Natural history

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"Chattering Bee Eater"

Artist: Watling, Thomas
Created: [Between 1792 and 1797]
Dimensions: 16.7 x 17.4 cm
Reference: Watling Drawing - no. 175


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Bird in profile, facing to the left, perched on a branch with two leaves against a plain background. The bird is mottled brown to grey with a paler breast, a yellow patch behind the eye, and another on the wing. The drawing is framed by a pencil border and annotated in ink and pencil.


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  • Thomas Watling]
  • It is annotated in ink at bottom "One half of the Natural size.".
  • The drawing is signed beneath the bird's tail "T.Watling. delt.", but is undated.
  • The drawing is inscribed in ink at top right with the number "96.", and in pencil at top left "96". This refers to the catalogue list compiled by John Latham c. 1801 which was acquired with the drawings, and is filed with them at the end of the Watling Drawings series.
  • The drawing is annotated in pencil at top centre "Chattering Bee Eater Sup 2-154". This has been copied in ink at bottom, "Chattering Bee eater Latham Syn Suppt. 2.p.154". The page reference is to Latham's Second Supplement to the General Synopsis of Birds (1802).
  • The drawing is annotated on the reverse in faded brown ink, but the drawing has evidently been cropped and some of the text lost. The full text appears on a separate label which is attached to the mount below the drawing.
  • This bird was more recently identified as the Noisy Miner, Myzantha melanocephala in Hindwood K. A. (1970). (ITIS gives Manorina melanocephala as the preferred taxonomic name for the Noisy Miner.
  • A separate sheet mounted beneath the drawing measures 7.1 x 21.7 cm. It is annotated in pencil at top "Chattering Bee eater Sup. 2 - 154", and at top right, in ink underlined in blue pencil, with the number "96." (see notes above). It is inscribed beneath this in ink, "This chattering Bird often gives notice to the Kangaroo when the Sportsmen are after them. _ It is pretty numerous, and always at War with others of the feathered Kind _ The yellow behind the Eye is bare of Feathers, and has just the appearance of yellow Morocco Leather _ The general likeness is good_".
  • A separate label mounted alongside the drawing is inscribed in pencil "Type garrula. GM.".
  • The author of this catalogue record is Suzanne Stenning.
  • By permission of the trustees of the Natural History Museum (London)
  • Two sets of transparencies held in the Natural History Museum (London) Zoology Library and Picture Library: Picture Library reference number 12175
  • James Lee of Kensington : purchased ; 1902
  • Data sheet available
  • Latham, John. Supplement II to the General Synopsis of Birds. London: Leigh, Sotheby, 1802.
  • Hindwood K. A. 'The "Watling" drawings with incidental notes on the "Lambert" and the "Latham" drawings', Proceedings of the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales for the years 1968-69 (1970).