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A History of the Birds of New Zealand.

Eudyptes Vittatus. — (Thick-Billed Penguin.)

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Eudyptes Vittatus.
(Thick-Billed Penguin.)

  • ? Aptenodytes papua, Vieill. (nec Forst. nec Gmel.), Gal. Ois. ii. p. 246 (nec diagn.), tab. 299 (1834).

  • Eudyptes vittata, Finsch, Ibis, 1875, p. 112.

Ad. suprà obscurè cyanescenti-niger, alâ saturatiùs brunnescente: subtùs omninò albus: facie laterali et præpectore brunnescentibus: supercilio distincto lato occiput eingente albido: rostro rufescenti-brunneo: pedibus rufescentibus, membranis interdigitalibus nigricantibus.

Adult. Crown, sides of the head, face, chin, hind neck, and the rest of the upper surface dark brown, inclining more or less to blue; from the base of the upper mandible, in a line with the nostrils, a streak of yellowish white passes over the eyes, and widening in its course encircles the crown; but there is no elongation of the feathers or any appearance of a crest; the flippers are dull blackish brown on their upper surface, and white underneath, with similar dark markings to those which distinguish Eudyptes pachyrhynchus. Bill reddish brown; legs and feet pale brown, the claws darker. Total length 26 inches; length of flipper 6; tail 1·5; bill, along the ridge 2, along the edge of lower mandible 2·2; tarsus 1; middle toe and claw 3.

Note. Of this species Dr. Finsch writes (Ibis, 1875, pp. 113, 114):— “Captain Hutton suggests that this may be Latham’s ‘Red-footed Penguin’ (Gen. Syn. iii. p. 572), but without reason, as a careful examination of the synonymy shows that Latham’s description is based on ‘the Penguin’ of Edwards (t. 49 et t. 94, head on right hand), as is also ‘Aptenodytes catarractes’ of Forster (Comm. Soc. Reg. Gotting. iii. 1781, p. 145) and Gmelin (Linn. Syst. Nat. ii. p. 558), and ‘Phaëton demersus’ of Linné (S. N. p. 219), and Brisson’s ‘Catarractes’ (Ornith, iv. p. 102). All these descriptions are simply derived from Edwards’s figure, which represents a bird the existence of which, in my opinion, will ever remain doubtful, being very likely based on a made-up bird. I do not understand how G. R. Gray (Hand-1. of B. iii. p. 98) and Schlegel (Mus. P.-B. Urinat. p. 8) could identify Edwards’s inaccurate figure with E. chrysocoma, Forst. and Gmelin (Pinguinaria cristata, Shaw), even supposing it to be the young bird, without tuft— as Edwards’s figure, besides other inaccuracies, shows a bird with Mergus-like legs, the tarsus being longer than the middle toe. E. vittatus, if indeed a true Eudyptes, is easily distinguished from all other members of the Penguin group by its broad white superciliary streak, which runs from the base of bill to the back of head, but which does not consist of elongated feathers. A close examination of all the existing representatives of Penguins leads me to the belief that very probably to this new species belongs the figure of a Penguin which Vieillot erroneously published under the name of ‘Aptenodytes papua’ (l. c.), but which is not the well-known species of Sonnerat, Forster, and Gmelin, which Mr. Sclater, from the unfitness of the name, proposed to call Pygoscelis wagleri (P. Z. S. 1861, p. 47). To judge from Vieillot’s figure and the French description (not the Latin diagnosis, which relates to the true papua), the bird very much resembles our E. vittatus, especially in having the white superciliary streak, which runs to the occiput.”

The type specimen of this Penguin is in the Otago Museum; but there is a much finer example in the Canterbury Museum, in which the colours are brighter, the coronal band more conspicuous, and the bill appreciably thicker.

I take it that this is a male bird, and that the one described above (which has been courteously forwarded to England by Professor Parker, for my examination) is a female in old and faded breeding-plumage.