John Nevin and Gould’s white goshawk


The following short article appeared in the Hobart Mercury, 22 January 1874. “Mr. Nevin” may have been the photographer Thomas Nevin, but it is more likely to have been Thomas’ father John Nevin, given the somewhat frequent mentions in the press in these years to his encounters with the wildlife at Kangaroo Valley, Hobart. The wording is somewhat ambiguous: was the bird wounded by Mr Nevin, or was it already wounded when he found it and subsequently showed it at the newspaper office?

Mr. Nevin’s wounded WHITE HAWK from Kangaroo Valley
Published in the Mercury, 22 January 1874.


WHITE HAWK.- We were yesterday shown a fine specimen of this bird wounded in Kangaroo Valley by Mr. Nevin. The bird is the common White Hawk (Leucospiza Novae Hollandiae) of this colony and Australia, and is well figured in Gould’s large work on Australian Birds under the name of Astur Novae Hollandiae. Gould was formerly of opinion that the White Hawk was merely an albino variety of the New Holland Goshawk, but in his more recent work the “Handbook of Birds of Australia,” he has placed it under the genus Leucospiza. This hawk is by no means rare.

Gould’s Birds of Australia  
This first plate is Sp. 14 from Gould’s Birds of Australia (1848), mentioned in the article.

Gould's white goshawk

Sp. 14
Astur novae-hollandiae
Accipiter novaehollandiae
New Holland Goshawk
White Goshawk

This second plate is Sp. 15, mentioned in the Mercury article with reference to Gould’s HANDBOOK to THE BIRDS OF AUSTRALIA, Vol. 2, published in 1865. The full text is quoted below, from page 38 (see pages 37-39 for both):

Gould's white goshawk albino

Sp. 15
Astur novae-hollandiae(albino)
Accipiter novaehollandiae
White Goshawk

Full text, pp 37-39, HANDBOOK to THE BIRDS OF AUSTRALIA, Vol. 2, by John Gould, 1865


White Goshawk.
Lacteous Eagle, Lath. Gen. Hist., vol. i. p. 216.
Astur Nova-Hullaiidia, Vig. & Horsf. in Linn. Trans., vol. xv. p. 179.
Astur albus, Jard. & Selb. 111. Orn., vol. i. pl. 1.
Falco Nova-Hollandia, Lath. Ind. Orn., vol. i. p. 16.
Fnlco albus, Shaw, in White’s Voy., pl. at p. 260.
Sparvius niveus, Vieill. Nouv. Diet. d’Hist. Nat., tom. x. p. 338.
Uiedalion candidum, Less. Traite d’Orn., p. 66.
Astur (Leucusjnza) Nov. ffoll., Kaup, Class. der Saug. und Vug., p. 119.
New Holland White Eagle, Lath. Gen. Syn., vol. i. p. 40.
Goo-loo-bee, Aborigines of New South Wales (Latham).
White Hawk of the Colonists.
Astur Novse-Hollandise, albino, Gould, Birds of Australia, fol., vol. i. pL15. This species has perplexed ornithologists more, perhaps, than any other member of the Raptorial Order—the point at issue being whether it be distinct or merely an albino variety of the Astur Rail. I have seen both birds in a state of nature, and critically examined numerous examples after death with regard to size, admeasurement, &c.; Slid, except in colouring, I found no difference whatever between the beautiful snow- white bird and the grey-backed individuals so frequently shot in the brushes of the eastern parts of Australia. Mr. Ronald C. Gunn and the Rev. T. J. Ewing, of Tasmania, however, incline to believe them distinct, and, in support of this opinion, call attention to the fact that none but white birds have been found in that island; but while I admit this to be true, I do not fail to recollect that- the most lovely individual I ever shot in Tasmania had fiery-red irides; still it is only fair to state they were not pink as in albinoes, and that most frequently the irides are bright yellow; the colouring of those organs therefore is evidently inconstant, and not to be depended upon as a characteristic. We know little or nothing of the nidification of either of the birds: could it be ascertained that the grey-backed and the white individuals mate with each other, they should be considered as identical; but until then it will be better, perhaps, to keep them distinct. Cuvier has hazarded the opinion that the white bird is an albino variety which has become permanent, and that they have the power of perpetuating their white vesture. I think Professor Kaup is right in proposing a new generic title for this form, differing as it does both in structure and habits from the true Asturs, of which the A. palumbariiis is the type.
The sexes differ very considerably in size, the male being scarcely more than two-thirds the size of the female.
The whole of the plumage pure white; cere and legs yellow ; bill and claws black.

[End of transcript.]

Brief biography of John Gould (1804-1881)

1804 Born September 14 in the small fishing town of Lyme Regis on the Dorset coast, as the son of a gardener.
1818 Gould’s father appointed a foreman in the Gardens of Windsor Castle; Gould and his family move to Windsor. Gould follows in his father’s trade and learns egg blowing and taxidermy.
1822 Works as a gardener at Ripley Castle in Yorkshire.
1824 Moves to London and works as a taxidermist.
1827 Appointed Curator and Preserver to the museum of the recently formed Zoological Society of London.
1829 Marries Elizabeth Coxen (1804-1841). Elizabeth lithographs Gould’s sketches of birds.
1832 A Century of Birds from the Himalaya Mountains completed.
1835 A Monograph of the Ramphastidae, or Family of Toucans completed.
1836 Charles Darwin returns to England. Darwin and Gould discover that the 13 species of the Galapagos finches have beaks of different sizes. Later this discovery would lead to Darwin’s theory of evolution.
1837 The Birds of Europe completed.
1838 The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle (5 vols.) begins publication under the editorship of Charles Darwin. 55 bird plates by John and Elizabeth Gould were included in volume 3. The Goulds leave England for a 27-month trip to Australia in order to gather specimens. Enjoys the support and hospitality of Lieut-Governor and Governess Sir John and Lady Franklin. A Monograph of the Trogonidae, or Family of Trogons completed.
1841 Elizabeth dies. Henry Constantine Richter (1821-1902) joins Gould. Richter would continue to work devotedly for Gould for 40 years, contributing to more than 1000 plates.
1848 The Birds of Australia completed.
1850 A Monograph of the Odontophorinae, or Partridges of America completed.
1851 William Hart (1830-1908) joins Gould.
1861 A Monograph of the Trochilidae, or Family of Humming-birds completed.
1873 The Birds of Great Britain completed.
1881 John Gould dies. Following his death, Dr. Bowlder-Sharp supervised the completion of Gould’s works.
1883 The Birds of Asia completed.
1887 The Birds of Australia, Supplement.
A Monograph of the Trochilidae, Supplement.
1888 The Birds of New Guinea and the adjacent Papuan Islands completed.

Source: Tamagawa Gakuen 2002

The white hawk in Tasmania today
Source: The Mercury 6 February 2009

February 06, 2009 04:00am

ITS status as a threatened species was not enough to protect a white goshawk found injured at Brighton Racecourse.

It was taken to a nearby veterinary surgery on Tuesday, where X-rays showed it had a shotgun pellet in its chest. It is now in the care of Sandy Bay vet Dr James Harris, who expects it to make a full recovery.

The news of another shooting angered wildlife biologist Nick Mooney, who has been campaigning for the conservation of birds of prey for decades.

He said it was outrageous that people continued to shoot birds such as the white goshawk, a threatened species.

There are only 150 pairs of them in the state. They are the only pure white hawk in the world and shooting them carries a fine in excess of $15,000.

Mr Mooney called for people to be more tolerant of birds and seek help from authorities if they had problems.

The Department of Primary Industries and Water wildlife management branch biologist said people could report nuisance birds to his department.

“We still get dozens of birds of prey shot each year in Tasmania and we would have about half a dozen white goshawks shot each year,” he said.

“One major threat to this species is idiots shooting them . . . there’s absolutely no excuse for anyone to shoot one of these amazing birds.”

He said the number of birds being shot had fallen in recent years but was still too high.

It was fortunate the white goshawk shot at Brighton was not killed by a predator as it lay injured, he said.

Provided the bird’s wound did not become infected, it should recover well and he hoped it could be released back into the wild in several weeks.

Mr Mooney said his department had received no complaints about a nuisance goshawk at Brighton.

If his staff had, they could have helped landowners manage the situation, or even looked at relocating the bird if necessary.

Anyone wanting to report a nuisance bird of prey, or pass on information about birds being shot should call DPIW on 6233 6556

Source: Mercury 2009/02/06/ Article No. 53791

John Nevin snr (1808-1887)

John Nevin (1808-1887) soldier, poet, teacher and Wesleyan,
Photograph taken by his son Thomas Nevin ca. 1874.
Copyright © KLW NFC Imprint & Private Collection 2005

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