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A History of the Birds of New Zealand.

Phalacrocorax Nycthemerus. (Campbell-Island Shag.)

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Phalacrocorax Nycthemerus. (Campbell-Island Shag.)

  • Phalacrocorax nycthemerus, Cab. tests Gray, Hand-l. iii. p. 128 (1871).

  • Phalacrocorax magellanicus, Hutton, Trans. N.-Z. Inst. vol. xi. p. 338 (nec Gmel., 1879).

  • Phalacrocorax nycthemerus, Hutton, Proc. Linn. Soc. N. S. Wales, vol. iv. p. 357 (1880).

  • Phalacrocorax nycthemerus, Buller, Manual Birds of New Zealand, p. 96 (1882).

Ad. similis P. imperiali, sed major et splendidior: gutture purâ albo: nuchâ et collo reliquo undique nitidâ purpurascentibus: rostro nigricanti-brunneo ad basin flavicante: pedibus saturatâ brunneis.

Adult. Crown, sides of the head, and vertical crest shining blackish green, changing to brilliant steel-blue on the nape and neck all round; back, rump, upper tail-coverts, and thighs dark steel-blue, highly glossed; the whole of the mantle and upper surface of wings glossy blackish green, fading into the steel-blue on the shoulders and back; the wing-coverts with narrow velvety margins, and the middle ones crossed by a narrow alar bar of white, about 2 inches in length by half an inch in width; an angular patch of white covers the chin and throat, and the whole of the underparts are pure white, the termination of the dark metallic blue on the fore neck being distinctly defined across the crop; primaries blackish brown with darker shafts; secondaries darker, glossed with green; tail rather dull black, the shafts of the feathers polished, and becoming whitish towards the base. The crest is vertical, and is composed of soft linear feathers about an inch and a half in length. On the face, immediately below the crest, and scattered over the sides of the head, are some fine white filaments, indicating that the bird is in breeding-plumage. Bill blackish brown, yellowish towards the gape; feet dark brown. Total length (approximate measurement) 27 inches; wing, from flexure, 11; tail 5; bill, along the ridge 2·1, along the edge of lower mandible 3; tarsus 2; longest toe and claw 3·75.

Young female. Differs from the adult in having the plumage blackish brown instead of metallic green, but nevertheless glossed with green on the head, neck, back, and wings; the feathers of the vertex are lengthened, but there is no appearance of a crest; there is no white alar bar, and the wing-coverts are dull brown with paler margins; tail-feathers yellowish brown with paler edges.

Note. I am in doubt about the determination of the sex, for the so-marked ad. ♀ is a really gorgeous bird. Both specimens are from Campbell Island, June 1878.

Of this magnificent species there are two specimens, from which my descriptions were taken, in the Otago Museum. Professor Hutton, who was the first to record it as a New-Zealand bird, says (l, c.) in reference to these specimens:— “I find that they differ from P. magellanicus in not having the white spot under the ear, and in the bare skin in front of the eyes being blue with crimson dots, instead of red. From P. purpurascens, Brandt, and from P. sarmientonus, King, the Campbell Island bird differs in having a narrow white alar band, and in the feet being flesh-colour, instead of brownish yellow. I find it comes nearest to P. nycthemerus, if not identical with that species.”

There is no example of this bird in the British Museum, or indeed, so far as I am aware, in any collection in this country, with which to compare my description of the Otago Museum specimens; but I think Professor Hutton’s identification may be safely followed.