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A History of the Birds of New Zealand.

Anous Cinereus. — (The Little Noddy.)

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Anous Cinereus.
(The Little Noddy.)

  • Anous cinereus, Gould, P. Z. S. 1845, p. 104; id. B. Australia, vii. pl. 76 (1848).

  • Procelsterna albivitta, Bp. Compt. Rend. xlii. 1856, p. 773.

  • Sterna cinerea, Schlegel, M. P.-Bas, Sternæ, p. 38 (1863).

  • Anous albivittatus, Finsch, P. Z. S. 1877, p. 776.

  • Pelecanopus pelecanoides, Gray, List B. Brit. Mus. pt. iii. p. 180 (1844).

Ad. suprà dilutè cinereus: pileo cum collo postico et corpore subtùs toto albis: tectricibus alarum dorso concoloribus pallide brunneo paullò lavatis: primariis schistaceo-cinereis: secundariis conspicuè albo terminatis: caudâ omninò schistaceo-cinereâ: rostro nigro: pedibus nigricanti-brunneis, palmis sordidè flavis.

Adult (N.-Z. example). Head, neck, and underparts generally pure white; upper surface delicate French-grey, fading away to nothing on the hind neck, and deepening to dark ash-grey on the quills and tail-feathers; the outer web of the first primary blackish brown; the inner webs of all the primaries whitish on their anterior margin; the shafts dark brown above, whitish at the base, and entirely white on the under surface; the secondaries with a conspicuous terminal margin of white. Bill black; legs and feet blackish brown, with yellowish webs. Length 11·5 inches; wing, from flexure, 8; tail 4·25; bill, along the ridge 1, along the edge of lower mandible 1·4; bare tibia ·25; tarsus ·85; middle toe and claw 1·25.

Obs. On a comparison of this species with the more northerly Anous cæruleus, Mr. Howard Saunders remarks (P. Z. S. 1878, p. 212):—“A. cæruleus is smaller than A. cinereus, Gould, and is darker all over, especially on the underparts, which are blue-grey, whereas in A. cinereus they are nearly white. The differences are too great to be explained away as being due to age, and I admit the distinctness of the two species; but they are very closely allied. The fact of their being found in such close proximity within so limited an area is very remarkable.”

The unique New-Zealand example of this bird was obtained at Cape Maria Vandieman in the early part of 1882. Mr. Robson, to whose kindness I am indebted for the skin, furnished me with the following account of it:—“After a heavy S.W. gale my sons were going through some large flax bushes and came upon this Tern in the middle of one of them. It was still living, but so much exhausted that it could only flutter a short distance, so that it was secured without difficulty. I may add that another was observed on the wing, one very calm day, there being very little doubt about the dientification.”

Dr. Crowfoot says of this species (Ibis, 1885, p. 265):—“These Grey Terns, called by the Norfolk-Islanders the ‘Little Blue Petrel,’ are fairly numerous during the breeding-season. They lay their eggs on Phillip and Nepean Islands and the neighbouring rocks. The eggs are usually placed on inaccessible ledges, but often on the sand, sometimes not many feet above the sea, but usually from 80 to 2000 feet. They make no attempt at a nest, and lay only one egg, which is the most easily broken of all the sea-birds’ eggs found on these islands. The eggs much resemble those of the other species of Noddy, but the ground-colour is rather darker, and the spots are numerous, small, and more generally distributed over the whole surface than in the eggs of the other species. They measure on an average 1·6 inch in length by 1·12 in breadth, and vary but little either in size or in markings.”