The Zoologist/4th series, vol 4 (1900)/Issue 704/Editorial Gleanings
In this month's 'Avicultural Magazine' will be found the first part of "A Naturalist's Notes in Ecuador," by Mr. Walter Goodfellow, who, with Mr. Claud Hamilton, has spent two years in that interesting region. We extract the following remarks anent Humming-birds, which, the writer remarks, would be generally associated with sunny flower-bedecked glades:—"It is true that numbers of them are found (and some beautiful ones too) in the hot forests of Tropical America, but they are much more numerous, and far more beautiful in the higher Andes; some of the loveliest of all being found at altitudes of between eight and thirteen thousand feet; whilst the little Black Hummer with a sapphire throat, known as Jameson's Humming-bird, I have seen, when camping out on the volcano of Pichincha, Condor-shooting, flying past our tent in a heavy snowstorm, with its mournful twit twit, at an altitude of over fourteen thousand feet. I have noticed others of the same family sitting on the telegraph-wires (apparently a favourite post of theirs) along the dusty roads in the central highlands, in the most prosaic manner possible, watching, perchance, for passing insects, darting into the air to seize their prey on the wing, and always returning to the same spot. It seems to be almost a general rule in Ecuador that Humming-birds which make their home in the dense forests lack almost entirely the beautiful iridescence peculiar to most members of the family. But, if they lack colour, many of them have peculiarities of form—as, for instance, the wonderful curved bill of the Eutoxeres aquila, the saw-bill of the Androdon æquatorialis, and the elongated tail-feathers of the Phœthornis syrmatophorus. In showing Humming-birds' skins to friends at home one always hears the remark, 'How lovely they must look flying about!' It is true they do look pretty with their graceful poses, but their wonderful colouring is generally then almost entirely invisible, and certainly not seen to proper advantage, many species looking much the same as one another in freedom, but vastly different when held in the hand and turned to the right light."
In the 'American Naturalist' for December last there has been published the account of a most instructive observation by Florence Wells Slater on the egg-carrying habit of a water-hemipteron. It is a well-known fact that certain bugs of the family Belostomatidæ carry their eggs on their back until they are hatched. This has been frequently observed in the case of Zaitha fluminea, common in the Atlantic States. It has been taken for granted by all who have described this habit that it is the female that carries the eggs, and it has been authoritatively stated that she places them on her back by the aid of her ovipositor. Miss Slater, by dissection, has found that all the egg-carrying specimens belonged to the male sex, and from observations made by the aid of an aquarium found that the male was frequently a most unwilling bearer of these burdens of reproduction. Her observations "indicate that the female is obliged to capture the male in order to deposit the eggs. Upon visiting the aquarium one afternoon a male was found to have a few eggs upon the caudal end of the wings. There was a marked difference in the colour of these, those nearest the head being yellow, while those nearest the caudal end were dark grey. The small number of the eggs indicated that the female had been interrupted in her egg-laying, and the difference in colour of the eggs that the process must be a slow one. For five hours I watched a silent unremitting struggle between the male and the female. Her desire was evidently to capture him uninjured. She crept quietly to within a few inches of him, and there remained immovable for half an hour. Suddenly she sprang towards him; but he was on the look-out, and fought so vigorously that she was obliged to retreat. After this repulse she swam about carelessly for a time, as if searching for food was her only thought. But in ten or fifteen minutes she was back in her first position in front of him. Again there was the attack, and again the repulse. The same tactics were continued until midnight, when, despairing of her success, I left them. At six o'clock the next morning the entire abdomen of the male and half of the thorax were covered with eggs. Those nearest the head were quite yellow, showing that the struggle had just ended."
The Marquis of Lorne has imported some Wild Turkeys from Canada, and turned them loose in Argyllshire. They are doing well, and Turkey-shooting may become an attraction of the Highlands.—Sun.
The Secretary of State for the Home Department has made the following Order under the Wild Birds Protection Acts, 1880-1896, for the Protection of Wild Birds and Wild Birds' Eggs within the County of London.
The Wild Birds Protection (County of London) Order,
January, 1900. Dated Jan. 10th, 1900.
Close Time Extended.
II. The time during which the killing and taking of wild birds is prohibited by the Act of 1880 shall be extended, so far as concerns the county of London, so as to be from the 1st day of February to the 31st day of August in each year.
Certain Birds protected during the whole of the Year.
III. During the period from the 1st day of September in any year to the 31st day of January following, both days inclusive, the taking or killing of any of the following kinds of wild birds is prohibited throughout the county of London:—
Bearded Tit (Reedling or Reed Pheasant), Blackbird, Blackcap, Blue Tit, Buntings, Buzzard, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Cole Tit, Coot, Cuckoo, Flycatchers, Garden Warbler, Golden-crested Wren, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Gulls, Hedge-Sparrow (or Dunnock), Hobby, Honey Buzzard, Kestrel, Kingfisher, Landrail (or Corncrake), Lark, Lesser Whitethroat, Linnet, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Martins, Merlin, Nightingale, Nightjar, Nuthatch, Osprey, Owls, Redstart, Reed Warbler, Robin (or Redbreast), Sedge Warbler, Shrikes, Starling, Stonechat, Swallow, Swift, Thrushes, Wagtails, Wheatear, Whinchat, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Woodpeckers, Wood Warbler, Wren, Wryneck (Cuckoo's-mate or Snake-bird).
All Birds protected on Sundays in certain Parishes.
IV. During the period from the 1st day of September in any year to the 31st day of January following, both days inclusive, the taking or killing of wild birds on Sundays is prohibited in the following parishes in the county of London. [Here follows list of parishes.]
Additions to the Schedule of the Act of 1880.
V. The Wild Birds Protection Act, 1880, shall apply within the county of London to the Bearded Tit (Reedling or Reed Pheasant), Buzzard, Chaffinch, Hobby, Honey Buzzard, Kestrel, Magpie, Martins, Merlin, Osprey, Shrikes, Swallow, Swift, and Wryneck (Cuckoo's-mate or Snake-bird), as if those species were included in the schedule to the said Act.
Certain Eggs protected throughout the County.
VI. The taking or destroying of the eggs of the following wild birds is prohibited throughout the county of London for a period of five years from the date of this Order:—
Bearded Tit (Reedling or Reed Pheasant), Blackbird, Blackcap, Blue Tit, Buntings, Buzzard, Chiffchaff, Cole Tit, Coot, Cuckoo, Flycatchers, Garden Warbler, Golden-crested Wren, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Hawfinch, Hedge-Sparrow (or Dunnock), Hobby, Honey Buzzard, Kestrel, Kingfisher, Landrail (or Corncrake), Lark, Lesser Whitethroat, Linnet, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Martins, Merlin, Nightingale, Nightjar, Nuthatch, Osprey, Owls, Plover (Lapwing or Peewit), Redstart, Reed Warbler, Robin (or Redbreast), Sedge Warbler, Shrikes, Starling, Stonechat, Swallow, Swift, Thrushes, Wagtails, Wheatear, Whinchat, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Woodpecker, Wood Warbler, Wren, Wryneck (Cuckoo's-mate or Snake-bird).
Any person infringing this Order is liable on conviction to penalties not exceeding £1 for every bird or egg taken or destroyed.
Few hard-and-fast characters used in zoological classification attain to the legal definitions of the Medes and Persians. Thus we have "Salamanders with and without Lungs," the subject of a valuable communication by Dr. Lönnberg in the 'Zoologischer Anzeiger' of December last (No. 604, p. 545). It had been proved by Wilder, Camerano, and Moore, as well as by the writer of the article, that many Salamanders are normally deprived of lungs. To these Dr. Lönnberg adds two more species, and gives a list of those known to be without lungs, or to have these organs reduced. There are also a number of species which possess well although differently developed lungs. These Dr. Lönnberg proposes to divide into two classes, viz. (1) such in which the lungs extend to the groin, and are about 60 per cent, of the length of head and body, and (2) such in which the lungs extend only about half-way between axilla and groin, and measure only from 45 to 38 per cent, of the length of the head and body. "Camerano has rightly pointed out the importance of the lungs as an hydrostatic organ, and it seems quite probable that the great length of the lungs in many forms is an adaptation to aquatic life. But the lungless Salamanders are not necessarily obliged to lead a terrestrial life, even if many of them do so; on the contrary, some of them are very positively aquatic in their habits. In the latter case, however, they do not swim suspended in the middle of the water, as the species of Molge, but crawl or wriggle at the bottom."