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A History of the Birds of New Zealand.

Gerygone Albofrontata. — (Chatham-Island Warbler.)

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Gerygone Albofrontata.
(Chatham-Island Warbler.)

  • Gerygone? albofrontata, Gray, Voy. Ereb. and Terror, p. 5, pl. 4. fig. 2 (1844).

  • Acanthiza albofrontata, Gray, Hand-1. of B. i. p. 219 (1869).

Ad. suprà olivascenti-brunneus, pileo obscuriore, uropygio et supracaudalibus lætè et conspicuè rufescenti-fulvis: tectricibus alarum et remigibus cinerascenti-brunneis, dorsi colore limbatis: rectricibus cinerascenti brunneis, versus apicem purpurascenti-nigris et fasciâ fulvescente transversim notatâ, pennis duabus centrali bus reliquorumque apicibus omninò cinerascenti-brunneis: fronte, supercilio et facie laterali albidis, loris et regione paroticâ brunneo notatis: subtùs albicans, abdomine imo et hypochondriis flavicantibus: sub caudalibus et tibiis fulvis: subalaribus albicantibus flavido lavatis: iride cruentatä: rostro brunneo, goyde pallidiore: pedibus saturatè brunneis.

Adult male. Upper surface rusty brown, lighter on the wings and rump; the whole of the plumage plumbeous beneath; forehead, sides of the head, fore neck, breast, and the underparts generally greyish white, tinged with yellow on the flanks and abdomen; an obscure streak of dusky brown passes through the eyes; wing feathers dusky brown, with lighter shafts, margined on their outer webs with yellowish brown; inner lining of wings yellowish white; tail-feathers rusty brown, tinged with rufous towards the base, darker brown in their apical portion, with the tips paler; the two outermost feathers on each side with a broad subterminal bar of fulvous white, and the two succeeding ones with an obscure triangular spot of fulvous white on the inner webs; upper tail-coverts rufous-brown. Irides blood-red; bill and feet blackish brown. Total length 5·75 inches; wing, from flexure, 2·6; tail 2·5; bill, along the ridge ·4, along the edge of lower mandible ·5; tarsus ·9; middle toe and claw ·65; hind toe and claw ·65.

Female. Similar to the male, but slightly smaller, and without the yellow tinge on the underparts.

Obs. In my former edition, under the head of Gerygone albofrontata, I observed:—“I have never met with this bird in New Zealand; but it is highly probable that the supposed new species of Gerygone lately observed by Mr. Potts and his son in Westland, of which an account will shortly appear in ‘The Ibis,’ will prove to be the same.” As Professor Hutton, however, has since pointed out (Trans. N.-Z. Inst. vol. v. p. 222), “Mr. Potts’s specimen, as he describes it, differs from G. albofrontata, not only in the absence of the white forehead, but also in the dark colour of the wings, in having the two centre tail-feathers black, and in the chin, cheeks, and breast being grey; in all which respects it agrees with Gerygone flaviventris.”

This fine species was originally described and figured by Mr. G.R. Gray, in the ‘Voyage of the Erebus and Terror,’ from a specimen alleged to have been “brought by Dr. Dieffenbach from New Zealand.” The specimen itself, however, which is now in the British Museum, is labelled as from the Chatham Islands, whence other examples have since been obtained. Mr. Henry Travers reports that he met with it on all the islands of the group, although it is by no means common. He observed that it had much the same habits as the New-Zealand species. The nest of this bird is similar to that of Gerygone flaviventris; but with a larger aperture, and without any threshold projection, although the upper edge is overhanging. The green-coloured nests of the meadow-spider (Epeira) are used among the building-materials, and likewise the white cocoons of some ground species, which I have not been able to identify. The eggs (of which I have three specimens) are slightly ovoido-conical, measuring ·75 inch in length by ·55 in breadth; pinkish white, marked over the entire surface with minute specks and linear freckles of reddish brown, which coalesce and form a cap at the larger end.