RE: birding-aus Robinson Crusoe's mystery birds

To: "" <>
Subject: RE: birding-aus Robinson Crusoe's mystery birds
From: Paul van Gasse <>
Date: Tue, 1 Jun 1999 22:10:59 +0200
As to the hummingbirds, it depends on which island Selkirk was on. The 
Green-backed Firecrown only occurs on Isla Robinson Crusoe (or Isla Masatierra, 
meaning 'more to the land'). The Juan Fernández Firecrown (in which the male is 
brick red overall with metallic golden-red crown) occurs on both Isla Robinson 
Crusoe (subspecies S.f.fernandensis) and Isla Alejandro Selkirk (or Isla 
Masafuera, meaning 'more to the outside') (subspecies S.f.leyboldi). As 
Robinson Crusoe Island is the larger of the two, it may be this one that is 
referred to as 'Greater Land' (even though it is the other island that is named 
after Selkirk) - and there, of course, both species occur.

As to the blackbird-like bird, I would go for the Cinclodes. The Austral Thrush 
is basically buff below, without red or rufous. The Gray-flanked Cinclodes, 
however, is dark above and has breast and flanks varying from gray to rufous. 
Moreover, the endemic Juan Fernández race, Cinclodes oustaleti baeckstroemii, 
is tinted rufous on sides of abdomen, flanks, and under tail-coverts. And they 
do look somewhat thrush-like, and cock their tails upon landing or taking off.

Paul Van Gasse
Kruibeke, Belgium

-----Original Message-----
From:   Ronald Orenstein [SMTP:
Sent:   Tuesday, June 01, 1999 1:41 PM
Subject:        Re: birding-aus Robinson Crusoe's mystery birds

>Apparently, Selkirk took up birding as a hobby to pass the lonely days and
>he was particularly interested in -
>1. a dark bird with a red breast which he thought resembled a blackbird, and
>2. a multicolored hummingbird "no bigger than a large humble bee."

There are only a limited number of land birds on the Juan Fernandez
Islands.  These include, however, an endemic hummingbird, the Juan
Fernandez Firecrown Sephanoides fernandensis.  The Green-backed Firecrown
S. sephanoides also occurs there; possibly Selkirk did not realize there
were two species.  The dark bird could possibly be the Grey-flanked
Cinclodes C. oustaleti, but this is white below; a much better candidate is
the Austral Thrush Turdus falcklandii, which does have a reddish breast and
would certainly remind an Englishman of a blackbird.
Ronald I. Orenstein                           Phone: (905) 820-7886
International Wildlife Coalition              Fax/Modem: (905) 569-0116
1825 Shady Creek Court
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada L5L 3W2          

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