Paradisea minor var. albescens Musschenbroek

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 : 111-112

publication ID 10.1206/885.1


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Paradisea minor var. albescens Musschenbroek


Paradisea minor var. albescens Musschenbroek

Paradisea minor var. albescens Musschenbroek, 1883: 186 (no locality).

HOLOTYPE: AMNH 679104. Listed as the type of albescens by Hartert (1919: 128) and noted as an artifact. See also Rothschild (1897c: 54; 1898: 48) and Rothschild and Hartert (1903a: 81).

COMMENTS: Musschenbroek (1883: 185– 188) was interested in documenting albino birds of paradise that had been mentioned many years before by Valentyne. Having seen the above specimen then owned by J.B. Steere of the United States, he decided that it was of a generally pale color but not completely white. He thought that this sort of occurrence was not unique and that such a specimen should be described as a variety of P. minor , so he applied the name albescens to it. A. de Voogt and H. van Grouw very kindly translated the Dutch description for me.

This formerly mounted specimen is in fact an immature male Paradisaea minor that still retains the white belly of the femalelike plumage but has the brilliant head coloration of the adult male. It does not now have the elongated tail wires that immature males in similar plumage in the AMNH collection possess. Adult male flank plumes have been inserted into the sides of the specimen. One of these that has become detatched shows that the end of the feather has been sharply cut off at an angle before it was inserted into the specimen.

Apparently Steere had been told that the specimen came from the Aru Islands, for that locality is written with a ‘‘?’’ on the UMMZ label. However, P. minor does not occur in the Aru Islands, and Hartert thought that the plumes were those of P. minor jobiensis from Yapen Island.

The following appears to be the history of this specimen. It was purchased by Steere on his way home from his long first expedition, 1870–1875. From the link provided me by J. Hinshaw (UMMZ) (http://www.lsa.umich. edu/ummz/birds/collections/steereitinerary.pdf) I was able to ascertain that Steere, having tried unsuccessfully to purchase bird of paradise skins in Singapore, decided to make a trip to Sulawesi and the Moluccas for the purpose. On 18–25 of May 1875 he purchased bird of paradise specimens at Makassar, Sulawesi, and then visited Ternate and Amboina before arriving on 12 July at Manado, Sulawesi, where he bought more specimens (birds of paradise not specifically mentioned). He might have purchased the AMNH specimen of albescens in any of these islands. There was at this time active trade taking place between many of the Indonesian islands and both north and south coasts of western New Guinea. Bird skins were among the items sought and artifacts such as this specimen were later prepared and offered for sale widely in the Indonesian islands.

It was undoubtedly at Manado that Steere met Musschenbroek, who was a Dutch East Indies official stationed at Manado in 1875– 1876 ( van Steenis-Kruseman, 1950: 378). It was not until 1883 that Musschenbroek published the name albescens in his account of Bernstein’s last trip from Ternate to New Guinea, but said that he based his description on Steere’s specimen that he had seen.

The specimen bears a UMMZ label with number B226a and its reverse has the following note signed by D.C. Worcester (who accompanied Steere on a subsequent expedition): ‘‘Dr. Steere states that this specimen is the type of P. minor var. albescens . Original label destroyed.’’

J. Hinshaw (personal commun.) provided me with the following information. When the specimens from Steere’s first expedition were unpacked they were given ‘‘B226’’ numbers, probably beginning in 1879–1880, but were not identified as to species. There is no information in the catalog to indicate that this specimen ever left UMMZ. When the UMMZ collection was computerized, this ‘‘B226’’ number was given no. 25795, and it appears under that number in their database. The AMNH number has been cross-referenced to it.

Musschenbroek introduced the name albescens in 1883, after the bird had been cataloged at UMMZ. I have been unable to trace exactly when it was acquired by Rothschild, but it was in Rothschild’s possession by 1897 (see Rothschild, 1897c: 54).



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Paradisea minor var. albescens Musschenbroek

Lecroy, Mary 2014

Paradisea minor var. albescens

Musschenbroek, S. C. J. W. van 1883: 186
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