Online Encyclopedia

JACAMAR

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V15, Page 106 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JACAMAR, a word formed by Brisson from Jacameri, the Brazilian name of a bird, as given by Marcgrave, and since adopted in most European tongues for the species to which it was first applied and others allied to it, forming the family Galbulidae 1 of ornithologists, the precise position of which is uncertain, since the best authorities differ. All will agree that the jacamars belong to the great heterogeneous group called by Nitzsch Picariae, but further into detail it is hardly safe to go. The Galbulidae have zygodactylous or pair-toed feet, like the Cuculidae, Bucconidae and Picidae, they also resemble both the latter in laying glossy white eggs, but in this respect they hear the same resemblance to the Momotidae, Alcedinidae, Meropidae r Galbula was first applied to Marcgrave's bird by Moehring. It is another form of Galgulus, and seems to have been one of the rpany names of the golden oriole. See IcTERUS.and some other groups, to which affinity has been claimed for them. In the opinion of Sclater (A Monograph of the Jacamars and Puff-birds) the jacamars form two groups—one consisting of the single genus and species Jacamerops aureus (J. grandis of most authors), and the other including all the rest, viz. Urogalba with two species, Galbula with nine, Brachygalba with five, and Jacamaralcyon and Galbalcyrhynchus with one each. They are all rather small birds, the largest known being little over 10 in. in length, with long and sharply pointed bills, and the plumage more or less resplendent with golden or bronze reflections, but at the same time comparatively soft. Jacamaralcyon tridactyla differs from all the rest in possessing but three toes (as its name indicates), on each foot, the hallux being deficient. With the exception of Galbula melanogenia, which is found also in Central America and southern Mexico, all the jacamars inhabit the tropical portions of South America eastward of the Andes, Galbula ruficauda, however, extending its range to the islands of Trinidad and'Tobago 2 Very little is known of the habits of any of the species. They are seen sitting motionless on trees, some-times solitarily, at other times in companies, whence they suddenly dart off at any passing insect, catch it on the wing, and return to their perch. Of their nidification almost nothing has been recorded, but the species occurring in Tobago is said by Kirk to make its nest in marl-banks, digging a hole about an inch and a half in diameter and some 18 in. deep. (A. N.) JAtcANA, the Brazilian name, according to Marcgrave, of certain birds, since found to have some allies in other parts of the world, which are also very generally called by the same appellation. They have been most frequently classed with the water-hens or rails (Rallidae), but are now recognized by many systematists as forming a separate family, Parridae,3 whose leaning seems to be rather towards the Limicolae, as apparently first Pheasant-tailed Jacanae suggested by Blyth, a view which is supported by the osteological observations of Parker (Prot. Zool. Society, 1863, p. 513), though denied by A. Milne-Edwards (Ois. foss. de la France, ii. p. rto). The most obvious characteristic of this group of birds is the extraordinary length of their toes and claws, whereby they are enak,led to walk with ease over water-lilies and other aquatic plants growing in rivers and lakes. The family has been divided into four genera—of which Parra, as now restricted, inhabits South America; Metopidius, hardly differing from it, has representatives in Africa, Madagascar and the Indian region; Hydralector, also very nearly allied to Parra, belongs to the 2 The singular appearance, recorded by Canon Tristram (Zoologist, p. 3906), of a bird of this species in Lincolnshire seems to require notice. No instance seems to be known of any jacamar having been kept in confinement or brought to this country alive; but expert aviculturists are often not communicative, and many importations of rare birds have doubtless passed unrecorded. a The classic Parra is by some authors thought to have been the golden oriole (see IcTERUS), while others suppose it was a jay or pie. The word seems to have been imported into ornithology by Aldrovandus, but the reason which prompted Linnaeus to apply it, as he seems first to have done, to a bird of this group, cannot be satisfactorily stated. northern portion of the Australian region; and Hydrophasianus, the most extravagant form of the whole, is found in India, Ceylon and China. In habits the jacanas have much in common with the water-hens, but that fact is insufficient to warrant the affinity asserted to exist between the two groups; for in their osteological structure there is much difference, and the resemblance seems to be only that of analogy. The Parridae lay very peculiar eggs of a rich olive-brown colour, in most cases closely marked with dark lines, thus presenting an appearance by which they may be readily known from those of any other birds, though an approach to it is occasionally to be noticed in those of certain Limicolae, and especially of certain Charadriidae. (A. N.)
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COUNT STEFANO JACINI (1827-1891)

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