Category Archives: Vögel

Birds unknown – the Spotted Wren-Babbler

Spotted Wren-Babbler (Elachura formosa Walden)

***

The Spotted Wren-Babbler or Spotted Elachura (or just Elachura) is an approximately 10 cm long, inconspicuous bird that inhabits the understory of dense forests in South- and Southeast Asia. 

The species was originally described as a wren, later assigned to the timalia family and finally placed in its own monotypic family because it does not appear to be related to any other bird species; however, it has similarly shaped foot soles as the waxwings (Bombycilidae) and goldcrests (Regulidae), which are also taxonomically quite isolated, but no further studies have been carried out on this yet. [1][2]

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Photo: Uday Agashe
https://www.inaturalist.org/people/udayagashe
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

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References: 

[1] Per Alström; Daniel M. Hooper; Yang Liu; Urban Olsson; Dhananjai Mohan; Magnus Gelang; Hung Le Manh; Jian Zhao; Fumin Lei; Trevor D. Price: Discovery of a relict lineage and monotypic family of passerine birds. Biology Letters 10(3): 1-5. 2014
[2] Jon Fjeldså; Les Christidis; Per G. P. Ericson: The Largest Avian Radiation: The Evolution of Perching Birds, or the Order Passeriformes. Lynx Edicions 2020

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edited: 09.10.2023

Birds unknown – the Grande Comore Blue Vanga

Grande Comore Blue Vanga (Cyanolanius comorensis ssp. bensoni Louette & Herremans)

***

This taxon, described in 1982, is thought to inhabit, or to have inhabited, the island of Grande Comore, Comoros in the Indian Ocean; it is, however, known from only a single somewhat doubtful specimen that was collected as late as 1981.

Here is an excerpt from the original description.:

In bill length intermediate between C. m. madagascarinus and comorensis; total culmen 18.5 mm as against an average of 17.3 in both sexes of madagascarinus and 20.1 mm in both sexes of comorensis. Bill decidedly more robust than in madagascarinus, although not much longer. In plumage in all respects seemingly nearest to comorensis although there is no similar aged specimen of this race available.

Apart from the diagnosis of bensoni, the following is a fuller description of the holotype (not fully adult):- Upperparts lilac blue, crown somewhat darker, with a few bright blue (adult) feathers appearing on crown and mantle. Inner webs of inner secondaries blue, like outer webs (like comorensis, inner webs not black as in madagascarinus). Underparts white, a few buffish feathers on flanks. Black mask just starting to appear. Tail feathers with square tips, not pointed as in very young specimens of Cyanolanius, and with buffish fringes. Iris pale blue. Legs grey-blue. Bill with pale base to both mandibles, tips dark. One may conclude that bensoni agrees well with comorensis in plumage characteristics but has a definitely less robust bill, intermediate in size between the 2 other races. Some doubt may persist as to the bill size in the adult, but I have measurements from 4 immatures of madagascarinus (mounted) in RNL, certainly somewhat younger than the holotype of bensoni, averaging 17.1 (versus 17.3 in the adult, see above) showing that this possible difference is insignificant.” 

***

This sole specimen may represent a stray from the nearby island of Mohéli, which is home to the nominate race of the Comoros Blue Vanga (Cyanolanius comorensis (Shelley)), or it may indeed constitute a member of a distinct endemic population. If there indeed ever was a population of Blue Vangas living on Grande Comore, it must now be extinct.

There is also another mystery – why are there no Blue Vangas to be found (at least today) on the islands of Anjouan and Mayotte which in fact lie between Mohéli and Madagascar? 

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Grande Comore Blue Vanga (Cyanolanius comorensis ssp. bensoni); the sole known specimen

Photo: RMCA, Tervuren
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

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References:

[1] M. Louette; M. Herremans: The Blue Vanga Cyanolanius madagascarius on Grand Comoro. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club 102(4): 132-135.1982

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edited: 04.10.2023

Mo’ora-‘ura and toroa – a red duck and a surf duck from Tahiti?

In ancient times, Tahitians believed that several of their Gods and other celestial beings would show themselves to the human eye in form of an animal, a so-called ata and Teuira Henry [see also here] lists some of them, among them also three kinds of ducks.:

Red-feathered duck (mo‘ora-‘ura), ata of ‘Orovehi‘ura (‘Oro in his manifestation of Red-feather-covered). 
Wild duck (mo‘ora-ōviri), ata of “sylvan elves.” 
Surf duck (toroa), ata of Hau, god of peace.
” [1][3]

The ‘Wild duck’, mentioned here, is the Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa J. F. Gmelin) which is the only duck species known from French Polynesia at all, so what are the other two ‘ducks’?

The most showy headdress worn officially by the king and princes and high chiefs was the taumi, a superb helmet made of clusters of crimson feathers of the moora ‘ura (red-feathered duck), set upon a light framework and covering the head like a bird, with a glossy terminal behind of outspreading red, black, and white feathers tastily mixed together.” [1][3]

taumi, however, actually is a gorget decorated with feathers, a feathered helmet was called fau.:

Henry gives a description of a headdress which has some characteristics of a fau, but which seems to be a mixture of remembered types, further confused by the use of the name taumi, which we know was a gorget:” [4]

The fau was also decorated with several of the elongated tail feathers of tropicbirds (as you can see in the depiction, in which they are from the White-tailed Tropicbird (Phaethon lepturus ssp. dorotheae Daudin)).

This depiction shows three men wearing a taumi, one of them, a tahu’a, a high priest, also wearing a fau, decorated with a ray of white tail streamers of the pete’a (Phaethon lepturus ssp. dorotheae).

Depiction from: ‘William Hodges: The fleet of Otaheite assembled at Oparee, 1777’

(public domain)

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A little update here:

A “surf duck” apparently is nothing but an albatross (Diomedea spp.), a bird that is well known to the Polynesians, even in the tropical parts of the region. [2]

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References:

[1] Teuira Henry: Ancient Tahiti. Bishop Museum Bulletins 48: 1-651. 1928 
[2] Kenneth P. Emory: Tuamotuan bird names. The Journal of the Polynesian Society 56(2): 188-196. 1947
[3] Douglas L. Oliver: Ancient Tahitian Society. The University Press of Hawai’i, Honolulu 1974
[4] Karen Stevenson; Steven Hooper: Tahitian fau – unveiling an enigma. Journal of the Polynesian Society 116(2): 181-212. 2007

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edited: 31.07.2023

Did parakeets once inhabit the Tuamotu Islands?

Parakeets of the genus Cyanoramphus are known to once have existed in French Polynesia, namely on the Austral- and the Society Islands. Is it possible that one or more species of that genus once also have existed on the Tuamotu Archipelago?

Well, actually, it absolutely is, but there is yet no actual indication of it; or maybe there is one …:

In a count of Tuamotuan bird names from the 1940s the name petea is given as coming “from an informant in the western Tuamotus, who said it was like the petea of Tahiti.” [1] and that is probably the name of a parakeet. Maybe this informant just gave that name and told the author that it is given to a long-tailed bird that is also found on Tahiti, who knows?

Well, a short check informs us that petea or rather pete’a is indeed a Tahitian bird name but actually for the White-tailed Tropicbird (Phaethon lepturus ssp. dorotheae Mathews) which in fact is not a parakeet, unfortunately.

***

So, while the former occurrence of parakeets on at least some of the atolls and islands in the giant Tuamotuan Archipelago seems absolutely possible, we have yet no real proof of that … and probably never will. 

But we can let our imagination run wild, why not?!

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References:

[1] Kenneth P. Emory: Tuamotuan bird names. The Journal of the Polynesian Society 56(2): 188-196. 1947

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edited: 07.07.2023

Acrocephalus sp. BMNH 1846.7.29.6

The British Museum of Natural History is apparently housing a reed-warbler specimen that is sister to the Leeward Islands Reed-Warbler (Acrocephalus musae (J. R. Forster)) , a now extinct species that occurred with two subspecies on the islands of Huahine and Ra’iatea in the leeward group of the Society Islands.

However, this single specimen appears not to be identical to either of the two known subspecies and was proposed to be classified as “A. musae subsp. (Leeward Islands), with uncertainty regarding the island and subspecies.” [1]; it might indeed represent another, third subspecies that had been collected from another island within the leeward group.

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References:

[1] Alice Cibois; Jean-Claude Thibault; Eric Pasquet: Molecular and morphological analysis of Pacific reed warbler specimens of dubious origin, including Acrocephalus luscinius astrolabii. Bulletin of the British Ornithologist’s Club 131(1): 32-40. 2011

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edited: 05.07.2023

Seltsame Kreidezeit-Füße – Teil 2: DIP-V-15105a/b

DIP-V-15105a und DIP-V-15105b sind zwei Bernsteinfossilien, einmal ein fast vollständig erhaltener Fuß und zum anderen Teile eines Flügels, bzw. dessen Federn, beide gehören ziemlich wahrscheinlich zueinander.

DIP-V-15105a/b erreichte die Größe eines Kolibris, genauer gesagt eines winzigen Kolibris.

Der Fuß (es ist der rechte Fuß) ist interessanterweise bis fast zu den Zehen befiedert, wobei sich hier sogar zwei verschiedene Federformen finden, etwas längere, offenbar bräunlich gefärbte, dicht stehende Federn auf der Fußoberseite sowie vereinzelte, winzige borstenartige Federchen auf den eigentlichen Zehen selbst. 

Dem Fußbau nach zu urteilen war dieser Vogel einem heutigen Baumläufer oder Kleiber vergleichbar, lebte also in den Wipfeln der Bäume und hielt sich bevorzugt an den größeren Ästen und den Stämmen auf wo er auf der Suche nach Insektenbeute schließlich mit dem Fuß in ausgetretenem Baumharz kleben blieb und so einen grausigen Tod fand.  

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Referenzen:

[1] Lida Xing; Ryan C. McKellar; Jingmai K. O’Connor; Ming Bai; Kuowei Tseng; Luis M. Chiappe: A fully feathered enantiornithine foot and wing fragment preserved in mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber. Scientific Reports 9(129): 1-9. 2019

Rekonstruktion des Fußes; ich habe die Federn in der vermutlichen Originalfarbe wiedergegeben
Rekonstruktion des gesamten Vogels; hier wohlgemerkt in etwa in Lebensgröße – Gummibärchen zum Größenvergleich
meine letzte Rekonstruktion; wenn die Proportionen stimmen erreichte dieses ‚Ding‘ die gigantische Größe von 4 cm, VIER ZENTIMETER!!!

leider habe ich gerade kein Gummibärchen zur Hand …. 
… hatte heute mal etwas zeit und hab mal ein bisschen mit den Farben herumexperimentiert

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bearbeitet: 15.11.2022

Remiornis heberti Lemoine

Beschrieben bereits 1881 aber bis heute nahezu unbekannt, ist diese Art, soweit mir bekannt, nur anhand von Bruchstücken des Schnabels sowie einiger Wirbel und eines Fußknochens bekannt.

Der Vogel war, laut einiger Autoren, zu Lebzeiten etwa so groß wie ein Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae (Latham)) und mag ca. 55 kg gewogen haben [3]; ich persönlich komme beim Umrechnen aber nur auf eine Rückenhöhe von etwas über 70 cm.

Die Art ist bisher nur aus Frankreich bekannt und zwar aus Ablagerungen des Oberen Paläozän, also Schichten mit einem Alter von etwa 59 bis 56 Millionen Jahren, sie scheint außerdem mit keinem anderen Ratiten, lebend oder ausgestorben, näher verwandt gewesen zu sein.

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meine neueste Rekonstruktion, wahrscheinlich mit immer noch zu kurzen Beinen

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Quellen:

[1] Victor Lemoine: Recherches sur les oiseaux fossiles des terrains tertiaires inférieurs des environs de Reims. Reims, Impr. F. Keller 1878-1881
[2] Eric Buffetaut; Delphine Angst: Stratigraphic distribution of large flightless birds in the Palaeogene of Europe and its palaeobiological and palaeogeographical implications. Earth-Science Reviews 138: 394-408. 2014
[3] Eric Buffetaut; Gaël de Ploëg: Giant birds from the uppermost Paleocene of Rivecourt (Oise, northern France). Boletim do Centro Português de Geo-História e Pré-História 2(1): 29-33. 2020
[4] Gerald Mayr: Paleogene Fossil Birds. 2nd ed. edition 2022

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bearbeitet: 22.05.2022

Landbirds of the Brazilian Atlantic islands

In the Atlantic Ocean are three groups of islands that are politically part of Brazil and about which little seems to be known: the Fernando de Noronha Archipelago and the Rocks of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, both located near the equator and Trindade & Martim Vaz near the southern 20th parallel. 

Interestingly, as many as four land bird species are known from these archipelagos, of which at least three are truly native and endemic: the Noronha Olive Tyrant (Elaenia ridleyana Sharpe) (Tyrannidae), the extinct Noronha Rail (cf. Rallus sp.) (Rallidae), the Noronha Vireo (Vireo gracilirostris Sharpe) (Vireonidae) and the Noronha Eared Dove (Zenaida auriculata ssp. noronha Sharpe) (Columbidae), all native to the largest archipelago, Fernando de Noronha. 

***

There are also two more or less hypothetical forms for the second largest archipelago, Trindade & Martim Vaz: a pigeon form mentioned only by one of the first visitors to Trindade island at the end of the 17th century:

In 1698 Dr. Halley visited the island, and says he found nothing living but doves and land-crabs.” [1]

And, for the time being, purely hypothetical but very probable, a rail, also for this one island. 

***

No serious excavation appears to have taken place on any of the islands, such excavation would almost certainly unearth other bird forms that are now extinct.

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References:

[1] R. Davis: Real Soldiers of Fortune. Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York 1906
[2] Robert Cushman Murphy: The birdlife of Trinidad Islet. The Auk 32(3): 332-348. 1915
[3] S. L. Olson: Natural history of vertebrates on the Brazilian islands of the mid South Atlantic. National Geographic Society Research Reports 13: 481-492. 1981
[4] Ruy José Válka Alves; Nílber Gonçalves da Silva: Três Séculos de História Natural na Ilha da Trindade com Comentários Sobre Sua Conservação. Smashwords 2016

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edited: 05.07.2023

Zealandornis relictus Worthy et al.

Dieser Vogel lebte in Neuseeland vor 19 bis 16 Millionen Jahren, ist bisher aber nur anhand eines Knochenbruchstücks bekannt.

eine höchst spekulative Rekonstruktion

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Quelle:

[1] Trevor H. Worthy; R. Paul Scofield; Steven W. Salisbury; Suzanne J. Hard; Vanesa L. De Pietri; Michael Archer: Two new neoavian taxa with contrasting palaeobiogeographical implications from the early Miocene St Bathans Fauna, New Zealand. Journal of Ornithology http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10336-022-01981-6. 2022

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bearbeitet: 08.03.2022

Zealandornithidae – eine neue fossile Familie neuseeländischer Vögel

Es ist eine einigermaßen bekannte Tatsache, dass Neuseeland auch heute noch einige Reliktpopulationen ansonsten längst ausgestorbener Lebensformen beherbergt, dies war aber bereits in der Vergangenheit so.

Die fossile Fauna der St Bathans-Fundstelle hat nun eine weitere solche Reliktlinie hervorgebracht, die Familie der “Zealandia-Vögel”, benannt anhand eines distalen Endstücks eines Humerus eines Vogels, der sich keiner bekannten Familie zuordnen lässt (Zealandornis relictus Worthy et al.). [1]

Dieser Vogel dürfte in etwa die Größe eines durchschnittlichen Finken erreicht haben und könnte mit den Mausvögeln verwandt gewesen sein, ohne dabei zu den Mausvögeln selbst zu gehören. Es ist möglich, dass seine Familie gondwanischen Ursprungs ist und in Neuseeland ihr letztes Refugium gefunden hatte, oder, wie etliche andere neuseeländische Vogelformen auch, ursprünglich aus Australien zugewandert ist. Wie so oft gilt auch hier, es sind weitere Funde notwendig um genauere Angaben zum Aussehen und zu den Verwandtschaftsverhältnissen dieser Art/Familie zu machen. [1]

Eine Rekonstruktion ist derzeit nicht wirklich möglich, bzw. wäre rein spekulativ.

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Quelle:

[1] Trevor H. Worthy; R. Paul Scofield; Steven W. Salisbury; Suzanne J. Hard; Vanesa L. De Pietri; Michael Archer: Two new neoavian taxa with contrasting palaeobiogeographical implications from the early Miocene St Bathans Fauna, New Zealand. Journal of Ornithology http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10336-022-01981-6. 2022

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bearbeitet: 08.03.2022

Passeriformer Vogel aus dem europäischen Miozän

Aus frühmiozänen (ca. 20 Millionen v.u.Z.) Ablagerungen in Europa, vor allem in Süddeutschland und Österreich sind zahlreiche passerine Vogelformen nachgewiesen, von denen nur wenig Material erhalten geblieben ist.

Leider sind die meisten davon wohl bis jetzt nicht weiter untersucht worden und demnach ist auch nicht näher bekannt, welchen Unterordnungen sie womöglich zuzuordnen sind (aus dem Oligozän, das dem Miozän vorangeht, sind aus Europa nur suboscine Sperlingsvögel (Tyranni) bekannt, die es hier heute überhaupt nicht mehr gibt), deswegen wäre es sehr interessant mehr über all diese fossilen Formen zu erfahren.

Der hier abgebildete Vogel ist nur als “Passerum gen. species A” benannt.

zu Lebzeiten etwa so groß wie ein Goldhähnchen (Regulus sp.), ist nur anhand eines Flügelknochens bekannt

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Quelle:

[1] Peter Ballmann: Die Vögel aus der altburdigalen Spaltenfüllung von Wintershof (West) bei Eichstätt in Bayern. Zitteliana 1: 5-60. 1969

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bearbeitet: 23.03.2022

Palaeotodus escampsiensis Mourer-Chauviré

Diese Art stammt aus dem oberen Eozän Europas und ist der älteste bislang bekannte Vertreter seiner Familie, die heute nur noch mit fünf Arten in der Karibik verbreitet ist.

Die eozäne Form erreichte eine Größe von nur etwa 10 cm und ähnelte somit wohl sehr den rezenten Todi-Arten. [1]

mit den Flügelfedern bin ich mal wieder unzufrieden, mal sehen, vielleicht mache ich da noch was dran …

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Quelle:

[1] Gerald Mayr; Norbert Micklich: New specimens of the avian taxa Eurotrochilus (Trochilidae) and Palaeotodus (Todidae) from the early Oligocene of Germany. Paläontologische Zeitschrift 84: 387-395. 2010

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bearbeitet: 04.03.2022

Todus pulcherrimus Sharpe

Schöner Todi (Todus pulcherrimus Sharpe)

Von dieser ‘Art’, beschrieben im Jahr 1874, habe ich gestern überhaupt zum allerersten Mal gehört, sie ist offenbar nur anhand eines einzigen Exemplars bekannt, dessen Herkunft nicht gesichert zu sein scheint.:

Hab. Jamaica [?]” [1]

Dieses eine Exemplar befindet sich offenbar im British Museum in London, Großbritannien und unterscheidet sich von allen bekannten Todi-Arten durch die eher bläulich als grün gefärbten Oberseite sowie die kräftig gefärbte Unterseite (siehe Darstellung).

***

Bei diesem mysteriösen Vogel soll es sich aber um einen aberrant gefärbten Breitschnabeltodi (Todus subulatus Gray) handeln, einer Art, die von der Insel Hispaniola stammt.

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Beide Formen sind auf dieser Darstellung zu sehen; zwei Breitschnabeltodis oben, ein Schöner Todi unten.

Darstellung aus: ‘R. Bowdler Sharpe: On the genus Todus. The Ibis 3(4): 344-355. 1874’

(public domain)

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Quelle:

[1] R. Bowdler Sharpe: On the genus Todus. The Ibis 3(4): 344-355. 1874

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bearbeitet: 18.02.2022

Eoconfuciusornis zhengi Zhang, Zhou & Benton

Diese Art wurde im Jahr 2008 beschrieben; sie stammt aus Schichten, die sich auf ein Alter von 131 Millionen Jahren datieren lassen, d.h. aus der Unterkreide. [1]

Das Typusexemplar weist im Bereich des Unterleibs kleine, runde Gebilde auf, die ursprünglich für Eier gehalten wurden, die aber mittlerweile als Samen eines Steineibengewächses (Podocarpaceae) identifiziert wurden, die der fossilen Form Carpolithus multiseminalis Sun et Zheng bzw. Strobilites taxusoides Sun & Zheng (siehe Darstellung) aus derselben Fundschicht ähneln, jedoch größer waren. [4]

Des Weiteren sind bei dieser Art Farbzellen erhalten, die es möglich machen, die Farben des Vogels zu Lebzeiten zu rekonstruieren: das Gefieder war hauptsächlich dunkelgrau mit irisierenden Federn im Kopf-Nacken-Bereich, die Kehle war offenbar rotbraun gefärbt, die Armschwingen mögen bräunlich gewesen sein, die Handschwingen sicher dunkler, eher schwärzlich. [3][5]

***

Der Vogel gehört zur Ordnung der Confuciusornithiformes, einer Gruppe von avialen Dinosauriern, die sehr gute Flieger gewesen sein dürften und bereits einen keratinösen Schnabel besaßen, die aber nur äußerst entfernt mit den heutigen Vögeln verwandt sind und auch nicht deren Vorfahren darstellen. 

Zu Lebzeiten muss diese Art eine Länge von über 30 cm erreicht haben (inclusive der beiden verlängerten Schwanzfedern). [2]

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Quellen:

[1] FuCheng Zhang; ZhongHe Zhou; Michael J. Benton: A primitive confuciusornithid bird from China and its implications for early avian flight. Science in China Series D: Earth Sciences 51: 625–639. 2008
[2] Matthew P. Martyniuk: A Field Guide to Mesozoic Birds and Other Winged Dinosaurs. Pan Aves 2012
[3] Yanhong Pan; Wenxia Zheng; Alison E. Moyer; Jingmai K. O’Connor; Min Wang; Xiaoting Zheng; Xiaoli Wang; Elena R. Schroeter; Zhonghe Zhou; Mary H. Schweitzer: Molecular evidence of keratin and melanosomes in feathers of the Early Cretaceous bird Eoconfuciusornis. Proceedings of the national Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 113(49) 900-907. 2016
[4] Gerald Mayr; Thomas G. Kaye; Michael Pittman; Evan T. Saitta; Christian Pott: Reanalysis of putative ovarian follicles suggests that Early Cretaceous birds were feeding not breeding. Scientific Reports 10(19035): 1-10. 2020
[5] Pan Yanhong; Li Zhiheng; Wang Min; Zhao Tao; Xiaoli Wang; Xiaoting Zheng: Unambiguous evidence of brilliant iridescent feather color from hollow melanosomes in an Early Cretaceous bird. National Science Review. in press: nwab227. doi:10.1093/nsr/nwab227. 2021

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bearbeitet: 02.01.2022

Kaririavis mater de Souza Carvalho et al.

… just having been described from the Early Cretaceous Crato Formation in Brazil.:

reconstruction in life-size, quite a small bird

This was a member of the Euornithes, which include all living birds, yet it does not belong to any of the living bird groups of course; it is the oldest member of that group known from South America (older ones were found in China).

The bird is known only from a single right foot that lacks some of its bones; the fossil also contains some feathers which indeed may belong to the bird. [1]

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References:

[1] Ismar de Souza Carvalho; Federico L. Agnolin; Sebastián Rozadilla; Fernando E. Novas; José A. Ferreira Gomes Andrade; José Xavier-Neto: A new ornithuromorph bird from the Lower Cretaceous of South America. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology doi: 10.1080/02724634.2021.1988623. 2021

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edited: 14.11.2021

What is/was Strix parvissima Ellman?

Little Owl (Ruruwekau), Strix parvissima. A very scarce bird, not larger than a starling. The head is very large. I have never obtained a specimen, but have seen it among the forests. It is an exceedingly shy bird.” [1] 

***

In this division there is a most remarkable little owl, the smallest in the world. It is known to the natives as the ruru wekau; it has an unusually large head, flies by day, is exceedingly shy, and is about half the size of the common ruru. It inhabits dense forests.” [2]

***

No. 6. – Strix parvissima, Ellman. (Zool., 1861)
Little Owl

Amongst the desiderata of our collections the Little Owl has for some time held a place; many doubt its existence, few have seen it, still fewer have preserved any note or observation concerning it. From the information that has been gleaned about this rare bird, it would appear that its habitat must be the bushes about the Rangitata River 
[Canterbury Region, South Island].
One correspondent saw it on the bank of a creek at no great distance from Mount Peel Forest, it was between the roots of a large tree; observation was drawn to it by the proceedings of several tuis, who were persecuting it to the best of their ability; it was whilst its attention was engaged by these noisy assailants that the bird was secured. It was about the size of a kingfisher, and its captor felt quite certain of its being an adult specimen; it was carried home to be shown as a curiosity, and was afterwards liberated. Unlike the more-pork, when captured it was exceedingly gentle.
Another specimen was procured by a gentleman in one of the bushes far above the Rangitata Gorge; on being observed on a branch of a tree, it was knocked down and caught during its fall; there was fur on its beak, as though it had not long before devoured a mouse; this bird was also set at liberty.
Two other instances of its occurrence have been communicated, but without further information. It may be mentioned that one of these was again on the Rangitata.
At Shepherd Bush Station, on the Rangitata, opposite Peel Forest, a specimen was observed in the house, greatly resembling A. Novae Zelandiae 
[ruru (Ninox novaeseelandiae)], except in size, which was about that of a kingfisher; it was most gentle in its habits, remaining quiet during the daytime and sallied forth in the evening, regaining its perch by entering through a broken window. This pretty little visitor thus frequented the house for about a fortnight; it should be added that the house stands close to a small bush composed chiefly of Leptospermum, Griselinia, etc., of which there are many aged specimens.
From these notices it may be safely inferred that the Little Owl is arboreal in its habits, and possibly not so strictly nocturnal as its better known congeners; whether it is to be considered identical with either of the species referred to by Dr. Finsch is, of course, at present unknown; it is certain it is not a tufted species, or such a remarkable form would have been noticed.
” [3]

***

What can we make of this little owl that apparently once existed in New Zealand?

Are these accounts referring to an actual owl or rather to some other bird, maybe even to a last surviving population of the New Zealand Owlet-Nightjar (Aegotheles novaezealandiae (Scarlett))?

This nightjar species is known only from subfossil remains that date to 1200 AD and which usually are not found in association with Maori middens, it was also not necessarily a small bird and may have been quite the same size as the ruru and only slightly smaller than the larger whēkau (Ninox albifacies); furthermore it is thought to have been flightless or at least nearly so. 

There is, however, a slight chance that these eyewitness accounts indeed refer to a last surviving population of this now extinct creature, we will probably never know for sure.

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References:

[1] J. B. Ellman: Brief Notes on the Birds of New Zealand. The Zoologist 19: 7464-7473. 1861
[2] J. B. Ellman: Correspondence. The Press 3(136): 2. 1863
[3] T. H. Potts: On the birds of New Zealand (Part II.) Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute 3: 59-109. 1870

*********************

New Zealand Owlet-Nightjar (Aegotheles novaezealandiae)

Depiction: Paul Martinson

under creative commons license (4.0))
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

*********************

edited: 05.11.2021

The Manumea

There is probably no other bird on this planet that comes more closely to what could be called a cryptid than the Manumea, the Tooth-billed Pigeon (Didunculus strigirostris (Jardine)) of Samoa.

The species is known to inhabit, or at least to have inhabited, the rainforests of the islands of Nu’ulua, Savai’i and ‘Upolu, Western Samoa; in prehistorical times it was even more widespread. Nearly nothing is known about this species: the breeding behavior is still unknown, the same more or less applies to basically all of the bird’s habits.

As far as I know there are only about five or so photos of living individuals of the species, most of them, if not all, show the same bird that was kept in captivity for some time.

The latest sightings were of a juvenile bird in 2013, which also was photographed; than a bird was seen and heard calling in 2020, however, no photo had been taken this time. [1]

***

The Manumea is currently not kept in captivity and the wild population is estimated to be less than 100 – to about 300 birds, that’s not much and the species is in immediate danger of extinction.

Wouldn’t it be phantastic if even only a fraction of the amounts of money that are spend to prove the existence of such phantasy creatures like Bigfoot, Chupacabra or Mokele Mbembe would be used for something useful, for the search for the Manumea, for the rescue of this enigmatic yet indeed existing bird?!

*********************

References:

[1] Sapeer Mayron: Near-extinct manumea spotted in Savai’i. Samoa Observer 25/08/2020

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Photo: Augustin Kramer

(public domain)

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edited: 03.11.2021

Are there Maori traditions about the extinct Moa(s)? part: 2

The Maori, the indigenous people of Aotearoa (New Zealand), have a very rich oral tradition that actually dates back to the time when their ancestors first arrived at the shores of the islands!

These traditions, however, have greatly been influenced by Europeans settlers, especially by missionaries, who tried to destroy the Maori by banning everything Maori: traditional clothing, traditional musical instruments, songs, religious beliefs, even the Maori language itself, everything was banned and violations were punished severely. 

No one can say how much knowledge was destroyed during these times.

“…
Kotahi tonue tama 
Te tiaki whenua, 
Ko te kuranui
Te manu a Rua-kapanga, 
Itahuna e to tupuna, e Tamatea 
Ki te ahi tawhito, 
Ki te ahi tupua, 
Ki te ahi na Mahuika. 
Na Maui i whakaputa ki te ao 
Ka mate i whare huki o Repo-roa, 
Ka rere te momo, e tama e!

This is the end part of a large Maori poem that can be dated back to the 14th century, around the time when the first Maori settlers arrived at the shores of Aotearoa (New Zealand).

The poem mentions the kuranui, the bird of Rua-kapanga, which is said to have been the first person to have spotted the bird; te kuranui might be translated as ‘the large red one’, ‘the large precious one’ or maybe as ‘the most precious one’.

Furthermore it also informs us about the fate of these kuranui(s): “… destroyed by your ancestor, Tamatea, with underground and supernatural fire, the fire of Mahuika (a fire goddess), brought to this world by Maui; they were driven into the swamps and perished …” [1]

*********************

References:

[1] Otto Krösche: Die Moa-Strausse, Neuseelands ausgestorbene Riesenvögel: Die neue Brehm-Bücherei 322. A. Ziemsen Verlag 1963

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edited: 02.11.2021

Pā-Tangaroa – an extinct starling from the island of Mangaia?

Nowadays there is only one single species of starling in central Polynesia, the Rarotonga starling (Aplonis cinereacsens Hartlaub & Finsch), which occurs exclusively on the island of Rarotonga, the largest of the Cook Islands; another form, the Plain Starling (Aplonis mavornata Buller), itself a mystery for over a century, came from another of the Cook Islands, namely Ma’uke.  

So, it’s pretty certain that other forms were once found on other islands in this archipelago, right?  

I just found a clue in this direction when I was writing down the names from a list of birds compiled in the early 20th century by someone named F. W. Christian; this list is part of a kind of dictionary of the Mangaian dialect, the dialect spoken on the island of Mangaia, the southernmost and second largest of the Cook Islands.

Here a list of the bird names.:

Pā-Tangaroa. – A speckled bird; somewhat larger than the Kere-a-rako. Frequents coconut palm blossoms. 
Tangaa-‘eo. – The native Wood-pecker; blue above, yellow and white below. 
Kere-a-rako. – A small yellow and green song-bird much resembling a canary. 
Titi. – A bird living in the rocks and crags. Much relished for food. Cf. Maori Titi, the Mutton-bird. Sanskrit and Hindustani, Titti: Tittiri, the Partridge. 
Mokora’a. – The Wild Duck, or rather, a small species of teal, found in abundance round Lake Tiriara. 
Kauā. – A sea-bird. 
Rakoa. – A sea-bird. 
Torea. – A sea-bird. 
Kotuku. – The Blue Heron. 
Kakaia. – A beautiful small white tern or sea-gull. 
Kotaa. – The Frigate or Boatswain Bird. Cf. Samoa, A ta fu,; id. 
Fijian, Kandavu; id. Uleai (W. Carolines) Kataf; id. Sonserol (S. W. Caralises) Gatyava; id. Cf. Sanskrit Gandharva, a celestial messenger: angel. 
Tavake. – The Tropic Bird (Phaethon). Called in the Marquesas Tavae-ma-te-ve’o, from its two long red tail-feathers. Used in Polynesian head-ornaments. Cf. Ponape Chaok: Chik; id. Cf. Sanskrit Stabaka, Stavaka a peacock’s feather: tuft: plume. 
Kara’ura’u. – A sea-bird. 
Kururi: Kuriri. – The Sand-Piper.
Karavi’a. – The Long-tailed Cuckoo. 
Kura-mō. – A small Parrakeet (on Atiu).
” [1]

The respective scientific names of the birds.:

Pā-Tangaroa. – ?
Tangaa-‘eo. – Todiramphus ruficollaris
Kere-a-rako. – Acrocephalus k. kerearako
Titi. – Pterodroma nigripennis
Mokora’a. – Anas superciliosa
Kauā. – Numenius tahitiensis
Rakoa. – Puffinus lherminieri
Torea. – Pluvialis fulva
Kotuku. – Egretta sacra
Kakaia. – Gygis alba
Kotaa. – Fregata spp.
Tavake. – Phaethon rubricauda
Kara’ura’u. – Procelsterna cerulea
KururiKuriri. – Tringa incana
Karavi’a. – Eudynamis taitensis
Kura-mō. – Vini kuhlii

***

All of these names can be assigned to actually existing bird species, with one exception – the first name.

So which species is hiding behind the name Pā-Tangaroa?

This is actually a rather unusual name for a Polynesian bird, and the reference to Tangaroa, one of the most important Polynesian gods, is very interesting. Perhaps a bird with such a name was also considered God-like or sacred, or at least as being tapu.

The description of this bird: speckled and slightly larger than the Kerearako (i.e. larger than 16 cm), often found on coconut flowers, fits a star of the genus Aplonis quite well, in fact it suits this genus more than any other genus in question.

So there was almost certainly once a star of the genus Aplonis that lived on the island of Mangaia, and its subfossil bones may sooner or later be discovered; the question is, did the species survive long enough that locals could at least remember that it was called Pā-Tangaroa? Given that research into the fauna and flora of the Cook Islands didn’t begin until the early 20th century … it is entirely possible! 

***

I should also mention that this listing, which dates back to 1920, already mentions the Cook Island reed warbler (Acrocephalus kerearako Holyoak), which was not officially discovered until 1973 (and described a year later). [2] 

*********************

References:

[1] F. W. Christian: List of Mangaia birds. The Journal of the Polynesian Society 29(114): 87. 1920
[2] D. T. Holyoak: Undescribed land birds from the Cook Islands, Pacific Ocean. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club 94(4): 145-150. 1974

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Pā-Tangaroa (Aplonis sp.)

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edited: 01.11.2021

Are there Maori traditions about the extinct Moa(s)?

This is a very interesting question that was asked by many scientists – what does Maori lore tell us about the now extinct megafauna of New Zealand? The results of all previous investigations are rather sobering, all so-called traditional accounts seem to date to the time following the arrival of the Europeans in New Zealand.

I want to mention only one of them here.

The first account dates from the middle of the 19th century.:

The natives speak of another member of this family, which they name the kiwi papa whenua, a still larger species, which they describe as having been full seven feet high; it likewise had a very long bill, with which it made large holes in the ground, in search after worms. This bird is now extinct, but there are persons living who have seen it. Rauparaha told me he had eaten it in his youth, which might be about seventy years ago [ca. 1785], and when that Chief died, his corpse was said to have been ornamented with some of its feathers.” [1] 

***

This second account refers to the first one and was made just ten years later.:

Kiwi Papa Whenua. Seven feet [ca. 2 m] high. One of the last birds to disappear. There are still men who have hunted it.” [2]

***

The Kiwi papa whenua accounts may indeed refer to one of the smaller or middle-sized moa species, one that was about 2 m tall and that may have survived longer than most of the other moa species, but probably not into the early- or middle 18th century; it might thus be referring to the so-called Upland Moa (Megalapteryx didinus (Owen)), a species that officially died out around 1500 AD.. However, when reading the first account, it is very clear that this description has been mixed with that of a typical kiwi, thus it is quite clear that these accounts are no eyewitness reports.

The term Kiwi papa whenua might be translated as ‘Ground kiwi’ or maybe ‘Kiwi of the land’ which is not very meaningful. It is furthermore rather unlikely that the Maori would have connected the diurnal, rather large, long-necked moa species with the completely distinct kiwi(s), thus it is very unlikely that the term ‘kiwi’ would have been used for any of these species.

Nevertheless, such old accounts remain very interesting, and I will go on posting more of them in the future.   

*********************

References:

[1] Richard Taylor: Te Ika a Maui: or, New Zealand and its inhabitants, illustrating the origin, manners, customs, mythology, religion, rites, songs, proverbs, fables, and language of the natives: together with the geology, natural history, productions, and climate of the country; its state as regards Christianity; sketches of the principal chiefs, and their present position; with a map and numerous illustrations. London: Wertheim and Macintosh, 24, Paternoster-Row. 1855
[2] J. B. Ellman: Brief Notes on the Birds of New Zealand. The Zoologist 19: 7464-7473. 1861

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edited: 01.11.2021

Avian Musings – blog post from January 23, 2019

In his great blog (that I actually – and that’s no lie – look into at least once a week), Paul Cianfaglione writes about many bird-related things, including fine book reviews, very interesting insights into bird anatomy and everything else.

But his latest post is just unbeatable: he did make an extremely close inspection of a bird fossil from Messel that he owns.:

“Messel Bird Fossil offers unique feather preservation, and more” from January 23, 2019

***

I personally have never seen close-ups of a bird fossil that are so razor-sharp and detailed!

And his bird shows features not known in any living bird – at least not all of them together in one bird.:

The beak is very big and hooked like the beak of a bird of prey or a owl, and it appears to have had sensory pits, the body feathers appear somewhat hair-like, the wing coverts are fluffy, also probably somewhat like the feather edges of recent owls, and the primaries have extremely strange appendages not known in that way from any other bird, living or extinct, but somewhat reminding on the wings of a waxwing.

What kind of a bird was that?

Well, I could try to do a reconstruction, should I?

take 1: that is just a doodle, maybe I have more time tomorrow to make a complete drawing

Gosh, this is so exciting!   🙂
take 2
take 3

***

The Avian Musings blog does not longer exist, unfortunately.

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edited: 03.09.2021

LKM-Pal 7.451 a+b

This is one of two passerine bird species recently found in middle Miocene deposits in Austria, this one is known from a partial skull and several other quite shredded bones while the second one is known only from a sternum.

… just a quick sketch

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References:

[1] Johannes Happ; Armin Elsler; Jürgen Kriwet; Cathrin Pfaff; Zbigniew M. Bochenski: Two passeriform birds (Aves: Passeriformes) from the Middle Miocene of Austria. PalZ (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12542-021-00579-2

Komako – The Mangareva Reed Warbler

The Mangareva Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus astrolabii Holyoak & Thibault), only described in 1978, is one of the many mysterious birds whose cases were solved only quite recently.

The species was restricted to the Gambier Islands, where it was at least found on the biggest of the islands, Mangareva.

The species disappeared sometimes during the early or middle 19th century, but the natives still recalled the former presence of it and were also still using its name.:

She [the daughter of the Chief of the island of Taravai] has not seen the “Komaku” herself, but her father, the Chief, has. He gave us the name and says he saw them about thirty or forty years ago.” [1]

***

The species apparently died out sometimes around the middle 19th century; it is, however, possible that it survived into the middle of the 20th century …:

Signalons aussi qu’une fauvette fut observée sur l’îlot Tepapuri en 1971 (Thibault, 1973b). Ce dernier oiseau, blanchâtre dessus et brun dessous, devait être un erratique de la forme habitant, les atolls au nord des Gambier, A. caffer ravus.“ [2]

translation:

Note also that a warbler was observed on Tepapuri islet in 1971 (Thibault, 1973b). This last bird, whitish above and brown below [I’m quite sure that it should be exactly reversed], must have been an erratic of the form inhabiting the atolls north of the Gambier, A. caffer ravus.”

I somewhat doubt that assumption, and this account may indeed be the very last sighting of a Mangareva Reed Warbler that took place on one of the northernmost motu of the Gambier Island’s fringing reef.

*********************

References:

[1] Whitney South Sea Expedition of the American Museum of Natural History: Voyage of the ‘France’ from Timoe Atoll to the Mangareva Islands; Voyage to Marutea. April 25 – May 14, 1922. Extracts from the Journal of Ernest H. Quayle; Assistant Field Naturalist. Book XXV through Book XXVIII. April 1 – June 24, 1922
[2] D. T. Holyoak; J.-C. Thibault: Contribution à l’étude des oiseaux de Polynésie orientale. Mémoires du Muséum national d’histoire naturelle 127(1): 1-209. 1984
[3] Alice Cibois; Jean-Claude Thibault; Eric Pasquet: Molecular and morphological analysis of Pacific reed warbler specimens of dubious origin, including Acrocephalus luscinius astrolabii. Bulletin on the British Ornitologists’ Club 131(1): 32-40. 2011

*********************

Depiction from: ‘Whitney South Sea Expedition of the American Museum of Natural History: Voyage of the ‘France’ from Timoe Atoll to the Mangareva Islands; Voyage to Marutea. April 25 – May 14, 1922. Extracts from the Journal of Ernest H. Quayle; Assistant Field Naturalist. Book XXV through Book XXVIII. April 1 – June 24, 1922’

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/

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edited: 08.08.2021

Mangareva Kingfisher

The Mangareva Kingfisher still is one of the most enigmatic birds I am aware of so far.

The species inhabited the Gambier Islands, and another species occurring 1000s of km to the northwest of it, the Niau Kingfisher (Todiramphus gertrudae Murphy), is still officially assigned to this bird as a subspecies.

I have desperately tried to find the original description of this species, and here it is.:

Il existe, en effet, depuis longtemps dans les galeries du Muséum un Martin- pêcheur qui a été rapporté en 1841 de Mangarewa (archipel Gambier) par l’Astrolabe (Voyage au Pôle Sud) et qui répond exactement à la description et à la figure de l’Halcyon Reichenbachi. Cet oiseau a le sommet de la tête d’un roux qui va en s’éclaircissant et tire au blanc jaunâtre du côté, du front, mais qui est assez intense sur le vertex où se détachent quelques plumes vertes. Sur les oreilles il existe aussi, de chaque côté une tache verte, passant au noirâtre en arrière et tendant à rejoindre une bande noire qui fait le tour de l’occiput. Cette bande foncée limite en dessus un large collier blanc, un peu sali par quelques taches noires, qui se fond sur les côtés dans la teinte blanche qui couvre toutes les parties inférieures du corps, les flancs seuls offrant un peu de roux et encore sur des points cachés entièrement par les ailes. Celles-ci sont d’un vert légèrement bleuâtre, avec des lisérés roux très fins au bord des couvertures alaires. La queue est également d’un vert bleuâtre au milieu, d’un vert mélangé de grisâtre sous lespennes externes, qui sont d’ailleurs incomplètes. Enfin le bec est noir et la mandibule, inférieure blanche ou plutôt jaunâtre dans toute sa portion basilaire. Les pattes sont d’un m brun foncé. La longueur totale de l’oiseau est de 0,170; l’aile mesure 0,090, la queue 0,880, le bec 0,018; le tarse 0,014. Dès 1889, en faisant une revision des Alcédinidés du Muséum en vue de leur instal- lation dans les nouvelles galeries, j’avais désigné ce Martin-pêcheur de Mangarewa sous le nom d” Halcyon Gambieri; mais je n’en avais pas publié la description jusqu’à ce jour.” [1]

translation:

For a long time, there has been a kingfisher in the galleries of the Museum who was brought back in 1841 from Mangarewa (Gambier Archipelago) by the Astrolabe (Journey to the South Pole) and who exactly corresponds to the description and the figure of Halcyon Reichenbachi. This bird has the top of the head red that brightens to yellowish white on the side of the forehead but is quite intense on the vertex where some green feathers stand out. On the ears there is also, on each side a green patch, passing blackish back and tending to join a black band that goes around the occiput. This dark band has a large white necklace on top, a little dirty with a few black spots, which is melting on the sides into the white hue that covers all the lower parts of the body, only the flanks offering a little russet and are, on some points, hidden entirely by the wings. These are a slightly bluish green, with very fine red rims at the edge of the wing coverts. The tail is also bluish green in the middle, of a green mixed with greyish under the outer feathers, which are also incomplete. Lastly, the beak is black, and the mandible underneath is white or rather yellowish throughout its base portion. The legs are of a dark brown. The total length of the bird is 0,170; the wing measures 0,090, the tail 0,880, the beak 0,018; Tarsus 0,014. As early as 1889, by making a revision of the Alcedinidae of the Museum with a view to their installation in the new galleries, I had designated this kingfisher of Mangarewa under the name of Halcyon Gambieri; but I had not published the description so far.

***

What I am wondering about most is the fact that the Mangareva – and the Niau Kingfishers still are regarded to as a single species; on the other hand, both forms are rather similar to each other.

Which of the many other Polynesian islands might once have harbored their own kingfisher forms not known to us today?

*********************

… just a sketch, but with colors

*********************

[1] M. E. Oustalet: Les Mammifères et les oiseaux des iles Mariannes. Nouvelles archives du Muséum d’histoire naturelle 3(7): 141-228. 1895
[2] D. T. Holyoak; J. C. Thibault: Halcyon gambieri gambieri Oustalet, an extinct Kingfisher from Mangareva, South Pacific Ocean. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club 97(1): 21-23. 1977

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edited: 08.08.2021

Seltsame Kreidezeit-Füße – Teil 4: YLSNHM01001

YLSNHM01001 ist ein winziges Bernsteinfossil (ca. 2,5 x 1,8 cm), das Teile eines Vogelfußes bzw. Reste der Haut die diesen Fuß einst umgab, inklusive einer der Fußkrallen sowie Teile der Schwanzfedern umfasst.

Trotz der schlechten Erhaltung steht fest, dass es sich hierbei um einen enantiornithiden Vogel handelt sowie ebenfalls um eine bislang unbekannte Art.

Der Fuß (inklusive der Krallen) hat eine Länge von ca. 1,5 cm. Der vierte Zeh des Fußes ist in seinem Umfang etwa doppelt so groß wie die übrigen Zehen, so weit diese zu erkennen sind. Er erscheint auffällig geschwollen, und eventuell litt dieser Vogel an einer Infektion dieses Zehs. Es ist aber auch möglich, dass es sich hierbei um Verwesungsspuren handelt, worauf auch zahlreiche warzenartig aussehende Blasen hindeuten, die sich entlang der erhaltenen Hautpartien erkennen lassen.

Der Gesamtbau des Fußes lässt darauf schließen, dass YLSNHM01001 ein kleiner insektenfangender Miniaturraubvogel gewesen sein dürfte. [1]

*********************

Referenzen: 

[1] Lida Xing; Ryan C. McKellar; Jingmai K. O’Connor; Kecheng Niu: A mid-Cretaceous enantiornithine foot and tail feather preserved in amber. Scientific Reports 9 (1): 1–8. 2019
[2] A. D. Clark; J. K. O’Connor: Exploring the ecomorphology of two Cretaceous enantiornithines with unique pedal morphology. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 9: 654156. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2021.654156. 2021

YLSNHM01001
Rekonstruktion des Fußes; links: linker Fuß von der linken Körperseite betrachtet, rechts: rechter Fuß von oben betrachtet
Rekonstruktion des gesamten Vogels; er erreicht hier eine Gesamtlänge von ca 22 cm, ist also gar nicht so winzig wie ich ursprünglich gedacht hatte

an den Füßen und den Schwanzfedern muss ich noch mal arbeiten …

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bearbeitet: 19.06.2021

Feldsperling

Feldsperlinge gehören zu meinen absoluten Lieblingsvögeln, wenn man genau hinschaut kann man in ihrem kastanienbraunen Käppchen einen ganz zarten Hauch von Violett erkennen.

Feldsperling (Passer montanus ssp. montanus); eine hauptsächlich asiatische Art, die hierzulande eher selten ist; die Geschlechter lassen sich, im Gegensatz zum Haussperling, äußerlich nicht unterscheiden

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bearbeitet: 25.04.2021

Mäusebussard

Neben dem Mäusebussard sieht man hier oft Rotmilane (Milvus milvus) und immer häufiger Weihen, vermutlich Rohrweihen (Circus aeruginosus), die man an ihrem einzigartigen Flugstil erkennen kann (wenn man ihn einmal gesehen und sich eingeprägt hat). 🙂

Mäusebussard (Buteo buteo ssp. buteo); nicht das beste Foto

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bearbeitet: 25.04.2021

Shengjingornis yangi Li, Wang, Zhang & Hou

Dieses nette kleine Vögelchen, welches in etwa eine Länge von nicht ganz 20 cm erreicht haben dürfte, stammt aus Schichten, die sich auf ein Alter von 122 Millionen Jahren datieren lassen.

Die Art ist bislang wohl nur anhand eines einzigen Skelettes bekannt, das dafür aber vollständig ist; das Gefieder ist allerdings nicht erhalten.

Der Schnabel, wenn man das Schnäuzchen denn so nennen möchte, war leicht abwärts gebogen und trug ganz vorn noch ein paar winzige Zähnchen. [1]

*********************

Rekonstruktion, ich habe mich strikt an das Skelett gehalten … und trotzdem sieht das Ergebnis wie eine Taube aus

*********************

Quelle:

[1] Li Li; Jinqi Wang; Xi Zhang; Shilin Hou: A new enantiornithine bird from the lower Cretaceous Jiufotang Formation in Jinzhou Area, western Liaoning Province, China. Acta Geologica Sinica 86(5): 1039-1044. 2012 

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bearbeitet: 13.04.2021

IVPP V13939

Hinter dieser Buchstaben- und Nummernfolge verbirgt sich ein interessantes Vogelfossil aus der Unteren Kreide Chinas.

Das Fossil besteht aus dem hinteren Teil des Vogels, der Kopf und Teile des Vorderskelettes fehlen, Federn sind ebenfalls erhalten, und hier fallen vor allem einige relativ lange Federn an den Unterschenkeln auf, die etwa die halbe Länge des Beinknochens aufweisen.

Die Art wurde bislang offenbar nicht beschrieben oder benannt, ist aber in Matthew P. Martyniuks “A Field Guide to Mesozoic Birds and other Winged Dinosaurs” abgebildet, wobei ich die hier dargestellten Beinfedern am entsprechenden Fossil vermisse. Die Federn am Fossil ähneln eben nicht den Körper- oder Flugfedern wie im Buch dargestellt, sondern weisen einen sehr viel einfacheren Aufbau auf. Alles in allem erinnern diese Beinfedern sehr an die heutiger Vögel wie z.B. einigen Greifvogelarten, sie dürften daher keinen besonderen Einfluss auf die Flugeigenschaften des Vogels gehabt haben.

*********************

Rekonstruktion, der Kopf ist leider nicht bekannt

*********************

Quellen:

[1] Fucheng Zhang; Zhonghe Zhou: Leg feathers in an Early Cretaceous bird. Nature 431: 925. 2004
[2] Matthew P. Martyniuk: A Field Guide to Mesozoic Birds and other Winged Dinosaurs. Pan Aves 2012

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bearbeitet: 12.04.2021

Graculavus augustus Hope

Dieser immer noch recht rätselhafte Vogel, auch bekannt als “Ornithurine C”, wird in einer Studie aus dem Jahr 2011 erwähnt, die sich mit dem Aussterben mehrerer Vogel-Kladen am Ende der Kreidezeit befasst. [1]  

Die Art scheint anhand von mindestens vier Coracoiden bzw. Überresten davon bekannt zu sein, die als “SDSM 64281A”, “SDSM 64281B”, “UCMP 175251” und “MOR 2918” bezeichnet werden und die überwiegend aus Schichten der späten Kreidezeit stammen, aber eben auch aus Schichten, die dem untersten Paläozän zugeordnet werden können.:

One of these species, Ornithurine C, is known from the Paleocene and therefore represents the only Maastrichtian bird known to cross the K–Pg boundary.” [1]

Übersetzung:

Eine dieser Arten, Ornithurine C, ist aus dem Paläozän bekannt und stellt daher den einzigen Maastricht-Vogel dar, von dem bekannt ist, dass er die K/T-Grenze überschreitet.”  

***

Laut den Autoren könnte diese Art mit einer Art identisch sein, die als Graculavus augustus Hope bezeichnet wurde, ein Vogel, der anscheinend zu den Charadriiformes gehört, sich aber sehr von allen heute lebenden charadriiformen Vögeln unterschied, zu Lebzeiten muss er an eine Art Riesen-Brachvogel oder -Triel erinnert haben. [2]

Die Art ist tatsächlich die einzige bisher bekannte Vogelart, der es gelungen ist das Massensterben am Ende der Kreidezeit zu überleben!

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Rekonstruktion, da diese Formen allesamt nur anhand fragmentarischer Knochenreste bekannt sind, ist auch eine perfekte Rekonstruktion nur bedingt möglich

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Quellen:

[1] Nicholas R. Longrich; Tim Tokaryk; Daniel J. Field: Mass extinction of birds at the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) boundary. PNAS 108 (37) 15253-15257. 2011 
[2] Nicholas R. Longrich; Tim Tokaryk; Daniel J. Field: Mass extinction of birds at the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) boundary. PNAS 108 (37) 15253-15257. 2011. Supplementary Information

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bearbeitet: 12.04.2021

Phirriculus pinicola Mlíkovský & Göhlich

Würde man eine Zeitreise ins miozäne Europa unternehmen, etwa vor 23 bis 16 Millionen Jahren, würde man sich alsbald wundern ob man wirklich noch in Europa ist oder doch in Afrika; zahlreiche der heute nur noch in Afrika vorkommenden Vogelfamilien waren damals auch weit nördlich der Sahara zu finden, die Baumhopfe sind eine dieser Vogelfamilien.

Der Kiefernrenner (so die Übersetzung seines wissenschaftlichen Namens) erreichte eine Länge von etwa 20 cm, ansonsten ähnelte die Art wohl weitgehend den heutigen Baumhopfen. [1]

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Quelle:

[1] Jiří Mlíkovský; Ursula B. Göhlich: A new wood-hoopoe (Aves: Phoeniculidae) from the early Miocene of Germany and France. Acta Soc. Zool. Bohem 64: 419-424. 2000

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bearbeitet: 03.04.2021

Protornis glarniensis von Meyer

Motmots, wegen ihrer gezähnten Schnabelkanten auch Sägeracken genannt, sind heute mit einigen Arten in Süd- und vor allem Zentralamerika verbreitet, alle Arten sind ausgesprochen farbenfroh.

Diese bislang älteste bekannte Art war offenbar kleiner als die kleinste der heute lebenden Motomot-Arten (sie erreicht in meiner Rekonstruktion eine Größe von nur etwa 13 cm, abhängig von der Länge der Schwanzfedern).

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verglichen mit heutigen Arten hatte diese einen verhältnismäßig langen Tarsometatarsus (Fußknochen)

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bearbeitet: 02.04.2021

Riesentrogon

Riesentrogon (Trogon gigas Vieill.)

Ursprünglich ist diese Form wohl anhand von drei oder vier Exemplaren bekannt, über deren Verbleib offenbar nichts bekannt ist.

Ganze Oberseite, Kehle und Halsseiten glänzend goldgrün, Brust und Bauch weiss; Schwanz oben goldgrün unten graulich-weiss, Flügelmitte fein schwärzlich grün und weiss quergestreift, Schwingen braunschwarz, Schnabel gelb, Füsse braun.” [2]

Der Vogel soll eine Größe von 18 Inches erreicht haben, das entspricht etwas über 45 cm, wirklich sehr groß für einen Trogon; er soll aus Asien stammen, wobei die genaue Herkunft nicht bekannt ist (entweder Java oder Molukken).

***

Der folgende Text stammt von keinem Geringeren als François Le Vaillant (1753-1824).:

I have only seen three specimens of this fine species; one in the collection of M. Carbintus at the Hague, a second at Rotterdam in the possession of M. Gevers, and another in the large and splendid collection of my friend M. Temminck at Amsterdam. This individual, from which our figure was taken, was sent along with many other birds from Java. I have seen a fourth specimen in the Paris Museum; but as it was in an imperfect state, it has not as yet been placed in the gallery.” [1]

Übersetzung: 

Ich habe nur drei Exemplare dieser schönen Art gesehen; eine in der Sammlung von M. Carbintus in Den Haag, eine zweite in Rotterdam im Besitz von M. Gevers und eine weitere in der großen und prächtigen Sammlung meines Freundes M. Temminck in Amsterdam. Dieses Individuum, anhand dessen unsere Abbildung angefertigt wurde, wurde zusammen mit vielen anderen Vögeln aus Java geschickt. Ich habe ein viertes Exemplar im Pariser Museum gesehen; aber da es unvollkommen war, wurde es noch nicht in die Galerie aufgenommen.

***

Es könnte sich natürlich um eine tatsächlich existierende Art handeln, die mittlerweile ausgestorben ist; es ist aber durchaus wahrscheinlicher, dass es sich auch hierbei um eine der künstlich zusammengebauten ‘Arten’ handelt, die in den ornithologischen Abhandlungen des F. Le Vaillant aus dem ausgehenden 18. Jahrhundert offenbar gehäuft auftauchen ….

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Darstellung aus: ‘John Gould: A monograph of the Trogonidae, or family of trogons. London: the author 1835-1838’

(public domain)

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Quellen:

[1] John Gould: A monograph of the Trogonidae, or family of trogons. London: the author 1835-1838
[2] Jean Louis Cabanis; Ferdinand Heine: Museum Heineanum: Verzeichniss der ornithologischen Sammlung des Oberamtmann Ferdinand Heine, auf Gut St. Burchard vor Halberstadt. Halbertstadt: in Commission bei R. Frantz 1850-1863

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bearbeitet: 01.04.2021

Lady Tavistocks Sittich

Lady Tavistocks Sittich (Barnardius crommelinae Mathews)

Diese eigentlich vollkommen unbekannte ‘Art’ ist nur anhand eines einzigen Exemplars bekannt, eines Weibchens, das offenbar eine Zeitlang im Aviarium des Marquis of Tavistock in Gefangenschaft gehalten und nach dessen Frau benannt wurde. [1]

Es handelt sich hierbei offenbar um einen Barnardsittich (Barnardius barnardi (Vigors & Horsfield)) dem große Teile der gelben Areale fehlen. [2]

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Darstellung aus: ‘Gregory M. Mathews: The birds of Norfolk & Lord Howe Islands and the Australasian South Polar quadrant with additions to “The Birds of Australia”. London: H. F. & G. Witherby 1928’

(public domain)

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Quelle:

[1] Gregory M. Mathews: A new form of Barnardius. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club 46(299): 21. 1925
[2] Julian P. Hume: Extinct Birds. Bloomsbury Natural History; 2nd edition 2017

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bearbeitet: 27.03.2021

Obskurer Papagei

Obskurer Papagei (Psittacus obscurus

Der so genannte Obskure Papagei, der eigentlich besser Dunkler Papagei heißen sollte wurde ursprünglich im Jahr 1757 durch Fredric Hasselquist bzw. Carl von Linné beschrieben, dies ist die Beschreibung.:

PSITTACUS (obscurus) niger, vertise cinereonigrescente vario, cauda cinerea.
CAPUT oblongum, lateribus compressum, dorso depressum, respectu corporis satis magnum.
Rostrum totum latum, crassum, obtusissimum, aduncum, capite triplo brevius. Maxilla superior subconvexa, inferius latiuscula, dorsum versus magis contracta, mobilis. Ad basin maxillae superioris infra nares sulcus conspieitur, quasi imbricata esset pergit. Apex maxillae superioris aduncus extra maxillam inferiorem, quo ad quartam sui partem extensus, extremitate obtusiusculus. Lobulus utrinque ad basin apicis, maxillae inferiori dum clauditur os, supra impositum, Maxilla inferior superiore crassior, magis comnvexa, brevior, quantitate apicis superioris, basi subtus gula distans, posterius aequalis; apice obtusa & fere emarginata; sinus semicircularis ad basin apicis. Nares proxime supra rostrum, perfecte circulares, magnitudine pennae gallinaceae.
Oculi vertici quam gulae, naribus etiam quam basi capitis propiores. Iris flava. Pupilla nigra. Area oculorum usque a fine maxillae superioris ad initium verticis latitudine, & a naribus, fere usque ad basin verticis longitudine nuda, rugosa, pilis vix conspicuis obsita.
Aurium apertura oblonga, transversalis, ab oculis aequali spatio, ut oculi a naribus, distans, basi capitis quam vertici multo propior, plumis tenuibus & membrana retractilis tecta.
Remiges circiter 20:1, 2 reliquis longiores; 3, 4, 5, paulo breviores, aequales; 6. 7. 8 ordine decrescentes; reliqui aequales breviores.
CAUDA cuneiformis. Rectrices circiter 10, laterales breviore intermedii longioribus.
PEDES, crura plumosa, usque ad flexuram tarsi.
Digiti 4: antici 2 & postici 2; ex anterioribus internus exteriori tribus articulis brevior est posterioribus, interior exteriori dimidio brevior; omnes digiti squamosi, squamis imbricatis, articulis duobus insimis impositis; reliqua pars pedis tuberculata, tuberculis levibus, circularibus, parum elevatis.
Lingua crassa, apice obtusissima & fere semicirculari, lateribus marginata, marginibus fursum inflexis, unde canaliculata evadit.
Ungues adungi, obtusiusculi.
COLOR: Rostrum nigrum. Area oculorum alba. Vertex ex cinereo & nigrescente variegatus. Colum & Alae supra nigra.
Abdomen & crura cinerea, cum lineis transversalibus canis. Tubercula pedum nigra. Ungues nigri. Cauda tota cinerea.
MAGNITUDO Graculi.
” [1]

***

Ich muss gestehen, dass ich meine Übersetzungsversuche hier aufgegeben habe da sie nirgendwohin führten.

Wie dem auch sei, John Latham, der bekannte Autor vieler Vogelbücher des späten 18./frühen 19. Jahrhunderts, führt die Art im 2. Teil seines Werkes “A general history of birds”.:

SIZE of a Jay. Bill black, the feathers round the base of it black, rough, and beset with hairs; space round the eye white; irides yellow; crown variegated cinereous and black; upper parts of the neck and wings black; belly and thighs cinereous, marked with transverse hoary lines; tail wholly ash-coloured, cuneiform; legs tuberculated, black; toes the same; claws crooked, and black.
Inhabits Africa. The only one who has described this is Hasselquist, from whom Linnaeus had his account; as to that which the latter refers in Brisson, it is quite a different species, and he mentions it as such in his last Mantissa.
” [2]

Übersetzung: 

GRÖßE eines Hähers. Schnabel schwarz, die Federn rund um die Basis schwarz, rau und mit Haaren besetzt; Bereich um das Auge weiß; Iriden gelb; Scheitel grau und schwarz variegiert; obere Teile des Halses und Flügel schwarz; Bauch und Oberschenkel grau, markiert mit quer verlaufenden grauen Linien; Schwanz ganz aschfarben, keilförmig; Beine höckerig, schwarz; Zehen gleich; Krallen krumm und schwarz. 
Bewohnt Afrika. Der Einzige, der ihn beschrieben hat, ist Hasselquist, von dem Linnaeus seinen Bericht hatte; worauf sich letzterer in Brisson bezieht, so handelt es sich um eine ganz andere Art, und er erwähnt sie in seiner letzten Mantisse als solche.

***

Der Vogel wird Psittacus genannt und mag mit dem Graupapagei (Psittacus erithacus L.) und dem Timneh-Papagei (Psittacus timneh Fraser) verwandt gewesen sein; aber halt! Nahezu sämtliche Papageien wurden ursprünglich als Psittacus beschrieben, so dass dieser Name ebenfalls nirgendwo hinführt, es ist nicht einmal sicher, dass es sich hier überhaupt um einen Papagei handelt. 

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Skizze

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Quellen: 

[1] Fredric Hasselquists: Iter Palæstinum, eller Resa til Heliga Landet, förrättad ifrån år 1749 til 1752, med beskrifningar, rön, anmärkningar, öfver de märkvärdigaste naturalier, på Hennes Kongl. Maj:ts befallning, utgiven af Carl Linnaeus. Stockholm: Trykt på L. Salvii kåstnad 1757
[2] John Latham: A general history of birds. Winchester: printed by Jacob and Johnson, for the author: — sold in London by G. and W. B. Whittaker, Ave-Maria-Lane; John Warren, Bond Street, W. Wood, 428, Strand; and J. Mawman, 39, Ludgate-Street 1821-1828
[3] Julian P. Hume: Extinct Birds. Bloomsbury Natural History; 2nd edition 2017

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edited: 26.03.2021