Letter H

Whose Bird? - Number 8

   H is for Hall......Helena......Hodgson......Hutton

by Bruce Poulter

A quick search of the literature shows that more 70 people with surnames beginning with the letter 'H' have had birds named after, or for, them. No less than 18 of them feature on bird stamps. Their backgrounds are described below with illustrations of the species named after them.

Robert Hall (1867-1949) was an Australian naturalist and ornithologist who was a founder member of the Royal Australian Ornithologists' Union. He was a keen collector and parts of his bird and egg collections are in Australian Museums while his Siberian collection is held in the Natural History Museum at Tring in England. The Northern Giant Petrel (Macronectes halli) (Uruguay, 2004, 14 pesos) was originally described as a race of the Southern Giant Petrel when collected by Sir James Ross on an Antarctic Expedition.

Major-General Thomas Hardwicke (1756-1835) served with the Bengal Artillery, which, in his day, was part of the Honourable East India Company's Army. He was a keen amateur naturalist, who is credited with being the first to make the Red Panda widely known through a paper he presented to the Linnaean Society. The Orange-bellied Leafbird (Chloropsis hardwickii) (Bhutan, 1982, 2 ngultrum) is found singly or in pairs in broadleaved evergreen forests in the Himalayan foothills.

Edward Harris (1799-1863) was a New Jersey farmer and amateur ornithologist. He helped his friend Audubon financially when the latter was at a low ebb, and he also bought several of Audubon's paintings. Harris' Hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus) (Tuvalu Niutao, 1985, 25 cents) was named by Audubon in recognition of their friendship. It is interesting to note that this stamp was issued to commemorate the bicentenary of Audubon's birth.

Karel Johan Gustav Hartlaub (1814-1900) was trained as a medical doctor but his main hobby was 'exotic' ornithology. He became a Professor of Zoology in Bremen and 'collected' in East Africa in 1857. He was, perhaps, fortunate in that many people sent him specimens, which he eventually donated to the Museum in Hamburg. Among his many achievements, he wrote the first descriptions of more than 30 birds. Two of these are Hartlaub's Bustard (Lissotis hartlaubii) (Sierra Leone, 1999, 600 leone) and Hartlaub's Duck (Pteronetta hartlaubii) (Uganda, 1995, 200 shillings).

Dr Adolphus Lewis Heerman (1827-1865) was an army physician and naturalist who was involved in the surveys for the Pacific Railroad line. His special interest was in collecting birds' eggs and he was credited with coining the word 'oology' for this practice. He died as a result of a hunting accident when he stumbled, his rifle discharged and killed him! Heerman's Gull (Larus heermanni) (Mozambique, 2002, 17000 meticals) may be found on the pacific coast from British Columbia to Mexico.

Helen Booth was the wife of Cuban ornithologist Juan Gundlach (see Whose Bird? Letter G). Gundlach found the Bee Hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae) - the smallest known bird - in 1844 and kept it in his own collection. This hummingbird, a Cuban endemic, has so far featured 12 times on stamps (including 1994, 5 centavos) from that island as well as from eight other countries.

Lieutenant-Colonel Dr George Henderson (1837-1929) was an English traveller. Disguised as a merchant - a necessary precaution in the 1860s - he 'collected' the shy, elusive and fast-running Henderson's Ground Jay (Podoces hendersoni) (Mongolia, 2001, 200 tugrik), a bird of the flat deserts of Mongolia and Sinkiang, on his first mission to Central Asia.

The Reverend John Stevens Henslow (1796-1861) was an English botanist and geologist who had several claims to fame. He advised Audubon about booksellers when the latter was selling 'Birds of America'. He recommended to Captain Fitzroy of the Beagle that a promising young student of his named Charles Darwin might be a suitable naturalist to join his expedition. Henslow was later the first to be told of Darwin's theory of evolution. It was Audubon who named Henslow's Sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii) (Niue, 1985, $1.05).

Little is known about Pedro Alcantara Herran (1800-1872) except that he was a Colombian general and politician who was President of New Granada (now Colombia) for four years from 1841. A hummingbird was named after him, the Rainbow-bearded Thornbill (Chalcostigma herrani) (Democratic Republic of Congo, 2000, 4.50 francs). As perhaps might be expected, this hummingbird is found in the Andes of Colombia!

Pierre Marie Heude (1836-1902) was a French conchologist and Jesuit missionary, who lived in China in the late 1800s where he collected specimens. His records survived to be used by others, while his collection, which was lost for 100 years, was rediscovered fairly recently - intact with some of his handwritten labels. The Reed Parrotbill (Paradoxornis heudii) (Mongolia, 1985, 50 mung) has a very limited distribution in the reed beds of the Yangtse River and south east Siberia.

Theodor von Heuglin (1824-1876) was born in Ditzingen, Germany, and he became a mining engineer and ornithologist. He explored widely in East and Central Africa and published accounts of the birds he had seen. He was a vocal opponent of the theory of evolution, probably because of his family's connection with the church. Several birds 'carry' his name and three of them featured on stamps are Heuglin's Gull (Larus heuglinii) (Bahrain, 1993, 150 fils); Heuglin's Masked Weaver (Ploceus heuglini) (Ghana, 2002, 4500 cedi) and White-browed Robin-Chat (Cossypha heuglini) (Malawi, 1968, 3 pence).

Brian Houghton Hodgson (1800-1894) was an official of the East India Company who spent time in his working life in both Nepal and Darjeeling. He took an interest in languages of these areas and was among those who introduced Buddhism to Britain. He amassed a collection of over 9000 birds belonging to over 670 species, 124 of which had never been described previously. He lodged many specimens with the British Museum (Natural History). No less than 15 birds 'carry' Hodgson's name, but only one is featured on stamps, namely Hodgson's Grandala (Grandala coelicolor) (Ajman, 1971, 5 dirhams).

Emil Holub (1847-1902) was a Czech naturalist with a compelling ambition to follow Livingstone's footsteps in Africa. On his first trip to Africa in 1872 he travelled extensively in south-central Africa gathering tens of thousands of natural history specimens on the way. A later trip proved to be a disaster when, among other things, all his equipment was lost. He died of malaria which he had contracted on his second trip. Holub's Golden Weaver (Ploceus xanthops) (Angola, 2000, 1.50 kwanza) is named after him.

Dr. Jacques Bernard Hombron (1798-1852) was a French naval surgeon and naturalist who was in the Pacific from 1837-1840. On his return he wrote 'Adventures les plus Curieuses des Voyageurs'. He was responsible for describing a number of species among which, presumably, was Hombron's Kingfisher (Actenoides hombroni) (Philippines, 2008, 7 pisos).

Henri Joseph Leon Humblot (1852-1914) was sent from Madagascar to the Comoros in 1844 to ensure that France was recognised as the 'protector' of the latter. In due course he became the biggest landowner in the Comoros, using slaves to farm his land. He is credited with the discovery of an orchid and three birds are named after him. These include Humblot's Flycatcher (Humblotia flavirostris) (Comoro Islands, 1971, 35 francs).

Baron Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) was a Prussian naturalist, explorer and politician who explored South America from 1799 for about a further five years. He collected masses of specimens while mapping and studying natural phenomena. His personal narrative was inspirational for later travellers to the area including Darwin and Wallace. The Humboldt current, which runs south along the west side of South America, was named after him as was Humboldt's Penguin (Spheniscus humboldti) (Chile, 2009, 100 pesos).

Allan Octavian Hume CB (1829-1912) was born in London to a Radical Member of Parliament, Joseph Hume. He joined the Bengal Civil Service at the age of 20. He introduced free primary education and founded a newspaper in the district to which he had been appointed. After his retirement he was a co-founder of the Indian National Congress. He wrote several books on Indian ornithology including 'The Game Birds of India'; 'Indian Oology and Ornithology'; and 'The Nests and Eggs of Indian Birds'. His name is associated with at least a dozen birds including Hume's Owl (Strix butleri) (Israel, 1987, 80 agorot).

Frederick Wollaston Hutton (1836-1905) was an English geologist and zoologist who settled in New Zealand. He served in the army for ten years from 1855 seeing action in both the Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny. He wrote his 'Catalogue of the Birds of New Zealand' in 1871. The Hutton Memorial Fund was established by the Royal Society of New Zealand to provide grants to encourage research into the country's natural sciences. The seriously endangered Rapa Fruit-Dove (Ptilinopus huttoni) (Nauru, 2005, $1 Australian) is one of two birds named after him.


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