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A History of the Birds of New Zealand.

Phalacrocorax Chalconotus. — (Gray’s Shag.)

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Phalacrocorax Chalconotus.
(Gray’s Shag.)

  • Graucalits auritus, Gray, in Dieff. Trav. ii., App. p. 201 (1843).

  • Gracalus chalconotus, Gray, Voy. Ereb. and Terr., Birds, p. 20, pl. xxi. (1845).

  • Graculus glaucus, Bonap. Consp. Gen. Av. ii. p. 171 (1857).

Ad. pileo cristato colloque toto, dorso poatico et uropygio purpurascenti-nigris, vix viridi lavatis: interscapulio, scapularibus et tectricibus alarum brunneis, plumis sordidè viridi marginatis, tectricibus minimis purpura-scente lavatis: remigibus brunneis, secundariis olivaceo-viridi lavatis: caudâ nigrâ, scapis ad basin albis: subtùs sordidè nitidè viridis, jugulo vix purpurascente: rostro cinerascenti-brunneo, culmine saturatiore: pedibus sordidè flavis: iride thalassino-viridi.

Adult. Head, including the crest, and the whole of the neck, back, rump, and upper tail-coverts shining purplish black, glossed with green in certain lights; mantle and upper surface of wings purplish brown, each feather margined with dull shining green; the whole of the under surface shining purplish black, but not so highly glossed as the upper parts; quills dark brown, the secondaries tinged with olive; tail-feathers black, the shafts white towards the base. Irides green; bill greyish brown, darker on the ridge; legs and feet dull yellow. Total length 28 inches; wing, from flexure, 12; tail 5·5; bill, along the ridge 2·6, length from gape to extremity of lower mandible 3·5; tarsus 2·25; longest toe and claw 3·25.

Nestling. Covered with extremely thick, long, woolly down of a dull sooty-brown colour; bill dark brown, yellowish on the under mandible; lores, cheeks, and sides of the chin perfectly bare and dark coloured (black in the dried specimen); on the membrane at the base of the lower mandible, on each side, a triangular spot of orange extending from the angle of the mouth to the strip of down which passes up between the crura of the lower jaw; over the oil-gland a tuft of rather stiff, filamentous feathers of the same colour as the down.

This species is comparatively rare in New Zealand, and it has not yet been met with elsewhere.

My description of the adult is taken from Mr. Gray’s type specimen in the British Museum, which was obtained by Mr. Percy Earl at Otago, in the South Island; and more recently Dr. Finsch has identified an example of this species, forwarded to him by Prof. Hutton from the same locality.

There are several examples in the Otago Museum, and my own collection contains both adult and young.

I believe I am right in referring to this species a pair of Shags which I observed at the mouth of Port Chalmers in February 1865. I saw one of them dive, and, after a considerable interval, come to the surface with a small sea-lobster, which the bird battered to death on the surface of the water before devouring it.

On the ocean-beach near Waikanae, in the North Island, I saw in the autumn of 1882 a pair of Shags which I have no hesitation in referring to this species, as they allowed me to approach near enough to observe their burnished plumage.

Mr. Percy Seymour writes to me that he found Phalacrocorax chalconotus and P. carunculatus breeding together in the same shaggery on the Otago coast. He visited the place in August and found the young hatched out.