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animals there are gorgeously apparrelled. Still he is Coturnix. Such is his every day Spanish name.
The same is the case with Perdix. Permit me, then, to stand by the universal coturnix.-Good morning.
J. C., Jr.
“ALL IN THE WRONG."
The communications of Messrs. Forester and Cypress Jr., have recalled my attention to the nomenclature of the partridges; and as their views do not appear to me to be correct, and as I have myself committed an error, I think a few farther remarks may not be amiss, premising that I had the use of a good library at hand when I penned the former article, and can make no reference except to my own on this occasion. On account of their being standard modern works, I shall make use of the following, and the synonymes therein cited ;
1. Jardine's Natural History of Game Birds.
Edinburgh: 1834 2. Jenyn's Manual of British Vertebrate Animals.*
Cambridge and London : 1835. 3. Audubon's Synopsis of the Birds of North America.
Edinburgh : 1839. 4. Nuttall's Ornithology of the United States and Canada.
Boston : 1840.
* Mr. Forester asserts that Bewick is “decidedly the best British ornithologist.” Bewick’s is certainly a good book, but there are better works
Linnæus, although a great naturalist, and the father of zoological nomenclature, had a very imperfect conception of what constitutes a genus.
Thus, besides including the brown, black, and white bears in the genus Ursus, he named our raccoon Ursus lotor although it is not a bear. It is now called Procyon lotor a new generic name being given to it, to which the old specific name has been added. The genus Tetrao of Linnæus is restricted to the grouse, and a more recent division separates the ptarmigans under the name Lagopus, generally considered a subgenus of the former. I will take the fox as an illustration of a subgenus. The Linnæan genus Canis includes the foxes, the European species being the Canis vulpes. But the foxes are not considered to differ sufficiently from the dogs to entitle them to a distinct generic appellation ; hence they are placed in the subgenus Vulpes, being distinguished by the pointed muzzle, bushy tail, and especially by having a long narrow pupil, which in the dogs, is circular. Now if we call the foxes Vulpes, we cannot call the European species Vulpes vulpes, but must invent a new specific name, hence this animal is termed Vulpes vulgaris but it is a rule that no specific name can be changed unless a change like this occurs. Linnæus named the only North American bird of the partridge family Tetrao Virginianus ; when the genus Perdix was instituted, it became Perdix Virginianus, and now that a more minute-or subgeneric-distinction is thought necessary, it becomes an Ortyx. Those who do not admit the last division continue to call the genus Perdix; and it would be just as absurd to call a raccoon and a badger Ursus as this bird Tetrao. If it is proper for those ornithologists who do not admit the
devoted exclusively to British birds ; as those of Selby, Yarrel, and Macgillivray, the two last beautifully illustrated with woodcuts. Sir Wm. Jardine's work on the same subject is not all published.
subgenera Perdix, Ortyx, Coturnix, and Lophortix-Californian partridges with plumed heads,-to name all these Perdix, it is certainly not improper to term the Ortyges partridges, for although the quail of Europe may be considered a kind of partridge, no partridge or Ortyx can be considered a kind of quail. Mr. Forester is right, and I am wrong, with respect to the subgenus of the European partridges, which belong to the subgenus Perdix, or partridge proper ; whence the parttridge, quail, and American bird, belong to three* distinct subgenera, our bird being as far removed as ever from any species of quail, of which there are many.
Mr. Forester objects to the term Ortyx, but it cannot be changed, as being the first proposed for the section to which it is attached ; and it was chosen because it was easier to adopt, than to invent a new
The Turkey genus is called by a Latin name for the
“ The English books” to which I referred in part, are those whose titles stand above.“ Jardine calls our bird “ The Virginian quail or partridge --following Wilson, of whose work he edited an English edition, whilst Jenyn terms it " Virginian partridge.” Latham makes three species of it, viz: " the Virginian, Maryland, and Mexican partridge,” the last being the young, according to Nuttall. Shaw calls it “ Northern Colin,” this term meaning “a bird of the partridge kind.”— [Webster.] Were the bird a quail, Shaw would have said 50, being well acquainted with the quails. It is also the “ American partridge or quail” of Nuttall.
I inferred that Mr. Cypress Jr. had not read the modern authors on our ornithology, because he says the partridge is called Tetrao, and I think my inference a fair one. How
* Originally printed those in the Turf Register. See p. 141.
ever, as the gentleman takes issue on this point, I explain the matter by supposing that he means grouse-Tetrao—when he writes "partridge." Audubon, in his Synopsis, calls the ruffed grouse “Partridge Pheasant," although he refers to it as being described under the name of ruffed grouse in his fifth volume, the name given it by Wilson, Nuttall, Richardson, Swainson, and Jardine. I could not “ dream” that a writer could have consulted any of these authorities, and afterwards term a grouse “partridge.”
Mr. C. has fully succeeded in placing his errors in definition upon certain lexicographers, but these gentry know as little as any of us to what particular animals, plants, or minerals, the ancients attached certain names. You might puzzle a bishop, by showing him a mineral, and requesting to know whether it is the
of the Bible. Cuvier has done more, perhaps, than any lexicographer, to clear up the confusion existing in the definition of these names. He first informed us, for instance to what bird now known the name Ibis was applied. Birds must be known before they can be named, and lexicographers are not famous for their acquaintance with this subject. Natural history Latin may be bad enough, but depend upon it, Mr. Cypress, “ Law Latin” is equally defective.
The 66 errors of Wilson" are those of nomenclature, and they were unavoidable, as I have already remarked. I made no allusion to his vulgar names, having referred to his systematic nomenclature alone, wherein he occasionally adds a new name to a species which had been named previously. It was not Audubon, but Bonaparte, who rectified these errors; and we are indebted to him moreover, for a continuation of Wilson in four volumes, containing the most elaborately finished plates of birds ever engraved. Mr. C. must
not infer that I undervalue the labors of Wilson, because I make a casual allusion to his errors. As an observer, as an ornithologist, he stands much above his successors, and we owe him our gratitude for his labors in clearing the subject of the rubbish with which it was encumbered. Wilson is the last man at whom I would presume to “fling a pirate shot,” and I recently read with the greatest pleasure, the refutation of a charge of plagiarism preferred against him by Mons. Audubon. I may add that I felt this stroke of Mr. C. much more than any
other in the same article. Cypress Jr. alludes to the Maryland partridge of Latham, and wishes to know whether the bird might not be called Perdix Noveboracensis if found in New York ? By no means. Latham thought he was describing different species, it being a rather common occurrence for an ornithologist to mistake a female, or young, or birds in different plumage, for distinct species. In such cases the earliest name must stand, and the later and incorrect ones are cancelled the moment it is discovered that the supposed new species has-or have—no existence.
“ Latham, Audubon, and others, have wholly stricken Coturnix from existence, so far as this country is concerned," because not a single species is found here, as I have endeavored to show. Jardine—who elevates Ortyx and Cortunix to the rank of
genera-says“The genus Ortyx was formed by Stevens, the continuator of Shaw's General Zoology, for the reception of the thick and strong-billed partridges of the new world.”
“ The Quails, forming the genus Coturnix of moderns, are at first sight so similar to the partridges, that they are not to be distinguished without a knowledge of their habits, and examination of their forms. In the bill and legs there are slight modifications, but the form of the wing is quite different, the first three quills being longest [and the third and fourth in Ortyx: Nutt.) and a rounded wing of less power is the consequence.
may be recollected that, though the partridges were said to migrate in some countries, the migration is comparatively, very partial, and often only from one part of a continent to another; on the other hand,