Letter C

Whose Bird? - Number 3

...Cobb .... Collie .... Cook .... Cory .... Costa...

by Bruce Poulter

In order to ring the changes, I include five names instead of one as I tackle the letter 'C' in this series of articles.

Arthur F. COBB was a farmer in the Falkland Islands and a noted author who wrote 'Wild Life in the Falklands' in 1910 and 'Birds of the Falkland Islands – A Record of Observation with the Camera' in 1933. He was the first to 'collect' Cobb's Wren (Troglodytes cobbi) a Falkland Islands endemic in 1909.

The Falklands issued four stamps showing Cobb's Wren in 2009. The single stamps carried the Worldwide Fund for Nature emblem while, unusually perhaps, the stamps in the accompanying miniature sheet carried the Falklands Conservation penguin emblem. This wren is widespread on the offshore islands particularly where tussac grass is abundant and is probably restricted to those without introduced mammalian predators.

Lieutenant Dr. Alexander COLLIE (1793-1835) was the naval surgeon and naturalist on an expedition from 1825 to 1828, which made some significant ornithological findings during a voyage from Chile to Alaska. Collie made coloured drawings and took extensive notes of several species that he thought might be 'new'. He also collected some live specimens that were exhibited in London Zoo. While in Mexico he collected a new, long-tailed corvid – the Black-throated Magpie-jay (Calocitta colliei), which is alternatively known as Collie's Magpie-jay. Dr. Collie became a colonial administrator and he died in Perth, Western Australia.

The Black-throated Magpie-jay has featured on four stamps. Three of these, from USA in 1963 and 1967 and the Central African Republic in 1985, used the same drawing by Audubon. The fourth, a Nature Conservation stamp from Mexico in 1996, shows more clearly 'our' bird's black throat. This, the longest-tailed of all the jays, is confined to a small area of west Mexico. In flight its tail is so long that it undulates with the wing action. It nests socially in arid bush country from the lowlands up to 1650m.

Captain James COOK, FRS, RN (1728-1779) was, of course, one of the most famous explorers of all time commanding HMS Endeavour on its expeditions to Australia and New Zealand and meeting his death in a skirmish with natives in Hawaii. Cook's Petrel (Pterodroma cookii) was not named after him until many years after his death. It was, however, an apt name to give to a bird described as a transequatorial migrant in the Pacific Ocean.

Cook's Petrel is featured only once on stamps – on the 23 cents stamp issued by Kiribati in 1993. The stamp nicely reflects the highly pelagic life of a bird that only approaches land to nest. It also reflects this small gadfly-petrel's weaving and banking flight.

Charles Barney CORY (1857-1921) was an American ornithologist who collected no less than 19,000 bird specimens. He was the author of 'The Birds of Haiti and San Domingo' in 1885; 'The Birds of the West Indies' in1889; and 'The Birds of Illinois and Wisconsin' in 1909. He was the first person to describe Cory's Shearwater (Calonectris diomedea) as a species, naming the Atlantic species C.d. borealis.

Cory's Shearwater breeds on Mediterranean Islands, the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands dispersing into the western Indian Ocean during the austral summer. It appears on two stamps from Madeira. The 1986 Europa stamp shows it languidly soaring over an ocean tanker while the 2007 'Marine Fauna' stamp excellently shows the bird's head with its single tube nose. Cory's Shearwater is also featured on stamps from the Maldive Islands, Malta, Mauritius and Sao Tome & Principe.

Louie Marie Panteleon COSTA, Marquis de Beau-Regard (1806-1864) was a Sardinian aristocrat and collector and also a distinguished amateur archaeologist, historian and ornithologist. He specialised in collecting hummingbirds in recognition of which Costa's Hummingbird (Calypte costae) was named after him.

Costa's Hummingbird breeds in the arid south west of the USA and Baja California and winters south to the north west of Mexico. The male has a deep violet crown and gorget, which extends far down the sides of its neck. The USA featured Costa's in 1992 in a strip of five 29 cents hummingbird stamps with the birds 'posing' amid red flowers. Costa's Hummingbird is also depicted in sets of hummingbird stamps issued by Angola and Guinea.

This article concludes with miniature sheets showing Cobb's Wren and Cory's Shearwater.

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