Letter L, second part

Whose Bird - Number 13

Layard........Leach........Legge........Lilian

By Bruce Poulter

Edgar Leopold Layard (1824 - 1900) was born in Italy. He spent 10 years in Ceylon before going to South Africa as a civil servant in 1854. One year later he became Curator of the South African Museum in his spare time. Later he worked in Brazil, Fiji and New Caledonia. Layard's Parakeet (Psittacula calthorpae) (Sri Lanka, 1987, 50 cents) was not only named for him but also his first wife, whose maiden name was Calthorp.

William Elford Leach (1790-1836) was a British zoologist. He studied, but did not practice medicine. Instead he was employed by the British Museum, where he became a world-renowned expert on crustaceans. He also worked on birds, mammals and insects. Leach's Storm Petrel (Oceanodroma leucorhoa) (Canada, 2003, 48 cents) was named after him when he found it in a collection of specimens which he purchased. The Blue-winged Kookaburra (Dacelo leachii) (Papua New Guinea, 1981, 60 toea) was once named Leach's Kingfisher.

The poet, traveller and artist Edward Lear (1812-1888) was perhaps best-known for his nonsense verse, limericks and stories, such as 'The Owl and the Pussycat'. He was, however, also one of the most talented of bird illustrators in the 19th Century. Aged only 18, he began two years work illustrating the parrot family. He worked for Lord Stanley, President of the Zoological Society of London and, later, for many of the book publishers of the time, particularly John Gould. He contributed to monographs on the families of toucans and trogons. He is believed to have been the first bird illustrator who preferred to draw from life specimens rather than from skins. Lear's Macaw (Anodorhynchus leari) (Tanzania, 1998, 410/-) is named after him.

Charles Rene Augustin Leclancher (1804-1857) journeyed to Jordan and Arabia in about 1841. Later he was a French ship's surgeon aboard the Bayonnaise from 1847 until 1850. Little more seems to be recorded about him, but two birds are named after him. They are the Orange-breasted Bunting (Passerina leclancherii) (Mali, 1995, 50 francs) and Black-chinned Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus leclancheri) (Philippines, 2007, 7 pisos).

William Vincent Legge (1841-1918) was born in Tasmania, but educated in England, France and Germany. He was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1862 and then served in Melbourne before moving on to Ceylon. Here he reorganised the museum at Colombo and made a large collection of birds. He was a military commander in Tasmania for thirteen years before retiring from the army. He was a founder and first President of the Australian Ornithologists Union. He wrote the 'History of the Birds of Ceylon' in 1880 and assisted in the compilation of the 'List of Vernacular Names for Australian Birds'. The bird skins he collected in Ceylon were presented to Hobart Museum in Tasmania in 1902. The White-throated Flowerpecker (Dicaeum vincens) (Sri Lanka, 1987, 1 rupee), which is named after him, is a Sri Lankan endemic.

Franҫois Le Vaillant (1753-1824) was a French traveller, explorer, collector and naturalist. Born in Surinam, the son of the French consul there, he became interested in birds at an early age and spent a lot of time collecting specimens. He went to Cape Province in South Africa in 1871 and became the first 'real ornithologist' to visit the area. There he collected and explored and published a classic six-volume work on African ornithology. A large collection of his specimens is said to have been lost when a Dutch ship was attacked and sunk by the English. It is, however, rumoured that he 'invented' a number of birds by putting together pieces of other species! Two birds named after him are Levaillant's Cisticola (Cisticola tinniens) (Comoro Republic, 2009, 125 francs) and Crested Barbet (Trachyphonus vaillantii) (Botswana, 1967, 1 rand).

Martin Hinrich Carl Lichtenstein (1780-1857) was a German physician, explorer, herpetologist and ornithologist. He travelled in Africa from 1802-1806 where he became the personal physician to Governor of the Cape of Good Hope. As a result of his publications in South Africa, he was appointed Professor of Zoology at the University of Berlin in 1811 and Director of Berlin Zoological Museum in 1813. Here he studied many specimens sent to him by others, but he did so without consulting the most recent English and French literature. He thus caused much unnecessary confusion and trouble to others! He died after a duel fought at sea off Kiel. Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse (Pterocles lichtensteinii) (Eritrea, 1998, 3 nakfa) was named after him.

Theodor Gerard van Lidth de Jaude (1788-1863) was a Dutch zoologist. He was Director of the Austrian Veterinary College, the first school where veterinary medicine was taught in the Netherlands. He was Rector of Utrecht University and owned property in the Tivoli Gardens. He published extensively in Holland, mainly on veterinary matters, including an account of the bone structure of horses' heads. Lidth's Jay (Garrulus lidthi) (Malagasy Republic, 1975, 300 francs) - a bird of the northern Ryukyu Islands - is named after him.

Lilian Elizabeth Lutley Sclater (1875-1957) was a British naturalist who accompanied her brother, William Lutley Sclater, on an expedition to Nyasaland (now Malawi). They collected Lilian's Lovebird (Agapornis lilianae) (Malawi, 2009, 3 x 115 kwacha), on that expedition and duly named it after Lilian. This attractive little bird is legally trapped in large numbers for the international cage-bird trade.


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