THE BLANCHE BAY MUNIA.
PLATE VIII. (FIG. 3).
Donacicola spectabilis, Selater, Proc. Zool. Soc. 1879, pp. 447, 449, pl. xxxvii. fig. 2. ,
Donacicola spectabilis, Layard, Ibis, 1880, p. 297.
Donacicola spectabilis, Reichnw, et Schal. Journ, fur Ornith’. 1880, p. 203.
Donacicola spectabilis, Salvad. Ann. Mus. Civ. Gen. xvi. 1880, p. 192.
Donacicola spectabilis, Salvad. Ornit. Papuasia, p. 441, 1881.
Figure. Selater, Proc. Zool. Soc. 1879, pl. xxxvii. fig. 2.
Habitat. New Britain.
“Brunnea ; pileo, nucha et capitis lateribus nigris ; tectricibus caudae superioribus et rectricum mediarum marginibus pallide castaneis ; subtus alba ; gula, ventre imo, et crisso cum femoribus nigris ; suba¬laribus ochraceo-albis ; rostro et pedibus nigris. Long, tota 3.4, alae 1.8, caudae 1.2 ” (P. L. Selater).
Male. Crown of head, hind neck, cheeks, chin, and throat black, washed with grey ; mantle, scapulars, and wings blackish-brown, edges of feathers brighter ; rump, upper tail-coverts, centre tail-feathers, and outer edges of the rest glistening ochraceous brown, shaft-stripes brown ; breast, sides, and belly white, tinged with buff in the centre ; axillaries, under wing-coverts, and inner edges of primaries and secondaries buff ; under tail-coverts black ; “iris deep brown ; bill and feet black” (Layard) : length 3.6, wing 1.95, tail 1.45, tarsus 0.6, culmen 0.45.
Female. Similar, but the back is not so dark as in the male ; the breast and belly are strongly tinged with yellowish-buff ; bill and feet black : length 3.7, wing 1.85, tail 1.55, tarsus 0.6, culmen 0.4.
THE Rev. G. Brown during his residence in the Duke of York Island, New Britain, prepared several collections of bird-skins which he transmitted to Mr. P. L. Selater for determination ; among them were the three species figured and described above (Plate VIII.).
We are now in possession of four very remarkable species, viz. Munia meloena, forbesi, spectabilis, and flaviprymna, all of which are modifications of one type, and are easily distinguished from the other members of this large group by the ventral patch and under tail-coverts being black, and by the absence of the black mesial stripe which is so conspicuous in the Munia malacca form.
Mr. P. L. Selater points out that “this Finch, of which there is a single skin, is perhaps not very far from Donacicola flaviprymna, Gould, B. Austr, iii. pl. 96, but is immediately recognizable by its black head and neck.”
Mr. E. L. C. Layard, in notes of a collecting trip in New Britain, says :—This little Finch was found only in Blanche Bay. It was in large flocks, diligently hunting for grass-seeds on the ground in the banana and cocoanut plantations, very easy to approach. I killed seven at one shot.”
The male and female above described were procured by Mr. C. L. Layard in Blanche Bay, New Britain, in 1879, and are now in the collection of Canon H. B. Tristram, who kindly lent them to me for examination.
The figure is taken from the male above referred to.