RECORD: S66. Wallace, A. R. 1862. Letters [dated 20 September 1861, Batavia]. Ibis 4 (13): 95-96.

REVISION HISTORY: Body text helpfully provided by Charles H. Smith from his Alfred Russel Wallace Page

[page] 95

Mr. Wallace's last letters are dated from Batavia, Sept. 20th. After leaving Timor, of which island Mr. Wallace has given us an account in our last Number ('Ibis,' 1861, p. 347 et seq.), he proceeded to Bourou, and staid there two months. "From the existence of the Babirusa in this island," says Mr. Wallace, "I had been somewhat doubtful whether its fauna would not prove more Celebesian than Moluccan. I was soon, however, satisfied that it is a true Moluccan island, though a very poor one. Most of the common Amboyna and Ceram forms occurred, some absolutely identical, others sufficiently modified to be characterized as distinct species. The Tanygnathus, Polychlorus, Eclectus, Geoffroius, Eos, and Trichoglossus, as well as the Aprosmictus, occur as in Ceram, the Tanygnathus being the only one which varies from the type, wanting the black markings on the wings. Lorius is altogether absent, as well as Corvus, Buceros, and Cacatua, genera which are present in every other island from Celebes eastwards. This deficiency does not rest alone on the fact of my not having met with them, though that would be pretty good proof, they being all ubiquitous and noisy birds, but on the universal testimony of the natives, many of whom know all these birds from their visits to other islands, and are quite sure that their own country is destitute of them.

"The Flycatchers (3-4 sp.) seem new, as well as a very common Mimeta, near M. forsteni of Ceram, and a Tropidorhynchus—I suppose the T. buruensis, Q. & G., though in Bonaparte's 'Conspectus' that species is given to Celebes, where I never found the genus. The Pigeons are mostly known species, except a fine Treron with very brilliant yellow-marked wings; and I heard of other species of the same group occasionally met with. A single specimen of Tanysiptera seems different from the Ceram species; and a Pitta, near P. macklotti and P. celebensis, but sufficiently distinct, is also unique. I was much surprised to find, besides the Ptilonopus viridis of Amboyna, the beautiful P. prasinorrhous, G. R. Gray, which I had first discovered in Ké, then found in Goram, afterwards in Waigiou, and I think there can

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be no doubt it is also found in Ceram; but birds seem so thinly scattered over that large island, that it would take years to acquire a proper knowledge of its ornithology.

"At Bouru I shot a Glareola—the first time I have met with the genus. I found Coleoptera and grubs in its stomach. Its sternum shows it to be a true Wader, though a most curious and abnormal form.

"The Cassowary is absent from Bouru, and from every Moluccan island except Ceram; yet I had been positively assured it was common in Bouru. The error has arisen thus. The people of the little island of Bonoa, at the west end of Ceram, often get young Cassowaries from the main island to bring up. The traders of Cayeli in Bouru buy these, and then take them to Amboyna for sale, often in company with young Babirusas. This happened when I was there. Of course the Amboyna merchants purchasing these animals from Bouru residents, and having no reason for hunting up their pedigree, take it for granted that Cassowaries and Babirusas are found wild in Bouru."

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Citation: John van Wyhe, ed. 2012-. Wallace Online. (

File last updated 26 September, 2012