• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

HBWAlive Key; mission accomplished or mission impossible? (1 Viewer)

Merops urica

Here's another (my last) attempt on Horsfield's urica ...

If we follow the second reference of "Merops urica", in the link supplied by Mark (in #554), about "The Pirik Bee-eater" we find Swainson's "Zool. Ill. n. s.[!] t. 8", which takes us to Plate/Tabula 8 (here), and the text for "MEROPS urica. Javanese Bee-eater" (here), but it doesn't add much, no comment regarding the name itself (neither of urica, nor of 'Pirik'), only a somewhat resigned note:
Most unwillingly I have again in this instance anticipated my friend Dr. Horsfeild [sic] in describing this bird, which he found in Java, and which I engraved after one sent from Ceylon, without knowing it had also fallen under his observation.
I wonder how Swainson would have put it if he had known about the even earlier "LE GUÉPIER QUANTICOLOR Merops Quinticolor", by Vieillot, from 1817, (OD here, all in French). In Vieillot's text about the same "M. Quinticolor", in Encyclopédie méthodique ... (from 1823) we find the word "uropygio", in the Latin description (on p.393), here. Similar to the "uropygioque" mentioned by Horsfield himself, in the OD of "Merops Urica" (of 1822, here).

Any connection to urica?

[It's somewhat in line with my speculations/guesses, way back, in december last , in post #383]

Well, that's it (on my part), I cannot reach any further, I've done my best in trying to figure it out (without, from what I can tell, any true success/explanation) ... a bit disappointing, but that's the name of the game. Some names will simply stay unexplained.

To anyone keener, still trying, still digging ... : Good luck!

The Lekwa (River) Owlet

2. ... licua, ...

licua as in "Strix Licua" 1842
A bird from Damara now Namibia. A long stretch but possibly named for ǁKhauxaǃnas, an uninhabited village with a ruined fortress dating to the 18th century, is located to the east of the mountains. Probably not it was collected near the confluence of the Vaal and Orange rivers.
Regarding licua, as in ...
• the Pearl-spotted Owlet ssp. Glaucidium perlatum licua LICHTENSTEIN 1842, as "Strix Licua" LICHTENSTEIN 1842 [link to OD, in post #383]

I think Desmond T. Cole, Professor Emeritus, former Head of the Department of African Languages, in/at the University of Witwaterstrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, actually (already, decades ago) have solved this one!

In his old Paper, from back in 1991 (somewhat sadly forgotten alt. long overlooked, or simply missed, at least in Ornithology): Old Tswana and New Latin, in Botswana Notes and Records 23, pp.175–191 (accessible at JSTORE, here) ... we find the following explanation (my bolds and blue):
11. licua in Glaucidium perlatum licua (Lichtenstein), Pearlspotted Owl (Clancey, 1980: 105, misspelt as 'lica' in the subheading), collected near the confluence of the Vaal and Orange Rivers, from T. [Tswana] (and South Sotho) Lekwa LH 'Vaal River'.

[LH (Low/High) is only a guide for its pronunciation/tone]
Alt. in short (if I read it correctly): the (latinized?) licua origins from Lekwa, which simply is a Tswana (and South Sotho) name for the Vaal River!


In the same paper Professor Cole also deals with several other names, that might be of interest for us, or anyone else, interested in (African) etymologies. He, for example, link the name kori, as in the Kori Bustard Ardeotis kori (Burchell, 1822), to the Tswana name: kgôri.

He also deals with the [both generic and (sub-)species] name/s Taha and taha (as in "Taha taha, by Roberts 1940")*, as in today's Yellow-crowned Bishop ssp. Euplectes afer taha (a k a Taha Bishop/Weaver), to the Tswana name: thaga ... with the following comment:
... a generic name for several species of weavers or granivorous birds, especially those whose males are brightly plumaged in summer. The original meaning of thaga was possibly simply 'bird', as in that of the cognate intaka in Xhosa.
And many, many more ...

All in all, Professor Cole lists more than 60 local names [!], all from Southern Africa, all of indigenous origin, all still present (in some shape or another) in various scientific names (on either Animals or Plants).

Another notable example is No. "54 chiniana" ... as in "Cisticola chiniana (A. Smith), Rattling Cisticola (Clancey, 1980: 215)", possibly from ... the Tswana name for the Tshwênyane (Hills) ... which I cannot help noticing is fairly similar to another still unexplained name in this "mission" thread; Andrew Smith's (Cisticola/Drymoica) cherina. Though apparently it's not close (in Geography) to Smith's 'Mirafra cheniana' Lark .... and onwards.

Could cherina maybe, possibly, be a typo, or a Printer's error (r versus n) ...?

I also note Cole's somewhat harsh comment on the alledged connection between Smith's 'Emberiza impetuani' and the word/name Mpa-thutlwa (apparently claimed by both Skead 1967, and Clinning 1989!?), which he finds ... "totally unacceptable".

It's a Paper, of 17 rich pages, well worth a (long and thorough) look!



PS. Another (somewhat funny and) interesting part (Legend) in this Paper, is Cole's explanation of the name Damara (and as such also of Damaraland, and scientific names like damaranus and damarensis), which he claims as of Khoisan origin, Damara literally meaning "Two black women", formed by/from "dama- (black) and -ra (feminine dual); "giving rise to the misnomer 'Damara' for all the Black peoples of Namibia" (and onwards the colonial name of Damaraland, etc., etc.)

PPS. James, I´ve sent you a (scanned) personal copy of the full Paper.

Also note that neither (Andrew Smith's) codea, nor Marisca, was listed, neither explained not even mentioned, by Cole in this Paper. But, still, for the ones that still remain missing, coined by Andrew Smith I'm inclined to believe his own phrase: "The names given by the Natives to the objects above described, I have adopted as the trivial ones" (A. Smith 1836), i.e. in comparison/s to the names he used in his Illustrations of the Zoology of South Africa (1838–1847). Just like on lagepa. ;)


*Genus Taha REICHENBACH 1863 (here)
Last edited:
Names as interpreted by Cole (and Smith) continuation ...

Also see Kees Rookmaaker's fairly recent Paper (from 2017); The zoological contributions of Andrew Smith (1797–1872) with an annotated bibliography and a numerical analysis of newly described animal species (here), published in Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa 72 (2): 105–173, incl. "Table 11. New names proposed by Andrew Smith after persons" (on pp.150-151), and "Table 12. New names proposed by Andrew Smith based on words in the Tswana language, largely after Cole (1990, 1991)", on p.151.

Though, note that, for some unknown reason (doubt?), the name licua is not listed by Rookmaaker in Table 12, ... ?

Either way; enjoy.


PS. James, I've already sent you Rookmaaker's Paper as well.
Thanks for this. A photocopy of Cole's paper has been languishing in my library for some years, but I obviously skimmed through it and certainly missed licua! I haven't seen Rookmaaker 2017 and look forward to reading it. Back to the drawing-board.
Osalia Mulsant and Verreaux I believe is a misprint of Rosalia. In 1846 Boucier and Mulsant named O. rosae for Claudine Rosalie (Rose) Duquaire .
The types of Osalia were O. jourdanii and O. rosae.
Claudine-Rosalie Duquaire was the sister of Mulsant
As this correct once again The Eponym Dictionary of Birds not on the right track:
Rufous-shafted Woodstar ssp. Chaetocercus jourdanii rosae Bourcier & Mulsant, 1846
Madame Rose Duquaire (DNF) was the wife of a notary in Lyon. Her sister was Madame E. Mulsant, the wife of Martial Etienne Mulsant (q.v.).
Marie Claudine Rosalie MULSANT
Birth15 Mar 1799 Marnand, Rhône, Rhône-Alpes, France
Marriage22 Feb 1824 Marnand, Rhône, Rhône-Alpes, France
Death24 Feb 1881 Rhône, Rhône-Alpes, France
Record information.
FatherMarie Sébastien MULSANT (1776-1853)
MotherMarie Anne Victoire JACQUETON DE LA BUFFETIÈRE (1777-1854)
SpouseClaude Antoine DUQUAIRE (1791-1867)
Re meissneri (as in Leptopoecile elegans meissneri, IOC but not HBW): the Key gives this as an honorific for a German banker in Shanghai, Paul Meissner (likely as Meißner), who was involved in the Dolan Expedition during which Ernst Schäfer collected the type specimen (described as Lophobasileus elegans meissneri in 'Third Preliminary Report on the Results of the Second Dolan Expedition to West China and Tibet: Four New Birds from Tibet', Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, 89 (1937), 385.

The only actual relation between Schäfer and a Meißner (with any connection to the Dolan Expedition) I can find is in the acknowledgments of Schäfer's Unbekanntes Tibet (Berlin, 1937), which deals with his travels in Tibet in the early to mid-1930s, where there is a Direktor Meißner, Schanghai.

I presume this Meißner is Kurt Meißner, a businessman and Japanologist based in Tokyo, but also director of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Natur- und Völkerkunde Ostasiens (German East Asiatic Society), and present in Shanghai at the time of the Second Dolan China and Tibet Expedition (see here).

The Eponym Dictionary of Birds claims:
Crested Tit Warbler ssp. Leptopoecile elegans meissneri Schäfer, 1937
Paul Meissner (DNF) was a German banker and financial expert in Shanghai who assisted Brooke Dolan (q.v.) in his Sichuan expedition.
• luciae as in "Scops luciæ" 1888
OD: ser.5:v.6=no.21-24;Index v.1-6 (1883-1888) - Ibis - Biodiversity Heritage Library .
Further written about by collector John Whitehead here on 203 and 248.
Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo .
John Whitehead had a sister Lucy Ashton Boosey nee Whitehead

The Eponym Dictionary of Birds claims:
Mountain Scops-Owl ssp. Otus spilocephalus luciae Sharpe, 1888
Sharpe gave no etymology in his original description. As John Whitehead (q.v.) collected the owl holotype it may be that lucidae refers to a relative of his.

About the life dates of Lucy Ashton Boosey nee Whitehead I have no idea.
Lucy Ashton Whitehead
Birth19 Feb 1866 Highgate, Middlesex, England
Marriage19 Oct 1886 • Bickley, Kent, England
Residence2 Apr 1911 Bromley, Kent, England
Death21 Apr 1941 Sussex, England
FatherJeffery Ludlam Barton Whitehead (1831-1915)
MotherJane Ashton Tinker (1829-1899)
SpouseArthur Boosey (1857-1919)

And John

John Whitehead
Birth7 Apr 1861 Muswell Hill, Middlesex, England
Residence1891 Bickley, Kent, England
Marriage1897 West Ham, Essex, England
Death2 Jun 1899 Hainan, China
FatherJeffery Ludlam Barton Whitehead (1831-1915)
MotherJane Ashton Tinker (1829-1899)
SpouseEdith Mary Thorogood (1870-1940)
Thanks Martin. I agree with krammeri and have adjusted the Key entry accordingly. I was going to query your thoughts on adamsoni (not being able to find links with Meinertzhagen, Nicoll, or Egypt), but they have just disappeared!

The Eponym Dictionary of Birds claims:
Kramer's Parakeet Psittacula krameri Scopoli, 1769 [Alt. Ring-necked Parakeet, Rose-ringed Parakeet]
Wilhelm Heinrich Kramer (d.1765) – also known by the 'latinised' version of his name, Guilielmi Henrici Kramer – was an Austrian naturalist who was originally trained in medicine, which he practised in Bruck (close to Vienna). He wrote Elenchus Vegetabilium et Animalium per Austriam Inferiorem Observatorum (1756) (The plants and animals of Lower Austria), one of the first works to adopt Linnean binomial nomenclature.

If I read here Wilhelm Heinrich Franz Xaver Kramer and he was German (Prussian) as born in Dresden.

Orange-bellied Flowerpecker ssp. Dicaeum trigonostigma besti Steere, 1890
Named after a son of Judge Best (DNF) of Minneapolis. The only source of this information is a cryptic note on a card in the Richmond Index. The holotype was collected by Steere on Siquijor Island, Philippines (1888).

The Key to Scientific Names
Eponym (Steere 1890, List Bds. Mamm. Steere Exped. Philippines, 22); “a son of Judge Best, of Minneapolis, Minn.” (per Richmond Card Index) (subsp. Dicaeum trigonostigma).

No idea what I should think about this claim. Why not e.g. for George Newton Best?
Or why not for Judge James Irwin Best 1835-1919 himself? Why is the son more relevant than the father? There might be reasons that Richmond came to this conclusion. But why?

Anyway here is mentioned on the Richmond card as well.

P.S. I did not say that George Newton Best is more relevant. I just wanted to highlight there are other persons with this name around at that time.
Steere invited a group of young men on his 1887 expedition. Several sources repeated over time suggest that the party had only 5 members but this photo shows 7.

Amongst these were:

Joseph B Steere (seated center)
Dean C Worcester
Frank S Bourns
E.L. Mosely
Mateo Francisco (presumably seated far right)

I am fairly certain one of the other two was a son of Best. But which one?

We know that Eugene Nimmins Best (1866-1941) was at UMich in the class of 89 (graduated 92) (LLB) and Edgar Coulter Best (1864-1924) was at UMich in the class of 88 (but did not graduate). As the expedition was underway in 1888 (and the holotype was collected in 1888) it would have been difficult for Edgar to be in two places.

Steere apparently invited the "best and brightest" students on his trips and my money is on Eugene Nimmins Best (1866-1941) who graduated LLB and became a lawyer. Edgar Coulter Best was a bank teller in the 1900 census and was later a real estate salesman and head of traffic management in his hometown.

I think the best evidence is that Eugene, Dean C Worcester and Frank S Bourns were all in the same fraternity in Psi Epsilon (attached). The trip was essentially a bunch of "frat boys" having a good time!


  • Yearbook_full_record_image.jpg
    285.6 KB · Views: 5
  • 41198_1220705043_3503-00786.jpg
    602.5 KB · Views: 5
Last edited:
"Buteo Martini"

James, I think you can justly forget all about the German obstetrician "Prof. Edouard Martin (1809-1877)" ...

I´ve got the proper Monsieur Édouard Martin.

Hardy himself mentioned him, in a letter to des Murs, published in February 1861 ... (here, with a tiny added accent, as below, in the long foot-note on p. 54, here):

= Édouard Martin, French Zoologist, collector, "Professor of the University of Ekaterinburg" (as of post #58), etc., etc. ...

Good luck finding his Years!


PS: And; beware of any typos, in the (French) quote above! I'm just typing away ... ;)
Could he be the author of Sur le Coucou gris . Cuculus canorus L. and Sur le Pitchou de Provence Melizophilus provincialis, Jenyns Melizophilus undata, Bodd.?
Who knows? But I doubt it. Note that the same surname was/is mentioned on p. XXXIV in the same Journal (Actes de la Société linnéenne de Bordeaux, of 1886) as in your first link in post #577, (here), as:
M. [Monsieur] MARTIN, avocat au Blanc (Indre).
And in the second link, from 1887, he still seems to report about the "... ornithologie du département de l‘Indre, ...", far, far away from Russia where "our guy" had: "habite depuis longtemps" (lived for a long time), [according to Hardy (in 1861)].
Last edited:
This would be René Martin avocat of Le Blanc, Indre. According to records he was at the 1900 IOC and wrote "Sur les oiseaux qui se nourrissent de Libellules" in 1912 Revue Française d'Ornithologie. No ties to Russia I can see.
I agree with Paul.

This Martin ought to be René Martin (1846-1925 -- better known as an odonatologist than as an ornithologist) -- and the "E. Martin" associated to the cuckoo paper is most likely just an error.
The author of this note is explicitly presented as a corresponding member of the Société (here); "M. Martin, avocat au Blanc (Indre)" was admitted as a corresponding member of the Société Linnéenne de Bordeaux in April 1886 (here); this note was presented at a meeting on 7 Jul 1886 (and was the first contribution he sent to the Société); "M. Martin, au Blanc (Indre)" was the only Martin in the member list of the Société in 1887 (here).
Him, with the same occupation and address but with 'René' as his first name, in a contemporaneous member list of the Société Zoologique de France: here.

On birds, he also wrote i.a.
No ties to Russia that I can see either + he was 15yo in 1861, so could certainly not have been residing there for a long time in that year.
Last edited:

Users who are viewing this thread