Letter M, first part

Whose Bird? - Number 15


By Bruce Poulter

John MacGillivray (1821 - 1867) emigrated to Australia, where he became one of the country's leading naturalists. He was naturalist on the British Expedition of four ships to the Cape York Peninsular in Queensland in 1841. On this expedition he was retained to collect specimens for Stanley. He also went on the vessel Rattlesnake on its 1846 to 1850 expedition to New Guinea. In 1852 he was one of the earliest scientists to visit Tristan da Cunha. The Fiji Petrel (Pseudobulweria macgillivrayi, Fiji, 2000, $10) was named after him.

Lady Mary MacGregor was the wife of Sir William MacGregor (1846-1919), a naturalist, collector and diplomat. His many posts included Chief Medical Officer in Fiji, Administrator in New Guinea and, later, Governor of Lagos and then Newfoundland. Finally he was Governor of Queensland from 1909-1914. MacGregor's Bowerbird (Amblyornis macgregoriae, Papua New Guinea, 2010, 5 toea) was named for Lady Mary.

Little is known about Archibald MacKinlay (1850-1924) except that he was a Scottish explorer and naturalist. Mackinlay's Cuckoo-Dove (Macropygia mackinlayii, Solomon Islands, 1990, 25 cents) is named after him. This bird is also known as the Spot-breasted Cuckoo-Dove.

General Thomas R MacQueen (1792-1840) collected in the Himalayas and northwest India. At the time when he was a major in the 45th Bengal Native Infantry he collected a MacQueen's Bustard (Chlamydotis macqueenii, Bahrain, 1990, 150 fils). The bird was named for him in 1832 and he presented it to the British Museum (Natural History).

Alfred Malherbe (1804-1866) was a French magistrate and judge and also a passionate botanist, zoologist and ornithologist, his interest in these hobbies being inspired by his boyhood in the tropics. His main passion seemed to be the study of woodpeckers and he published a detailed review of all of the species of that genus known at the time in 1861. To the bird stamp collector, however, his name is known for the Orange-fronted Parakeet (Cyanoramphus malherbi, New Zealand,2000, 40 cents).

Margaret Lander Holt was the wife of American ornithologist E.G.Holt. In 1921 and 1922 the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro organised expeditions in the Itatiaia National Park, Brazil, where Holt identified no less than 187 species. Two birds are named for his wife - a hummingbird and Margaret's, or Boulton's, Batis (Batis margaritae, Zambia, 1987, 1.25 kwacha). Is it strange that an African species was named for a lady whose husband explored South America?

Frederick Vavasour McConnell (1868-1914) was an English traveller and collector. His collections in British Guiana between 1894 and 1898 inspired the publication of a book on the birds of that country. He presented his specimens of mammals and spiders as well as birds to the British Museum (Natural History). McConnell's Spinetail (Synallaxis macconnelli, Surinam, 2013, $3.25) was named after him.

Robert M McCormick (1800-1890) was a British naval surgeon, explorer and naturalist. He was assistant surgeon on the Hecla during Parry's Arctic expedition. He was the Beagle's surgeon in 1832. Traditionally the ship's surgeon also collected specimens, so he was irritated when Darwin took over this role. He resigned when Beagle was in Brazil and sailed home. In 1839 he was surgeon on Sir James Clark Ross's Antarctic expedition, remaining there until 1843. Later he led an unsuccessful search party for Franklin whose Northwest Passage expedition had vanished. He wrote several books describing his experiences in many seas around the world. The South Polar Skua (Stercorarius mccormicki, British Antarctic Territory, 2010, 27 pence) is named after him.

Albert Stewart Meek (1781-1943) was an English explorer who collected in New Guinea, Australia, and the Solomon Islands, where he spent 18 years exploring - returning to England in 1911. During his long absence he made nine expeditions to New Guinea and three to the Solomons. Among the several birds named after him are Meek's Lorikeet (Charmosyna meeki, Solomon Islands, 1996, $1.45) and Choiseul Pigeon (Microgoura meeki, Mozambique, 2012, 16 meticals). The latter became extinct in the Solomons in c. 1904.

Home   Whose Bird