Zoological Illustrations/VolIII-Pl138

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Zoological Illustrations
by William Swainson
Vol III. Pl. 138. Malurus garrulus. Noisy Soft-tail Warbler.
Zoological Illustrations Volume III Plate 138.jpg

MALURUS garrulus,

Noisy Soft-tail Warbler.

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Generic Character.

Rostrum validius, breve, totum valdè compressum, altius quam latius, culmine prominente plumas frontales dividente et ad apicem aliquandò emarginatum, vix incurvo. Nares basales membranâ tectæ, aperturâ laterali. Alæ brevissimæ, rotundatæ, remigum 3 primorum longitudine proximorum 4 longitudinem superante. Cauda plerumque longa, cuneata, radiis mollibus, decompositis. Pedes validi, digito exteriore ad digiti medii basin annexo. Hallux validus.
Ob. Rostri basi vibrissis setaceis sparsis instructâ. Tem.
Bill rather strong, short, much compressed its whole length, higher than broad, the ridge prominent, dividing the frontal feathers, and bent at the tip, which is sometimes notched. Nostrils basal, covered by a membrane, the aperture lateral. Wings very short, rounded, the three first quills shorter than the four next. Tail generally long, cuneated, the radii soft and decomposed. Legs strong; the outer toe connected to the base of the middle toe. Hind claw strong.
Ob. Base of the bill with setaceous hairs. Temminck.
Generic Types—Turdus brachypterus. Lath. Le Flûteur. Vail. Ois. d'Af. 3. pl. 112. f. 2. Le Capolier. Do. pl. 129. pl. 130. f. 1.

Specific Character.

M. fuscus, infrà albescentibus; plumis frontalibus rigidis, acuminatis, rufis; strigis ante et pone oculos albescentibus; caudâ mediocri, rotundatâ.
M. brown, beneath whitish, feathers on the front of the head rigid, pointed, and rufous; lines before and behind the eye whitish: tail moderate, rounded.
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The colours of this bird are altogether plain; but it is remarkable for its very singular nest, which is so large, as to form a feature in the woodland scenery of Bahia, the only part of Brazil where I observed it: the nest is built in low trees, formed externally of dried sticks, without any neatness, and is usually three or four feet long, resembling at a distance a thick twist of bean stalks thrown in the branches by accident: sometimes two of these nests appear as if joined together, and there is an opening on the side, besides one at the top. The sexes are generally seen near the nest, uttering a shrill, incessant, monotonous chirp, particularly in the morning and evening. I never could bring myself to tear one of their nests to pieces, merely to see its construction.

All the birds of this genus are stated by Professor Temminck to be natives either of the old world, or of the southern hemisphere; but the observations I have made, lead me to think otherwise. Two of the generic types M. Temminck has given, are the same as those I have selected; these birds are now before me; the other (Le Capolier,) is so like the species here figured, that (judging from Le Vaillant's plate) they might easily pass for the same bird. Two other species, with characters perfectly resembling M. garrulus, are likewise found in Brazil.

From a consideration, therefore, of the affinities and habits of these birds, I conceive they may constitute a very natural genus, closely allied to Sylvia, having very compressed bills, short wings, russet coloured plumage, with soft and generally long tails, and building rather large and cylindrical nests. On the other hand, if the whole of the birds mentioned by P. Temminck are retained in the genus, I apprehend it will become entirely artificial; inasmuch as it will include not only the birds above mentioned, but the Motacilla superba, and a large non-descript bird from New Holland, the size of a thrush, which in habit, though not in characters, resembles a shrike.

M. Vieillot first proposed this genus, but his definition is so short and obscure, that little can be gained from it.

The slight sketch in the distance, introduced in the plate, will give some idea of the singular nest of this bird.