THE great value of Dr. Günther's “Catalogue of Fishes” in the British Museum is appreciated by all working zoologists; and when Mr. Sharpe was appointed one of the Senior Assistants in the Natural History Department of that noble institution, ornithologists had every reason to hope for an equally important work on the birds in the same collection, all fully realising Mr. Sharpe's perfect competency for the execution of so arduous a task. The volume before us shows that their hopes were not misplaced. The “Hand-List of Birds,” by the late Mr. G. R. Gray, invaluable as it is on account of its extensive indexes and easy method of reference, has a very definite and narrow limit of utility; it is an essential supplement to a library, but gives no detailed information itself. The work before us has a very different scope. Besides the nomenclature and the synonomy of the whole bird-class, it will contain the complete description of each species from the hand of one of our most able and enthusiastic ornithologists, based upon the finest collection in the world, the deficiencies of which, through the liberality of the trustees and the energy of its superintendent, are being so rapidly diminished, that, as we are told in the introduction, of the 354 certain species of diurnal birds of prey at present known, less than thirty are desiderata in the collection. Woodcuts, scattered through the volume, help to illustrate many of the peculiarities of the heads, tarsi, and toes of the species to which they refer; whilst twenty or so coloured plates, from the pencil of Mr. Keulemanns, assist in indicating the special characters of type-specimens and rare forms.
Catalogue of the Birds in the British Museum.
Vol. I.—Accipitres. By R. Bowdler Sharpe. (Printed by order of the Trustees.)
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Catalogue of the Birds in the British Museum . Nature 10, 378–380 (1874). https://doi.org/10.1038/010378a0