Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/789

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769
SOME OF THE OUTLIERS AMONG BIRDS.

though its internal structure, which has been carefully examined, proves the relationship (see Fig. 4). Considerably larger than Eurypyga, it has its head ornamented by a hanging crest of long and soft feathers. Both its legs, which are rather long, and its beak are of a livid red color. Its ample wings are marked

PSM V46 D789 The kagu rhinochetos jubatus.jpg
Fig. 4.—The Kagu {Rhinochetus jubatus). Drawn by the author after Newton's figure.

something after the pattern seen in the sun bittern, while its chief body color is a pale slate, shading lighter below. Numerous transverse bars embellish the tail, and these markings, though far less distinct, are seen on the wing coverts also. Ordinarily it is a very passive bird, standing motionless for several minutes at a time, when it will step off briskly for a short distance, only to again assume its attitude of rest. This is by no means, however, the invariable behavior of this extraordinary bird, for when aroused by excitement it will even quite outdo a sun bittern in its extravagant and fantastic "show-off." Holding one of its wings or the extremity of its tail in the most remarkable manner, it will violently spin about in giddy dance, the like of which is never performed by any other known member of the class Aves. Unfortunately, this extremely interesting type, it is now said, is becoming rapidly exterminated.[1]

  1. It is not at all unlikely but that Mesites, the sun bitterns, and the kagu all sprang from some common, generalized, ancestral type long ages extinct, and that all the other host of allies, save the three just mentioned, coming from the same common stock, have also long since died out. Forbes seems to think that "the Malagash Mesites is perhaps