• A black page in the French partridge's history: the melanistic variety of Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa

      van Grouw, H; Besson, L; Mellier, B (The British Ornithologists' Club, 2018-12-14)
      The melanistic variety of Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa was described from a small population in western France around the 1850s. In this region, Red-legged Partridge population as a whole was hunted, but melanistic individuals were targeted for both private and museum bird collections, and by 1865 the variety was extinct in western France. An extensive search for extant specimens documented 13 melanistic birds in six museums, and their details are presented here. Remarkably, some of these specimens were collected in areas elsewhere in France or even in other countries. After 1915, the allele for melanism appears to have been lost within the Red-legged Partridge population as a whole, and we discuss possible reasons for this.
    • Clarifying collection details of specimens from Champion Bay, Western Australia, held in the Natural History Museum, Tring

      van Grouw, Hein; Horton, Philippa; Johnstone, JE (British Ornithologists' Club, 2016-06-06)
      Six bird specimens from Champion Bay (now Geraldton), Western Australia, were purchased by the British Museum from the dealer E. T. Higgins and registered in 1867. They included the first known specimen of Painted Finch Emblema pictum to have been collected after the holotype. All six specimens are of interest because their species are either rare or otherwise unknown in the Geraldton area. Widespread drought in the 1860s probably contributed to at least some of the unusual occurrences but cannot explain them all. Possible alternative locations for the specimens’ origins are investigated. Biographical details of the probable collectors of the specimens, A. H. du Boulay and F. H. du Boulay, are explored.
    • The history and morphology of Lord Howe Gallinule or Swamphen Porphyrio albus (Rallidae)

      van Grouw, Hein; Hume, JP (2016-09-01)
      The extinct Lord Howe Gallinule or Swamphen Porphyrio albus (White, 1790) is known from a number of written accounts, from at least ten contemporary paintings and from two skins, but the provenance of the specimens is confused and the taxonomic literature riddled with error. We present a review of the evidence and its reliability, demonstrate that the two extant specimens were collected on Lord Howe Island, provide details about when they were taken and by whom, and how they subsequently arrived in England. We further present evidence to demonstrate that Lord Howe Gallinule possessed several unique morphological characters.
    • The melanistic variety of Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa continued

      van Grouw, H; Besson, L; Mellier, B (The British Ornithologists' Club, 2019-03-15)
    • On Temminck's tailless Ceylon Junglefowl, and how Darwin denied their existence

      van Grouw, Hein; Dekkers, W; Rookmaaker, K (British Ornithologists' Club, 2017-12-11)
      Ceylon Junglefowl was described in 1807 by the Dutch ornithologist Coenraad Jacob Temminck. The specimens he examined were tailless (‘rumpless’) and therefore he named them Gallus ecaudatus. In 1831 the French naturalist René Primevère Lesson described a Ceylon Junglefowl with a tail as Gallus lafayetii (= lafayettii), apparently unaware of Temminck's ecaudatus. Subsequently, ecaudatus and lafayettii were realised to be the same species, of which G.stanleyi and G.lineatus are junior synonyms. However, Charles Darwin tried to disprove the existence of wild tailless junglefowl on Ceylon in favour of his theory on the origin of the domestic chicken.
    • Rediscovery of the syntypes of California Quail Tetrao californicus Shaw, 1798, and comments on the current labelling of the holotype of California Condor Vultur californianus Shaw, 1797

      Prys-Jones, Robert; Russell, D; Wright, S (British Ornithologists' Club, 2014-12)
      The two syntypes of California Quail Tetrao californicus Shaw, 1798, were deposited in the British Museum in the 1790s, but were last documented as present in the late 1860s and had subsequently been presumed no longer extant. In 2004, they were re-discovered in Notingham Natural History Museum, to which they must have been inadvertently passed as ‘duplicates’ in the late 1800s, and have now been returned to the Natural History Museum, Tring, on extended renewable loan. During research regarding these Archibald Menzies specimens, new insight was gained into hitherto confusing reference details on the label of his type specimen of California Condor Vultur californianus Shaw, 1797
    • The second and third documented records of Antarctic Tern Sterna vittata in Brazil

      Carlos, Caio J; Daudt, Nicholas W; van Grouw, Hein; Neves, Tatiana (British Ornithologists' Club, 2017-12-11)
    • Streptopelia risoria and how Linnaeus had the last laugh

      van Grouw, Hein (British Ornithologists' Club, 2018-03-22)
      The dove known as Streptopelia risoria (Linnaeus, 1758) has long confused ornithologists. Linnaeus described a domestic variety of a dove whose wild form was then unknown. Its wild counterpart, African Collared Dove, was subsequently named Streptopelia roseogrisea (Sundevall, 1857) but that name’s type series was mixed. Despite this, the name roseogrisea became commonly accepted and was used for both African Collared Dove and its domestic form in avian taxonomy, whilst the name risoria was commonly used by bird-keepers for the domestic form. In 2008 the ICZN ruled that the senior name risoria should have priority for both African Collared Dove and its domestic form, Barbary Dove. Although this decision was appropriate, it was based on incomplete information. Here a detailed history of the use of the name risoria in the ornithological literature is presented, followed by designation of a neotype for roseogrisea to resolve taxonomy.