Sunday, February 5, 2012

Phaps perhaps? - not Bronzewings again!

Another close encounter with the generally wary Common bronzewing has led me to read further regarding this bird & bronzewings in general. Here's what I have learned:

Firstly, Pizzey says there are 297 species of pigeon and dove worldwide (Family Columbidae) and Australian has 25 of these (3 introduced - can you name them? I was only familiar with the two).

The genus Phaps contains three species, all Australian

Common Bronzewing (Phaps chalcoptera)

Same bird, different aspects
Lilydale Lake
The genus name Phaps does have it's origins in the colour bronze I believe. Apparently there was some jostling about naming rights (a Mr Swainson tried to force his perispera on to Mr Selby's phaps). In a tome called A list of the genera of birds: with their synonyma and an indication of the typical species of each genus by George Robert Gray (1841) there is an appendix: Mr Strickland's commentary (see the relevant paragraph in this Google e-book) which describes this episode.

Other links:
The Phaps chalcoptera page from Birds in Backyards
Wikipedia's Common Bronzewing page which carries this great image of a bronzewing feather. There is also a nice summary of Phaps and related birds here.

Michael Dahlem's Webpage carries some indigenous names for the Common bronzewing and an image of a time when the birds were more plentiful.  See it here:

'This photo is a reminder of the "olden days", when Common Bronzewings
were still plentiful - on this occasion we saw a total of about 50 birds'
M Dahlem, Narrabri NSW

Amongst the University Of Tasmania's collection is this:

Bird painting of a 'Bronze winged Pigeon (Phaps chalcoptera)'
by William Lewis May (1861-1925) Tasmania
Other pages in this blog featuring Common bronzewings can be seen by clicking here, one of which contains a Youtube link to this bit of video taken at Badgers Creek:

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