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A History of the Birds of New Zealand.

Diomedea Chlororhyncha. — (Yellow-Nosed Albatros.)

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Diomedea Chlororhyncha.
(Yellow-Nosed Albatros.)

  • Yellow-nosed Albatros, Lath. Gen. Syn. iii. pt. 1, p. 309, pl. 94 (1785).

  • Diomedea chlororhynchos, Gm. Syst. Nat. i. p. 595 (1788, ex Lath.).

  • Diomedea chlororhyncha, Coues, Pr. Phil. Acad. 1866, p. 185.

Ad. similis D. melanophryi, sed rostro nigro, culmine cum ungue et maculâ parvâ ad basin mandibulæ positâ lætè flavis: pedibus cyanescenti-albis.

Adult. Plumage similar to that of D. melanophrys, but having only a light shade of grey in front of the eyes, and a black tail with white shafts. Bill black, with the culmen, hook, unguis, and edge of lower mandible bright yellow; a narrow basal spot on the lower mandible orange; legs and feet bluish white. Total length 32·5 inches; wing, from flexure, 19·5; tail 8; bill, following the curvature of upper mandible 5·4, from gape to extremity of lower mandible 5; tarsus 3; middle toe and claw 4·25.

Obs. The yellow does not melt into the black as in transitional states of Diomedea melanophrys, but the two colours are well defined, and the former terminates in an acute point about half an inch from the base of the upper mandible. In very mature birds the yellow deepens to orange on the hook, where it spreads, and then fades away to pale yellow at the tip.

In the Otago Museum there is a fine specimen which has the bill perfectly black, with a broad, well-defined stripe of yellow down the culmen, which widens considerably and deepens to orange on the hook; the extreme edges of the lower mandible are likewise yellow. There is just a pale shade of grey in front of the eyes, which becomes darker above them; shoulders, upper surface of wings, and tail sooty black, the shafts of the latter white; the rest of the plumage pure white.

There is a specimen of this Albatros in the Auckland Museum; and Dr. Crosbie, of H.M.S. ‘Virago,’ showed me the head of another. Both of these, as I was informed, were obtained off the New-Zealand coast, although the proper range of this species appears to lie in more northern latitudes.

There are likewise specimens, more recently obtained, in the Canterbury and Otago Museums.

Dr. Bree says that this species “has occurred still more rarely than D. exulans in European seas. Two instances are, however, mentioned by Esmark (Degland, Orn. Eur. p. 359) as having been killed near Kongsberg, in Norway, in the month of April 1837,” in consequence of which Bonaparte and Degland gave it a place among the birds of Europe. It ranges, according to Latham, from 30° to 60° in the southern hemisphere, all round the pole.

Prof. Hutton has expressed his opinion that the three allied forms, D. chlororhyncha, D. culminata, and D. melanophrys, are in reality one species; but in this view I do not concur, because the adult birds are easily discriminated, the well-marked black and yellow bill of the two former distinguishing them from the Mollyhawk, whilst as between each other the differently coloured head in the adult bird is a very conspicuous feature.

In the Otago Museum there is a specimen of Diomedea chlororhyncha (marked ♂, St. Paul’s Island) which comes very near in general appearance to D. cauta, but it wants the face-adornment along the base of the mandible which distinguishes the latter species.