Lesser collared Creeper.
- Rostrum elongatum, gracillimum, arcuatum, apice acutissimo, integerrimo, ad basin depressum, lateribus compressis, marginibus inflexis, subtilissimè dentatis; mandibulâ inferiore convexâ. Lingua jaculatoria, tubularis, furcata? Nares basales, breves, nudæ, ovatæ, membranâ fissâ, juxta rostri marginem et basin aperiente, tectæ. Remigum penna prima brevissima, secunda pennis 4 proximis paribus brevior.
- Ob.—Maris cauda pennis elongatis 2 ornata, hypochondriorumque pennæ longiores.
Typ. Gen. Upupa Promerops Lin.—Certhia famosa Lin.
- Bill lengthened, very slender, arched, the base depressed, the sides compressed, the tip very sharp and entire, the margins bent inwards and minutely dentated; under mandible beneath convex. Tongue retractile, tubular, forked? Nostrils basal, short, and broad, covered by a naked oval membrane which opens by a slit near the margin of the bill. First quill feather very short; the second shorter than the four next, which are of equal length.
- Ob.—Male generally with long feathers in the tail, and the side feathers under the wings rather lengthened.
Generic Types. Cape Promerops, and Shining Creeper. Lath.
- C. aureo-viridis, alis caudâque fuscis; fasciis pectoralibus 2 connexis, anticâ chalybeiâ, posticâ angustâ, rubrâ; caudæ tegminibus superioribus chalybeis.
- Golden green, with brown wings and tail, and narrow pectoral band, bordered above by another of steel blue; upper tail covers blue.
- Certhia chalybeia. Lin. Gmelin. 475. Ind. Orn. 1. 284. Brisson. 3 tab. 32. f. 1.?
- Le Soui-manga à collier. Vieill. Grimp. p. 40. pl. 13. 14.
- Collared Creeper. Latham, Syn. 2. 709. Gent. Zool. 8. 196.
This splendid family may be considered as the Humming-birds of the old world, inhabiting (I think exclusively) the tropical regions of Africa and Asia. To the personal observations of M. Vaillant we owe the first, and indeed the only detailed account, of their real economy, and which this enterprising ornithologist remarked during his travels in Africa, and published in his work on the birds of that continent; a work which will be valued and consulted when most of the systems framed by closet naturalists will be forgotten.
M. Vaillant records a singular fact respecting these birds: which is, that the males only assume their rich and vivid colours during the season of courtship; at other times they are scarcely to be known from the females, whose plumage in general is very plain. Another bird, very nearly resembling this, has been figured by M. Vaillant under the name of Le Sucrier à Plastron rouge (Ois. d'Af. pl. 300.); his reasons, however, for separating them, are, I think, sufficient, at least until more forcible ones are adduced than mere conjecture. Our figure is the size of life; on each side the breast is a tuft of yellow feathers; the back, neck, and head shining golden green, changing in various lights. The female is said to be the Certhia Capensis of Lin., which is greyish brown above, and paler beneath.
The different generic names which have been given to these birds by modern systematic writers, require some elucidation. They were originally placed by Linnæus among the Certhiæ; out of this genus Illiger formed another by the name of Nectarinia, in which he included not only these birds, but many others allied to them. From this genus of Illiger's, Cuvier separated a part under the generic appellation of Cinnyris, a genus which comprised those species of Illiger's Nectarinia only which are found in the parallels of latitude of the old world. So far these changes can be understood; but Professor Temminck, without noticing this previous arrangement, places the birds belonging to Cuvier's genus Cinnyris, under his own modification of Illiger's Nectarinia, while to the Nectariniæ, as characterized by Cuvier, he gives the generic name of Cœreba. This last change has introduced great confusion; for the student must bear in mind, that Cuvier's genus Nectarinia corresponds to Temminck's Cœreba; that Cinnyris of Cuvier is Nectarinia of Temminck; and finally, that all these are included under Illiger's original genus Nectarinia! M. Vieillot has still further added to this unfortunate multiplicity of names, by giving that of Mellisuga to Cuvier's Cinnyris. This may truly be termed a war of words. In the meantime, as Cuvier was the first who, by giving the name of Cinnyris, designated the Sucriers of Vaillant, and those only, his definition and generic name to these birds should unquestionably supersede all others.