Zoological Illustrations/VolIII-Pl139

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Zoological Illustrations
by William Swainson
Vol III. Pl. 139. Sylvia plumbea. Grey-backed Warbler.
Zoological Illustrations Volume III Plate 139.jpg

SYLVIA plumbea,

Grey-backed Warbler.

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Generic Character.

Rostri recti, tenuis, basi altiore quam latiore, mandibulâ superiori aliquando emarginatâ, inferiori rectâ. Nares basales, laterales, membranâ partim tectæ. Crura longiora digito medio, qui digito exteriori ad basin annectitur. Ungue posteriore mediocri, digito posteriore breviore et arcuato. Remigum pinnâ primâ brevissimâ aliquando caret. Tectrices remigibus multo breviores. Temm.
Bill straight, slender, base higher than broad; superior mandible sometimes notched, the inferior straight. Nostrils basal, lateral, partly covered by a membrane. Legs longer than the middle toe, which is united to the exterior toe at the base; hinder claw moderate, shorter than the toe, and curved. Wings; the first quill very short, or wanting, greater covers much shorter than the quills. Temminck.
Generic Types—Turdus arundinaceus. Lath. Sylvia locustella. Luscinia. Trochilus. Regulus. (Temminck.)

Specific Character.

S. cæruleo-grisea, infra aurea; dorso olivaceo; tectricium apicibus albis.
Blue grey, beneath golden yellow; back olive; wing-covers tipt with white.
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There is an elegance of shape, and a harmony of colouring, in the Warblers, that render these delicate little birds very interesting. The species are exceedingly numerous, and are spread over most parts of the world; several abound in our own woods and hedges, and the "sacred bird" of our childhood, the Robin Redbreast, is among the number. That now before us is a native of Brazil, from whence it was received by Mr. Leadbeater; I never met with it myself. The first quill feather is hardly shorter than the three next, which are all of equal length; the tail-feathers are even, and rather pointed; their colour black, margined with grey; the two outer with a white spot on the inner web; the under wing and tail-covers white.

I have made no material alteration in Prof. Temminck's definition of this overgrown genus, being convinced it might lead to confusion, while the generality of the birds composing it remain so little known.

This bird greatly resembles the female of S. pusilla of Wilson (yellow-backed Warbler, Latham), yet differs in having the belly golden yellow instead of white: I was told, moreover, that this was a male bird: the one inhabits North, and the other South America. Latham's description of his yellow-backed Warbler, I should think, is not quite accurate; as he only alludes to one white bar on the wing covers, whereas both Wilson and Vieillot say there are two.