Page:The Zoologist, 4th series, vol 6 (1902).djvu/238

This page needs to be proofread.

boscas) was killed on the Avon. I saw it very soon after it was shot, and its size, together with the peculiarity of its plumage, at once attracted attention. On referring to 'Yarrell,' I found an almost identical specimen described as a "female having assumed, to a considerable extent, the plumage of the drake, even to the curled feathers of the tail." In the specimen of which I write the plumage partakes of both sexes, the male perhaps most conspicuously; but the measurement and weight were that of an undoubted old female in not very prime condition, if I may judge from the tough manner in which the skin was attached to the flesh. I may describe it as follows:—Crown and back of neck glossy green; cheeks and throat pale brown, dappled with darker brown; white ring almost complete; breast chesnutbrown, with dark—almost black—spots and streaks; back and sides difficult to describe, so mixed are the colours with the black and tawny of the female, and the grey mottled pencilling of the male; under parts lighter; legs, feet, and beak female, the webs of the feet being darker than the legs or toes; the beak orange-brown on sides and tip, with broad central dark greenish black mark, and black nail. The tail both below and above is male—even to the four velvet black curls—but the outermost lancet-shaped feathers, which in the ordinary male are white with grey centres, are in this bird, white with darkm brown shafts and markings. Several people who saw the bird pronounced it hermaphrodite, but on dissection the sexual organs were found to be altogether female, much diseased and shrunken, and of a very dark colour, An equally conclusive proof of the gender was in the size and form of the bony labyrinth at the end of the windpipe. It has been suggested that it is a male in the annual moulting change of plumage, but if its anatomy had not proved it otherwise, the time of year would have been against such a conclusion.

Whilst on this subject, I may mention, that a few years ago a brother-in-law of mine had a Bantam hen which laid for two seasons, then ceased laying, and assumed almost the complete plumage of the cock; and I have on several occasions seen Pheasants in a like condition.—G.B. Corbin (Ringwood).


Note on the Pairing of Moor-hens.—In case it may be of any interest to naturalists, and also to put on record a fact, in the nature of which there lies, as I believe, a deep significance—and that in more ways than one—I send the following note on the pairing (£. e. copulation) of the Common Moor-hen, as witnessed by me, and taken down then and there. It is as follows:—

"April 23rd, 1902.—Have just seen the pairing of Moor-hens. The