Letter T to V - Tickell, Verreaux, Von der Decken

WHOSE BIRD - Number 26

...Tickell....Verreaux....Von der Decken...

By Bruce Poulter

Colonel Samuel Richard Tickell (1811-1875) was a British army officer, artist and ornithologist who served and explored in India and Myanmar. He made important contributions to Indian ornithology and mammalogy by collecting specimens and making observations in the field – practices he was able to exploit by being posted to several localities in the 1830s and 1840s. His manuscript notes and illustrations are preserved in the library of the Zoological Society of London. One reference described him as ‘one of the best field naturalists India has known’. Tickell’s Hornbill, (Anorrhinus tickelli), (Vietnam, 1977, 12 xu) was one of several birds named after him.

The Reverend Henry Baker Tristram FRS (1822-1906) was canon of Durham Cathedral, an antiquarian, archaeologist, naturalist and traveller, who assembled a large collection of specimens. Despite being a man of the church he was a supporter of Darwin. He wrote about many of his explorations, for example, in Palestine and the Sahara often penetrating far into the desert. Surprisingly perhaps he went to these areas because of ill-health! Three species named after him appear on stamps, namely –

Tristram’s Starling, (Onychognathus tristramii), (Israel, 1992, 20 agorot)
Sooty Myzomela, (Myzomela tristrami), (Solomon Islands, 2015, $12 Australian)
and Tristram’s Warbler, (Sylvia deserticola), (Algeria, 1977, 60 centimes)

Herbert Taylor Ussher CMG (1836-1880) was at various times Governor of the Gold Coast, Governor of Tobago and Consul-General in Borneo. These postings enabled him to send specimens from many places back to the British Museum. He is honoured by having various fish, butterflies and animals as well as the Mottled Spinetail, (Telecanthura ussheri), (Guinea-Bissau, 2015, 750 CFA francs) named after him.

Jean Baptiste Edouard Verreaux (1810-1868) was a French naturalist, collector and dealer, who worked with his brother in China and South Africa’s Cape Colony. The family were clearly ambitious taxidermists who traded from Paris from a huge emporium for stuffed birds and feathers – the Maison Verreaux. Verreaux’s Eagle, (Aquila verreauxii), (Central African Republic, 1997, 750 CFA francs) was named after him.

Jules Pierre Verreaux (1807-1873) was a French natural historian employed by the Musée d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris, which sent him to Australia in 1842. He made collections of plants around Hobart and Sydney between 1844 and 1846. returning to France in about 1851 with a collection of natural history specimens reported to number 115,000 items. Birds named after him included Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, (Bubo lacteus), (The Gambia, 1978, 20 bututs) and Verreaux’s Coua, (Coua verreauxi), (Malagasy Republic, 1993, 45 francs).

Queen Victoria (1819-1901) was Queen of Great Britain and Empress of India from 1837. The Victoria Ground Pigeon, (Goura victoria), (Sierra Leone, 2016, 24,000 leone) was name after her by Gould in 1850.Victoria’s Riflebird (Ptilornis victoriae). (Aruba, 2014, 250 cents) was collected by MacGillivray and presented to the British Museum by Captain Stanley following the voyage of HMS Rattlesnake.

Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot (1748-1831) was a French ornithologist and businessman who spent some time in Haiti. He fled with his family to the United States during the French Revolution, but he returned to France later where he died in poverty. His contributions to ornithology are very significant. In his time a number of ornithologists mistook juveniles, females or moulting birds of known birds for new species. Vieillot was the first to study these plumage changes – a major development in accurate classification. He was also a proponent of studying living birds and not only dead skins in collections. Vieillot’s Barbet, (Lybius vieilloti), (Togo, 2015, 3,000 CFA francs) was named after him.

Baron Carl Claus von der Decken (1833-1865) was a German explorer. He visited the region of Lake Nyasa in 1860. A year later he explored East Africa and was the first European to try to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. His 1863 expedition took him to Madagascar and the Mascarene Islands. His final journey, in 1865, was in Somalia when he sailed up the River Jubba until his ship foundered in the rapids. It was here that he and three other Europeans were killed by Somalis. He had, however, already sent a considerable quantity of specimens to the museum in Hamburg. Von der Decken’s Hornbill, (Tockus deckeni), (Comoro Islands, 2009, 300 CFA francs) was named after him.

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