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A History of the Birds of New Zealand.

Tringa Canutus. — (The Knot.)

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Tringa Canutus.
(The Knot.)

  • Tringa canutus, Linn. Syst. Nat. i. p. 251 (1766).

  • Tringa calidris, Linn. Syst. Nat. i. p. 252 (1766).

  • Charadrius utopiensis, Müll. Syst. Nat. Suppl. p. 117 (1776).

  • Maubèche tachetée, Buff. Pl. Enl. viii. p. 363 (1783).

  • Grisled Sandpiper, Lath. Gen. Syn. B. iii. pt. 1, p. 175 (1785).

  • Southern Sandpiper, Lath. tom. cit. p. 187 (1785).

  • Tringa cinerea, Gm. Syst. Nat. i. p. 673 (1788).

  • Tringa australis, Gm. tom. cit. p. 679 (1788, ex Lath.).

  • Tringa nævia, Gm. tom. cit. p. 681 (1788, ex Buff.).

  • Tringa grisea, Gm. tom. cit. p. 681 (1788, ex Lath.).

  • Tringa islandica, Gm. tom. cit. p. 682 (1788, ex Brünn.).

  • Tringa ferruginea, Meyer, Taschenb. deutsch. Vögelk. ii. p. 395 (1810).

  • Tringa rufa, Wils. Am. Orn. vii. p. 43, pl. 57 (1813).

  • Canutus islandicus, Brehm, Vög. Deutschl. p. 654 (1831).

  • Canutus cinereus, Brehm, op. cit. p. 655, Taf. 34. fig. 2 (1831).

  • Calidris canutus, Gould, B. of Eur. iv. pl. 324 (1837).

  • Canutus rufescens, Brehm, Naum. 1855, p. 292.

Native name.—Huahou.

Ad. ptil. hiem. suprà cinerascens: pilei plumis medialiter nigris, utrinque fulvescentibus, vix striatis: collo postico pallidiore, plutma nigro angustè medialiter striatis: dorso toto et scapularibus fulvescente et nigro alternè marginatis: uropygio imo et supracaudalibus albis, grisescenti-nigro transnotatis: tectricibus alarum saturatè cinerascentibus, minimis angustè, majoribus latè albido limbatis, his etiam conspicuè albo terminatis: alâ spuriâ remigibusque saturatè brunneis, albido plus minusve latè limbatis: remigum scapis albis: caudâ cinereâ, plumis angustè albido marginatis, scapis albis: supercilio parvo albo: facie laterali, collo undique et pectore superiore albis, minutè brunneo striatis vel maculatis: gulâ albâ: corpore reliquo subtùs albo, hypochondriis paullò grisescente variis: subalaribus et axillaribus albis, his vix grisescente notatis: rostro nigro: pedibus olivascenti-nigris.

Ad. ptil. æstiv. omnino diversus, rufus: pilei plumis nigro medialiter lineatis: collo postico eodem modo angustissimè striato: dorsi plumis conspicuè medialiter nigris, rufo marginatis: tectricibus alarum et supra-caudalibus ut in ptilosi hiemali coloratis, his autem rufescentibus: subtùs lætè rufus, abdomine albicante, hypochondriis fasciis sagittiformibus notatis.

Adult in winter. Crown of the head, hind neck, and all the upper surface greyish brown, with darker shaft-lines, the feathers sometimes centred with brown; sides of the head, chin, and throat white; an obscure greyish streak across the lores; fore neck and breast all round greyish white, with numerous minute streaks of brown; on raising the plumage of these parts each feather is found to be largely centred with brown, with a produced apical spot of the same; underparts of the body white, varied on the sides and flanks with irregular letter-V markings of brown; inner lining of wings greyish white, the axillary plumes pencilled with brown in wavy lines; rump and upper tail-coverts white, with circular bars of brown; wing-feathers page 36 dark brown, with white shafts; tail-feathers paler brown, with white shafts. Irides and bill black; legs greyish black. Length 10 inches; wing, from flexure, 6·25; tail 2·25; bill, along the ridge 1·3, along the edge of lower mandible 1·4; bare tibia ·5; tarsus 1·2; middle toe and claw 1; hind toe and claw ·25.

Adult in summer. Differs in having the plumage of the back brownish black, varied more or less with broad round spots of rufous; the sides of the head, throat, fore neck, breast, upper part of the abdomen, and sides of the body bright rufous; some of the feathers narrowly margined with white.

A specimen in full summer plumage, shot in the vicinity of Christchurch on the 2nd April, and preserved in the Museum, presents the following measurements:—Extreme length 9 inches; wing, from flexure, 6·4; tail 2·25; bill, along the ridge 1·15, along the edge of lower mandible 1·15; bare tibia ·55; tarsus 1·15; middle toe and claw 1·15; hallux ·25.

Another example in rust-red plumage was obtained by Reischek on the sand-banks in Manukau harbour.

Young. Readily distinguished by the crescentic markings on the upper parts, each feather having a narrow sub-terminal streak of black; the scapulars, wing-coverts, and long secondaries margined beyond with white.

Var. Mr. Cheeseman informs me that when out shooting at Manukau harbour he observed an albino. He did his utmost to secure it, but the bird was very shy and eluded him.

Obs. There are two noticeable specimens in the Auckland Museum. One of these has the sides of the face, fore part and sides of neck, and the whole of the breast pale rufous; primaries and secondaries slaty black, the latter margined on their outer vanes with white; tail-feathers slaty grey with a very narrow margin of white. In the other there are only clouded markings of the rufous colour on the same parts. In both birds the upper surface is prettily variegated with slaty black, the crescentic bars on the upper tail-coverts being very conspicuous.

In Mr. J. C. Firth’s interesting collection of New-Zealand birds (at Mount Eden) there is another beautiful specimen:—Cheeks, throat, and fore neck chestnut-brown; the upper surface generally very prettily barred and spotted, the transverse markings on the tail-coverts being especially conspicuous.

Note. Dr. Finsch has suggested that the bird which visits New Zealand may be Tringa crassirostris, Temm. and Schleg. (Faun. Jap. pl. 64), the larger eastern representative of canutus; but I have not been able to discover any specific characters to distinguish it from the common form.

This cosmopolitan species is occasionally obtained in New Zealand, but generally in its winter plumage. There are several specimens in the Canterbury and Otago Museums, all of them obtained on the east coast.

Mr. Cheeseman wrote to me from Auckland, on August 14, 1877:—“My brother shot a specimen of Tringa canutus (in winter plumage) in Hobson Bay a few months ago, and the skin is now in the Museum. I believe that I have frequently seen it on the extensive mud flats near the mouth of the Thames river. I have likewise seen it, in flocks of probably two hundred, on the Manukau flats, where it appears soon after Christmas and remains about three months.” This is the first authentic record of this species in the North Island; but Captain Mair has described to me a bird found associating, in considerable numbers, with the Godwit on the East Coast, which I have no doubt is the same. It has not, however, been met with yet on the Wellington coasts; and the only specimen in the Colonial Museum is one which I received some years ago, as a novelty, from the South Island. It is called Huahou by the Maoris, from the circumstance that its fat-season corresponds with the forming of the hue gourd—about February or March.

Mr. Gould states that a specimen collected by Strange on the 2nd September had the under surface much suffused with red, with many new black feathers among the grey ones on the back, showing that the bird was changing into its summer livery at the commencement of the Australian spring.