Zoological Illustrations/VolI-Pl21

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Zoological Illustrations Volume I Plate 21.jpg

PROCNIAS hirundacea.

Swallow Fruit-eater.

Generic Character.

Rostrum breve, trigonum, basi latissimum, dilatatum, versus apicem contractum: mandibulis emarginatis; marginibus intraflexis; mandibulâ superiore, tomiis curvatis, carinatis; inferiore rectâ, breviore. Nares latæ, basales, subnudæ; aperturis orbiculatis, approximantibus, apicem quam malam magis appropinquantibus. Lingua brevissima, angusta. Rictus amplissimi infra oculos aperientes. Pedes insidentes. Alæ mediocres.

Typus Genericus Ampelis carunculata. Latham.

Bill short, triangular, base very broad, dilated, towards the end contracted; both mandibles notched, the margins bent inward; upper mandible slightly curved and carinated above; lower mandible straight and shortest. Nostrils broad, basal, nearly naked, the aperture much nearer the tip than the gape of the bill. Tongue very short, narrow. Mouth very large, opening beneath the eye. Feet formed for perching. Wings moderate.

Generic Type Carunculated Chatterer. Latham.

Obs. MM. Temminck and Lagier had just before us, and without our knowledge, published this bird under the name of Procnias Ventralis, (Pl. 5.) by which name in right of priority it should stand in the system.

Specific Character.

P. (in maribus) cærulea; fronte, jugulo, temporibusque nigris; corpore subtùs in medio albo, lateribus striis transversis nigrescentibus.
(Fœm.) viridis; mento temporibusque griseis; corpore infrà flavescente, striis obscurè-viridibus transversis.
(Male) blue; front, throat, and temples black; middle of the body beneath white, the sides with blackish transverse striæ.
(Female) green; chin and temples grey; body beneath yellowish, transversely striated with dusky-green.

The birds of this genus are remarkable for the enormous width of their mouths, which in some species exceeds that of the Swallow family, thus enabling them with ease to swallow the large berries of the Melastomæ and other tropical shrubs, on which they alone subsist; not on insects, as Cuvier asserts. Although in the construction of their bills they perfectly resemble the Swallows, their wings are not formed for long or rapid flight; and their feet are much stronger, and calculated for searching among branches for their food, in which situations I have frequently seen them. The term "pedes ambulatorii," or walking-feet, is applied too generally, and should be confined to the gallinaceous and Pigeon tribes.

This genus was formed by Count Hoffmansegg, and the present is the smallest species known: our figure is of the male bird. Total length about five inches and a half. The bill from the angle to the tip measures seven lines; but from the nostrils only three lines and a half. The middle of the body, vent, and under tail-covers in the male are pure white; in the female yellowish, with a line of olive-green down the middle of each shaft; the quills, wing-covers, and tail-feathers are black, margined in the male with blue, and in the female with green: the tail is slightly forked. The nostrils round and bare; the base of the bill has a few weak setaceous hairs. The legs resemble the true Chatterers, having the outer toe rather longer than the inner, and attached to the base of the middle.

This is a scarce bird, apparently not hitherto described; I met with it only three times in Bahia; but it appears more frequent in the southern provinces of Brazil, specimens having been sent me from Minas Geralis and Rio de Janeiro.