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A History of the Birds of New Zealand.

Thalassæca Antarctica. — (Antarctic Petrel.)

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Thalassæca Antarctica.
(Antarctic Petrel.)

  • Antarctic Petrel, Lath. Gen. Syn. iii. pt. 2, p. 400 (1785).

  • Procellaria antarctica, Gm. Syst. Nat. i. p. 565 (1788, ex Lath.).

  • Priocella antarctica, Hombr. & Jacq. Voy. Pôle Sud, p. 149 (1844).

  • Procellaria antarctica, Gray, Voy. Ereb. and Terror, pl. 33 (1846).

  • Thalassoica antarctica, Reich. Naturg. Schwimmv., Natatores, pl. xiv. (1848).

  • Thalassœca antarctica, Coues, Proc. Phil. Acad. 1866, p. 31.

  • Fulmarus antarcticus, Gray, Hand-I. of B. iii. p. 105 (1871). Priocella antarctica, Hector, Trans. N.-Z. Inst. vol. ix. p. 464 (1877).

  • Procellaria antarctica, Buller, Man. Birds of New Zealand, p. 88 (1882).

  • Aeipetes antarcticus, Forbes, Voy. of Chall., Anat. Petrels, p. 59 (1882).

Ad. pileo colloque toto, cum scapularibus et tectricibus alarum minimis, fuliginoso-cinereis: gulâ et colli lateralibus brunnescentibus: secondariis et tectricibus alarum albis: corpore reliquo purè albo: caudâ fuliginoso-nigro terminatâ: rostro brunnescenti-nigro: pedibus pallidè brunnescenti-cinereis.

Adult. Head, hind neck, and general upper surface dull brownish black; on the throat and sides of the neck the brown fades off into the white; the rest of the under surface pure white, except a broad band along the edge of the wings, which is slaty brown; primaries brownish black, white on their inner webs except at the tips; the whole of the secondaries and their large coverts are pure white, presenting a broad oblique band in the closed wing; scapulars brownish black, white at the base; tail-feathers pure white, with a broad terminal band of dull brownish black. Irides and bill black; legs and feet dull yellow, brownish on the outer side of tarsi and on the outer toes. Total length 19·5 inches; wing, from flexure, 12; tail 5; bill, along the ridge 1·75, along the edge of lower mandible 2; tarsus 1·75; middle toe and claw 2·5.

I am still in doubt as to the propriety of admitting this species into our avifauna, the specimen described by Sir James Hector having been shot in lat. 46° S., long. 118° 9′ E., or about “1000 miles west of Tasmania and in the latitude of Otago.” It was included by Mr. G. R. Gray among the birds of New Zealand in the ‘Voyage of the Erebus and Terror’; and one or more of the five specimens in the British Museum are said to have been captured in our seas, but the evidence is by no means complete.

Forbes proposed to make this Petrel the type of a genus, Aeipetes, which he says is “easily distinguishable from Thalassœca by the much shorter and more slender bill, and differently shaped nasal tubes; number of rectrices 12 instead of 14 as in Thalassœca and 16 in Ossifraga; tracheal septum incomplete, and the structure of the syrinx different.”