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A History of the Birds of New Zealand.

Steepsilas Interpres. — (Turnstone.)

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Steepsilas Interpres.

  • Tringa interpres, Linn. Syst. Nat. i. p. 248 (1766).

  • Tringa morinella, Linn. Syst. Nat. i. p. 249 (1776).

  • Tringa hudsonica, Müller, Syst. Nat. Suppl. p. 114 (1766).

  • Morinella collaris, Meyer and Wolf, Tasch. deutsch. Vögelk. ii. p. 383 (1810).

  • Charadrius cinclus, Pall. Zoogr. Rosso-As. ii. p. 148 (1811).

  • Strepsilas interpres, Illiger, Prodr. p. 263 (1811).

  • Strepsilas collaris, Temm. Man. d’Orn. i. p. 349 (1815).

  • Arenaria interpres, Vieill. N. D. d’Hist. Nat. xxxiv. p. 345 (1819).

  • Strepsilas borealis, Brehm, Vög. Deutschl. p. 659 (1831).

  • Strepsilas littoralis, Brehm, Vög. Deutschl. p. 660 (1831).

  • Cinclus morinellus, Gray, List Gen. of B. p. 85 (1841).

  • Cinclus interpres, Gray, Gen. of B. iii. p. 549 (1846).

  • Strepsilas minor, Brehm, Naum. 1855, p. 289.

Ad. ptil. æstiv. pileo et cervice albis, plumis medialiter nigris, quasi striatis: fasciâ nigrâ frontali antè oculum decurrente et unâ cum genis nigris ad collum laterale conjunctâ: regione oculari albâ: dorso lætè castaneo, plagâ magnâ interscapulari utrinque nigrâ, et ptilosi reliquâ plus minusve nigro notatâ: dorso postico et supracaudalibus albis, uropygio nigro: tectricibus alarum pallidè ferrugineis, exterioribus nigro notatis, majoribus latè albo terminatis: remigibus brunneis, et versùs apicem saturatioribus, primariis minoribus ad basin albis, remigibus minoribus angustè albo terminatis, secundariis latissimè albo marginatis, secundariis intimis dorso concoloribus: caudâ albâ, latè brunneo transfasciatâ rectricibus duabus centralibus omninò brunneis: gula albâ, nigro notatâ: gutture et pectore toto superiore nigerrimis: corpore reliquo aubtùs purè albo: rostro nigro: pedibus rubris: iride nigrâ.

Ad. ptil. hiem. ubique obscurior, nigredine brunnescente mixtâ: vertice nigro albo paullulùm vario: gulâ albidâ: coloribus ut in ptilosi æstivâ agnoscendis sed semper pallidioribus.

Adult in summer. Forehead and sides of the head white, the former crossed by a narrow band of velvety black which connects the eyes, and widening below them, joins a broader band of the same colour, extending from the base of the lower mandible on each side of the throat; crown of the head white, each feather centred with black; hind part of neck white, more or less varied with brownish black; shoulders and upper part of the back glossy black, with a broad irregular mark of chestnut in the line of the spine; the whole of the mantle black, varied with chestnut, and some of the feathers narrowly tipped with white; the lower part of the back and the upper tail-coverts white; throat white, mottled on the lower part with black, which rapidly predominates, the fore part and sides of the breast, up to the insertion of the wings, as well as the rump, being velvety black; the rest of the body-plumage pure white; the wing-feathers blackish brown, with white shafts, and pale grey on their under surface, with darker tips, the inner primaries and the short secondaries white towards the base, and narrowly tipped with the same; the long secondaries dark velvety brown, varied on their outer webs with chestnut; the small wing-coverts pale ferruginous, varied with chestnut and black; the superior coverts blackish brown, with a conspicuous terminal band of white; tail-feathers white, crossed in their apical portion by a broad band of brownish black, which is greater on the two median ones, the closed tail appearing to be entirely of that colour beyond the upper coverts. Irides and bill black; page 15 tarsi and toes red; claws black. Length 9 inches; wing, from flexure, 6·25; tail 2·5; bill, along the ridge ·9, along the edge of lower mandible 1; tarsus 1; middle toe and claw 1·1; hind toe and claw ·35.

Adult in winter. Has the entire plumage duller, and little or no chestnut on the upper surface, the feathers being brownish black, tipped more or less with white, and slightly varied with ferruginous; the facial mark described above is less defined, and the black of the fore neck and breast is strongly suffused with brown.

Obs. In the Auckland Museum there are two specimens (♂ and ♀) obtained on the Manukau flats, in both of which the plumage of the upper surface is variegated with rich patches of rufous brown.

Dr. Finsch, writing in September 1870 (Journ. für Ornith. p. 349), expressed his conviction that, among other species which breed in high northern latitudes and migrate southwards on the approach of winter, the common Turnstone would yet be met with on the New-Zealand coast; and in the following season this prediction was amply verified by the capture of several specimens on the Ninety-mile Beach, in the South Island. All of these were females in winter plumage; but subsequently an example in summer plumage was shot at the Wade, and another was sent to me by Mr. Robson from Portland Island. Of late years the bird has become tolerably common as a seasonal migrant, being particularly numerous in certain months in Manukau harbour and in the Bay of Plenty. They were exceptionally abundant in the former locality in 1880; and Mr. Cheeseman informs me that in March of that year he met with a flock there which must have contained upwards of a thousand birds, besides several smaller ones. Some that were shot on this occasion were so extremely fat as to be quite useless for skinning, from the quantity of oily matter that exuded from the skin of the breast and completely saturated the feathers. According to his observations the birds usually arrive in November or December, and depart in March or April, only a few of them remaining with us during the winter.

Captain Mair has found it associating in flocks with the Godwit at Tauranga. He has obtained a number of both at a single shot, by ensconcing himself with his gun under a bush, and pouring a charge into a flight of birds as they passed overhead.

The history of this familiar bird may be found in any standard work on European ornithology; and it is needless therefore to do more than furnish a description of the plumage for purposes of reference.

Nestling of Banded Dottrel (see page 4).

Nestling of Banded Dottrel (see page 4).