Re: birding-aus references to extinct birds in early explorers' account

To: (John Leonard),
Subject: Re: birding-aus references to extinct birds in early explorers' accounts?
From: David James <>
Date: Wed, 24 Feb 1999 19:41:50 +1000


I don't think there are any other species that are described or for which
there are specimens that are known to have become extinct in mainland Aus
since European exploration, except paradise parrot. Things that were never
"discovered" by science are unlikely to be identifiable from descriptions
in journals. If there aren't specimens to verify some unfamiliar
description then it is likely to be considered an inacurate description or
just a puzzle and left at that.

However, there are a couple of examples from Lord Howe and Norfolk: The
White Galinule Porphyrio albus (Of lord Howe) which was likely a leucistic
population of purple swamphen;  and the norfolk island pigeon Hemiphaga
spadicea which has been considered a subspecies of NZ pigeon. Both these
are discussed in HANZAB, vols II and III respectively, the latter in the
Geographical variation section of NZ pigeon. There are a few specimens of
both of these.

There was a pigeon on Roul I. in the Kermadec Is., that was never collected
or described that was probably in the genus Hemiphaga. It became extinct
about the middle of the 19th century. The only first hand account is in the
journal of a whaling captain (See WRB Oliver, 1955, New Zealand Birds).     

hope this helps

David James
PO BOX 5225
Townsville Mail Centre 4810

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