Letter M, second part

Whose Bird - Number 16


By Bruce Poulter

It does not seem that the Melba Finch (Pytilia melba) (Swaziland, 1976, 3 cents) was named after a person! If it was, it was certainly not Dame Nellie Melba, the well-known soprano, as the name goes back to the 1750s when Linnaeus described it.

Elmer Drew Merrill (1876-1956) was an American botanist who collected in the Philippines for about 20 years in the early 1900s, becoming the Professor of Botany at the University of the Philippines. His expertise on the Philippines was put to good use during the Second World War when he compiled a handbook describing the emergency food and poisonous plants of the Pacific Islands. In his later life he was the Director of the New York Botanical Garden and he served Harvard University as Administrator of Botanical Collections. He described over 3,000 new species of plants from the Philippines and nearby areas and at least seven genera of plants are dedicated to him. The Cream-bellied Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus merrilli) (Philippines, 1979, 30 sentimos) was named for him in 1916.

The only facts known about P H Metcalfe are that he was a British naturalist who collected in the Solomon Islands and died in 1913. The Yellow-throated White-eye (Zosterops metcalfii) (Solomon Islands, 2001, 5 cents) is named after him.

Dr. Adolf Bernard Meyer (1840-1911) was a German anthropologist and ornithologist who collected in the East Indies at around the turn of the 19th Century. He wrote about the birds of the Celebes and neighbouring islands and is cited as having made the first descriptions of a number of East Indies bird species. It was he who first recognised that the sexually dimorphic red male and green female of the Australian King Parrot were the same species. The Brown Sicklebill (Epimachus meyeri) (Papua New Guinea, 1964, 2 shillings) is named after him.

Dr. Bernhard Meyer (1767-1836) was a physician noted for his contribution to German ornithology and he was credited with writing two books on the subject. He is, however, not known to have travelled to Africa so it seems surprising perhaps that Meyer's Parrot (Poicephalus meyeri) (Botswana, 1997, 15 thebe) is named after him.

The Mikado Pheasant (Syrmaticus mikado) (China-Taiwan,1967,$8) is named after the title of Japanese emperors and not an individual person.

Pauline Brière de Mondatour was the widow of the French zoologist Étienne Geoffrey Saint-Hilaire (1772-1844). They married in 1804. Presumably Geoffrey named the Maroon-chested Ground Dove (Claravis mondetoura) (Salvador, 1984, 55 centavos) after his wife.

Colonel George Montagu (1751-1815) was a soldier and natural history writer. He served in the American Revolution in the English militia. He was court-martialled and cashiered for causing trouble among his brother officers. He then devoted himself to science and particularly to biology. He was an early member of the Linnaean Society and an expert on shells. He was renowned for his meticulous work that bordered on the clinical. He died of lockjaw after stepping on a rusty nail. Montagu's Harrier (Circus pyrgargus) (Bulgaria, 2006, 1 lev) is named after him.

Dr. Joseph Montano (1844 - ?) was a French anthropologist who spent some time in the Philippines between 1879 and 1881 while undertaking a scientific survey. He was a member of the first expedition to ascend Mount Apo and wrote about his voyages around the Philippines and Malaya. The Sulu Hornbill (Anthracoceros montani) (Phillipines, 1992, 2 piso) is named after him.

Joachim João Monteiro (1833-1878) was a Portuguese mining engineer who collected natural history specimens in Angola from 1860 to 1875. Monteiro's Hornbill (Tockus monteiri) (Namibia, 2013, $12 Namibian) was named after him as were Monteiro's Bush Shrike and Monteiro's Twinspot.

Jean Moussier (1795-1850) was a surgeon in the French army during the Napoleonic Wars and, also, an amateur naturalist. Moussier's Redstart (Phoenicurus moussieri) (Algeria, 1977, 1.40 dinar) was named after him in 1852.

Elizabeth Gould (1804-1841) was the artist wife of ornithologist John Gould. Mrs Gould's Sunbird (Aethopyga gouldiae) (Bhutan, 1998, 1 ngultrum) was named for her in 1831. John Gould named the Gouldian Finch in his wife's honour in 1844.

Robert Cushman Murphy (1887-1973) was an American naturalist who became a world authority on marine birds. He spent time excavating the extinct Moa in New Zealand. In Bermuda he recovered the first live specimen of the Bermuda Petrel seen since the early 17th Century. His 1936 book on the Oceanic Birds of South America was recognised as a masterpiece. And he is famed for persuading Rachel Carson to write Silent Spring after he was unable to stop the US Government from spraying DDT. Murphy's Petrel (Pterodroma ultima) (Pitcairn Islands, 1998, $3 New Zealand) is named after him.

Samuel Cornelius Jan Willem van Musschenbroek (1827-1883) graduated as a lawyer and trained as a seaman. He then became a Dutch administrator in the East Indies from 1855 to 1876. He travelled widely in the Moluccas and was regarded as an expert on large parts of the Dutch East Indies as is recorded by his pioneering maps. He was appointed as the first Director of the Dutch Colonial Museum in Leiden where he was able to exhibit many of the bird skins he had collected in Indonesia before they were transferred to the Zoological Museum of Amsterdam. Yellow-billed Lorikeet (Neopsittacus musschenbroekii) (Guinea-Bissau, 2006, 500 Franc Communate Financiere Africaine) is named after him.

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