di William Harvey
all'embriologia di Ulisse Aldrovandi
latino è tratto da
Guilielmi Harveii Opera omnia
A Collegio Medicorum Londinensi edita – mdcclxvi
Exercitatio decimaquarta. - De generatione foetus ex ovo gallinaceo.
14° esercizio - La generazione del feto da un uovo di gallina
 Aristoteles olim, nuperque Hieronymus Fabricius, de generatione et formatione pulli ex ovo, accurate adeo scripserunt, ut pauca admodum desiderari videantur. Ulysses Aldrovandus tamen ovi pullulationem ex suis observationibus descripserit; qua in re, ad Aristotelis auctoritatem potius, quam experientiam ipsam collimasse videtur. Quippe eodem tempore Volcherus Coiter Bononiae degens, eiusdem Ulyssis, praeceptoris sui, ut ait, hortatu, quotidie ova incubata aperuit, plurimaque vere elucidavit, secus quam Aldrovando factum est; quae tamen hunc latere non poterant. Aemilius Parisanus quoque, medicus Venetus, explosis aliorum opinionibus, novam pulli ex ovo procreationem commentus est.
Un tempo Aristotele, e recentemente Girolamo Fabrizi, scrissero in maniera talmente accurata a proposito della generazione e della formazione del pulcino dall'uovo, che pochissime cose sembrerebbero ritenute necessarie. Tuttavia Ulisse Aldrovandi avrebbe descritto la generazione del pulcino dall'uovo in base alla sue osservazioni; sembra che a questo proposito abbia volto lo sguardo all'autorità di Aristotele anziché all'esperienza vera e propria. Effettivamente nello stesso periodo Volcher Coiter, che abitava a Bologna, su incitamento, come afferma, dello stesso Ulisse suo maestro, aprì ogni giorno delle uova incubate e davvero chiarì molte cose, diversamente da quanto è stato fatto da Aldrovandi, tutte cose che a costui non avrebbero potuto rimanere sconosciute. Anche Emilio Parisano, medico a Venezia, dopo aver disapprovato le idee degli altri, ha inventato una nuova generazione del pulcino dall'uovo.
Gessner e Coiter osannati
deriva da Bologna
dove si vendevano oggetti d'oro falso o di poco valore.
In senso figurato
significa liberarsi di una persona sgradita o indiscreta.
to dump in English
comes from Bologna
where objects of false gold or little value were sold.
In a figurative sense
means to free themselves of an unpleasant or indiscreet person.
beginnings of classifying birds:
the search for a natural system.
by Murray Bruce
Ulisse Aldrovandi (1522-1605) aveva contribuito al lavoro di Gessner ma, volendo superarlo, produsse la sua enciclopedica Ornithologia (1599-1603) in tre volumi. In gioventù era stato imprigionato come eretico, così come per varie ragioni lo furono Gessner, Belon (lo afferma Murray Bruce) e Coiter. Negli anni successivi Aldrovandi insegnò botanica. Il suo primo libro fu un trattato sui medicamenti che dovette essere in grande uso, più tardi si dedicò a lavori di farmacopea, ma l'ornitologia era il suo interesse principale. La compilazione, cominciata nel 1560, fu la più completa del suo genere a quei tempi. Criticò Gessner per l'uso di una classificazione alfabetica e rincorse a una catalogazione che si rifaceva ad Aristotele. Gli uccelli furono pertanto raggruppati in base al becco duro e potente (rapaci, pappagalli, corvi, picchi, rampichini, mangiatori di api e crocieri); in base al fare il bagno solamente nella polvere o nella polvere e nell'acqua (polli, piccioni e zigoli); in base all'essere canterini (fringuelli, allodole e canarini), uccelli acquatici, uccelli di ripa. Dal momento che collocò nella sua opera tutto ciò che poteva reperire, compresa la scopiazzatura dei lavori di Gessner e di Belon, di quando in quando il vero valore dell'Ornithologia è stato considerato come dovuto ai precedenti lavori di questi colleghi a lui contemporanei. Fu anche criticato per aver incluso poche osservazioni personali. Comunque venisse giudicato, ai suoi tempi il suo lavoro era popolare e venne proseguito, per altri gruppi di animali, da molti dei suoi fedeli studenti dopo la sua morte avvenuta nella natia Bologna, Italia. (traduzione del testo di Murray Bruce)
Birds feature in the earliest records of human cultures
Modern species can be identified from prehistoric cave paintings; also on frescos, pottery, and the like, with some familiar images dating from Ancient Egypt (Houlihan 1996). In one way or another, the earliest cultures also classified the natural world around them. In surviving cultures that still follow traditional lifestyles, the results of anthropological research support the ancient evidence. For example, in New Guinea, classificatory systems matching the details obtained from modern taxonomic studies reveal the extent of the intimate knowledge of the local bird life within individual communities. Diamond (1966) examined results obtained from one village and found that of 120 bird species identified in the area, 110 had local names. While this meant that a few similar species shared the same name, others which can be difficult to identify in the field, such as scrub-wrens (Sericornis spp.), were identified separately. On the other hand, species with distinctive males and females had separate names. Although many names were based on colour, calls or certain habits, others were said to have no meaning.
From what we know of the written records that have come down to us from classical antiquity, the various schools of natural philosophy shared a desire to understand and interpret the world around them. The earliest known works come from Ancient Greece, beginning with Anaximander (611-546 BC) of the school of Ionian philosophers; he described the results of his scientific researches in an influential poem, On Nature. Anaximander was a student of Thales of Miletus (c. 625-547 BC), the earliest philosopher whose writings are known today. However, none of what survives of Thales’s work demonstrates the interest in biology shown by his pupil. Anaximander’s students and disciples, and later others, continued to research and expand their views on the natural world.
The earliest known comprehensive study of birds dates from the writings of Aristotle (384-322 BC). He was a disciple of Plato (429-347 BC), who in turn had been a disciple of Socrates (c. 469-399 BC), demonstrating the succession of important philosophers who maintained and developed the ancient traditions, while also taking them in new directions. Tutor to Alexander the Great (356-323 BC), Aristotle spent several years travelling and living in various places before he settled in Athens. These travels provided him with opportunities to make observations that later found their way into his writings. In his On the History of Animals, he presented the results of his attempts to study all animal life known to him, supplying many details, notably about their external appearance, internal structure and habits. He also attempted the first classification of birds. He used two main systematic categories, the genos, a large group, and the eidos, the individual animal forms, roughly equivalent to the modern terms of order and species. The genos Ornithes was divided into five smaller groups: 1. Gamsonyches (birds of prey); 2. Steganopodes (swimming birds); 3. Peristeroides (pigeons and doves); 4. Apodes (swifts, swallows and martins); 5. all others not included in the four divisions. With the exception of the swallows and martins, all passerines were lumped together, along with forms such as woodpeckers. In spite of his detailed work, many of the 170 kinds of bird he listed remain unidentifiable.
Although Aristotle’s works greatly influenced his successors and followers, later Greek philosophers moved away from studying nature in such detail. Eventually Aristotle’s works were virtually forgotten and a focus on developing a workable classification system moved to the world of Ancient Rome where summarizing knowledge in an encyclopaedic form was well established. Gaius Plinius Secundus (AD 23-79), better known as Pliny the Elder, followed this trend and amassed everything he could into a series of 37 “books” collectively entitled Historia Naturalis. Birds were covered in the tenth book, where he placed great importance on the structure of the feet as the basis of his arrangement, but his texts were a disorderly collection of information, with details from folklore, magic and superstition mingled amongst general information, including personal observations. Recipes and medical cures also featured in early works covering birds and, along with everything else, such details were repeated for centuries.
This compendium, generally unreliable from a zoological perspective, was very influential on the writings of the later Roman and early Christian times. In fact, for almost 1500 years, Pliny’s encyclopaedia, in particular, was highly regarded and it was copied, extracted and adapted over the centuries. However, in other areas Pliny’s work was only one of various sources used, and only when they could be reconciled with Christian morality. Around the year 370 Christian teachers, most probably based in Alexandria, sought religious significance in bird and animal stories to present allegories supporting the doctrines of the Scriptures. The resulting compilation from Greek, Egyptian and Jewish sources, marrying natural history with moral theology, was known as the Physiologus, and it was widely translated. In the meantime, other allegorical works appeared, which were collectively known as Bestiaries. With some updating from time to time, these were the sources for information on animals through the period known in Europe as the Dark Ages.
The philosophical differences between religious doctrine and scientific thought continued in the Eastern Roman Empire, where the Emperor Justinian I (483-565) decided in 529 to close all Greek schools in order to suppress competition with those of the Christian church. This movement against secular learning spread. In Spain, Isidore (570-636), Bishop of Seville preserved what he could from the censorship of ideas contrary to Christian teaching in an encyclopaedic work where classical learning could serve the needs of the students of the church. The result was Etymologiae sive origines, or simply the Etymologia. Birds were treated in Chapter 7 of his Book XII on animals. For birds he established the term “aves” because birds travelled by pathless ways or roads (viae). Misinformation dominates the chapter, showing the deterioration of knowledge of the natural world after several centuries.
Aristotle had not been completely forgotten, and Severinus Boethius (480-524), a keen collector of Greek documents, was the first to translate some of his writings into Latin, but this had little influence. Scholars in Syria, beginning with Porphyry (233 - c. 304), had also extensively translated and commented on his works, and by the period 800-1100, most of Aristotle’s works had been translated into Arabic. The Arab scholars were mainly based in Baghdad, where Greek science and philosophy were widely studied. The two best known translators around this time, who also put their own interpretations on his works, were Avicenna (980-1037) and, particularly, Averroes (1126-1198), who lived in Spain, then occupied by Moslems, after their invasion in the eighth century.
The Aristotle that became influential in European universities of the time owed much to the philosophical views of Averroes. Around 1230 the polyglot scholar Michael Scot (1175-1232) travelled to Spain, where he could read Aristotle in the original Arabic of both Averroes and Avicenna. He subsequently translated Averroes’s work into Latin. Frederick II of Hohenstaufen (1194-1250) was keenly interested in birds and invited Scot to his court to share his knowledge of Aristotle. Frederick found Aristotle’s Historia Animalium to be inadequate when compared to his own knowledge of birds, which he put in a book, De arte venandi cum avibus. It was much more than just a book on hunting with birds, as it also included a classification of birds based on ecology and diet. This enlightened work was well ahead of its time. However, it was ignored by the ecclesiastical naturalists of the period because of Frederick’s excommunication by the Pope. Although a version was eventually printed as late as in 1596, its value to ornithology only began to be appreciated in 1788. A complete version, based on all available sources, finally appeared only 60 years ago (Wood & Fyfe 1943).
The re-emergence of Aristotle continued when two Dominicans rediscovered his work and wrote commentaries. Albert von Bollstädt (1193-1280), better known as Albertus Magnus, a teacher of theology, used Scot’s translation and later wrote commentaries on it in De Animalibus, between 1260 and 1270 (first printed in 1478). His disciple, Thomas de Cantimpré (c. 1210-1293) had already done this in De Natura Rerum, between 1233 and 1248. A century later, De Natura Rerum gained wider circulation when selected parts of it were translated into German by Conrad von Megenberg (c. 1309-1374) as Das Buch der Natur, first published, with wood cuts, in 1475. These works originated as attempts to separate philosophy and theology in understanding the natural world, but they still carried much misinformation. Times were slowly changing, however, and even Albertus and later scholars of the period, notably William of Occam (1270-1347), were able to reconcile natural and church philosophies so that Aristotle could stand as a representation of the views of the church.
The spread of what became known as the Renaissance movement began in the fifteenth century, through the effects of several major events. Those of significance to the classification of birds included: the exile of Greek scholars in Europe, from as early as about 1430 but particularly after the fall of Constantinople in 1453; the invention of printing; and, later, the discovery of the New World. One Greek scholar, Theodorus Gaza, brought Aristotle’s works with him and as early as 1476 published in Latin the Libri de Animalibus, with a Greek edition appearing in 1495. Printing made books widely available, with the ancient texts and knowledge reaching a much broader readership. The beginnings of extensive global exploration provided new insights for understanding the diversity of the natural world.
It was at this point in history that the man later called the Father of Ornithology appeared. William Turner (c. 1500-1568) was a widely travelled naturalist both in his native England and in Europe, often not by choice but because of religious differences. He turned his interest in philology to classical natural history and sought to make an accurate interpretation of the names in the works of Aristotle and Pliny, publishing his results in his little book Avium præcipuarum, quarum apud Plinium et Aristotelem mentio est, brevis et succincta historia (1544). He also included many of his own extensive observations, making it the first bird book treated in a scientific spirit. In his lifetime, he published 31 books on plants and animals, all praised for their accuracy, and indeed he is also known as the Father of English Botany (Mullens 1908a). Turner concluded his studies by hoping that a new Aristotle would emerge to revise and update what was known about natural history. He did not have long to wait.
Conrad Gessner (1516-1565), based in Switzerland, was a great assembler and organizer of information. He was assisted in his work by several correspondents, including Turner, whose work he greatly admired. Birds were covered in the third volume of his Historia Animalium (1555), popularized by reprintings, in Germany in particular, for over a century. In this work he discussed and illustrated 217 different birds, including those of mythology, even though he did not believe they existed, but because he thought it would be of interest to the public. Gessner’s work has been credited as representing the starting point of modern zoology. His earlier bibliographical studies have given him the name of the Father of Bibliography, and he also wrote an account of 130 known languages, with the Lord’s Prayer given in 22 of them. He was also perhaps the first person to collect natural history objects and house them in a museum. As classification was poorly understood, he decided to present his encyclopaedic coverage of birds alphabetically. He died when plague ravaged his home city of Zurich.
Pierre Belon (1517-1564) travelled widely in Greece, Asia Minor, Egypt and Arabia, and wrote a popular account of his travels, including natural history (1553). He lived in various parts of Europe, as he was dependent on patronage. All these travels allowed him to embellish his reworking of the old authors in L’histoire de la nature des oyseaux, avec leurs descriptions, et naifs portraicts, retirez du naturel (1555). Although his work was generally ignored in his day due to the dominance of Gessner’s publications - indeed he had been accused of plagiarism, even though his book appeared in the same year - it was well regarded by later writers. His classification was derived from Aristotle and Pliny. Like them, he separated birds on ecological and morphological principles into raptors, waterfowl with webfeet, fissiped marsh birds (including kingfishers and bee-eaters), terrestrial birds, large arboreal birds and small arboreal birds (including swallows). His book was also important for his attempts to understand anatomy, including a comparison of a human and a bird skeleton. In addition to his work on birds, Belon wrote on fish, and he was a keen botanist, with an interest in establishing exotic plant species in France, to which end he helped establish two botanical gardens. He was working on a book on plants when he was murdered one night while walking to his home in Paris.
Ulisse Aldrovandi (1522-1605) had contributed to Gessner’s work but wanted to outdo him, and produced his encyclopaedic Ornithologia (1599-1603) in three volumes. In his youth he had been imprisoned as a heretic, as indeed for various reasons had Gessner, Belon and Coiter; in later life Aldrovandi taught botany. His first book was a treatise on drugs, which was to be of great use to later works on pharmacy, but ornithology was his main interest. The compilation, begun in the 1560s, was the most comprehensive of its kind up to that time. He criticized Gessner for using an alphabetical arrangement, and proceeded to follow a classification based on Aristotle. Birds were grouped by having a hard and powerful beak (raptors, parrots, ravens, woodpeckers, treecreepers, bee-eaters and crossbills); those that bathe only in dust or in dust and water (pigeons and buntings); songbirds (finches, larks and canaries); waterfowl; and shorebirds. As he put everything he could find into his work, including plagiarizing Gessner and Belon, its real value was sometimes considered to belong in the earlier works of those authors. He was also criticized for including few of his own observations. However his work was judged, it was popular in its day and was continued for other animal groups after his death in his native Bologna, Italy, by several of his faithful students.
Volcher Coiter (1534-1576), born in the Netherlands but spending his working life in Italy and Germany, was the first person to base a classification of birds on structure instead of function. He devised a natural system following the guidelines of Aristotle and Pliny, based on morphology, in De avium sceletis et praecipuis musculis (1575). The section of this work entitled De differentiis avium contained the first diagram showing the relationships of birds. It also summarized his knowledge of the anatomy of birds in an interpretive way, resembling a key, or perhaps something approaching a cladogram (see Allen 1951a, 1951b). Although like Pliny he used form (i.e. morphology) with divisions based on the characters of the feet, his observations in the text demonstrate their relationships to function. His subdivisions followed the shape of the claw and the placement of the toes. No matter how it is viewed, his tabulation represents the beginnings of an attempt to derive a natural classification of birds based on morphology. In this way he anticipated the ideal “natural system” envisaged nearly 200 years later by Linnaeus – who had been influenced by the better-known attempt at a morphological classification a century later by Willughby and Ray.
Caspar Schwenckfeld (1563-1609), in Germany, was a follower of Aristotle and the works of Gessner and Aldrovandi, and made useful observations on the biology of birds. He is the author of the first regional bird list, in Aviarium Silesiae, the fourth volume of his Theriotropheum Silesiae (1603). He provided useful details of about 150 species found in his district, making a valuable early contribution to ornithology. He tried to classify birds according to their habitat, mobility, foot structure, food and colour, but finding these criteria unsatisfactory, he followed Gessner’s alphabetical arrangement. His inclusion of unreliable material from Gessner and Aldrovandi with his original observations represented a trend continued by some later writers.
John Jonston (or Johnstone), also Johannes Johnstonus (1603-1675), a Pole of Scottish descent, produced a compilation on birds from Aldrovandi and other earlier writers, but with nothing original, in his Historiae naturalis de avibus (1650). Its value was in its illustrations, mostly reworking those of Gessner and Aldrovandi but also adding some new ones. It became popular and was widely distributed, translated, printed and used for over a century, last appearing in 1773. Arguably one of the least reliable or original books of the first flowering of modern ornithology became the most popular.
Christopher Merrett (1614-1695) provided the first printed list of British birds, Aves Britannicae, in his Pinax rerum naturalium Britannicarum (1666, reprinted in 1667 because most copies were destroyed in the Great Fire of London). This was later considered by some to be a poor work by an author with little field experience. In classifying the birds, he mostly based his identifications on Aldrovandi and Jonston. Mullens (1908c) reviewed the list of 165 birds, demonstrating Merrett’s attempt to link his identifications with earlier works rather than using his own observations. Even at this late date the bat was still listed amongst birds! Around this time and later in Britain a number of local and county natural histories also appeared. Although such compilations had an earlier history dating back in printed form to at least 1486, their coverage of birds was incidental before Merrett compiled his list (Mullens 1908d). The only one that sought to provide some detail was that of Richard Carew (1555-1620) in his The Survey of Cornwall of 1602 (Mullens 1908b).
Walter Charleton (1619-1707), in his Onomasticon zoicon (1668, revised 1671), sought to provide a systematic classification of all birds. For familiar birds, he based it on Aldrovandi, with two main divisions, of waterbirds and landbirds. Waterbirds were further divided into palmipeds, fissipeds (fish-eaters and insect-eaters) and plant-eaters. Landbirds were further divided into meat-eaters (including bats!), seed-eaters (dust-bathing, dust- and water-bathing, and singing), berry-eaters, and insect-eaters (non-singing and singing). Passerines, like other groups, are scattered amongst these divisions, though mostly in the landbirds. When Charleton had to consider unfamiliar, exotic birds he put them in an appendix under either “Terrestres” or “Aquaticae”. This was the last serious attempt to classify birds following Aristotelian principles. A new system was needed and it was soon to appear.
Francis Willughby (1635-1672) and John Ray (1627-1705), both English clergymen, met at Cambridge, where they developed a plan to record and describe all animals and plants according to their own natural philosophy of the world. Willughby worked most intensively on birds and insects, as well as other animals, and Ray principally on plants. They travelled widely together in Britain and Europe, collecting and recording all they could find. Willughby’s early death from pleurisy left his works unfinished, but he had made financial arrangements for Ray in his will, allowing Ray to edit and publish them (Raven 1942). The Latin Ornithologiae appeared in 1676, followed by a revised edition in English, The Ornithology of Francis Willughby, in 1678. Although the amount of Ray’s contribution to this work has been disputed, the final results obviously benefited from their close collaboration (Mullens 1909b). However the issue is interpreted, this important book founded the beginnings of scientific ornithology. It not only summarized material from older works, with an attempt to separate fact from fiction, but also included much new information; although the main focus was on descriptions of plumage and structure, some details of habits were added. To present this summary of ornithology, a strictly morphological classification was devised, based on beak form, foot structure, and body size. The triumph of form over function, already seen in the then little known work of Coiter, finally replaced the confusion of earlier attempts at creating a natural system of birds. The groupings of species began to resemble bird families recognized today. For example, amongst the passerines, finches, thrushes and crows were placed together.
Ray prepared a new summary of birds in the 1690s but it was still unpublished at the time of his death. As before, new information from the results of recent voyages and travels was added. Two notable collections used were those of Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753) from Jamaica (1687-1689) and of Paul Hermann (1640-1695) from India and Ceylon (1672-1680). After Ray’s death, the manuscript was revised by his friend William Derham (1657-1735), who expanded Ray’s coverage of exotic birds by appending a manuscript on the birds of Madras, Avium Maderaspatanarum, the first regional list of Indian birds, which had been passed on to him by James Petiver (1663-1718). At the time, Petiver maintained one of the earliest natural history collections in England and corresponded with potential collectors for both illustrations and specimens of plants and animals. One was Georg Joseph Camel (1661-1706), a Jesuit based in Manila, whose interest in birds resulted in his Observationes de Avibus Philippensibus (1703), the earliest regional paper on Asian birds. The Madras list, from an Edward Buckley, was also incorporated by Derham into Ray’s glossary of foreign bird names and is notable for passerines as the source of the name “pitta”, a local name for “bird”, but subsequently associated with the members of the family Pittidae. This revised summary of The Ornithology appeared in the Synopsis Methodica Avium & Piscium (1713). The original folio of just over 300 pages had been reduced to an octavo, but with additions it still extended to 200 pages. While the natural system of Willughby and Ray was not received favourably by all at the time, it was the most comprehensive and complete of its kind then and for at least another 50 years. It also became an important influence on Linnaeus when he applied his natural system to birds; indeed, he did not improve on it overall.
Johann Ferdinand Adam von Pernau (1660-1731) was interested in the comparative behaviour of birds. He had been influenced by the studies of Schwenkfeld in devising a classification system of birds based on behaviour, but he recognized more categories, and he confined the results of his ideas to his own observations. While he may not have had much success with classification from a systematic perspective, his research produced other valuable results such as the discovery of territory in birds, instinctive behaviour, such as feeding at the nest and why birds migrate, and remarks on the role and meaning of bird song. He elaborated his ideas in his Unterricht, Was mit dem lieblichen Geschöpff, denen Vögeln, auch ausser dem Fang, nur durch Ergründung deren Eigenschafften und Zahmmachung oder anderer Abrichtung man sich vor Lust und Zeitvertreib machen könne (1707, revised 1716, supplement 1720). However, interest in bird behaviour as opposed to systematics, i.e. popular vs scientific ornithology, diverged for about 200 years before the importance of the interrelationships of these aspects of ornithological study was fully appreciated (Fisher 1954; Davis 1994).
Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), or von Linné from 1761, disappointed his family by refusing to join the clergy, and he eventually studied medicine in Uppsala, Sweden, but with a great interest in botany. In 1735, after adventurous travels in Lapland, he went to the Netherlands to further his studies. He was already interested in devising a new system of classification and soon found inspiration from the many natural-history collections he saw there. He also inspired interest in his system, with its sequence of Classis, Ordo, Genus, Species and Varietas, and was sponsored for the publication of the first edition of his Systema Naturae (1735), then only consisting of several large sheets. His hierarchical concept of categories of relationship was the real improvement on Willughby and Ray, who had used Genus in the sense of Aristotle so that it was interchangeable with the refined Linnaean categories from Class to Genus. Over the next 20 years, inspired by the work of friends and the fame generated by the appearance of his simple but useful method, he developed and refined his natural system. By the sixth edition of Systema Naturae (1748), the diagnoses of genera and species were much improved. The real inspiration of Linnaeus was developing a simple but workable system, and this was its great appeal. For birds he recognized six orders, using the beak and foot as points of reference: 1. Accipitres (birds of prey, owls, parrots); 2. Picae (woodpeckers, hornbills, cuckoos, hoopoes, and also crows and crow-like birds); 3. Anseres (swimming birds); 4. Scolopaces (fissiped waterfowl); 5. Gallinae (ratites, pheasants, bustards and coots); 6. Passeres (all other passerines, but also pigeons, hummingbirds, etc.). The old division of landbirds and waterbirds was gone. The system as we know it today was finally published in the 1750s.
To some naturalists and zoologists in the mid-eighteenth century the attraction of the Linnaean system was not so much his classification as his strict methodology, which could be varied and played with. Also at this time, several large works illustrating birds in colour but in no particular system became popular. Prominent amongst these were the Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands (1731-1743) by Mark Catesby (1682-1749), the first major work on North American birds, and A Natural History of Birds (1743-1751) by George Edwards (1694-1773), both authors enjoying the patronage of Sir Hans Sloane (Feduccia 1985; Mason 1992; McBurney 1997). Pierre Barrère (1690-1755) combined these developments by offering a confusing system in his Ornithologiæ specimen novum…in classes, genera et species, nova methoda, digesta (1745). His approach, mixing large and small birds, worked well as a method for fitting different-sized birds into cabinets! Others, like Barrère, using Linnaeus as the point of reference, could produce different results, such as the Historiae avium prodromus by Jacob Theodor Klein (1685-1759) in 1750, and Avium genera by Paul Heinrich Gerhard Möhring (1710-1792) in 1752, but these publications did not detract from the progress of Linnaeus. Also, collections were increasing in importance (Mearns & Mearns 1998), most famously that of Sir Hans Sloane, willed to the nation on his death in 1753 and forming the genesis of the British Museum, first opened in 1759 (Stearn 1981; MacGregor 1994). The search for a natural system was gaining pace and seemed to be in sight at last.
of the Birds of the World
The Handbook of the Birds of the World (HBW) is a multi-volume series produced by the Spanish publishing house Lynx Edicions. It is the first handbook to cover every living species of bird. The series is edited by Josep del Hoyo, Andrew Elliott, Jordi Sargatal and David A Christie. So far, 13 volumes have been produced. New volumes appear at annual intervals, and the series is expected to be complete with volume 16 by 2011. When Volume 16 is published, for the first time an animal class will have all the species illustrated and treated in detail in a single work. This has not been done before for any other group in the Animal Kingdom.
Material in each volume is grouped first by family, with an introductory article on each family; this is followed by individual species accounts (taxonomy, subspecies and distribution, descriptive notes, habitat, food and feeding, breeding, movements, status and conservation, bibliography). In addition, all volumes except the first and second contain an essay on a particular ornithological theme. More than 200 renowned specialists and 35 illustrators from more than 40 countries have contributed to the project up to now, as well as 834 photographers from all over the world.
Since the first volume appeared in 1992, the series has received various international awards. The first volume was selected as Bird Book of the Year by the magazines Birdwatch and British Birds, and the fifth volume was recognised as Outstanding Academic Title by Choice Magazine, the American Library Association magazine. The seventh volume, as well as being named Bird Book of the Year by Birdwatch and British Birds, also received the distinction of Best Bird Reference Book in the 2002 WorldTwitch Book Awards. This same distinction was also awarded to Volume 8 a year later in 2003. Individual volumes are large, 32 cm by 25 cm, and weighing between 4-4.6 kg; it has been commented in a review that "fork-lift truck book" would be a better title.
As a complement to the Handbook of the Birds of the World and with the ultimate goal of disseminating knowledge about the world's avifauna, in 2002 Lynx Edicions started the Internet Bird Collection (IBC). It is a free-access, on-line audiovisual library of footage of the world's birds with the aim of posting videos showing a variety of biological aspects (e.g. subspecies, plumages, feeding, breeding, etc.) for every species. It is a non-profit endeavour fuelled by material from more than one hundred contributors from around the world. The IBC currently holds over 32,400 videos representing more than 5,900 species and new material is added daily.
Volume 1: Ostrich to Ducks
Volume 2: New World Vultures to Guineafowl
Volume 3: Hoatzin to Auks
Volume 4: Sandgrouse to Cuckoos
Volume 5: Barn-Owls to Hummingbirds
Volume 6: Mousebirds to Hornbills
Volume 7: Jacamars to Woodpeckers
Volume 8: Broadbills to Tapaculos
Volume 9: Cotingas to Pipits And Wagtails
Volume 10: Cuckoo-Shrikes to Thrushes
Volume 11: Old World Flycatchers to Old World Warblers
Volume 12: Picathartes to Tits and Chickadees
Volume 13: Penduline-tits to Shrikes
Volume 14: Bush-shrikes to Old World Sparrows