Distinguished Author


José Vicente Barbosa du Bocage

A Portuguese zoologist and politician. He was the curator of Zoology at the Museum of Natural History in Lisbon. His work at the Museum consisted in acquiring, describing and coordinating collections, many of which arrived from the Portuguese colonies in Africa, such as Angola, Mozambique, etc. He published more than 200 taxonomic papers on mammals, birds, and fishes. In the 1880s he became the Minister of the Navy and later the Minister for Foreign Affairs for Portugal. The zoology collection at the Lisbon Museum is called the Bocage Museum in his honor. He was responsible for identifying many new species, which he named according to the naturalist who found them.

Species of the week

Sociable lapwing

Vanellus gregarius

Vanellus gregarius

Some facts about this bird:

Head and body length: 27–30 cm.

Wingspan: 70–76 cm.

Weigth: 150–260 grams.

Habitat: Breeds in steppes. Prefers sandy short grass plains and meadows during non-breeding season.

Distribution: Breeds in northern and central Kazakhstan and south-central Russia.

Diet: Chiefly feeds on insects.

Surviving number: Estimated at 11,000.

Conservation status: Critically Endangered (IUCN 3.1)

First described: By the German zoologist and botanist Peter Simon Pallas in 1771 as Charadrius gregarius.

Vanellus gregarius is a well-traveled tourist. This bird's flight routes take it from the breeding grounds in the steppes of Kazakhstan and Russia to locations throughout the Middle East. It has even been found as far south as Sudan and as far east as India. The species is monogamous. A single clutch of usually four eggs per season are laid in an unlined depression on the ground. The eggs are then incubated for about 25 days. Illegal hunting and habitat loss made the sociable lapwing population decline by 70% in the 20th century.

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