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A History of the Birds of New Zealand.

Gallinago Aucklandica. — (Auckland-Island Snipe.)

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Gallinago Aucklandica.
(Auckland-Island Snipe.)

  • Gallinago aucklandica, Gray, Voy. Ereb. and Terr., Birds, p. 13, pl. 13 (1844).

  • Scolopax holmesi, Peale, U. S. Expl. Exp. viii. p. 229 (1848)

  • Cænocorypha aucklandica, Gray, Cat. Gen. of B. p. 119 (1855).

Ad. suprâ ochraceo-fulvescens: pileo rufescenti-brunneo, plumis medialiter nigris: lineâ verticali et supercilio latissimo stramineis: collo postico magis fulvescente, plumis medialiter nigris: dorso rufescenti-brunneo, plumis nigro irregulariter maculatis aut vermiculatis, scapularibus et dorsi plumis quibusdam stramineo marginatis: tectricibus alarum dorso concoloribus: remigibus pallidè brunneis, secundariis dorso concoloribus et eodum modo nigro maculatis et extùs latè stramineo limbatis: caudâ brunneâ, rectricibus centralibus rufescente variis, exterioribus pallidè cinerascentibus medialiter saturatioribus: facie laterali stramineâ, brunneo minutè triquetrè maculatâ, lineâ per oculum ductâ paullò saturatiore: subtùs fulvescens, gulâ et abdomine immaculatis: gutture imo, pectore superiore et laterali cum crisso rufescenti-brunneis, plumis saturatiore brunneo aut triquetrè medialiter notatis, aut transversim vermiculatis: subalaribus cinerascentibrunneis: rostro grisescenti-corneo: pedibus pallidè brunneis: iride nigrâ.

Adult. Crown of the head rufous brown, varied with dark brown, and with a narrow fulvous line down the middle; forehead and cheeks fulvous white, the former with an upward median streak of brown; from the base of the upper mandible to the anterior edge of the eyes a dull streak of the same; upper surface dark rufous brown, variegated with irregular spots of fulvous and black, especially on the back and scapulars, each feather being margined outwardly with pale fulvous, and marked with a large subterminal spot of black; underparts of the body pale fulvous, whitish on the abdomen, the breast obscurely spotted, the sides and flanks varied with rufous brown. Irides black; bill greyish brown; tarsi and toes pale brown. Length 9 inches; extent of wings 14; wing, from flexure, 4·5; tail 2; bill, along the ridge 2, along the edge of lower mandible 2·3; tarsus 1; middle toe and claw 1·5.

Young. A very young bird in Canon Tristram’s collection, with the down still adhering to the feathers, has similar plumage to the adult, but with broader margins to the feathers of the upper surface, and a larger extent of fulvous white on the abdomen.

Note. In his ‘Catalogue of New-Zealand Birds’ (p. 77), Prof. Hutton treats Gallinago pusilla as distinct from this species, and says of it:—“In its colours this bird very much resembles the figure of G. stricklandi, Gray, in the ‘Voyage of the Erebus and Terror,’ pl. 33, of which there is no description nor locality given. It, however, appears to be smaller, and to have a much shorter bill than stricklandi.”

This fine Snipe was brought from the Auckland Islands by the Antarctic Expedition in 1844, and the type specimen is in the British Museum.

If I am right in again separating the New-Zealand form, under the name of Gallinago pusilla, it would seem that the Auckland-Island species has never been met with either on our coasts or at the Chatham Islands. It has, however, been recorded from the Snares, a group of rocky islets to the south of Stewart’s Island.

Sir James Hector quite recently writes to me:—“From Antipodes Island, Captain Fairchild has brought a very interesting form of Snipe, which is larger, darker in plumage, and with a more curved bill than the Auckland-Island species.”