VoL. IX THE CONDOR FIFTY YEARS AGO By C. S. SHARP T was recently my good fortune to secure a work that is probably little known to most of the present day ornithologists. This is the "North American Oology," by Dr. Thos. M. Brewer, one volume only, published by the Smith- sonJan Institution in 1857. It is somewhat of the nature of Bendire's "Life His- tories," the size and general make-up being the same, but necessarily much abbreviated. It comprises 112 pages of text with preface and addenda, table of contents, "Catalogue of the Species of Birds inhabiting North America north of Mexico" (as contained in the volume), index, and five pages of lithographic plates, illustrating the eggs of fifty-one species, seventy-four eggs in all being shown. These plates are very fine, being only slightly inferior to the splendid illustra- tions in the "Life Histories." In the preface Dr. Brewer says: "The present part embraces the descriptions and illustrations of the eggs of the Order Raptores and of the Tribe Fissirostres of the Order Insessores. So far as he (the author) is at present aware, these include seventy-nine species inhabiting North America. Of these the eggs of no less than twenty are still 'entirely unknown to him, while of those of eleven others he has no present means of giving illustrations." In this connection it will be of interest to note that our present list contains fifty-eight recognized species of Raptores and some thirty-nine subspecies. Dr. Brewer in his catalogue gives fifty-nine, several of which have been since discarded or given sub-specific rank. Of the Irisessores, families Caprimulgid?e, Hirundinidae and Halcyonidle he gives twenty species. Our list contains the same number of species and thirteen subspecies for these three families. As may be readily understood the facilities for obtaining accurate data fifty years ago were extremely limited, and access to large series of eggs and nests was not possible as at the present time. Eggs of many species that we now consider fairly common were then unknown. In many instances Dr. Brewer's descriptions are from single eggs only, or from hearsay, or from drawings of eggs. One can readily understand the tremendous discouragements of scientific work under such circumstances, and it is not surprising that only the one volume was produced. As an instance of contradictory data and lack of it his article on the Condor is of interest, and is particularly so in view of Mr. Finley's most interesting papers. It is given without abridgment. Cathartes Californianus. (Eleven lines of synornyrny) Vulg.--The Californian Vulture. The California Turkey-Buzzard. But one instauce of the possession of a well-authenticated egg of this species by a naturalist has come to my knowledge. This was one laid in confinement by a female belonging to the Garden of Plants in Paris. An accurate drawing of this was taken by Dr. James Trudeau, and is now in my possession. There seems no reason to doubt that the egg thus laid does not essentially vary from those deposited in a wild state. It certainly is hardly possible that the variations between this and the natural egg can be so total and striking, as between it and the attributed shape and markings of the eggs of this species, if we credit the previous accounts which have been given of the eggs of the Californian Vulture. These descriptions are, however, all traceable to one source, so far as I am aware. David Douglas, in the Zoological Journal, speaks of the eggs of
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