THE FORMOSAN MUNIA.
PLATE VI. (FIGS. 3, 4).
Munia formosana, Swinh. Ibis, 1865, p. 356.
Amadina formosana, Gray, Hand-List Birds, ii. p. 55 (1870).
Munia formosana, Swinh. Proc. Zool. Soc. 1871, p. 385.
Munia formosana. Elwes, Proc. Zool. Soc. 1873, p. 667.
Munia formosana, Walden, Trans. Zool. Soc. 1875, p. 207.
Munia formosana, David et Oust. Ois. Chine, p. 342 (1877).
Munia formosana, Salvad. Ornit. Papuasia, p. 438 (1881).
Habitat. Island of Formosa.
“ Similis M. rubronigra’, sed occipite nuchaque fuscis nec nigris” (Swinhoe).
Male. “Above, sides of the breast and flanks chestnut ; forehead, face, and under-parts deep black, the former fading into brown, on the occiput and nape ; lower rump deep glossy maroon ; upper tail-coverts and two central tail-feathers flammeous, remaining tail-feathers light hair-brown, washed and edged with chestnut ; axillaries and basal edge of under-quills pale buff, the under-stems white ; edges of carpus beneath chestnut, marked with black ; the chestnut on the breast forms a narrow belt ; irides deep rich brown ; bill cobalt-blue, deeper on the culmen and gonys ; legs and claws plumbeous, with light yellowish soles and bases: length 4.25, wing 2.12, tail 1.5 inches’’ . (Swinhoe).
Female. Similar, but rather paler.
Immature. “Above light yellowish-brown, washed with chestnut on every part except the head ; under-parts pale dingy buff” (Swinhoe).
Observ. “Some of the specimens are entirely in the young plumage, others show every step of maturity. The moult is probably completed before the bird begins to breed, and those in the youngest garb are doubtless the produce of late nests last year ” (Swinhoe).
The black mesial stripe gradually expands on the lower part of the chest, and is scarcely united to the black of the breast.
This interesting little Munia was discovered by Mr. R. Swinhoe during his sojourn in the Island of Formosa in 1865, and in a letter to the ‘Ibis’ (p. 356) of the same year he described it, adding the following remarks :—
“On the 26th of March my hunter returned from the hills (Takow, Formosa). He had penetrated no great distance, as his collection, consisting chiefly of birds of the plain, and containing no Accipitres, plainly showed. He brought, however, an extremely interesting species from the lower range. This was a Munia of which there were several specimens both in young and old plumage, dead and alive. It is a new species, closely allied to M. rubronigra of Hodgson, but singularly differing from it in the occiput and nape being brown instead of a rich black, as are the other dark parts. This bird supplies another curious confirmation of what I have before stated as to the affinities of the fauna of this island with that of the Himalaya, rather than with that of China. It has the black ventral stripe of M. rubronigra which is wanting in M. sinensis. I propose to call it Munia formosana.”
The four specimens in my own collection were procured by Mr. R. Swinhoe in 1865, two adults and two young ones, these latter birds are in an intermediate and curious change of plumage.
I have transcribed Mr. Swinhoe’s descriptions, which were taken from fresh individuals, and correspond exactly with those I possess ; two of which are now figured for the first time.
Nothing is known with regard to the extent of country inhabited by this bird in the Island of Formosa, or its nest and eggs.
Canon H. B. Tristram kindly lent me two specimens which were collected in Formosa by Mr. R. Swinhoe.
No. Sex. Mus. Locality. Length. Wing. Tail. Tars. Culm.
a Male E. B. Fungshan (Swinhoe) 3.8 2.2 1.55 0.6 0.45
b Male imm. E. B. Takow (Swinhoe) 3.15 2.2 1.15 0.6 0.4
c Female E. B. Takow (Swinhoe) 3.75 2 1.53 0.6 0.45
d Female imm. E. B. Takow (Swinhoe) 3.4 2.1 1.5 0.6 0.4
e Male H. B. Tristram. Formosa (Swinhoe) 4.1 2.2 1.6 0.6 0.45
f Female H. B. Tristram. Formosa (Swinhoe) 3.9 2.15 1.45 0.6 0.45
The figures (Plate VI.) are taken from (fig. 3) a and (fig. 4) d, specimens in my own collection, procured by Mr. R. Swinhoe.