Montifringilla ruficollis Blanford, 1871

Lecroy, Mary, 2014, Type Specimens Of Birds In The American Museum Of Natural History Part 12. Passeriformes: Ploceidae, Sturnidae, Buphagidae, Oriolidae, Dicruridae, Callaeidae, Grallinidae, Corcoracidae, Artamidae, Cracticidae, Ptilonorhynchidae, Cnemophilidae, Paradisaeidae, And Corvidae, Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 2014 (393), pp. 1-165 : 15-17

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Montifringilla ruficollis Blanford


Montifringilla ruficollis Blanford View in CoL

Montifringilla ruficollis Blanford, 1871b: 227 View in CoL (Láchen valley near the Tibetan frontier).

Now Pyrgilauda ruficollis ( Blanford, 1871) View in CoL . See Hartert, 1919: 157; Vaurie, 1959: 590; Moreau and Greenway, 1962: 28–29; Dickinson, 2003: 719; Rasmussen and Anderton, 2005: 578; and Summers-Smith, 2009: 812.

? SYNTYPE: AMNH 717336, unsexed (marked adult male on the Rothschild type label), collected at Kongra Lama Pass, 15,500 ft, Sikkim, on 5 October 1870, by H.J. Elwes. From the Elwes Collection via the Rothschild Collection.

COMMENTS: The original description of Montifringilla ruficollis ( Blanford, 1871b: 227, not 277 as given by Moreau and Greenway, 1962: 29) was in an abstract of the annotated list of Blanford’s Sikkim collection that was to appear the following year ( Blanford, 1872) but subsequent to publication of the first part of his report summarizing the trip ( Blanford, 1871a). In this description, both male (based on malespecific characters given) and female were described and a single set of measurements supplied. The type locality was the Láchen Valley near the Tibetan frontier, but no type was designated and the specimens were not enumerated.

In the full report, Blanford (1872: 66–68) described both male and female, repeating the measurements given in the original description, said here to be of a male measured before skinning. Measurements were added of an additional male and a female, noting on page 67 that a single female was obtained. No type specimen was mentioned, but a type series of two males and a female was here enumerated.

Hartert (1919: 157) insisted that an Elwes specimen held in the Rothschild Collection, now in AMNH, was the type of Montifrin- gilla ruficollis : ‘‘There can be no doubt that this specimen is the actual type, and not the one in the British specimen [sic], which Sharpe [1888c: 264] registered as the type. The latter is no doubt a paratype, but on the original label is no remark to the fact; the word ‘‘type’’ has only been written on the British Museum’s label, apparently by Sharpe, while our specimen bears the remark ‘ Montifringilla sp. nov. type of ruficollis ,’ evidently in the author’s handwriting.’’ This is, in fact, what is written on the Elwes label in what appears to be Elwes’ hand, with the former identification, Emberiza , crossed out. However, the original description had been published by Blanford, not Elwes. I have found no indication that Elwes ever published on his specimens from this expedition to Sikkim. Noting that Warren and Harrison (1971: 478) listed two syntypes in BMNH, I sought additional information.

R. Prŷs-Jones sent information on the three BMNH specimens associated with Blanford and Elwes and suggested consulting the first paper by Blanford (1871a), from which I assembled the following information.

Blanford and Elwes were not acquainted before they met by chance in India. At that time, Blanford had decided to use his three months’ leave to pursue studies of birds in the interior of Sikkim, and Elwes had traveled from England and had virtually completed his plans to travel to Sikkim to study Indian birds when he met Blanford. When they discovered that their aims were similar, they agreed to travel together ( Blanford, 1871a: 368–369) from August to September, 1870. They reached their highest altitudes in Sikkim on 5–7 October at Kangra Lama Pass in the Láchen Valley at the Tibetan frontier.

Blanford (1871a: 415–419) detailed the activities of Elwes and himself on the three days they were near Kangra Pass, the only locality at which they entered the Láchen Valley ( Blanford, 1872: 31). Kangra Lama or Kongra Lama, as spelled by Elwes, are alternative spellings of a pass between Sikkim and Tibet at 28.06N, 88.45E ( Lozupone et al., 2004). On 5 October, they were together near the pass. Blanford mentioned that he had shot two specimens of the ‘‘new Montifringilla ’’ on that day, but did not mention Elwes as having collected any. After their brief visit, Blanford returned directly to their base camp at Tangú while Elwes returned to Tangú via Phálúng. On 6 October, both remained at Tangú. On 7 October, Elwes left Tangú for Tállam Samdong, their next camp, while Blanford went to Phálúng before following Elwes. In Phálúng, he reported seeing another flock of the Montifringilla but did not mention collecting a specimen.

Throughout his annotated report on the specimens collected, Blanford (1872) spoke in the first person singular concerning his own specimens and observations although he occasionally mentioned that he had seen an Elwes specimen or knew that he had collected one. In a few cases he mentioned that Elwes had sent him a specimen for comparison, usually when he had seen a species but had not collected it. In the case of Otocoris Elwesi , the other new species described by Blanford (1871b: 227), he ( Blanford, 1872: 63) noted that he had not collected it himself, that Elwes had collected three, but the only one he possessed was one given him by Elwes. Blanford did not indicate that Elwes had collected Montifringilla ruficollis , but there are two male specimens collected by him on 5 October, one in AMNH and one in BMNH.

R. Prŷs-Jones has kindly sent me information on the following specimens in BMNH. Two of them were received directly from Blanford and are two of the three specimens he said he collected.

BMNH 1880.8.12.2, male, Kangra Lama Pass, Sikkim, 5 October 1870. Emberiza is written on the reverse of the Blanford label but has been crossed out and Montifringilla ruficollis inserted. On the BMNH label (only) ‘‘TYPE’’ is written, subsequently crossed out and ‘‘paratype’’ substituted. This is the specimen that was considered the type by Sharpe (1888c: 264), and was so recorded in the BMNH register. It was also one of the two syntypes listed by Warren and Harrison (1971: 478). It is a definite syntype.

BMNH 1880.8.12.3, female, Phálúng, Sikkim, 7 October 1870. This specimen has a Blanford label and is the only female collected (Blanford, 1972: 67). It was not listed as a syntype by Warren and Harrison (1971: 478), but because Blanford’s single female specimen was collected at Phálúng on 7 October, when Blanford was alone at that locality, it is without doubt also a syntype of M. ruficollis .

BMNH 1887.6.1.374, unsexed, Kongra Lama, Sikkim, 15,500 ft., 5 October 1870. Emberiza is written on the reverse of Elwes’ original label and is crossed out and replaced by Montifringilla ruficollis ; someone, whose initials neither Prŷs-Jones nor I can decipher, has written: ‘‘This is one of the types originally collected.’’ The specimen was received by BMNH with the Hume Collection. It was listed as a syntype by Warren and Harrison (1971: 478) but was not listed as a type in the BMNH register or in Sharpe (1888: 264). Its status as a type is questionable.

It is possible that AMNH 717336 View Materials was sent to Blanford for his description and then returned to Elwes and annotated by him, but because there is no information concerning how the specimen came to be in the Rothschild Collection or whether there were reasons other than the annotation by Elwes on his label to explain why Hartert was so insistent that it was a type, it cannot be definitely tied to the description for the following reasons. It is shown above that Blanford had based his description on two males and one female and that no type was designated. Blanford (1871a: 415) specifically mentioned that he had shot two males on 5 October at Kangra Lama Pass, and the whereabouts of only one of those is known. Blanford did not mention Elwes as having collected a specimen of M. ruficollis at Kangra Lama Pass, although Elwes seemingly did collect at least two specimens ; nor did Blanford mention that he had consulted an Elwes specimen. The fact that Elwes marked his label ‘‘Type’’ is not in and of itself evidence that the specimen has type status ( ICZN, 1999: 77, Art. 72.4.7) .














Montifringilla ruficollis Blanford

Lecroy, Mary 2014

Pyrgilauda ruficollis ( Blanford, 1871 )

Summers-Smith, J. D. 2009: 812
Rasmussen, P. G. & J. C. Anderton 2005: 578
Dickinson, E. C. 2003: 719
Moreau, R. E. & J. C. Greenway, Jr. 1962: 28
Vaurie, C. 1959: 590
Hartert, E. 1919: 157

Montifringilla ruficollis

Blanford, W. T. 1871: 227
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