Zoological Illustrations/VolII-Pl116

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Zoological Illustrations Volume II Plate 116.jpg

MUSCIPETA barbata,

Whiskered Flycatcher.

Generic Character.

Rostrum latum, valdè depressum, lateribus aliquando dilatatis, culmine prominente, mandibulæ superioris apice adunco, plerumque emarginato, marginibus mandibulæ planæ inferioris margines superplicantibus. Nares basales, membranâ obtectæ, aperturâ terminali, ovatâ, vibrissis longis armatâ.
Ob. Pedes mediocres vel breves, digito exteriore ad medii articulum secundum annexo, interiore et medio ad basin modò annexis.
Bill broad, much depressed, the sides sometimes dilated, ridge prominent; tip of the upper mandible hooked, and mostly notched, the margins folding over those of the under mandible, which is flat; nostrils at the base of the bill covered by a membrane; the aperture terminal, oval, and defended by long stiff bristles.
Ob. Feet moderate or short; the external toe united to the middle as far as the second joint, the inner and middle toes united only at their base.
Generic Types (Tem.) Todus plumbeus, Muscicapa borbonica, Flabellifera, &c.

Specific Character.

M. Supra olivacea, subtus fulva, aureâ cristâ (maribus) insignis; jugulo albido; uropygio pallidè flavo; caudâ nigrâ.
Above olivaceous, beneath fulvous, (male,) with a golden yellow crest; throat whitish; rump pale yellow; tail black.
Muscicapa barbata. Gmelin. i. 933. Lath. In. Orn. 2, p. 488. n. 86. mas.
Whiskered Flycatcher (male). Lath. Syn. 364.

I once shot a pair of these little birds in the forest of Pitanga, about twenty leagues west of Bahia: this is the only instance which I know of their having been found in Brazil. The same bird appears, however, more frequent in Cayenne, according to the older ornithologists. But whether the bird described by them as the female be really such, admits of great doubt, because Dr. Latham (probably on the authority of Buffon) describes it as having a smaller bill, and a few short hairs, instead of long bristles, at the base; the crown with a spot of yellow, a longer tail, &c. None of these are, in general, sexual distinctions, and, moreover, are at complete variance with the female here figured. The sexes I ascertained by dissection. It follows, therefore, that either the bird found in Cayenne is a distinct species, or that the bird described as its female is not such in reality. This latter supposition I apprehend is nearest the truth.

The figures are of the natural size, the upper representing the female, and the lower the male bird: the head of the former is entirely destitute of the crest which distinguishes the latter; in every other respect the resemblance is uniform. This crest, when not erected, is concealed, being nearly covered by the olive feathers around it. When erected, however, it discloses a stripe down the middle of the head of deep straw-coloured feathers, some of which are tipped with olive. The upper mandible of the bill is triangular, and much hooked, notched, and depressed; the colour is black, the perforations of the nostrils are rather large, and would be naked, were they not partially covered by numerous stiff bristles, which spring from the base of the bill and angle of the mouth; between the eye and bill a pale stripe. The plumage above is dull olive green, with a broad band of very pale yellow across the rump. Wings and their covers brown; tail and upper covers blackish; beneath, the plumage is yellowish, the chin almost white, and the breast and vent tinged with ferruginous; the two first quill feathers are progressively shorter than the third and fourth, which are equal, and longer than the others. Legs and claws short, slender, and pale.

This bird would obviously belong to the second division which I had proposed in my former remarks on Platyrhynchus, and it is in every respect allied to P. Ceylonensis, Pl. 13. My reasons for disturbing this previous arrangement have been already given; and, until a complete investigation is made of the immense genus of Flycatchers, I concur with M. Temminck in the distribution which he has proposed; viz. the arrangement of the European species under the old genus of Muscicapa, and of the exotic under that of Muscipeta; the characters of which, however, are very imperfect: they are, indeed, at variance with this bird, which has the outer and middle toe connected only to the first joint, and the inner toe cleft to the base.