Zoological Illustrations/VolI-Pl13

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Zoological Illustrations Volume I Plate 13.jpg


Ceylonese Flat-bill.

Generic Character.

Rostrum breve, rectum, depressissimum, fermè trigonum; mandibulâ superiore ad apicem abruptè aduncâ, emarginatâ; inferiore rectâ, breviore; marginibus superioris inferiorem superplicantibus. Os et Nares longis rigidis vibrissis obtectæ. Nares, mediæ inter apicem et hiatum rostri. Cauda plerumque æqualis, rectricibus duodecim. Pedes et Tarsi breves, graciles.
Typi Generici. Div. I. Todus Platyrhynchos. Gm. Div. II. Muscicapa barbata. Lath.
Bill short, straight, thin, very depressed, and nearly triangular; the upper mandible abruptly hooked at the tip, and notched; the margins folding over those of the under mandible, which is straight and shorter. Mouth and nostrils defended by long stiff bristles. Nostrils medial between the tip and gape of the bill. Tail mostly even, of twelve feathers. Legs and toes short, slender.
Generic Types. Div. I. Todus Platyrhynchos. Gm. Div. II. Muscicapa barbata. Lath.

Specific Character.

P. olivaceus, subtùs flavus; capite mentoque cinereis.
Olivaceous Flat-bill, beneath yellow. Head and chin cinereous.

The sober tints of this little bird accord more with those of Europe than of India, of which country however it is a native, having been sent from Ceylon to the British Museum: it is the only one I have yet seen, and appears hitherto undescribed.

The stiff bristles at the corner of the mouth are nearly the length of the bill, which is quite flattened: the tail is even, and the whole bird in every respect but colour closely resembles the bearded Flycatcher (Musc. barbata Lath.).

Cuvier and other modern zoologists have done much in distributing the Linnæan Muscicapæ into their natural families; but as we are acquainted with a great number from descriptions only, the arrangement is by no means perfect.

The generic characters now given of the genus Platyrhynchos (very slightly noticed by Vieillot) will be found perfectly applicable to the separate divisions here formed; the first comprising the Todus Platyrhynchos of Gmelin, and a few others having the bill larger and more dilated than the second division, which includes the present species, together with M. barbata, cærulea, cuneata, and no doubt many others. The construction of the bill in all these birds will be found precisely the same, though more or less developed in each division, and even in the species; it thus becomes impossible to draw the line of demarcation without refining too much on generic distinctions. Their bills, although so broad, are by no means stout; thus enabling them to prey with greater readiness on the Lepidoptera and other large winged insects with soft bodies; while the long stiff bristles at the base of the bill seem intended to confine the resistance their prey would otherwise make by their wings. The illustrious Cuvier has well observed, that the true Flycatchers have the bill longer, narrowed, less compressed, and the tip but slightly bent.