Letter G

Whose Bird? - Number 7

G is for Gaimard, Gambel, Germain, Goffin et al

by Bruce Poulter

Joseph Paul Gaimard (1793-1858) was a French naval surgeon, explorer and naturalist. He was something of a dandy and described as being of medium build, with curly black hair and an unattractive face - but he had a charming and agreeable manner! He made voyages to Australia, the Falkland Islands, New Zealand and the Pacific where he collected birds, including two previously unknown species. It was presumably following these travels that the Red-legged Cormorant (Phalacrocorax gaimardi), (Falkland Islands, 1998, 65p), was named after him. In his later years he visited northern Europe, including Iceland, northern Norway and Spitzbergen.

William Gambel (1821-1849) was an American naturalist and collector and the first ornithologist to spend any time in California collecting birds. He broke the rules of natural history nomenclature etiquette by naming Gambel's Quail (Callipepla gambelii), (USA, 1999, 33c) after himself. He died of typhoid while attempting to cross the Sierra Nevada Mountains in winter with a party on its way to the California goldfields.

Louis Rodolphe Germain (1827-1917) was a veterinary surgeon in the French colonial army, serving in Indo-China (Vietnam) from 1862 to 1867. He made considerable zoological collections in his spare time which he donated to Paris museums. They included the first specimen of the pheasant - Germain's Peacock-Pheasant (Polyplectron germaini) (Vietnam, 2006, 5000d) - that was named after him.

Some sources say that Lieutenant Andreas Leopold Goffin (1837-1863) was an officer in the Dutch navy. Others say that he was a German, Andrea Goffin, who worked as a scientist in the Dutch museum in Leiden. Following his untimely death, he was honoured by having the Talimbar Cockatoo (Cacatua goffini) (Grenadines of Grenada, 2000, $1) named after him by his friend Finsch (see Whose Bird? Number 6).

Andrew Goldie (1840-1891) was born in Scotland and emigrated to New Zealand where he worked as a nurseryman. In 1876 he began to explore in New Guinea discovering the Goldie River and also traces of gold and used a government compensation to purchase the land on which he built Port Moresby's first store. He procured the first mutilated skins of birds-of-paradise from the natives who said that they could only be obtained at a considerable distance inland and on the mountains. He died in Port Moresby. Goldie's Bird-of-Paradise (Paradisaea decora) (Papua New Guinea, 1973, 14c) was clearly named after him.

Goliath of Gath (about 1030 BC) was a Philistine warrior of giant size, who was killed by a sling shot by David, later King of the Jews. Given its huge size, the Goliath Heron (Ardea goliath) (Burundi, 1996, 120f) was rightly named after him! This heron features on 18 stamps from 14 countries.

John Gould (1804-1881) was the son of a gardener at Windsor Castle who became an illustrious English ornithologist, artist and taxidermist. He travelled widely in Europe, Asia and Australia and was acknowledged around the world as 'The Bird Man'. He was arguably the most prolific publisher and author of ornithological works in the world with in excess of 46 volumes to his name. His best known works include 'The Birds of Europe', 'The Birds of New Guinea' and 'The Birds of Asia'. His superb paintings were much sought after, so much so that he had a job keeping up with demand. The Gouldian Finch (Chloebia gouldiae) (Aitutaki, 1984, 2c); Gould's Petrel (Pterodroma leucoptera) (New Caledonia, 2008, 110f); and Gould's Sunbird (Aethopyga gouldiae) (Bhutan, 1982, 10nu) are just three of the birds which bear his name. The latter bird was, incidentally, formerly known as Mrs Gould's Sunbird after his late wife.

Brothers John Edward Gray (1800-1875) and George Robert Gray (1808-1872) were British ornithologists who often worked together, including a period at the British Museum when they published a catalogue of the mammals and birds of New Guinea. It is very difficult to separate the two when considering the birds named after them. Some descriptions were written by one brother for the other and some birds were named by one brother for the other! John Edward was, incidentally, an ardent philatelist who claimed that he was the world's first stamp collector. The Clay-coloured Robin (Turdus grayi) (Costa Rica, 1984, 1col) is most probably named after George Robert, while Gray's Lark (Ammomanes grayi) (South West Africa, 1988, 30c) is named after John Edward.

Sir George Grey (1812-1898) was a soldier, explorer, colonial governor, premier and scholar. In 1845 he was appointed Governor of New Zealand where his great success was the management of Maori affairs. In 1853 he became Governor of Cape Colony and High Commissioner for South Africa. His main problem here was also one of race relations. While politics left him little time for scholarship, he was a keen naturalist and botanist and he established extensive collections in Cape Town and Auckland. The only bird named after him is the Red-bellied Fruit-Dove (Ptilinopus greyi) (New Caledonia, 1982, 32f).

Major Ian R. Grimwood (1912 -?) was the chief game warden of Kenya for many years and he had a great hand in rescuing the Oryx from the edge extinction. In 1972 he was awarded the World Wildlife Fund gold medal 'for his dedication to the conservation of wildlife in Africa, Asia and Latin America...............and to the survival of species such as the oryx and vicuna'. Grimwood's Longclaw (Macronyx grimwoodi) (Zambia, 1977, 4n) was named after him in 1955.

The Reverend Lansdown Guilding BA (1797-1831) was an amateur naturalist. He was educated at Oxford, but was born and died on St. Vincent in the West Indies. He left his collection to the British Natural History Museum. The St. Vincent Parrot (Amazona guildingii) (St. Vincent, 1970, 3c) is thus appropriately named after him.

Juan Cristobal Gundlach (1810-1886) was a German-born, naturalised Cuban ornithologist and collector. After working as a curator in Germany, he took part in a collecting expedition to Cuba in 1839, where he stayed and collected. He also collected in Puerto Rico. He wrote the first major work on Cuban birds, Ornitologia Cubana, in 1876. He was, it seems, a zealous and single-minded man who kept what he collected for personal description to the scientific world. In 1986 Cuba issued a set of six stamps, each of which includes a picture of Gundlach, to commemorate the 90th anniversary of his death. Two of the birds named after him are Gundlach's Hawk (Accipiter gundlachi) (Cuba, 1970, 13c) and Bahama Mockingbird (Mimus gundlachii) (Bahamas, 1991, 60c).

Dr. Jan Willem Bowdewyn Gunning (1860-1913) was a Dutch physician who went to South Africa in 1884. In 1886 he was appointed Director of the Transvaal Museum in Pretoria, a post he held until shortly before he died. He founded the Pretoria National Zoo following a start made in his garden. He was co-founder of The African Ornithologists' Union. The bird named after him is the East Coast Akalat (Sheppardia gunningi) (Malawi, 1985, 20t). The generic name of this bird, formerly known as Gunning's Robin, honours Peter Sheppard, a fellow South African ornithologist.

John Henry Gurney (1819-1890) was a banker in Norwich as well as an amateur ornithologist working at the British Natural History Museum. Most of his writing was on the birds of Norfolk, but he also wrote on African birds and edited others' work. His son was also an ornithologist. Gurney's Pitta (Hydrornis pitta) (Tanzania, 1998, 370s) was named after him as a tribute to his ornithological contributions.

J. Guy was a French naturalist - but little more seems to be known about him! The Green Hermit (Phaethornis guy) (Trinidad and Tobago, 1969, 10c) was named after him by Lesson in 1833 and, later, described and illustrated by Gould.


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