Letter S ..Sclater..

Whose Bird - Number 23


By Bruce Poulter

Dr Philip Lutley Sclater (1829-1913) was an Oxford graduate who practised law for many years. He was the founder of The Ibis, the Journal of the British Ornithologists' Union, a publication he edited from 1858 to 1865 and again from 1877 to 1912. He was also the Secretary of the Zoological Society of London from 1860 to 1903. It was his study of bird populations that resulted in the classification of the biogeographical regions of the world into six major categories. With his son, William Lutley Sclater, he named no fewer than 913 species, 714 of them passerines. Sclater's Monal, (Lophopphorus sclateri), (Bhutan, 1968, 2 chetrum) is one of the birds that was named after him.

ECH Seimund was a British taxidermist who collected in South Africa, Fernando Pό, Thailand and Malaysia between 1899 and 1916. Specimens from his last expedition are held in the Raffles Museum in Singapore. He presented the Yellow-vented Green Pigeon, (Treron semundi), (Vietnam, 1990, 1 dông), to the Kuala Lumpur Museum. There is also a race of monkey with an honorific for Seimund in its trinomial.

The Reverend John E Semper was a parish priest and amateur ornithologist who was resident in St. Lucia. He collected Semper's Warbler, (Leucopeza semperi), (St. Lucia, 2004. $1), in 1872 on an expedition with the above-named PL Sclater. This extremely rare warbler is endemic to St. Lucia and without obvious close affinities among other West Indian warblers. Apart from an unconfirmed sighting in 1989, it has not been seen since 1972. It is undoubtedly on the brink of extinction.

Captain George Ernest Shelley (1840 - 1910), a nephew of the famous poet, was a geologist who became interested in ornithology. He was educated in England and in Versailles before joining the Grenadier Guards in 1863. After his retirement from the army, he collected in Africa, Australia and Burma but could not continue his travelling after 1906 when he suffered a paralysing stroke. His books included the Birds of Egypt and a review of sunbirds. Shelley's Eagle-Owl, (Bubo shelleyi), (Liberia, 1997, 50 cents), is one of several birds 'bearing his name.

Dr Philipp Franz Balthazar von Siebald (1796-1866) was a German physician and naturalist. who served as a medical officer to the Dutch East Indian Army in Indonesia and Japan. He collected in Japan and wrote books on Japan's natural history and language. By 1861 he was the chief negotiator for the European nations trying to establish trade links with Japan. The White-bellied Green Pigeon, (Treron sieboldii), (Vietnam, 1990, 12 xu), was named after him.

Dr Sir Andrew Smith (1797-1872) was a Scotsman, famed for his scrupulous accuracy, who started his professional life as a ship's surgeon. He led the first scientific expedition into the South African interior from 1834-1836 and wrote 'Illustrations of the Zoology of South Africa'. He stopped his interest in natural history study after returning to Britain, later in life becoming a British Member of Parliament. Much of his private collection is now in the Royal Museum of Scotland. The Cape Shoveler, (Anas smithii), (Botswana, 1997, 70 thebe) is named after him.

Dr Gideon Smith (1793-1867) was an editor and friend of Audubon, who named Smith's Longspur (Calcarius pictus), (Niutao-Tuvalu, 1985, 15 cents). after him. Audubon's friends, E Harris and JG Bell, were the first to first discover longspur. This stamp was issued to commemorate Audubon's birth bicentenary.

Samuel Thomas von Soemmerring (1755-1830) was a German anatomist and a noted freemason. He was the author of a number of anatomical works and was interested in many aspects of science and philosophy. It does not seem clear why the Copper Pheasant (Syrmaticus soemmerringii), (Laos, 1986, 6 kip) was named after him.

Daniel Karl Solander (1733-1782), a Swedish naturalist and explorer, was one of Linnaeus's pupils. On Linnaeus' recommendation he went to London where he met Sir Joseph Banks. It was Banks' influence which resulted in him sailing with Banks on Cook's first expedition to the Southern Ocean. A monument in Botany Bay, New South Wales marks the spot where Cook, Banks and Solander landed in 1770. He is credited with an unpublished manuscript, written in 1767, which describes plants from various parts of the World. He died in London and his remains were removed in 1913 to the Swedish Cemetery in Woking. The Providence Petrel, (Pterodroma solandri), (Norfolk Island, 1999, 75 cents) was named after him.

M Soumagne was the French Consul in Madagascar in 1863. He discovered the Red Owl, (Tyto soumagnei), (Sao Tome and Principe, 2011, 32,500 dobra), in 1876. This owl was then unknown until 1993 when it was found by researchers from the World Wide Fund for Nature. The owl remains vulnerable because of habitat loss.

Captain John Hanning Speke (1827-1864) was a British explorer. He was the first European to see Lake Victoria and it was he who proved it to be the source of the Nile. He hunted to provide expedition food, but he also observed the behaviour of birds. Speke's Weaver, (Ploceus spekei), (Kenya, 2006, 25 shillings) was named after him. His own shotgun killed him when he stumbled over a stile when out shooting in England.

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