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ART. V.-Description of two new Species of a new form of Meruline Birds. By B. H. HODGSON, Esq. Catamandu. Merulida philedones, Cuvier.-Merulida crateropodine? Swainson-Tenuirostres meliphagidae, Vigors.
Genus-new, Sibia nobis. Sibya of the Nipalese. Habitat. Lower and central regions of the hills.
What shall we say to a Meruline form compounded of the bill and tongue of Chloropsis, the nares of Cinnyris, and the wings, tail, and feet of Cinclosoma? for such is the general, though not the precisely accurate, indication of the form I am about to describe.
Cuvier has separated from the promiscuous heap of the Meruline Birds a group which he tells us is distinguished from the Merles by a slenderer, sharper, and more arched bill, and by a brushed tongue. To this Cuvierian group my birds unquestionably belong; but the group itself is so large, and its contents have been so little accurately ascertained, that small way is made to a definite conclusion by the determination of that point. There are a vast number of the aberrant Thrushes, both short legged and long, which closely approximate by the bill and tongue towards the Tenuirostres; but I am nevertheless of opinion that these relations are of secondary, not primary, importance. The birds in question are Thrushes, as Cuvier considered them to be; but whether or not they can be, most of them, ranged with propriety among the Brachypoding and Crateropodina of Swainson, I know too little of his general system to enable me to judge.
It may serve to illustrate the character of our birds to say, that they appear to me to belong to the latter sub-family, serving in many respects to link together the two. Mr. Swainson considers the longlegged Thrushes to be equivalent to the Tenuirostral Promeropida. It is certainly remarkable that in one of our species we have the long, broad, and gradated tail of Promerops.
Generic character.-Bill and tongue as in Chloropsis; but the bill more depressed and more keeled towards the base; and the tongue forked as well as brushed. Nares basal, lateral, elongated, pervious, lunated, and almost lineated by a large, soft, sub-arched and nude membrane.
Nareal bristles, none; rictal, small; frontal plumes smooth; wings, medial, round, acuminate, firm; fifth and sixth quills longest; first and second considerably, third and four trivially, gradated; primaries plus tertiaries nearly one inch; tarsi elevate, stout, nearly smooth; toes submedial, simple, stout; fores compressed, hind depressed and large;
lateral fores and hind subequal, last strongest; nails stout, moderately curved, acute; tail various, as in Promerops or in Cinclosoma.
Species 1st. Pieaoïdes. Pie-like Sibia mihi. Saturate slatey-blue; paler and greyer below; darker and merging into black on the wings. and tail; speculum on the secondaries, and tips of the rectrices, white; legs plumbeous; bill black; iris sanguine; tail very long, and gradated conspicuously and equally throughout; head not crested; 14 inches long and as many wide; bill 1 inch; tarsus 11; central toe ; hind toe 2; its nail 7; tail 8; weight 14 to 12 oz. Sexes alike. 16
Species 2nd. Nigriceps. Black-capt Sibia mihi. Rusty, with the entire cap and the wings and tail, internally, black; central wing coverts white toward their bases, slatey toward their tips; outer webs of the primaries slatey-grey; of the secondaries and tertiaries, slatey; the last, rusty, like the body; two central rectrices con-colorous with the body towards it, then black; the rest wholly black, and all with broad slatey points; bastard wing black; legs fleshy brown; bill black; iris brown; tail moderately elongated, gradated only in the six laterals; head with a full soft garruline crest; outer web of the secondaries rather enlarged, discomposed, and curled downwards; size 8 to 9 inches, by 10 to 11, and 14 oz. in weight; bill 1 inch; tarsus 15; central toe 10, and nail; hind toe 7, and nail 6; tail 16
4. Sexes alike.
3rd. Species. Nipalensis, nobis. Described already as a Cinclosoma,' and forming a singular link of connexion between the Cinclosoma and the Sibiæ. I postpone what I have to say upon the habits and manners of these birds to a future opportunity; at present it must suffice to observe, that they are indissolubly linked to the Merulida by the nature of their food and manner of taking it. Nepaul May, 1836.
ART. VI. On the Egyptian system of Artificial Hatching. By DON SINBALDO DEMAS.
Several unfruitful attempts have been made in different parts of Europe since the labours of Reaumur to introduce the artificial mode of hatching eggs. In some parts chickens have been brought forth which have not propagated; in others, for instance in Aranjuez, instead of chickens, hard eggs have been made. Notwithstanding these failures, being persuaded that they proceeded rather from ignorance on the part of the experimentalist than from any real or insuper1 Note.-As Soc. Transac. Phy. Class., vol. xix. p. 143.
able obstacle in the nature of the country where the experiments were performed, since my arrival in Egypt I determined to study in person minutely all the proceedings, without trusting to accounts which would always leave me uncertain of the truth. The enterprize was by no means an easy one. Few in Egypt possess the art, and those few make a secret of it. Besides, this first difficulty vanquished, so much patience and perseverance is necessary to remain for 21 days in an oven at 34° of Reaumur, full of the pestiferous smoke of burning dung-contending incessantly with the stupidity. and prejudices of the Arabs, who always suspect some sinister motive, and to every thing oppose difficulties, (believing, among a thousand. other follies, that the thermometer warms the room in which it is introduced,) that no traveller before me, that I am aware of, has examined the matter in a satisfactory manner, or has given a circumstantial description of it. Nevertheless, my intimacy with my countryman Gaityany Bey, who rendered me every facility which the Government could offer, my knowledge of the vulgar Arabic language, and my constitution of the south of Europe, enabled me to overcome all the obstacles which hitherto embarrassed all Europeans who attempted to investigate this subject.
Before entering on a description of the process, I will stop a moment to shew that the artificial hatching, practised from time immemorial in Egypt, is not only a curious fact, but an eminently useful one; since it facilitates with surprising rapidity the reproduction and abundance of the fowl, as well as the egg; both of which may be reckoned among the most pleasing and salutary articles of food for man.
The operation is carried on in an oven, generally composed of eight divisions or cells. In each of them 6000 eggs are hatched every 21 days, for the space of 3 or 4 months. It is admitted that Egypt contains more than 200 of these ovens. Deducting one quarter of the eggs which may be lost, we shall see that this artificial hatching gives 37 millions of chickens in one third of the year; which again must produce an immense number of eggs,' Thus it happens that although latterly the price of all provisions has been doubled in that country, I have bought in Upper Egypt one egg for half a para, and the best fowl for a piastra. It is to be considered also, that the power of establishing these ovens is given by Government to the highest bidder; and that from this circumstance a considerable revenue is received, which cannot fail to raise the price of the article.
1 In the Encyclopædia Britannica the number of ovens is stated to be 360; and the chickens produced 92 millions; which I think at least in the present day is a very exaggerated calculation.
2 One Company's rupee-10 piastras. 1 piastra-40 paras.