Letter S - Spix, Steller, Sueur

Whose Bird - Number 24


By Bruce Poulter

Johann Baptist Von Spix (1781-1826) was a German naturalist who is best known for his work in Brazil. He studied theology, then medicine and the natural sciences and was awarded his PhD at the age of 19! In 1810 he was given special responsibility for natural history exhibits in the Bavarian Royal Academy of Sciences. He was invited to travel to Brazil in 1817 and returned three years later with a vast array of specimens including 350 birds as well as 1000s of botanical items. The expedition also brought back living specimens, including parrots and curassows, which formed the basis for the Natural History Museum in Munich. He catalogued his findings from the expedition despite poor health caused by his stay in Brazil. In 1824 he published a description of the Hyacinth Macaw. It was he who classified the blue macaws under the generic name Anodorhynchus which refers to the lack of a notch in the upper mandible. It was not until after his death that Spix's Macaw, (Cyanopsitta spixii), (Brazil, 1993, 130 cruzeiros), was recognised as a separate species and not a sub-species of the Hyacinth Macaw.

Professor Dr Joseph Beal Steere (1842-1940) was an American ornithologist who collected in the Philippines in 1874-75 and 1887-88. He was curator of the Smithsonian Institution from 1876 to 1894 where he greatly expanded the collections including more than 50 not previously described species. In addition to his travels to the Philippines, his explorations also took him to the Amazon, Malacca, Formosa, and the Celebes. Birds named after him include Steere's Liocichla, (Liocichla steerii), (China - Taiwan, 1979, 8$) and the Azure-breasted Pitta, (Pitta steerii), (Philippines, 1979, 2.30 peso).

Georg Wilhelm Steller (1709-1746) was a German naturalist and explorer, who became a physician in the Russian army in 1734. He became an assistant at the Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg in 1737 and accompanied Vitus Bering on his second expedition to Alaska and Kamchatka. He worked in Petropavlovsk from 1742 to 1744, but died on the return journey to St. Petersburg. He personally discovered Steller's Sea Eagle, (Haliaetus pelagicus), (Belarus, 2013, 'H') and Steller's Eider, (Polysticta stelleri), (Aland Islands, 2001, 0.45€ / 2.70 markka).

Étienne Stephan Jacquinot (1776-1840) was the father of the French naval officer, later Vice-Admiral, Charles Hector Jacquinot. and naval surgeon and naturalist Honoré Jacquinot. The brothers served together on Dumont d'Urville's Astrolabe expedition to Antarctica and Australasia from 1837 to 1840. It is believed that Honoré asked for Stephan's Emerald Dove, (Chalcophaps stephani), (Solomon Islands, 2005, $5) to be named after his father.

Alfred Ernest Stephen (1879-1961) was an Australian civil servant, businessman and collector. Stephen's Lorikeet, (Vini stepheni), (Pitcairn Islands, 1996, 10 cents), which was named for him, is endemic to Henderson Island in the Pitcairn group. This lorikeet, not surprisingly perhaps, is also called Henderson Lorikeet, (Vini stepheni), (Pitcairn Islands, 2011, $4.40).

Captain Hugo Storm was a German seaman from Lubeck who captained the steamship Lubeck from 1887 until the mid-1890s. He collected in those parts of the Far East where his vessel traded and visited areas where few Europeans had been before. After resigning his command he settled in North America. He sent zoological specimens from the Far East and North America to the museum in Lubeck. Storm's Stork, (Ciconia stormi), (Indonesia, 2009, 2500 rupiah), was named after him.

Professor Erwin Friedrich Theodor Stresemann (1899-1972) was a German ornithologist and collector in the Far East. He was chairman of the Standing Committee on Ornithological Nomenclature in 1954 and Curator of Birds at the Berlin Natural History Museum. He was also the editor for many years of the highly authoritative Journal fűr Ornithologie. Stresemann's Bush Crow, (Zavattariornis stresemanni), (Guinea, 2014, 15,000 guinea francs), was named after him.

Charles Alexander Lesueur (1778-1846) was a French artist, explorer and naturalist. Aged 23 he sailed to Australia and Tasmania. In the next four years he and a fellow naturalist collected over 100,000 zoological specimens representing 2,500 new species. He continued his collecting when he lived for more than 20 years in the south of the USA. In 1845 he was appointed Curator of the Musée d'Histoire Naturelle du Havre, which was created to house his drawings and paintings. The White-shouldered Triller, (Lalage sueurii), (Burkino Faso, 1998, 5 francs) was named after him.

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