rostrhamus, Machserirhamphus, Pernis, Henicopemis, Regerhinus, Leptodon and Baza.

XIII. Subfamily Falconinse. Genera Harpagus, Microhierax, Poliohierax, * Spiziapteryx, Dissodectes, Harpa, Hieracidea, Tinnunculus

(subgenus Erythropus), Hypotriorchis, Aesalon, Chicquera and Falco (with subgenera Gennaia and Hierofalco).

Family Pandionidse. Genus Pandion.

Since Gurney’s time no one has paid much attention to this group as a whole, and consequently we have not the advantage of any accurate criticism of the above. It is obvious that a worker, such as myself, dealing with a few species from a circumscribed locality only, cannot make a detailed reconsideration of the preceding, and can only deal with a few points. Moreover, such criticism is of a temporary character and may be modified at any time by the accession of more material and further study.

Sharpe, in the Handlist Gen. Sp. Birds, Vol. 1.^ 1899, somewhat improved his 1874 classification, although practically rejecting Gurney’s scheme. Sharpe’s emendation shows the recognition of three suborders, Serpentarii, Accipitres and Pandiones. The second named has two families, Vulturidse and Falconidse ; the latter five subfamilies, viz., Polyborin^, Accipitrinac, Buteoninse, Gypsetinse and Aquilinse.

I would now deal with a classification of the Falconiformes founded on osteological study which appeared in the Proc. Zool. Soc. (Lond.) 1902, pp. 314-316. There Pycraft, after studying the group for some time, accepted Suschkin’s classification. The latter had made a speciahstic study of the osteology of the group in the same manner as Gurney had studied

6

FALCOMFORMES.

the skins. The result is the same, inasmuch as Suschkin proves to be a splitter scarcely inferior to Gurney. Pycraft wrote : My study of this group has convinced me of the soundness of Rr. Suschkin’s conclusions.

. . . What follows is practically an embodiment of Dr. Suschkin’s views in toto : where I have had to interpret him, that is to say where I have endeavoured to express what I believe to have been his views, I hope I have done him justice.”

I here transfer this arrangement as written by Pycraft, as it expresses the views of the osteologist at the present time upon this admittedly difficult group judged from skins only.

“The suborder, then, of the Accipitres is divided into two Families, the Falconidse and the Buteonidse.

The family Falconidse is to be divided into two subfamilies : (1) the

Falconince, (2) the Polyhorince. The former includes the genera Harpa, Herpetotheres, Micrastur, Microhiemx, Poliohierax, Tinnunculus, Hypo- triorchis, Hierofalco and Falco. The subfamily Polyborinse embraces the genera Milvago, Senex, Phalcohcenus and Polyborus. The family Buteonidse is divided into some eleven or twelve subfamilies, though about this I am not quite clear, as Suschkin has not definitely expressed himseK on this point. But he would apparently recognise the following ; Elanince, Pemince, Milvince, Aquilince, Thrasaetinm, Vulturince, CircaUince, Polyborinm, Circince, Uruhitingince, Buteonince and Accipitrince.

In the Elaninse are included Elanus and Machcerhamphus. In the Perninse, Pernis, Bam, Elanoides, Leptodon and Pandion. But from views he expressed in conversation, he would, I suspect, probably make a separate subfamily for Pandion Pandioninse ; and most, I think, wiU feel this advisable.

“The Milvinae include Milvus, Haliastur and Haliaetus, with, apparently, Ictinia, Eostrhamus and Polioaetus. HaliaUus, there can be little doubt, has nothing to do with the Eagles. Polioaetus Suschkin shows to be undeniably distinct from Pandion. The plantar tendons, as h^ proved by a dissection made in this Museum, are of the Accipitrine type : the skeleton in no way resembles that of Pandion : on the contrary;, the pelvis and breastbone, so characteristic in Pandion, bear a quite extraordinary resemblance to those of Haliaetus. The outer toe is not more reversible than in ordinary Accipitres. HaliaUus, TJialassaUus, and Polioaetus might weU be made to form a separate subfamily, Haliaetince. The subfamily Aquilinse includes Aquila, Uroaetus, Spimetus, Nisaetus and Lophoaetus. The Thrasaetinae contain Morphnus and Thrasaetus. This brings us to the Vulturince. By most, this subfamily is regarded as of more importance

7

THE BIRDS OF AUSTRALIA.

than is allowed in the present scheme, Gadow and Sharpe, for example, according it the rank of a family. That the Vultures have undergone a considerable amount of specialization there can be no doubt: but it seems equally certain that they are not far removed from the CircaUince. Suschkin recognises evidence of two distinct branches in this family GypoTiierax standing at the base of one, and leading to Neophron and Gyps : Gypaetus at the base of the other, and leading to Vultur and Otogyps. The Gircaetinse includes Circaetus, Geranospizias, Helotarsus and Spilornis. Closely allied and intermediate between it and the next subfamily the Gircinse comes the highly specialised Polyborinsc. It seems to me that this subfamily might perhaps as well be included in the Gircinse, with which, as Dr. Suschkin shows, it has many characters in common, and in this I can confirm him.

"‘The Gircinse embrace Circus, Geranospizias, Urotriorchis and Strigiceps. The Urubitinginse I have added on my own responsibility. Dr. Suschkin speaks of them as isolated forms related to the Circaetince.

“The Buteoninae include Buteo, Archibuteo, T achy triorchis, GeranoaUus, Rupornis, Leucopternis, and apparently Busarellus, Butastur, Antenor and Asturinula. In the Accipitrinse Dr. Suschkin includes Accipiter, Astur, Melierax, Urospizias, Lophospizias, Scelospizias and Nisoides.’^

Py craft added: “Though we cannot regard this scheme as .final, yet, it must be admitted, it is one which is in many respects an advance upon previous arrangements of this most difficult of groups. In its construction an attempt has been made to follow the lines of phylogenetic descent, the only satisfactory basis of classification, yet a peculiarly difficult one in all questions of a vain descent, owing to the lack of annectant fossil forms.”

An obvious mistake in this scheme is the admission of the subfamily Polyborinse twice, once under Falconidse and then under Buteonid8e. A gratifying point is the recognition from osteological characters of the genera Tinnunculus, Hypotriorchis, Hierofalco and Faho. That certain Australian forms are not genericaUy recognised, as leracidea, Hieraaetus, etc., may be put down to lack of material and not to absolute rejection. It must be admitted that special study, either given to external or internal characters, has led to the same result, a great splitting, which proves the difficulty of this group.

The few forms occurring in Australia prohibit the investigation of the entire group in this place, but the preceding notes should be of value as showing the location of the Australian species.

I would point out that in this group, once more, a peculiar endemism is observed, but here it is seen to be obviously due to specialization and

8

FALGONIFORMES.

all the forms are highly developed, and we find none that suggests a southern origin in any way, but all are readily placed as derivatives of northern stock. This would agree with the phylogeny of the group.

Moreover, study of this group leads to the conclusion that there has been two distinct migrations from the north, and I will deal more fully with the particular instance of the two species of Haliastur. Thus, while we have specialised forms such as Circus assimilis^ Leucospiza, Erythrotriorchis, UroaetuSf Haliastur sphenurus, Lophoictinia, Gypoictinia, Notofalco, and Icracidca^ we have living alongside species apparently strictly referable to Circus, Accipiter, Hieraaetus, Butastur, Cuncuma, Haliastur indus, Milvus, Elanus, Baza, Falco, Rhynchodon, Cerchneis, and Paudion. These latter are all closely related to Indian, European or otherwise extra-limital forms with a wide distribution, and would appear to have arrived in Australia at a more recent date than the former. It might be argued that these might have arrived simultaneously, but being older forms have not been subject to variation to the extent of the species showing generic differentiation allied to endemism. I think this view is contradicted by the two species of Haliastur, and that this contradiction is confirmed by the Notofalco and leracidea. The fact that the New Zealand Hawk is also considered separable as Nesierax, and the nearest relative of this genus is at present supposed to be leracidea, I would cite as evidence of the descent of both from a northern ancestor. After much consideration I, however, conclude that a detailed examination of the osteology of all the species is necessary before conclusive speculation can be profitably indulged in.

VOL. V.

9

Genus C I E C U S .

Type C. mruginosus.

Type C. pygargus.

Type C. pygargus. Type C. pygargus.

Type C. nmcropterus.

Type G. assimilis. Type G. pygargus.

Medium-sized Aquiline birds with short bills, long wings, long tail and long legs with rather small feet. The word Aquiline is here used in the sense of the classification of Suschkin, who separates the Aquiline birds from the Falconine.

The biU is small, sharply hooked, with a cere at the base in which the nostrils are placed ; the under edges of the upper mandible are sinuated but not toothed ; the bill is deep at the base and rather broad ; the nostrils are oval apertures placed near the cuhnen ridge, with no bony obstruction apparent internally : they are hidden by bristles developed on the lores ; the under mandible is shallow, not hooked.

The wings are long, with the first primary short, the third or fourth longest, the first four quills emarginate on both webs. The tail is composed of twelve feathers more than half the length of the wing.

The legs are long, the toes rather short ; the tibia is also long but covered with feathers which extend on to fore portion of the tarsus but not on the back.

Gmcus Daudin, Hist. Nat. Buffon, ed. Didot, Quadr. Vol. XIV., p. 221, 1802 (ex Lacepede Tabl. Ois., p. 4, 1799 ; nom. nud.)

Pygargus Koch, Syst. Baier. Zool., pp. xxxii., 127, 1816

Strigiceps Bonaparte, Comp. List Birds of Europe and N. America, p. 5, 1838 (ex Giom. Arcad. Eoma, Vol. XLIX., p. 36, 1831 : nom. nud.)

Glaucopterix Kaup^ Class. Saugeth. u Vogeh p. 113, 1844 . .

Also spelt

OlaiUMpteryx Kaup, Mua. Senckenb., Vol. III., p. 258, 1845.

Spizacircus Kaup, Mus. Senckenb. ^ Vol. III., p. 258, 1845

Also spelt

Spiziacircus Kaup, Archiv. fur Naturg., 1850, p. 32.

Spilocircus Kaup, Isis 1847, p. 89

Pterocircus Kaup, Archiv. fiir Naturg., 1850, p. 32

10

CIRCUS.

The tarsus is more than twice the length of the culmen and less than one-third the length of the tail. The tarsal covering consists of transverse scutes in front and small reticulations on the sides, but larger ones with the appearance of irregular scutes on the back, more pronounced towards the toes : in immature birds the nature of the tarsal covering is obvious, but in the adult the tendency is to fusion ; this tendency becomes very pronounced in very old examples and especially in those of Circus assimilis^ where at the first glance the fusion both as regards the front and back often appears complete.

Exactly the same thing may be seen in species of Astur (sensu lato) and AccipiteTy so that it is most necessary to carefully examine immature birds to judge this feature.

The wing formulae of the species varies to a slight extent, and as a genus Strigiceps has