Original description of Lear\'s Macaw (Anodorhynchus leari)

by Prince Charles BONAPARTE in the Iconographie des Perroquets (1857-8)

This famous work entitled "Iconographie des perroquets, non figurés dans les publications de Levaillant et de Bourjot Saint-Hilaire" was produced by Charles de Souancé with the co-operation of Prince Bonaparte and Émile Blanchard. The former contributed the descriptions and the latter the illustrations. It constituted the fourth volume of the work "Histoire naturelle des perroquets,"the first two volumes being issued by Levaillant between 1801 and 1805, the third by Bourjot St. Hilaire in 1837-8. This fourth volume was originally intended to be published in 30 parts, but only 12 were produced. 

 Prince Charles Lucien Bonaparte was one of the most important and famous ornithologists of the 19th Century. Born in Paris in 1803, he was the nephew of Napoleon, but after his father, Lucien, had a disagreement with his older brother the following year in 1804, he took his family to live in Italy, where he had estates and was ennobled by the Pope in 1814 as Prince of Canino. His son, Charles, received at the same time the title of Prince of Musignano and on the death of his father in 1840 acquired his title as well.

Prince Charles Bonaparte's interest in ornithology began in his teens. In 1823 he travelled to America and lived for four years on an estate near Philadelphia. In 1825 he produced the first volume of American Ornithology. In 1826 he returned to Europe to study material in museums in London and Frankfurt. In 1828 on returning to Philadelphia he produced the second and third volumes of American Ornithology. He then brought his family back to Italy and settled in Rome. However in addition to his scientific work he became involved in politics and had to leave Italy in 1849. Also banned from visiting France, he spent time in Scotland, England, Holland and Germany. Whilst in Holland in 1850 he started publishing his Conspectus generum avium, which was intended to include all known birds.

Towards the end of 1850 the French government lifted its ban and he went to live in Paris. He continued to travel throughout Europe and in 1855 published the second volume of Conspectus generum avium. However from 1850 he suffered ill health and in 1857 he died in Paris aged 54. His great work was left uncompleted as was the Iconographie des Perroquets. The original text of the description of the Lear's Macaw in Iconographie des Perroquets (1857-8) is as follows:-

                                                                 ANODORHYNCHUS LEARI, Bp.

                                                                 L'ANODORHYNQUE DE LEAR

MACROCERCUS HYACINTHINUS, Vieill., Gal. des Ois., pl.24 (la figure); la description doit etre rapportée à l'Anodorhynchus glaucus., - Lear, Ill. of Psitt., pl.9

MACROCERCUS (CYANOPSITTA) GLAUCA, von Souancé, Rev. zool., 1856, p 56.

ANODORHYNCHUS LEARI, Bp. Consp. Psitt., 1856, sp. Musée de Paris

Cet oiseau, intermédiare entre l'Anodorhynque glauque et l'Anodorhynque hyacinthe, à la tête, la nuque et les parties inférieures d'un bleu glauque; les ailes, le croupion et la queue d'un beau bleu; le bec et les pieds noir. La teinte de son plumage le distingue de l'Anod. glauque, qui tend au vert de mer, et a les joues, la gorge et la poitrine lavées de noirâtre; et de l'Anod. hyacinthe, qui est entièrement d'un beau bleu violet intense; les parties nues de la face de notre espèce ont la même configuration que celles de l'Anod. glauque, mais le bec diffère de celui de cette espèce, parce qu'il est moins haut; et les doigts, de la même longueur que ceux dudit oiseau, sont beaucoup plus grêles.

Longueur, depuis l'extrémité du bec jusqu'à la base de la queue, 38 centimètres; aile 38 centimètres; bec, 50 millimètres; tarses 40 millimètres.

Sa provenance est inconnue.

Une grande confusion a régné jusqu'à présent entre les Aras à plumage entièrement bleu. L'A. glauque, d'abord distingué de               l'A. hyacinthe par Vieillot, fut plus tard considéré par ce naturaliste comme un simple variété de ce dernier, dont notre A.leari n'avait jamais été séparé. Depuis que nous avons signalé à l'attention des Ornithologistes l'individu du Musée de Paris, S.A Monseigneur le prince Charles Bonaparte en a vu un second exemplaire vivant au Jardin zoologique d'Anvers. Place à côté d'un magnifique Ara hyacinthe, qui provenait de la vente faite à Knowsley après la mort de lord Derby, la frâicheur du plumage de ces deux oiseaux faisait encore mieux ressortir la différence de coloration que nous avons signalé entre les deux espèces. Nous avons pensé utile de faire représenter l'Anodorhynque glauque sur la même planche, pour donner une idée exacte des teintes vertes de l'aile et du noir de la gorge qui le caractérisent.

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( If you drive out nature with a pitchfork, she will soon find a way back)

Horace (65-8 BC)