Imagens das páginas
PDF

tion in autumn. It may be distinguished from the common Meadow Pipit by its larger size, longer bill, tarsus, and toes, and by its having the upper portion of its plumage of a greener olive. The legs are of a much darker brown, and I have remarked that in freshly-killed specimens the soles of the feet are yellow, a circumstance which appears to have been generally overlooked, but which is worth noticing as an addition to its distinguishing characters. A considerable difference also will be observed in the two outer tail feathers on each side. In the Meadow Pipit the outermost tail feather is for the greater part white, and the next has half the tip of the inner web also white. In the Rock Pipit the same parts of these feathers are not white, although conspicuously lighter than the remaining portion. The Rock Pipit found in Scandinavia (Anthus rupestris of Nilsson), is considered by some to be distinct from the species which frequents our own shores, but, as I think, on extremely

slender grounds. The points of difference have been thus stated: “They consist, so far as we can ascertain, merely in the presence of a bright buff or pale cinnamon tinge on the breast of the male in A. rupestris, and perhaps in that form being of a slighter build than A. obscurus. In the female of the so-called A. rupestris the warm colour is much more faintly indicated; in some specimens it is doubtful whether it exists at all. The outer tail feathers, which in A. spinoletta afford so sure a diagnosis, are in A. rupestris just as dingy as in A. obscurus.” There can be no doubt that the chemical constituents of colour in the plumage of birds are always more or less affected by climatic agency; and, this being so, one can hardly be justified in founding a new species on mere variation of colour, where there is at the same time no modification of structure. There can be little doubt that the Scandinavian Rock Pipit is identical with our own bird, the slight differences observable being easily accounted for through climate and the season of the year at which

specimens are obtained.

The late Mr. Wheelwright makes no mention of this bird when treating of the ornithology of Lapland. Messrs. Godman met with it on the seashore at Bodö, Norway, “in tolerable abundance,” and Mr. Hewitson also saw it in Norway. Although Temminck says that it goes as far north as Greenland, this does not appear to be the case; for Professor Reinhardt, who has paid especial attention to the ornithology of Greenland, states that only two species of Pipit are to be met with there—namely, the American Anthus ludovicianus, which breeds there, and A. pratensis, of which, as above stated, a single specimen only is recorded to have been obtained. It is rather remarkable that Professor Blasius has not included the Rock Pipit in the avifauna of Heligoland, seeing that A. cervinus, A. ludovicianus, and A. Richardi are all stated to have been taken on that island."

Although found upon the shores of Holland, Belgium, and France, it either goes no farther to the south-west, or else it has been overlooked; for neither Mr. Howard Saunders, in his “List of the Birds of Southern Spain," nor the Rev. A. C. Smith, in his “Sketch of the Birds of Portugal,” give it a place in the avifauna of those countries. Mr. C. A. Wright states (“Ibis,” 1869, p. 246) that he has only obtained a single specimen in Malta. Further eastward, namely, on the coasts of Epirus and Corfu, Lord Lilford found it to be common, and on this account it has been included by Messrs. Elwes and Buckley in their “List of the Birds of Turkey.” I am not sure whether it has been met with in Asia Minor, but probably it does not extend either eastward or southward beyond the coast line of the Mediterranean. The observations of naturalists certainly tend to prove that its proper habitat is Northern Europe, and perhaps nowhere is it commoner than in

* Cf. “Naumannia,” 1858, p. 425, and “Ibis,” 1862, p. 7 I.

the British Islands.

THE TREE PIPIT.

(Anthus arboreus.)

LTHOUGH a regular summer visitant to England, the Tree Pipit, like the Nightingale, from some unexplained cause, is distributed over a very limited area. It never reaches Ireland, and is considered rare in Scotland, although the nest has been found as far north as Dumbarton, Aberdeen, Banff, and East Inverness." Even in Wales and Cornwall it is a scarce

bird, so that England may be said to be the

1. Cf. A. G. More, in the “Ibis,” 1865, p. 123.

[graphic]
« AnteriorContinuar »