Extinct Birds (Rothschild book)

Extinct Birds (complete title: Extinct birds: an attempt to unite in one volume a short account of Those Which birds have become extinct in historical times: that is, within the load six or seven hundred years: to Which are added a few Which nursing exist, but are on the verge of extinction ) is the work of British zoologist Walter Rothschild, which was published in 1907 in an edition of only 300 pieces in publishing Hutchinson and Co., London. Each copy is signed and registered by Rothschild personally.

The structure of the book is divided into three parts. The first part provides Rothschild in chronological order literature about extinct bird species from 1590 to 1907 before, including several works on the Dodo and studies on the extinct avifauna of the Mascarene Islands and New Zealand. In the main part are described on pages 238 Vogeltaxa, which have died out before and after the year 1500, hypothetical species whose existence is proved only by drawings or written records, but also extremely rare today invalid types. The 45 color illustrations and four black and white drawings in the illustrations come from John Gerrard Keulemans, George Edward Lodge, Henrik Grönvold, Frederick William Frohawk and Joseph Smit.

In subsequent works about extinct birds Rothschild's work was often cited. So Errol Fuller published in 1987 a book of the same in which he used illustrations from Extinct Birds and niece Miriam Rothschild wrote the foreword. Julian Pender Hume published in 2012 and Michael Walters also a book of the same, in which many called in Rothschild's book taxa are considered to be either doubtful or invalid.


In a review of the work in the journal The Auk from April 1907, the reviewer was disappointed. He criticized the fact that of the approximately 166 featured in the book birds only 76 species are described, which have died between the 17th and 19th centuries, while 90 species of birds are mentioned by the Mascarene Islands, Madagascar or New Zealand, the only subfossiles bone material of the last 700 years have been reported. Furthermore, it was objected that, for example, the Bermuda Petrel, a species about which there was no evidence from the 17th century and the 1950s, was not considered. Of the 45 illustrations some were criticized as not credible because, for example, the tail of Ara erythrura is described in the text as completely red on the illustration, however, a striking blue top is seen.