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Published 3rd September.—A cassowary, probably an undescribed species, from N.E. New Guinea, presented by Capt. Maisby; a J avan chevrotaiu (Tragulus javanicus) from Java, presented by Mr. G. Mannings; a Formosan deer (Cervus pseudaxis) from the Island of Formosa, presented by Mr. Abel A. J. Gower; two black swans from Australia, presented by Mr. R. H. Bower; an Indian python; a Vervet monkey (Cercopithecus Lalatulii) from South Africa, presented by Mr. C. Hassam; two black-eared marmosets (Hapale penicittata) from Brazil, presented by Mr. J. P. Harrison.
Published 10th September.—A Toque monkey (Macacus pileatus) from Ceylon, presented by Mrs. Thomas; a Macaque monkey (Macacus cynomologus), from India; a Malbrouck monkey (Cercopithecus cynosurus) from West Africa, presented by Mr. H. C. Marckmann de Lichtabbell; an Arctic fox, from the Arctic Circle; a blackheaded gull, European, presented by Mr. Keell; a prairie marmot (Arctomys ludoviciamts) from North America, presented by Mr. Thellusson; a Guilding's amazou (Chrysotis Cruildingi) from St. Vincent, purchased; four Houbara bustards, from Tripoli, deposited.
Published 17th September.— A serval from West Africa, presented by Mr. Spencer Shield; a cinereous sea eagle, from Norway, presented by Mr. W. J. Sadler; two peregrine falcons, from Europe, presented by Mr. Herbert Wood; a Macaque monkey, from India, presented by Mr. P. T. Wharton; a crested pigeon, two graceful ground doves (Geopelia cuneata), hatched in the Gardens; two green fruit-pigeons (Carpophaga sylvatica), deposited.
Published Qith September.—A chimpanzee (Troglodytes niger); a bay antelope (Cephalophus dorsalis), and three royal pythons (Python regius), from West Africa, presented by Mr. C. B. Mosse; a king vulture from South America, presented by Mr. G. I. Brumschweiler; a gray ichneumon from India, presented by Captain Hallett; two little bitterns, European, presented by Mr. A. A. van Bemmelen; an alligator from Demerara, presented by Capt. Turner; a yellow-fronted amazon (Chrysotis ochrocephala) from Guiana, deposited.
Among these additions some -will be regarded with interest by all visitors, such, for instance, as the giraffes, our stock of which had been diminished by fire and dilapidated by disease; but to others, and myself among the number, less showy additions have equal interest: the sheathbills are particularly interesting; these sea-pigeons, as they may be called, are of a snowy whiteness, and among uniustructed visitors, who feed them with bread and buns, they pass for pigeons, to which, in their walk, their mode of feeding, the movement of the neck feathers, &c., they have a very striking resemblance.—Edward Newman.
grottos of tftto gooks.
The Birds of Shetland, with Observations on their Habits, Migration and Occasional Appearance. By the late Henry L. Saxby, M.D., of Balta Sound, Unst. Edited by his Brother, Stephen H. Saxby, M.A., Vicar of East Clevedon, Somerset. Demy 8vo, 398 pp. letterpress, eight tinted litho. plates. Edinburgh: Maclacblan and Stewart. London: Simpkin, Marshall and Co. 1874.
Dr. Saxby, in writing of the eggs of the hooded crow, says, "They are four in number, and, as -a rule, precisely similar to those of the carrion crow;" but I find no allusion to the possibility of these two birds constituting a single but dimorphic species. Mr. Hewitson has this passage under "carrion crow": "I have chosen the figures of the plate that they might not only represent each its own species, but that of the nearly allied species as well;" and under " hooded crow," he says, "The eggs are four or five in number, and do not differ from those of the carrion crow or rook, except in size." The question "What is a species?" I have attempted to solve (S. S. 1345) in these words—"I conceive a species to be composed of such living individuals as possess perfect eugenism among themselves; that is of individuals any pair of which can reproduce their kind, their descendants being equally prolific; and I conceive also that all structural characters, whether of form, size, or colour, are insufficient to the differentiation of species; not useless, but insufficient." So far as I know, this idea has not made a single convert; but I cling to it still, hoping that some day or other it may be received with more favour. My readers will perceive how intimately it bears on the specific identity or distinctness of the two crows.
Temminck tells us that they breed together: he says—"The black and hooded crow sometimes breed together; they produce mongrels which resemble one or other of the species: this occurs in the southern and eastern countries of Europe, where the black crow is uncommon, but we find no instance of it where both species are common."—Temminck,\.\09. Under "hooded crow" Temminck Second Series—VOL. ix. 3 F
adds, as an " accidental variation,"—" The plumage is often entirely white or almost totally black." Selby repeats this observation as his own: "Sometimes this bird varies in colour, and is found entirely white or black."—Illustrations of British Ornithology, vol. i. p. 352.
Mr. W. C. Williamson, Curator to the Natural History Society, reporting to the Zoological Society of London in 1836, says—"In one instance a female hooded crow was observed to pair with a carrion crow in a large tree at Hackness, where they succeeded in rearing their young. The carrion crow was shot by the gamekeeper, but in the following year the hooded crow returned with a new mate of the same sable hue as the former one to her old nest. The carrion crow and the young crows were again all shot; the old female by her vigilance escaped all the efforts of the keepers to destroy her, and a third time returned with a fresh mate; she was not, however, again so successful, but was shot, and is now preserved in the Scarborough Museum. The young birds varied, some resembling the hooded and others the carrion crow in their plumage." Macgillivray, after mentioning this record, adds—" Two or three instances of the same kind are mentioned as having taken place in the south of Scotland, which would lead us to believe that a hooded crow left perhaps accidentally in a district where there are none of its kind may readily pair with the carrion crow."—Macg., iii. 721. Sir William Jardine states that he has repeatedly seen the two breeding together, "the produce being birds of intermediate plumage"; and again, "In the male specimens the gray parts of the back and under parts are indicated by the edges of the feathers being narrowly margined with gray." Unfortunately I do not possess Sir William Jardine's work, but cite this from Mr. Gray's 'Birds of the West of Scotland,' p. 171. Mr. Gray appends this remark to the passage—"A state of plumage which I have not observed in any of the birds of mixed breed that have come under my notice, the offspring from the nest showing dark specimens of a genuine black, and others with gray markings equally decided."
Several observers state that in these cases of interbreeding the young are sometimes equally divided in number, that is two carrion and two hooded, sometimes three and two, sometimes only one of one kind and the remainder of the other. I cannot find that sex has any influence on these discrepancies. A friend whom I have lately met at the Zoo tells ine of au instance of two carrion and two hooded young ones having been found in one nest; he will, I trust, give further details in a future number of the 'Zoologist.' Mr. Gray gives the following additional information from personal observation: it is elicited by Mr. Yarrell's unfortunate remark that "birds unite with a strange partner rather than have no partner at all" (ii.9i2). "To this suggestion I can hardly assent, as I have repeatedly seen two, or even three, carrion crows fighting for the possession of a graybacked one where the two kinds were flying about in equal numbers. The last encounter of the kind I witnessed happened at Loch Melfort, in Argyleshire. The three birds (two black and one gray) were flying in company across the loch, when one of the former attacked his neighbour with great spirit and caused a loud outcry. Instead of leaving the black combatants to settle their own dispute, the hooded crow, which I took to be the female, turned back on hearing the row, and joined the aggressor in buffeting the poor victim till he was drowned." In the next paragraph Mr. Gray states that "throughout the mainland of Scotland generally the carrion crow and hooded crow are found in about the same numbers." Mr. Cordeaux, in his admirable work 'Birds of the Humber District' (p. 63), seems to admit this habit of interbreeding.
In order, however, that too much stress should not be laid on this pairing of the two crows, I may mention that, at p. 5080 of the 'Zoologist' for 1857, is a well-authenlicated instance of a raven pairing with a carrion crow; the result was an addled egg and two young birds, which remained in the nest until the 13th of May, after which they were seen no more: no description of these young birds is reported.
Captain Knox, in his peculiarly pleasant and instructive volume intituled 'Ornithological Rambles in Sussex,' has a remark, at p. 100, which has an indirect bearing on the question, and which I cite, not as in any way supporting my theory, but rather the reverse, thinking that when a moot point is discussed, no evidence should be rejected:—"A few years since while residing during the winter near the sea in the western part of the county [Sussex], I noticed that the carrion crow was common in the estuaries of Chichester Harbour, and along the whole line of shore from Selsea Bill to Bognor, * * * but I never could detect a single hooded crow within the same limits. This struck me the more forcibly from having previously perceived that the last species is exceedingly numerous in the neighbourhood of Shoreham and Brighton, and the carrion crow is, in its turn, equally scarce. I may add that my subsequent observations have proved the above remarks to be correct, and that they have been corroborated by the testimony of others whose attention I had drawn to the subject."
I cannot conclude these observations without saying how acceptable will be the record of any facts bearing on this question; they will have a wider application than appears at first sight, for if it can be proved that one species of Corvus is dimorphic, possibly it may lead to the detection of similar dimorphism in other species. The nutcracker, raven, and many others must be treated with a minute investigation.
The hooded, as regards his relationship to the carrion, crow has not received that strict examination which he seems to deserve; a number of questions respecting him require and almost demand solution; but the subject is unattractive, and the mode of carrying out the inquiry tedious and troublesome. I would suggest these points: — 1. Describe the position and materials of the nest. 2. Describe the eggs of each species, and differentiate them. What is the period of incubation in each species? 8. Enumerate the reports in which you have heard of the two species pairing together, and investigate the authenticity of such reports. 4. State whether the carrion crow in such cases is male or female. 5. State minutely the difference of food, if any. 6. State minutely any anatomical differences. It has always appeared to me that the chief differences consist in colour and in the greater or less propensity to migration. In Shetland the carrion crow is comparatively rare, and is, moreover, confounded by the inhabitants with the rook. On the breeding habits of the hooded crow Dr. Saxby has the following remarks:—
"The hooded crow seems to take no small pains to place the nest so that it shall be easily accessible to man. I am by no means a good climber, but I never saw more than one of these nests that was beyond my reach. The most singular looking nest which has yet come under my notice was that of a hooded crow. The upper part was, as usual, composed of large sea-weed stalks, &c, lined with wool, feathers, moss and hair; but this was built upon a substantial foundation of bones of ponies and sheep, collected in such quantities that the mass measured nearly a yard across, and in one part a foot in depth. Many of the bones were of so large a size that it is difficult to imagine how they could have been carried. Nor did the peculiarity end here. In my early walks along shore I had at various times collected a