Letter I

Whose Bird? - Number 9

       Ijima and Illiger

   By Bruce Poulter

As might perhaps be expected there are few birds named after people whose names begin with the Letter I. And the two that have been identified have rather more distant connections with the birds named after them than those in earlier parts of this series!


The first is Professor Doctor Isao Ijima (1861 - 1921). Little is known about him except that he was Professor of Zoology at Tokyo University and the first President of the Ornithological Society of Japan. He was awarded his PhD in Leipzig in 1884 before returning to Japan. He worked mainly on sponges, leeches and tubellarians and is considered as the Japanese father of parasitology.

A subspecies of the Copper Pheasant (Syrmaticus soemmerringii ijimae) (Laos, 1986, 6 kip) which is found in coniferous forests on the Japanese island of Kyushu bears his name. In some older references the bird is called Iijma's Pheasant.


The second is Johann Karl Illiger (1775-1813) who was a German zoologist. He was the first Director of the Zoological museum of the University of Berlin, which is now named after him. He is credited with inventing the word 'Proboscidean' for the elephants, an order of mammals with a trunk!

The alternative name for the Blue-winged Macaw (Primolius maracana) (Romania, 2011, 1.60 leu) is Illiger's Macaw and, interestingly, the stamp bears the specific name of Ara illiger for the bird.

It is also of interest that Rio de Janeiro's famous football stadium is called Maracana after the heavily polluted canalised stream that flows through the site.

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