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A History of the Birds of New Zealand.

Phalacrocorax Featherstoni. — (Chatham-Island Shag.)

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Phalacrocorax Featherstoni.
(Chatham-Island Shag.)

  • Graculus africanus, Hutton, Ibis, 1872, p. 249 (nee Gm.).

  • Phalacrocorax featherstoni, Buller, Ibis, 1873, p. 90.

Ad. pileo et collo undique indigotico-nigris, fronte et occipite conspicuè cristatis, collo postico filamentis albis paullò dilatatis ornato: dorso summo cum scapularibus et tectricibus alarum olivascenti-brunneis, plumis nigro conspicuè apicaliter maculatis, tectricibus minimis sordidè indigotico-nigris: dorso postico, uropygio et supracaudalibus indigotico-nigris: remigibus nigricanti-brunneis, secundariis extùs canescentibus: caudâ nigrâ: subtùs pulchrè canescens, abdomine imo cum subcaudalibus subalaribusque indigotico-nigris: rostro saturatè brunneo: pedibus aurantiacis: iride canâ viridi reticulatâ.

Adult. Head, upper portion of neck, and the whole of the nape, with the vertical and occipital crests, shining indigo-black; sides and hind part of neck ornamented with scattered filamentous white feathers, having the tips produced and somewhat spatulate; the shoulders, mantle, and upper surface of wings olivaceous brown glossed with green, each feather marked with a conspicuous terminal spot of black; back, rump, and upper tail-coverts, as well as the small wing-coverts, dull indigo-black; quills blackish brown, the secondaries greyish on their outer webs; tail black; lower part of fore neck, breast, and middle portion of abdomen beautiful grey; sides of the body, flanks, under surface of wings, lower abdomen, and under tail-coverts indigo-black. Irides grey, streaked with green; bill dark brown; legs and feet orange-yellow. Length 22 inches; wing, from flexure, 9; tail 4; bill, along the ridge 2·2, along the edge of lower mandible 2·6; tarsus 1·6; longest toe and claw 3·25.

This beautiful addition to the ornithology of our country was one of the novelties brought from the Chatham Islands by Mr. Henry Travers on his return from the exploratory visit mentioned on a former page. Professor Hutton had referred it (l. c.) to Graculus africanus (Gmelin), but the original specimen having been courteously forwarded to me by Sir James Hector, through the Colonial Office, I saw at a glance that we had a new species to record, and was therefore glad of the opportunity thus afforded me of describing and figuring it in my former edition.

I had already associated the name of Mr. Henry Travers with one of the new species discovered by him; and, in assigning a distinctive title to this bird, I desired to pay a slight tribute to one who, having originally assisted in founding a colony at the Antipodes, had devoted more than thirty years of his life to its political affairs, and at that time filled the important office of its Agent General in Great Britain—the late Dr. Featherston.

Several further examples have been received at the Colonial Museum, and Mr. Walter Hood informs me that it is a comparatively common bird on the rocks lying off the Chatham Islands, and that he found it breeding there in the months of October and November. On Pitt Island these birds were so tame that he knocked over two of them with a small stone.

As will be at once apparent from the figures, this species bears a general resemblance to P. punctatus: like that bird it has a vertical as well as an occipital crest, and the distribution of the colours is somewhat similar, although the plumage altogether is much darker. It is readily distinguished, however, by its black head and neck, and by the absence of the white stripes which are so conspicuous in the other species.