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A History of the Birds of New Zealand.


In order to show at a glance the scheme I have adopted for the systematic arrangement of the existing Avifauna of New Zealand, I shall give here a Synopsis of the classification, with the superficial characters of each genus as at present defined.

As the characters of the genera are given in their entirety, I have thought it unnecessary to overload this section by adding the characters of the Orders and Families, which may be obtained from any text-book*.

I do not underrate the importance of the internal organs for determining generic distinctions. “But” (as Dr. Günther says, in his Preface to vol. vii. of the British Museum Catalogue of Birds) “it seems to me that investigations in the latter direction must lead to more numerous subdivisions than Ornithologists are inclined to admit at present.”

Of every endemic group, except the Owls (which do not differ widely from the genus Carine), I have given a woodeut in illustration of one or more of the characters.

* For the generic characters I have, for the most part, relied on Mr. G. R. Gray’s ‘Genera of Birds,’ in which work, although somewhat out of date, the definitions, taken as a whole, are marvellously correct. Many of the genera have since been split up by other ornithologists, but the broad lines remain; and while following these I have not hesitated to introduce such alterations and modifications as I deemed necessary.