Letter R

Whose Bird - Number 21

...Rieffer...Rosenberg...Rouget...Rüppell...

By Bruce Poulter

All that is known about Rieffer is that he was a collector, probably of German origin, in South America in the 1830s and 1840s. The Grassgreen Tanager (Chlorornis riefferii), (Liberia, 1998, 32 cents) was named after him by Boissonneau in 1840. This tanager, which is found in the Andes in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, was featured by Liberia in a sheet depicting some of the birds of the World.

Herbert Christopher Robinson (1874-1929) was a British zoologist and ornithologist. After working for a few years at the Liverpool Museum, he spent 30 years from 1900 working in the tropics. In 1903 he became the Curator of the Federated Malay States Museum at Selangor, a post he held for 23 years. He explored the Indo-Malay region and sent many of the specimens he collected to Liverpool and to the British Natural History Museum. He published a book and many articles about the birds of Singapore and the Malay Peninsula. The Malayan Whistling-Thrush (Myophonus robinsoni), (Malaysia, 2009, 50 sen) was named after him as were several mammals, amphibians and reptiles.

Rolland was a master gunner in the French Navy. He was aboard the corvette Uranie during her circumnavigation of the globe between 1817 and 1820. The vessel suffered severe damage when rounding Cape Horn and had to be beached in the Falklands. The ship was abandoned, but the expedition's notes were saved. In them fellow travellers, Quoy and Gaimard, described the White-tufted Grebe (Rollandia rolland), (Falkland Islands, 1984, 52 pence) and named it after their gunner companion.

Baron Carl Benjamin Hermann von Rosenberg (1817-1888) was a German naturalist and geographer who collected in the East Indies. He served in the Dutch colonial army in the Malay archipelago for 30 years and then as a civil servant in the Moluccas and New Guinea. While mapping parts of the Indonesian archipelago he pursued his interest in ornithology, publishing a series of articles in local journals. The Barefaced Rail (Gymnocrex rosenbergii), (Indonesia, 2014, 5000 rupiah), which is found in Sulawesi and Peleng Island, was named after him.

Rear-Admiral Sir James Clark Ross (1802-1862) is perhaps best known for his discovery of the Ross Sea and the Ross Ice Shelf. He joined the Royal Navy at the age of 12 and was a member of several important expeditions to the Arctic. He commanded Erebus and Terror in the Antarctic expedition of 1939-1843, discovering an island in 1841 which Scott, on his first expedition, named Ross Island in his honour. It was while close to the Magnetic South Pole that Ross broke through the pack ice into the large sea that later bore his name. Ross's Gull (Rhodostethia rosea), (Russia, 2006, 3 roubles) is named after him.

Lord Lionel Walter Rothschild (1868-1937) was the son of a very rich banker. From a very early age he knew what he wanted to do when he grew up, announcing at the age of seven that he was going to make a museum. He had already started collecting insects and stuffed animals. By the age of ten he had enough specimens to fill his first museum - in a garden shed. His father patronised him with the gift of land on which to build houses for his growing collection. Ultimately he amassed the largest bird collection in the world; 300,000 bird skins, 200,000 birds' eggs and 30,000 books. His collection formed the Tring Museum, now known as the Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum, which comprises the Natural History Museum's Ornithological section. Rothschild was also Member of Parliament for Aylesbury, a Justice of the Peace and a Deputy Lieutenant for the County of Buckinghamshire. Several birds bear his name, but the only one featured on stamps is the Bali Myna (Leucopsar rothschildi), (United Nations (New York), 2011, 44 cents).

J Rouget (? - 1840) was a French explorer who collected in Ethiopia between 1839 and 1840. Rouget's Rail (Rougetius rougettii), (Ethiopia, 1985, 15 cents), which is named after him, is found in the highlands of Ethiopia and Eritrea.

S. Rucker (1815-1890) was a British naturalist who collected in Ecuador in 1846. A number of plants, including orchids, have ruckeri in their scientific names. The Band-tailed Barbthroat (Threnetes ruckeri), (Guyana, 1990, $13.90), a hummingbird found in tropical Guatemala to western Venezuela and western Ecuador, is named after him.

Wilhelm Peter Eduard Simon Rűppell (1794-1884) was a German collector. He made two extended expeditions to northern and eastern Africa in the first quarter of the 19th Century. Abdim Bey helped him on his first expedition, Kittlitz accompanied him on his second. He brought back large zoological and ethnographical collections, but these expeditions impoverished him. He was a collector in the broadest sense who presented his collection of coins and rare manuscripts to the museum of his home town - Frankfurt. No less than five birds named after him have featured on stamps. These are -

Rűppell's Bustard (Eupodotis rueppellii), (Namibia, 2012, 50 cents)
Rűppell's Griffon (Gyps rueppellii), (Gambia, 1993, 3 dalasi)
Rűppell's Parrot (Poicephalus rueppellii), (Namibia, 2001, Standard Mail)
Rűppell's Warbler (Sylvia rueppellii), (Turkey, 2004, 250,000 lira)
Rűppell's Weaver (Ploceus galbula), (Oman, 2002, 50 baizas)
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