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Identity of Dampier's Petrel (1 Viewer)

Jim LeNomenclatoriste

Taxonomy and zoological nomenclature
France
Hi all. I

I need your help to solve this mystery

When the Petrel was described for the first time by Dampier in his "A Voyage to New Holland" (1703), he given this description :

"The Petrel is a bird not much unlike a swallow, but smaller, and with a shorter tail, 'Til all over black, except a white spot on the rump. They fly sweeping like swallows, and very near the water. They are not so often seen in fair weather; being foul-weather birds, as our seamen call them, and presaging a storm when they come about a ship; who for that reason don't love to see them. I a storm they will hover close under the ship's stern, in the wake of the ship (as'tis call'd) or the smoothness which the ship's passing has made on the sea: and there as they fly (gently then) they pat the water alternately with their feet, as if they walkt upon it; tho' still upon the wing. And from hence the seamen give them the name of Petrels, in allusion [...]"

The description doesn't match with the genus Pterodroma, so it's pretty sure that the species described belongs either to the Oceanitidae or to the Hydrobatidae, but do we know what is the exact species he described ?
 
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l_raty

laurent raty

The description indicates clearly Oceanitidae/Hydrobatidae (not Procellariidae) with black underparts.
Dampier wrote this in connection with an observation of a very large group of seabirds at a whale carcass, in May 1699, off South Africa. I assume that the birds matching the description, at this location and date (northern summer), should be (mostly) Oceanites oceanicus...?
OTOH, the text is rather generic and it is not really clear that anything in it is based solely on what the author saw there at this single moment. (E.g., the birds that originally received the name 'petrel', because they looked 'as if they walkt upon' water like Peter was reported to have done in the Bible, might have been Hydrobates pelagicus and/or leucorhous, seen by completely other seamen, in British waters.)
 
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Jim LeNomenclatoriste

Taxonomy and zoological nomenclature
France
The description indicates clearly Oceanitidae/Hydrobatidae (not Procellariidae) with black underparts. Dampier wrote this in connection with an observation of a very large group of seabirds at a whale carcass, in May 1699, off South Africa. I assume that the birds matching the description, at this location and date (northern summer), should be (mostly) Oceanites oceanicus...?

In my revision of French names of birds, the name Petrel is deleted for the genus Pterodroma, replaced by Diablotin, based on Dampier's book. I followed Normand David who stipulates that the name Petrel should be applied for the Oceanitidae, while the Hydrobatidae take the name Oceanodrome, a name in use in the literature for a very long time.

But since the species of the two families have a lot in common, the doubt remained
 

l_raty

laurent raty
This suggests that the name was used by Cornish fishermen in 1716.
Albin in 1738 used the name for a bird that was quite clearly Hydrobates pelagicus.
(And Linnaeus 1758 included both Dampier and Albin in the references he cited for Procellaria pelagica.)

My guess would be that the name was originally coined in Europe, then applied by seamen to any storm-petrel they ran into anywhere around the globe.

while the Hydrobatidae take the name Oceanodrome, a name in use in the literature for a very long time.
Do you have references for this ?
Océanodrome is an adjective used to denote a fish species that makes migrations within seas, without entering freshwater systems (i.e., that is not anadrome (= migrating from sea to freshwater to breed), catadrome (= migrating from freshwater to sea to breed), or potamodrome (= migrating without leaving freshwater)). I'm not sure I had ever seen it used for a bird before today.
 
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Jim LeNomenclatoriste

Taxonomy and zoological nomenclature
France
This suggests that the name was used by Cornish fishermen in 1716.
Albin in 1738 used the name for a bird that was quite clearly Hydrobates pelagicus.
(And Linnaeus 1758 included both Dampier and Albin in the references he cited for Procellaria pelagica.)

My guess would be that the name was originally coined in Europe, then applied by seamen to any the storm-petrel they ran into anywhere around the globe.
That it's interesting !!
Do you have references for this ?
Océanodrome is an adjective used to denote a fish species that makes migrations within seas, without entering freshwater systems (i.e., that is not anadrome (= migrating from sea to freshwater to breed), catadrome (= migrating from freshwater to sea to breed), or potamodrome (= migrating without leaving freshwater)). I'm not sure I had ever seen it used for a bird before today.
Yes, some :






Etc ..
 

Acanthis

Well-known member
This suggests that the name was used by Cornish fishermen in 1716.
Very interesting!
I wonder if the word has it's origins in Cornish, a brittonic Celtic language.
I believe by 1716 the Cornish language was pretty much restricted to the furthest Western portions of the county, but in traditional occupations names for familiar creatures and things can persist long after their language of origin has died out locally.
It would be good to find out the names for these birds among fishermen in the closely related Breton dialects.
 

James Jobling

Well-known member
"Petrel. First attested in this spelling in 1602, a corruption of 'pitteral' (i.e. *pitterel) and 'pittrel' which, though not actually recorded until 1676 and 1748 respectively, must nevertheless represent the original form. It was inspired by the jingle pitter-patter under the influence of the suffix -EREL, alluding of course to the birds tapping the water with their feet as they skim over the surface. The present corruption may have been no more than a misspelling; at any rate, the supposed connection with St. Peter, who walked on the waves, is certainly due to later speculation." (W. B. Lockwood, 1984, The Oxford Book of British Bird Names, pp. 115-116).
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia

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