Birds form one of the most marked and grand divisions of verte-brated animals, as well as the most lovely group in creation. They are oviparous, red and warm-blooded, feathered bipeds breathing by lungs which are bound by cellular tissue to the inside of the ribs and the sides of the dorsal vertebrae, there is therefore no distinct thoracic cavity, nor free muscular diaphragm. The cells open directly from the bronchial trunks and, though minute, arc large compared with the cells of the lungs of quadrupeds. The interior of the bones, by communicating with the cells of the lungs, are respiratory organs, which communicate circuitously with the trachea. The cells which are continued from the lungs into the cavity of the abdomen, extend to the interior of the trunk, appear in the axillae, in the neck, and in the region of the pelvis. In fact, every part is impregnated with the air in which they are destined to move. The young of birds, however, have the interior of their bones filled with a thin serous fluid or marrow, but this is soon displaced by air from the air-cells of the lungs which gains access at the proximal extremities, to the extent necessary for the various species according to their habits and modes of life. Being intended for flight, their external anatomy or those parts generally visible are specially organized for the purpose. The body is covered with feathers, instead of hair or wool, and the two forefeet of mammals are transformed into wings. As in other classes the form of structure of the body and all its various members as well as the modi-fications which these parts assume are discriminating characters which enable the Ornithologist to form conceptions of their respective pecu-liarities. The primary parts of birds, as of all vertebrates, are the head, body and limbs, under which subordinate members may be classed. The head is composed of the bill and the skull. The latter is joined to the body by a neck. The skull is formed of a thin, nearly diaphanous and continuous plate of bone above, with all the cranial bones anchylosed. The occipital is not separated from the parietal bones by a lambdoidal suture, nor is there a sagittal suture to separate the parictals from the frontal. All these have anchylosed at a very early period. The first cranial vertebrae at the base of the occipital bone is short. The sphenoid bone and the parts in front which form the face are lengthened, while the pterygoid portions of the former are detached. The basilar part of the occipital bone ends in a single condyle, and its position at the lower margin of the foramen as well as its rotundity afford mobility to the connection of the occipital (A) bone with the slender circular atlas and the vertebral column general]y. The neck being composed of numerous bones (K) is rendered flexible, and this enables a bird to preen its feathers both on the upper and lower surface of the body and to sleep with its head turned round and placed under the wing. The face of a bird is moveable upon the rest of the skull,-whether articulated as in parrots or not,-the thin nasal (F) bones being elastic to a certain extent. The orbits and organs of vision are large, the former being separated only by a thin translucent plate or membrane, while the latter are largely developed in lieu, to a great extent, to the want of the sense of touch. The lower jaw (P) moves freely and widens the gape very sensibly. The palatine bones are much developed in length and breadth, and these have between them a large fissure. The nostrils are very various in position, shape, and size, and the upper and lower jaws are also very variable and suited to their habits. In some the mandibles are compressed and lengthened, and terminate in a hook ; in others they terminate in a point as in woodpeckers; others again are broad, sharp-pointed, hooked, rounded and hard, or as in ducks long, flat, spoon-shaped, and toothed ; while birds of prey have a dense horny bill with the edges sharp, strong, and cutting, and the tip hooked. The bill is composed of two pieces corresponding to the jaws of quadrupeds; the upper portion (a) Is called the upper mandible, which is either continued far back on the forehead and there dilated as to form a casque or helmet, or there is a soft naked skin at the base as in rapacious birds, which is the cere (8) ; the lower portion (b) is the lower mandible. At the base of the upper mandible, concealed or not, and of various shapes, are the nostrils (c), while the high medial keel of the bill is the culmen (d) and the corresponding keel of the lower mandible is the gonys (c). The margins of both mandibles (f), commonly called the commissure, is either arched, straight, curved, or festooned, or the upper overlaps the lower; the forehead (g) is the region lying close to the nostrils. The body commences with or joins the breast (o) and extends the whole length of the sternum or breast-bone. It is succeeded by the abdomen (q) and terminated by the vent (r) and the under-tail coverts (s).
On the upper part of the body are the wings, the interscapularies or back (t), lower back (v), the rump (w), where the upper tail coverts (w2) are situated, and last the tail (x). The leg, as in quadrupeds, is composed of the thigh (gg), tarsus (hh), the toes (ii), and the claws.
It is scarcely necessary to give a detailed sketch of the internal anatomy of birds, since a knowledge of what is visible to the eye is almost sufficient to determine or classify them generally, or even closely allied groups-though it would no doubt be of much service to the ornithologist to know the various parts or rather the osteology of birds, in order that comparisons may be made of the bones of different groups and species. Professor C. J. Sundevall, in an article '' On the Wings of Birds," translated for the "Ibis " of 1886, by W. S. Dallas, F.L.S., considers the feather covering of the wings of birds to be of the greatest significance in their systematic arrangement. He says, " It is a truth that every external part of an animal can furnish equally certain indications of affinity or distinction between species as an internal part of the body, and that in this respect no order of precedence can be established a priori * * * *." From a physiological point of view, indeed, the internal parts may be regarded as more important than the external, but zoographically we must regard the external parts as possessing an equal, if not greater value, because the characters derived from them can be easily recognized and examined.
Birds have much in common with mammals, and it cannot be denied that there are striking resemblances between individuals of both classes, especially in their habits. The Eagle and the Owl may be said to represent the feline tribe; the Vulture, the Hyaena; the Hawk, the Fox ; the Parrots, the Monkeys feeding on fruit; the Ostrich, the Camel; the Cassowary, the Llama; and so on, so far as habits and character are concerned. With a few exceptions, they are essentially creatures of the air, and their organization has been fitted for the purpose; the larger birds, as the Pelican and others, are specially organized for carrying their weight by air sacs under their breasts, besides the bones in their body being filled with air, which makes them more buoyant, and facilitate respiration under various pressures of the atmosphere.
Just as is the hair or fur of a mammal or the scales of a snake the feather is a horny production of the epidermis. According to Professor Huxley, it is devolved within sacs from the surface of a conical papilla of the dermis. The external surface of the dermal papilla, whence a feather is to be developed, is provided upon its dorsal surface with a median groove which becomes shallower towards the apex of the papilla. From this median groove lateral furrows proceed at an open angle, and passing round upon the under surface of the papilla, become shallower until, in the middle line opposite the dorsal median groove, they become obsolete. Minor grooves run at right angles to the lateral furrows. Hence the surface of the papilla has the character of a kind of mould, and if it were repeatedly dipped in such a substance as a solution of gelatine and withdrawn to cool until its whole surface was covered with an even coat of that substance, it is clear that the gelatine would be thickest at the basal or anterior end of the median groove, at the median ends of the lateral furrows, and those ends of the minor grooves which open into them; whilst it would be very thin at the apices of the median and lateral grooves and between the ends of the minor grooves. If, therefore, the hollow cone of gelatine, removed from its mould, were stretched from within, or if its thinnest part became weak by drying, it would tend to give way along the inferior median line opposite the rod-like casts of the median groove and between the ends of the casts of the lateral furrows as well as between each of the minor grooves, and the hollow cone would expand into a flat feather-like structure with a median shaft as a "vane" formed of barbs and barbules. In point of fact, in the development of a feather, such a cast of the dermal papilla is formed, though not in gelatine, but in the horny epidermic layer developed upon the mould, and as this is thrust outwards it opens out in the manner just described. After a certain period of growth, the papilla of the feather ceases to be grooved and a continuous horny cylinder is formed which constitutes the quill. Shortly, a feather may be said to consist of a tube or quill (calamus), a shaft, and two webs. The tube or quill is horny and transparent, varies in length according to the species, and is fixed in the skin. The shaft or rhachis is that part above the quill which is filled with an elastic, corky, white buoyant pith-like substance which bears the vane or web. It is coated on the outer or generally convex side with a horny lamella not unlike the tube, and on the inner or pithy side (also coated, though slightly) is a well-defined groove along its length up to the umbilicus or the small opening into the interior of the tube, which is closed inside by dry membrane. On the side of the shaft, from above the quill or tube, are vane rays or webs. These latter are, in general, fine, filiform, and nearly cylindrical in the smaller feathers, and flattened in the larger ones, as the quills. These, again, are furnished with barbs, barbules and barbicels, which help to give coherency to the entire web.
Then there are the plumules or accessory plumes which, constructed like the larger feathers issue from the margin of the quill tube below the opening into the interior of the tube, which is regarded as an appendage checked in its growth. This is inconspicuous in gallinaceous birds, as pheasants. The plumules, unlike other feathers, have the vane rays very delicate and fibre-like; two series of barbs issue from them and from the barbs barbicels, extremely fine, entirely disunited, and loose. In the Cassowary and the Emu this plumula acccssoria is as large as the outer shaft and vane; in others as Grouse and Falcons, about three-fourths the length, downy and incoherent. In the most well-developed feathers, as the quill feathers, the plumule is not present, and in other altogether wanting throughout the whole of their plumage, as in Strix, Columba, and Anas, while in song-birds it is very minute and downy.
Feathers may be divided into those which protect the bird from extreme cold, and those specially intended for flight. Those which are next the body, and commonly known as down, are analagous to the underfur of quadrupeds. These keep the body in an equal temperature, and may be said to resist cold or wet.
Birds which lead an aquatic life have these feathers generally more developed than in others, for the manifest intention of affording additional warmth.
The feathers intended for flight are, first, the wing quills, which may be divided into primaries (4), secondaries (5), and tertiaries (6). The primaries may be distinguished from all the others by their greater size and stiffness. These arise from the bones of the hand. In number they are usually 10 ; the first of which is on the second finger joint, the 2nd, 3rd and 4th upon the first finger joint, and the other 6 upon the metacarpus. In some songbirds, however, the number is only 9, and the first feather is either rudimentary or wanting, but never the longest. Secondaries are those which arise from the forearm and are inserted in the skin on the posterior side of the ulna. They are not so stiff and strong as the primaries, usually shorter than them, more curved and more mobile. The tertiaries are those attached to the proximal end of the forearm, while the scapulars lie over the humerus and scapula.
The feathers on the upper surface of the wing are mostly developed on the cubitus and commonly designated wing coverts. The greater series (3) cover the base or root of the quills, and in general resemble the quill feathers or primaries, and, like them, are destitute of plumules. The second series, or median coverts (2), are also seated in the fold of the skin behind the arm. The smaller feathers behind this series are the lesser coverts (I).
Next is the tail, the feathers of which in the majority of birds are 12 in number, but there are others with as many as 14 to 18 ; these act in unison with the wing, during flight, and when expanded act as a rudder. The tail is longest in the R.asorial types and shortest in the natatorial and grallatorials. The tail feathers are covered at the base by the upper and under tail coverts. The tail, as the wing, in its structure shows a peculiar organization specially adapted for various purposes. An even tail is very uncommon ; rounded tails are the most prevalent, while the racket tail is exhibited in 2 or 3 groups only as Edolius, or Dissemurus and Dissemuroides, and the lyre-shaped tail exclusively in the Rasorial order. Of the osteology of birds much will not be said. In the composition of the frame of the body, birds may be said to have false ribs anterior and posterior to the true ribs. These cover nearly the whole short body or trunk, terminate anteriorly in a single articulation with the sternal ribs, and pass forwards to be fixed on the sternal appendices on the middle of the trunk. The false ribs do not at all touch the sternum (TT) or breast bone. In the act of respiration the sternum in birds plays a very important part. It is one of the most remarkable and characteristic bones of the skeleton-first, for its great development; next, for the extent to which it covers the trunk, enveloping, as it does, all the internal organs, and by the median carina in front, giving it solidity, as well as strength and power to the pectoral muscles, the limits of attachment of which latter are marked on the external surface. The surface presented by the sternum or breast-bone bears the permanent and powerful muscles of the humerus; the trunk is solid, and the scapula, situated as it is along the side of the vertebral column, gives attachment to the powerful muscles of flight, while the chief support and means of resistance is the coracoid-bone (c). The sternum is not of one shape or form throughout the class, but is variable in consonance with the habits of the different orders, and these different shapes, forms, and varieties of appearance lend considerable aid to the anatomist and systematist in working out perplexed affinities. In ducks and geese the posterior margin is replaced by membrane. In gallinaceous birds it terminates in narrow, separate bones ; this is on account of their habit of running and feeding on the ground; while the highflying rapacious birds have it solidly anchylosed and ossified. There are no parts of animals which vary so much in form and structure as the atlantal and sacral (f) extremities; the parts remotest from the centre of the skeleton are the most mutable in form; and the organs of progressive motion conform most to the medium in which animals reside. These parts vary so much in the same class of animals, that we might almost be induced to imagine that in organs so different as the human hand, and the fin of the porpoise or the wing of the bat, or the forefoot of the mole, all unity of composition was lost; and in passing to different classes we should scarcely expect to find the same element of structure which compose the fin of a fish or the foot of a turtle metamorphosed into the wing of the bird. But these very diversities of form of the same organ, when carefully examined, present the best proofs of the unity and simplicity of the plan upon which all organic forms are constructed.
Anterior to the sternum are the clavicles which unite below and form the furcula or merry-thought bone. These are joined to the sternum by ligament or cartilage-and the width of these serve to keep apart the shoulders, in opposition to the strong exertions of the muscles of the wing in flight.
In most birds-arboreal birds especially-the legs are slender and as light as the wings. These have the long tendons of the flexors and extensors continued to the foot. By the long flexor of the toes passing over the knee and behind the heel, the bending of these joints forces them to grasp mechanically the branches on which they are perched.
The leg bones consist of a short femur, long tibia with an imperfect fibula anchylosed to it; a patella ; an anchylosed tarso-metatarsal bone (the tarsus) and the toes. The pelvis is much extended longitudinally, and being anchylosed with the vertebral column, affords a large surface for the attachment of the muscles which support the trunk upon the thighs. The long iliac bones are excavated below and receive the kidneys. The ischia and pubic bones are wide and develope in their cavity the eggs, from which they are also expelled.
The muscular system of this class is also adapted for their aerial life and to carry them through the atmosphere. According to Professor Grant, of the Edinburgh College, their irritability or power of contraction is the greatest in the living state, and is the most quickly lost after death, its tenacity after death being generally in the inverse ratio of the degree of activity of that power during life. The muscles are generally more firm and vascular, tougher, stronger, and of a darker colour than in the cold-blooded vertebrates. These properties are most exhibited in the high-flying rapacious birds, and less so in granivorous birds. This muscular force becomes necessary in birds in order that they may fly, either for safety or to pursue their prey through the air, as well as to follow the seasons from latitude to latitude and to perform their migrations over mountain chains, continents, or the trackless ocean. Though the muscles of the extremities of birds arc generally short and thick, the tendons are longer and slender, dense, and often ossified. The form and movements of birds being nearly the same, there is a great uniformity In the disposition of their muscles. Their arms and hands being appropriated for flight, their progressive motion through the air depends chiefly on the action of the pectoralis major or the humerus, a muscle surpassing in magnitude all the rest in the body and covering nearly the whole of the forepart of the trunk. The muscles of the arm, the forearm, and the hand are inserted high up, and their fleshy portions confined to near their orifice, so that only the long tendons are sent down to the points which are to be moved. There is very little motion in the phalanges of the fingers.
It is not within the scope of this introduction to give an exhaustive or detailed classification of the organs of birds. The osseous system or the organs of support has been touched upon, also the tegumentary organs and those of motion. To detail the organs of connexion, sensibility and sensation as well as of nutrition and generation would go far beyond the intended limits of this introduction, while the proper treatment of these would need a more competent writer. En passant, however, a few remarks may not be out of place, especially in reference to those organs which the ornithologist and the student must necessarily examine-for instance, the testes. These, it is generally known, lie in front of, and in close proximity to, the kidneys, and although there are certain external characters which would enable the determination of the sex of a bird, yet nothing would be more satisfactory than an examination of this organ of generation - testes or ovaries decide the question beyond doubt. During the breeding or pairing season the testes of all male birds are much developed, while the female sex exhibit in the same situation well-developed ovaries which at other times though present, are small and granular. External sexual differences are more marked in birds than in mammals and other vertebrates; but these are not always reliable, especially in the case of birds, the young and the males of which assume the plumage of the female, or vice versa, at different seasons of the year. The males, with some exceptions, are as a rule larger and more highly coloured.
The voice organs are placed in a glottis, at the bifurcation at the end of the wind-pipe, which is formed of entire rings of cartilage, and the call of each bird is produced by peculiar sets of muscles called the larynx. It is here, that that peculiar gift of Nature, the voice of birds, is formed, and this one of all other attributes distinguishes the class from all others in the animal kingdom. The air contained in the cells of the lungs is the force used, while the windpipe and the larynx with their contractions, or expansion or movements in the gullet, contribute to the modulations and modifications of the voice. By their song one knows of their happy and cheerful life, and by it the male woos Its mate. It is a language which is not even known whether belonging to one family only, or generally intelligible among the class.
The nervous system in birds and the organs of the senses run rapidly to high development. The sense of sight is also very highly developed in birds, and each class and each family and sub-family will be found to be fitted with organs developed to the extent of their wants and to suit their living condition. The eagle and the raptores generally soar out of human sight, and yet they can see their prey notwithstanding the immense distance. The owl is consigned as a night watchman, and its organs of sight are so adapted that it can only distinguish objects with greater facility in the dusk and when all nature is desirous of repose. It is, however, compensated by a larger or more highly developed sense of hearing. The sense of sight is certainly extremely keen and piercing, and this fact no doubt is an important factor in the solution of the question of the manner in which thousands of miles are traversed by birds In their' annual migrations.. This must assist them.
It is doubtful whether there is any special development of the sense of taste in birds ; while that of smell, in the absence of any reliable data, may be said to be, if at all, very little developed, except in carrion feeders.
Like quadrupeds, birds maybe classified as granivorous, carnivorous, and mixed feeders, or those that partake of both. Granivorous birds are fu,rnished with larger and proportionally longer intestines than carnivorous species. Their food first enters a craw where It reaches entire, but soon undergoes partial dilution by a peculiar liquor secreted from the glands-thence enters another stomach, and eventually the gizzard or true stomach, where, with the aid of powerful muscles, thick and powerful membrane and stones it is triturated and becomes fit for the action of the gastric juices.
In their habits birds are either monogamous or polygamous, the latter exists generally among the Rasores or Gallinacea. Some again live a solitary life till the breeding season, when they begin their courtship and live in pairs, whilst their united efforts are necessary in forming their temporary habitation and in rearing their offsprings. There are also some, as the cuckoo, which leave their eggs to the care of a foster parent. Birds generally evince great affection for their young, and do not leave them till they can feed themselves. A great number or the majority of those known to inhabit India and its dependencies quit the country for the purpose of breeding. Each species associate in flocks and aided by their keen sight, together with the advantage they possess of flying at considerable heights in the air, they are enabled with their instinctive knowledge to discover the route they are to take to migrate-taking, probably, as a guide, the appearance of the atmosphere, direction of winds, &c.; so that without recourse to improbable modes it is not difficult to form an idea of the speed at which they go in transporting themselves to far countries by crossing vast ocean tracts. Without the means of conveying themselves from one place to another they could scarcely subsist for the reason that climatic influences affect their food-supply. This may also be said to be one of the reasons for migrating. Besides the want of food, other causes of migration are, the want of a proper temperature of air and a convenient situation for the great work of breeding and rearing their offspring. They either remove from one-country or climate to another-or from the inland districts to hills, forest regions or to sequestered rocks or islands in the sea, or to. vast sandy plains far removed from, or in the vicini,ty of, the sea or river. And all this Is conducted with the greatest punctuality, and the same may be said of their reappearance a few months later. It is also a noteworthy fact, proved by experiments, that birds which affect a certain station or district usually return to it year after year. The question as to how they subsist during their migrations is readily solved, when we consider the velocity of their flight together with the considerable length of time the majority continue on the wing. If we estimate the speed of a bird's flight at a mile in two minutes it would need but 24 hours to carry it as many as seven hundred miles without taking into consideration favourable wind currents which would probably nearly double the distance. Red-starts and other short-winged birds pass by gradual and slow movements-as is evidenced by their appearance In different countries at different times of the year- but these seldom go further than the inaccessible heights of mountain ranges. Many journey during the night to avoid the dangers of daylight or for the purpose of taking advantage of favourable air currents. What the true reason for migrating is, has yet to be learnt. We see their punctuality of departure and return, we note the dates very carefully, the time of their nidification, the composition of the various structures they build for the rearing of their young, also the number of eggs they lay, their colour, size and shape as well as the changes of their plumage during the breeding season, but beyond this, and conjecture, we have not gone. The nidification of birds is indeed very various, but in consonance with their habits. The high-flying rapacious birds have their eyries on the ledges of high mountains in the most Inaccessible parts or on the tops of high trees ; the larger ones, including the Vulturinae, lay but one, and seldom two eggs. The lesser ones, as the Accipitrinae, build generally on trees, or on steeple tops, and lay 2-4 eggs, and seldom do more than repair their nests annually. All true vultures lay but a single egg, and their nests, as are those of eagles, are built entirely of stout sticks and twigs with a hollow receptacle lined with coarse grass or fine twigs and any soft material. Bones also form a part of the structure. Many birds build in society-occupying trees, mountain ledges, plains, and the eaves of roofs-as sparrows, crows, herons, gulls, terns; and some when robbed of their eggs lay others very shortly after. The situation of the nests, too, are quite In consonance with their habits of life. Owls build in holes in wells, caverns, and in old decayed trees ; Woodpeckers fn holes in trees; Kingfishers in the banks of streams; the Swallow tribe build nests composed of mud plaster and feathers against the face of a wall, or under a roof or bridge, while others again, as the Byah or Weaver-bird, Honeysuckers, &c., build pensile nests, and all songsters nearly, of the Timeliinae, group make small nests in bushes or shrubs; and with an instinctive knowledge endeavour to hide their nests by various artifices, as covering them with cobwebs, lichen, or plaster to give them the appearance of the surroundings of the nest.
Of the Avian inhabitants of India nearly one-half are known to breed in the country. A great number go no further than the Himalayan range, while the rest may be said to be resident members, and to breed on the plains.
It is not necessary to refer to the geographical distribution of species, nor to divide the country into geographical regions, as the table at the end of the volume will sufficiently show the first, and the text the latter, while it is patent to all that humid countries comprise birds of bright plumage, and those of the plains of duller plumage, and in consonance with the nature of the surroundings. The geographical distribution of species has been worked out from all the materials available.
It is above half a century since Major Franklin, who was the first writer on Indian Ornithology, published a paper on the Ornithology of India. This paper appeared In the Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London. Colonel Tickell soon followed by publishing in the Asiatic Society's Journal a list of the Birds of Bhorabum and Dholbum. Another equally energetic naturalist was Col. Sykes, who in 1832 began his Catalogue of the Birds of the Deccan, and continued his studies and publications for some years, not only of birds but of the mammals and fish of the Mahratta Country so designated, while Mr. Brian Hodgson, who was attached as Resident at the Court of Nepaul, added largely to the store of knowledge of the avian inhabitants of the Himalayas. His contributions are spread both in the Indian and Home scientific periodicals, and his valuable MSS. and drawings, so largely referred to in every Orni thological work, are zealousy watched over and consulted at the British Museum. Assam was next worked out by MacClelland, and his papers,-also published in the Zoological Society's Proceedings in 1839,-are full of interest, and particularly as showing the geographical distribution of the Himalayan birds.
Dr. Adam collected In Cashmere, as well as In the North-West Provinces of India; Colonel Tytler in Barrackpore and Dacca; while the names of Hutton and numerous other observers and collectors are prominent in the earlier journals as contributors of interesting notes on habits, nidification, &c., of species in various parts of India.
Mr. Blyth, who is rightly called the Father of Indian Ornithology, " was by far the most important contributor to our knowledge of the Birds of India." Seated, as the head of the Asiatic Society's Museum, he, by intercourse and through correspondents, not only formed a large collection for the Society, but also enriched the pages of the Society's Journal with the results of his study, and thus did more for the extension of the study of the Avifauna of India than all previous writers. There can be no work on Indian Ornithology without reference to his voluminous contributions. The most recent authority, however, is Mr. Allen O. Hume, C.B., who, like Blyth and Jerdon, got around him numerous workers, and did so much for Ornithology, that without his Journal "Stray Feathers,"-'no accurate knowledge could be gained of the distribution of Indian birds. His large museum, so liberally made over to the nation, is ample evidence of his zeal and the purpose to which he worked. Ever saddled with his official work, he yet found time for carrying out a most noble object. His " Nests and Eggs," "Scrap Book," and numerous articles on birds of various parts of India, the Andamans and the Malay Peninsula, are standing monuments of his fame throughout the length and breadth of the civilized world. His writings and the field notes of his curator, contributors and collectors are the pith of every book on Indian Birds, and his vast collection is the ground upon which all Indian Naturalists must work. Though differing from him on some points, yet the palm is his as an authority above the rest in regard to the Ornis of India. Amongst the hundred and one contributors to the Science in the pages of " Stray Feathers," there are some who may be ranked as specialists in this department, and their labors need a record. These are Mr. W. T. Blanford, late of the Geological Survey, an ever watchful and zealous Naturalist of some eminence. Mr. Theobald, also of the Geological Survey, Mr. Ball of the same Department, and Mr. W. E. Brooks. All these worked in Northern India, while for work in the Western portion must stand the names of Major Butler, of the 66th Regiment, Mr. W. F. Sinclair, Collector of Colaba, Mr. G. Vidal, the Collector of Bombay, Mr. J. Davidson, Collector of Khandeish, and Mr. Fairbank, each one having respectively worked the Avifauna of Sind, the Concan, the Deccan and Khandeish.
The country referred to in the following volumes embraces the whole of India, including those recently acquired possessions in (now British) Burmah. Of this latter and most interesting portion of the Indian Empire, Mr. Eugene Oates, of the Public Works Department, has written a connected and detailed account, and it is from the pages of his valuable work I have been able to add much to the knowledge of the Avifauna of the Indian Empire as it now stands. In his Introduction he gives a resume of the Ornithological explorations in that country. Colonel Tickell, whose contributions in the early numbers (1833) of the Asiatic Society's Journal are of much interest, is said to be the first Ornithologist who attempted to work Burmah. His field of work was in Tenasserim, chiefly among the higher hills and mountains to the east of Moulmein, culminating in the peak of Mooleyit, which rises about 6,ooo feet above sea level. The late Mr. Blyth, after assuming charge of the Asiatic Society's Museum, found willing contributors in Captain (now Sir Arthur) Phayre, also the late Major Berdmore, Dr. Mason and others. Mr. Blyth's contributions of the birds of this country also swell the pages of the Asiatic Society's Journal, as well as those of the " Ibis," His valuable Catalogue of Burmese Birds was his last contribution, and this was published in 1875 by the late Lord Tweeddale as a posthumous work. The latter, recently known as Lord Walden, also interested himself in the Ornithology of Burmah, and his valuable papers have also been published as a posthumous work, edited by Captain R. G. Wardlaw-Ramsay, who explored a considerable portion of Pegu.
The following are other particulars given by Mr. Oates of the work done in Pegu. He says: "Turning now (1883) to those who are engaged In active work In connection with Burmese Ornithology, I come to a small band of hardworking field naturalists. Mr. A. O. Hume in his study and Mr. W. Davison in the field have for many years past actively worked Tennaserim." The notes of these Naturalists enrich the pages of Oates' work, as well as of this, culled from both sources.
Other workers in the field of Burmese Ornithology are Mr. W. T. Blanford, Captain Fielden, Dr. Armstrong, Captain Bingham, the late Colonel Lloyd, the late Captain Beavan, Mr. Oliver and Mr. DeWet; also Mr. Hough and Mr. Shopland. The contributions of all these gentlemen are to be found in the pages of " Stray Feathers."
British Burmah, according to Oates, is an irregular, narrow, maritime country, hardly any portion being more than 200 miles from the sea. It lies entirely within the tropics, the most northern portion of Arrakan being at a short distance from the Northern tropic, and the most Southern point of Tennasserim lying on the 10th degree of North Latitude. The general character of the country may be said to be mountainous, the only flat portions being strips of land along the banks of the larger rivers, and considerable areas at the mouths of these rivers.
The whole of British Burmah where not cultivated is covered with dense growth of vegetation. On the elevated portions, the vegetation is composed of large forest trees and bamboos, and on the low alluvial plains, elephant grass of great height. The climate, owing to a heavy rain-fall, is said to be humid, and its effects, to cause the plumage of birds to be of great brilliancy. The same may be said of that portion of the Zoological region which comprises the Himalayas, also Eastern Bengal, and Malabar.
Southern India has been practically worked out by the late Dr. Jerdon. His admirable manual shows the energy he spent in bringing to perfection a system of classification to this day admitted as practically good though not very natural,- but, yet the foundation for the past quarter of a century of every work on the Avifauna of India, and if there are any who differ from him in certain views, it is because they live in later times, and follow, though not quite, those who base their classifications on internal as well as external structure.
Classification-according to Jerdon-may be said to be the grouping of objects according to their affinities, and their arrangement into divisions of various degrees of magnitude. Its object is to bring together those beings that most resemble each other, and to separate those that differ. By some it has been regarded simply as a convenient method of arrangement for shortening the labour of the naturalist, who, by its means, instead of studying all the characters which each specimen presents, is enabled, by knowing its general position, to confine his attention to a few of the minor details of structure. His labour is thus simplified by the union into one group of all the animals which agree in the most important and essential characters. The Philosophic naturalist has, however, a higher aim, and his object is to discover the natural system, or in other words, to endeavour to develop the general plan on which the Creator has formed and arranged the numberless species of natural objects.
On comparing certain species with others, we find various degrees of resemblance of structure and general appearance. Those, which are nearest and most close, are called affinities, and the more distant resemblances, analogies; and these are of every degree of nearness or remoteness. The affinities of species may be said to point out their order of succession in nature, and are easily understood and appreciable. Not so, however, the analogies exhibited by many species and groups to others, perhaps very distantly related. These may be resemblances of structure, or of colour, or of habits. Some naturalists explain them by expressing their belief that in every group, great or small, there are certain types of structure, offering fixed characteristic marks, and that analogies are, simply, the representation in one group of a certain type in another or, to put it in other words, that analogous groups or species simply occupy a corresponding place in their respective classes, orders, or families. This theory of representation has, perhaps, been carried out, to too great an extent, by certain writers, but, nevertheless, it appears to be founded on nature ; and the existence of these, often unexpected analogies between distant groups and species, clearly manifests the unity of the plan of the animal creation. According to Mr. Darwin's views, such analogies might be explained on the supposition that the resemblances were due to some remote ancestral origin. The colours and markings of some birds appear to be repeated in other groups; and, in most natural divisions, great variety of form of bills, and also of other parts is exhibited, representing several distinct types; and, in some, more distantly related groups, analogy is shown by habits, by the colour of the eggs, by seasonal change of plumage, &c., &c. Many examples of analogy will be pointed out in the present work.
On beginning at any point in any series of beings, and tracing step by step, the scale of affinities, we soon find that the supposed chain is interrupted, and that branches strike off in various directions. That a linear arrangement is quite impossible has long been conceded universally ; but what directions the divergencies take, is not agreed on ; nor, indeed, have Zoologists of the present day decided, that there is a fixed plan for any one class, still less that the same system extends through all. Strickland, and quite recently, Wallace, have attempted to show the affinities of some families and orders of birds by means of diagrams.
Certain English Naturalists, and simultaneously, one or more German Botanists, have maintained that, in arranging any series of animated beings, according to their affinities, the tendency is to revert to the point whence they set out, not indeed in an unbroken line, but in a series of circles. Thus, the circular system, as it has been termed, has been strained, perhaps, too far by its exponents, but there is no doubt that in many instances this tendency to a quasi-circular arrangement appears to exist in nature, and even Wallace's diagrams show this. It appears, however, according to some, that the affinities of the species of any group are various, and cannot be expressed by figures, every natural group and species being connected not with two only, but with several; and it is possible that any natural group, if we possessed all the forms which it comprised, would present links of transition towards all the other groups of the same family or order. Many examples might be given to show the tendency to a circular arrangement, but I shall content myself by pointing out to the student this supposed feature, to verify, or otherwise, in any group he may be studying. Many gaps of course occur in following the chain of affinities, some very great, others easily bridged over. These of course are stumbling blocks in the way of such as believe in a complete chain or circle ; and the fossil remains of birds, hitherto discovered, have not been sufficiently numerous to make these intervals much less.
That a special design is exhibited in Creation there can, I think, be but little doubt. It is admitted by almost all, and most fully and unequivocally, in the best known and most highly organized group, the Vcrtebrata; in all the classes of which a certain archetype of form is preserved, marked and recognizable, however disguised for special ends. It is surely more consonant to our ideas of a Creator to believe that He formed His numberless creatures with certain relations to each other, than to conceive that each was brought to life independently. Indeed, a follower of Darwin might fairly argue that the evidence of design is as clearly shown by the theory of the transmutation of species, as by that of separate individual creation ; but Darwin' himself, perhaps, lays too much stress on external and fortuitous circumstances as producing varieties, and not enough on the inherent power of change, which, as he clearly shows, is now and then exhibited by various organic bodies.
That species were created at hap - hazard, without any reference to others, either of the same group or more distant ones, is a doctrine so opposed to all the affinities' and analogies observed throughout the animated world, that the mind refuses to accept it, and intuitively acknowledges the evidence of design.
That a certain system has been followed, if we allow design at all, must be admitted, but the exponent of the natural system-Sharpe, Gadow, Seebohm and others too numerous to mention notwithstanding-has yet to appear. " The tendency of the present age is to accumulate facts, and not to generalize, but we have now a sufficiency of facts, and want our Lyell to explain them,"
By the consent of most naturalists, all objects of nature are divided into kingdoms, sub-kingdoms, classes, orders, families, and genera, and, in some cases, where the families are numerous, tribes, subfamilies, and sub-genera are added. Birds are a class of the sub-kingdom Vertebrata, of the Animal kingdom. The Orders of birds are founded chiefly on the form of the bill, and more especially of the feet. Families are characterized by more minute distinctions of the bill and feet, together with characters drawn from the wings, tail, and certain habits, more or less common to all. A genus comprises one or many species closely resembling one another in the structure of bill, feet, wings and tail, and in habits, yet differing, it may be, in colour, size, or some minute differences of structure. To give a familiar example, the European Kite and the common Kite of India are species of the same genus, Milvus; and the English Kingfisher and the little Indian Kingfisher, are separate species of the same genus Alcedo, each of these genera containing several species. Of late years genera have been greatly divided and multiplied, some of them being classed as sub-genera ; but, in practice, and till the whole realm of Ornithology is presided over by a master hand, no distinction can be satisfactorily pointed out, or acted on. When the families of any order are very numerous, they are classed in tribes ; and when the genera of any family are numerous, or comprise several distinct forms, they are grouped into sub-families.
In every natural assemblage of forms, whether it be genus, family or order, there is some one form which presents the characters that are common to all, in a more remarkable and complete manner than the rest; and this is called the type of the group. Thus each genus has its typical species ; each family its typical genus, and so on ; the type being, in each instance, that form to which our minds naturally revert as best exhibiting the characters that belong to the entire group. Some are very close to the type, others differ from it to such a degree that we might have failed to recognise the connection, were it not for the presence of intermediate links. These are called aberrant forms.
It may be asked, are the divisions, which are here indicated, natural, i.e., marked out by nature, or, in other words, designed ? That some of them are so, we may, I think, safely infer from the example already quoted of the Vertebrata. Here we have at least four, some say five, great divisions marked out by nature so broadly that the distinctions are in most cases recognizable and patent to all; and, in each of these classes so clearly marked, that there are certain divisions apparent even to the uninstructed ; such, for example, among birds, are the Birds of Prey, Owls, Finches, Game birds. Ducks, &c., &c. Many genera, too, are undoubtedly exceedingly natural and clearly defined; and on the whole, I think, we may conclude that Nature herself (could we but correctly read her lessons) has pointed out most of the divisions; or, in other words, has varied each group, small as well as great, in a certain and definite method. Many natural divisions however appear to grade into each other, and have no definite limits ; yet, for purpose of study, we must assign limits and characters; and the affinities, by which they are grouped, must be judged of by as many and as constant characters as possible, derived from all parts; but certain typical characters must be assigned.
There are at present above 8,000 species of birds known and described, though much of the civilized world has yet to be explored. When this has been done, what the number may be it is difficult to conjecture, but this large number has been arranged by Naturalists into six large orders, founded entirely on the organs of manducation and prehension. These are :-I.-Raptores, or birds of prey. II.-Insessores, or perching birds. III.-Gemitores, or pigeons. IV.-Rassores, or game birds, v.-Grallatores, or waders. VI.-Natatores, or swimming birds.
Though this is the basis of classification, there is a tendency in the present day to split and divide these, and to upset the order of arrangement, owing to structural and external characters combined, being made the basis, hence we see the Raptores placed after the Parrots, and the Passeres holding the first place, as in the following rather mixed arrangement:-
I. Passeres; II. Macrochires ; III. Pici ; IV. Coccyges ; V. Psittaci ; VI. Striges ; VII. Accipitres ; VIII. Steganopodes ; IX. Herodiones ; X Anseres ; XI. Columbae; XII. Gallinae ; XIII. Geranomorphae ; XIV. Limicolae ; XV. Gaviae ; XVI. Tubinares ; XVII. Pygopodes. It is needless to defend this system ; it cannot be done; the oldest system must survive,
Raptores, or birds of prey, are distinguished by their crooked bill and claws, by means of which they are enabled to overcome, and in the order of nature to prey upon other birds and small quadrupeds, to keep that necessary balance so needful. They hold the same rank among birds as the Carnivora among the quadrupeds. They are divided into two families, the diurnal and nocturnal, the latter being the owls, which issue at dusk. The diurnal species are the eagles, vultures, kites, falcons, hawks, &c. They are readily distinguished by having their nostrils placed in a naked skin or cere, and their feet bearing three toes before and one behind and their eyes placed laterally; while the Striges, or nocturnal species, have their nostrils covered with stiff hairs, the outer toe reversible ; eyes large, and directed forwards. The Passerine birds form the largest class. They are all very nearly alike in structure, and are divided according to the position of their exterior toe, those having the midtoe united to the middle by one or two joints only ; and those with the exterior toe united to the middle one as far as the last joint but one. The next order is that of the Climbers or Scansores, with both the outer and great toe directed backwards. Following this are the Gallinaceous birds, or Rasores of some : birds of heavy gait, short, rounded wings, heavy flight, such as peafowls, game jungle cock, &c. The Waders or Grallatores, comprising the 5th order, are distinguished by the naked tarsus and a portion of their thighs also, their long legs, which they lay back under the tail feathers in flight. The last are the web-footed birds, as the ducks, characterized by their webbed feet, and generally broad, spathulate bills. A more detailed account of the orders, sub-orders, families and sub-families into which these have been divided will be found under the respective headings in the body of the work, which cannot from its nature have much pretensions to originality.
It is only as a descriptive handbook of the birds of British India, that this work should be regarded. The idea of writing it did not originate wholly with myself, but besides the trouble and inconvenience experienced by me in my official capacity when Curator of the Kurrachee Museum in looking up literature for determining species, there was a general conviction among all my correspondents and numerous working cabinet and field naturalists that a work of this kind in a moderate compass would be welcomed as supplying a desideratum, especially if all the knowledge extant of the birds of British India were put together under one consecutive serial number, so as to remedy the present existing confusion, and simplify identification. Numerous valuable works have been laid under contribution in preparing the work, especially Sharpe, Seebohm and Gadow's Catalogues ; Jerdon's valuable Manual ; Oates' Birds of British Burmah ; Stray Feathers ; Ibis; Hume's Nests and Eggs, &c., &c., all of which have been referred to under the synonyms of species, and thus avoiding the use of inverted commas wherever they may have been required. In doing this latter I would crave the indulgence of all authors for the privilege I have taken, of in this way, so largely adding from their valuable works, to the existing knowledge of the Avifauna of British India. I only trust that this small effort will find public favour. It will be made as complete as possible. As the work progresses, everything new to the Ornithology of India will be added, so that future labourers will no longer have to search far and wide, and consult large libraries of books, often too vainly, for what has been already recorded; but in using this work will find it an unpretending manual to guide them in adding to the present accumulation of facts, much which is at present hidden and unknown to science.
In concluding this Introduction, it only remains for me to acknowledge the valuable assistance received in this attempt to collate the scattered information regarding the Avifauna of British India, into a systematic account, and, as stated in the Prospectus, arranged according to the most modern and generally accepted classification. Though seemingly simple, even this little of the 1st volume has involved considerable labour and research. The whole of it cannot well be successfully accomplished without aid. Up to the present very little of this has been received, though the calls have been unceasing, and it has been left for me to work single-handed, assisted by only a few to the best of their abilities, when freed from the weighty cares of their office. Among those to whom I am under special obligation I would mention Mr. W. F. Sinclair, the Collector of Colaba, and Mr. J. Davidson, the Collector of Khandeish, both of whom very kindly furnished me with such specimens as they could obtain from their respective districts. To Lieutenant Henry E. Barnes, D.A.C., I am also indebted for many valuable notes in regard to nidification, &c., while the kindness of Mr. A. O. Hume, C.B., in sending me, some little time ago, a large collection of birds from British Burmah and the Himalayas generally, has helped me considerably in more accurately describing and comparing birds, which till very recently were almost unknown. I have also to acknowledge the assistance received from Mr. Charles Taylor, Superintendent of the Education Society's Press, in generally getting this work through the press with that care and neatness which is evident on every page, and in continuing the publication of the work in anticipation of better results, the total amount of subscription to date being, -including the coloured plates-far less than the cost of production.
Lastly, I have to tender my acknowledgements to Dr. Gerson da Cunha, F.R.A.L., &c.,and to Mr. Thomas Lidbetter for assistance given in precisely the most important direction, viz., introduction to the library of the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, where I have the opportunity of consulting several important works which would have been otherwise inaccessible to me.