|Keulemans's illustration for Buller's paper in the Ibis
|Keulemans depicted a male and female for Buller's last book -
the Supplement in 1905-06
1905-1906. Sir Walter Buller. Supplement to the “Birds of New Zealand."Two volumes. (Though containing very interesting notes on extinct and threatened birds, these two volumes are rather disappointing. They contain very little that is new, and are mainly composed of quotations from other people's writings or letters. Buller's former great book on the Birds of New Zealand was a most important and creditable work, though not without shortcomings. Our knowledge of New Zealand Birds might have been brought up to date in his supplement, but we cannot say that this has been done properly, and errors are frequent.)
Sir Walter Buller…has confounded M. traversi and dannefaerdi, and the figure he gave on his plate looks so black, that I do not doubt it represents rather the latter than the former. Of course M. dannefaerdi alone occurs on the Snares, and Buller's traversi from the Snares were all dannefaerdi. Dr. Finsch's statement (Ibis 1888, p. 308) that Reischek's specimen from the Snares "agreed in every respect with specimens from the Chatham Islands" is entirely wrong, for, even if one prefers unscientifically to lump allied forms, one cannot say that a Miro from the Chathams agrees in every respect with one from the Snares. Buller's doubts about the distinctness of the latter might easily have been removed, if he had taken the trouble to compare them, for it does not require any genius to see the differences. I admit that with my present views on geographical forms I would regard the two Miro as sub-species, and call them M. traversi traversi and M. traversi dannefaerdi, but most ornithologists would still consider them to be "good species."
I may add that Buller…has not quoted my description correctly, for in his rendering are several disturbing misprints, and in the fourth line from the bottom occurs a "not" which ought not to be there, and which makes the sentence incomprehensible. Also the name itself is spelt incorrectly.
I received nine specimens of this new bird, and was not aware that any others had been taken at that time. As I was unable to attend the December meeting, 1894, of the British Ornithologists Club, I asked Dr. Hartert to exhibit the birds in my name. When he had done so and had read the description, the Chairman, Dr. P. L. Sclater, said that the bird had also been received for illustration and description in the Ibis, from Sir Walter Buller, and he asked Dr. Hartert if I would not withdraw my description. Dr. Hartert said that this was unfortunate, but he had no authority to withdraw my description, and he and Dr. Sharpe thought that the proceedings of the meeting should be printed without consideration of any manuscripts which might refer to the same bird. No doubt this was hard luck on Sir Walter Buller, but it would have been equally hard luck for me if he had forestalled me with the new bird. He had only one specimen, I had nine, of both sexes, and I had paid a high price for them, as types of a new bird. My type is in Tring, and, as everybody knows, available for study by any competent ornithologist, while Buller's type was not in any museum, and it was uncertain to whom he would sell it afterwards. I suppose it is now in the Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh, to which Buller's "third collection," 625 specimens, was sold for a thousand pounds, as Buller himself tells us in his Supplement II, p. 167, under the heading of Glaucopis wilsoni!
On the same page Sir Walter Buller also tells us that his "second collection" was sold to me, but he makes a mistake about the price, as I certainly did not pay a thousand pounds for it.
I mentioned these unimportant details, because Buller rather bitterly and severely complained about my describing the Stephens' Island Wren, on p. 111 of his supplement. I may only add that of course my name, being published in December, 1894, has the priority over his, which was not published before April, 1895.
Having thus discussed the age of this owl, the question must be considered if it is different from S. albifacies from the South Island. This is less easily done. Buller described it as a "new species," and mentions among the distinctive characters (see above) the colour of the tail. The tail, however, is "skillfully" (as Buller calls it, though I should use a less complimentary adverb) stuck in, and does not belong to a Sceloglaux, but to an Australian Ninox, and also some feathers on the neck are foreign.
|Keulemans also illustrated Rothschild's book. A pair of
Lyall's Wrens in the corner of a plate
Updated 9 April 2019