Monday, 21 November 2011

About Verrill on the Birds of Dominica

There have been only about three instances of documented criticism of the research, work and writing of Hyatt Verrill. The one below is minor but since it has come up, we shall display it.

It has been said that “In 1926 Heye abruptly dismissed Verrill when he came to the conclusion that the photographer was somehow taking advantage of him.” [Spirit Capture] This was after Verrill had been working for the Museum of the American Indian (Heye Foundation) for over 20 years. Verrill never discussed this in his autobiography. Hopefully we can research this later. /drf

About Verrill on the Birds of Dominica

Source: The Auk, Vol. 11, No. 3 (Jul., 1894), researched by Alan Schenker, digitized by Doug Frizzle, Nov. 2011

Verrill on the Birds of Dominica.1—Mr. A. H. Verrill collected in Dominica during March, April, and May, 1890, and was joined by his brother, the author of this paper, "the latter part of April." As a result of their combined ornithological researches in several parts of this wild and rugged island he presents a well-annotated list containing 54 species, including 5 species not given by previous writers, thus raising the number of Dominican birds to 64. Geotrygon mystacea, of which no specimens were preserved, has since been procured by the writer of this review from a local collector.

Several other species are included on the descriptions of natives or as observed but not collected, and although it is quite probable these species actually occur, a little more conservatism in this direction would have been advisable. Vireo calidris, given as "very likely" a summer visitor only, was found by the reviewer to be a common bird during the past February.

Interesting notes on habits and local distribution are presented, but by far the most valuable part of this paper consists in observations, many of them entirely new, on the nesting of twenty species of Dominican birds, among which Falco columbarius is included. Half-tone figures of the nests of seven and eggs of three of these are given. It appears that in Dominica the breeding season is nearly over by the latter part of April, at which time it is approaching its height in Trinidad. The difference in time, however, is apparently not a real one but is due to the limitations of the Dominican avifauna. In Trinidad the nearest representatives of the twenty species found breeding by the Messrs, Verrill, so far as known, also breed before May 1, but many others have not then begun to nest.

Mr. Verrill does not seem to be familiar with Colonel Feilden's important paper on 'The Deserted Domicile of the Diablotin in Dominica.'2— F. M. C

1 Notes on the Fauna of the Island of Dominica. With lists of the species obtained and observed by A. H. and G. E. Verrill. By G. E. Verrill. Trans. Conn. Acad., VIII, 1892, pp. 315-359, pll. i-iii. List of Birds obtained and observed, with Notes on their Habits, Nests, and Eggs, pp. 319-351.

2 Trans. Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists' Society, V, 1889, pp. 24-39.

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As an armed forces brat, we lived in Rockcliff (Ottawa), Namao (Edmonton), Southport (Portage La Prairie), Manitoba, and Dad retired to St. Margaret's Bay, NS.
Working with the Federal Govenment for 25 years, Canadian Hydrographic Service, mostly. Now married to Gail Kelly, with two grown children, Luke and Denyse. Retired to my woodlot at Stillwater Lake, NS, on the rainy days I study the life and work of A. Hyatt Verrill 1871-1954.