Buteo capensis Temminck & Schlegel, 1844: 16
Original description.— As a preface to their description of Buteo japonicus in von Siebold’s ‘Fauna Japonica’, Temminck & Schlegel gave an overview of several species of the genus Buteo. In this context they applied the name Buteo capensis to the buzzards from the Cap (= S Africa, or Cape Province, S Africa), referring to Shaw’s “Falco tachardus”, Levaillant’s “le Tachard”, and for the adult birds to “le Rougri”. The last was listed under Buteo buteo vulpinus (Gloger, 1833) by Sharpe (1874). The original description of B. capensis is rather short. Temminck & Schlegel characterised it as slightly smaller but very similar to “Buteo vulgaris” and added “son plumage tire fortement au roux â l’age” (its plumage is becoming strongly red with age).
Type specimens.— In his first catalogue of “Buteones” in the Leiden collection, Schlegel (1862: 6) listed two specimens which fit as types of Buteo capensis. Both are still available:
RMNH 87194, Ad. ♂, mounted skin. Loc.: “Afrique australe”, Kaap [= Cape, South Africa]. Ex: J. Verreaux.
RMNH 87195, Ad. ♂, mounted skin. Loc.: Kneisna, Cap, [= Knysna, South Africa]. Ex: J. Verreaux.
Both were collected in South Africa and sent to Leiden by Jules Pierre Verreaux. No exact data are given. Nevertheless, Schlegel (1862: 6) linked them to the “voyage de J. Verreaux”. J.P. Verreaux (1807-1873), one of the two brothers of “Maison Verreaux” in Paris, worked in South Africa twice (1818-1821, 1825-1838), where he collected animals. Delivery lists and letters in the archives of Naturalis in Leiden reveal purchases of birds from the Cape starting after his return to Paris in 1838. Thus, both specimens could have been available to Temminck & Schlegel in 1844. Additionally, the inscription on the underside of the socle of RMNH 87194 refers to “le Rougri” and gives “Kaap” (Cape) as locality. Also under the socle RMNH 87195 is said to be a “jong” (young) bird and is identified as tachardus.
Taxonomy.— RMNH 87194 is identified as an adult male of Buteo buteo vulpinus, collected in its wintering area in South Africa. Identification of RMNH 87195 is more difficult. In addition to B. b. vulpinus another identity, B. oreophilus trizonatus Rudebeck, 1957, must be considered.
Several works focused on specific separation of Buteo buteo and B. oreophilus and the morphological details needed to distinguish B. b. vulpinus and B. o. trizonatus in southern Africa, e.g. by Rudebeck (1958); Siegfried & Frost (1973); Ferguson-Lees & Christie (2001); Hockey et al. (2005) and Clark (2007). From details given there, RMNH 87195 is identified: the proportionately broad subterminal band on the tail characterizes the specimen as an adult bird (in immatures all bars are of equal size; e.g. Siegfried & Frost, 1973). Wing length (338 mm), tail (163 mm) and tarsus (69 mm) characterize it as a male (see Ferguson-Lees & Christie, 2001; Hockey et al., 2005), but the broad overlap of measurements between trizonatus and vulpinus (Rudebeck, 1958; Hockey et al., 2005) does not allow for identification on that basis. However, the breast of RMNH 87195 is blotched rufous as in trizonatus and not streaked as in vulpinus (see Siegfried & Frost, 1973) and the broad pale “U” band separating breast and belly is also in accordance with trizonatus (see photos in Clark, 2007). Additionally, the rufous flanks, rufous feathered tarsi and rufous edged feathers on the back support the identification of RMNH 87195 as an adult male of Buteo oreophilus trizonatus, which substantiates previous investigations of this specimen (A. James, on label, ix.1982).
Nomenclatural consequences.— Consequently, the type series is composed of two taxa, Buteo buteo vulpinus (Gloger, 1833) and Buteo oreophilus trizonatus Rudbeck, 1957 and a decision has to be made as to which bird the name Buteo capensis Temminck & Schlegel, 1844 has to be applied. Temminck & Schlegel explicitly mentioned the rufous (or “red”) plumage of an adult bird. This is only shown by one of the two type specimens. The name should therefore be fixed to RMNH 87194, an adult male of Buteo b. vulpinus. This decision maintains current applicability of the nomenclature and provides stability in the usage of the well-accepted but younger name B. o. trizonatus Rudbeck, 1957.
In accordance with Art. 74.7 of the International Code for Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN, 1999) we hereby designate as lectotype of Buteo capensis Temminck & Schlegel, 1844: RMNH 87194, Ad. ♂, mounted skin. Loc.: “Afrique australe”, Kaap [= Cape Province, South Africa]. Ex: J. Verreaux.
Following Art. 74.1.3 (ICZN, 1999) the second specimen of the type series becomes the paralectotype: RMNH 87195, Ad. ♂, mounted skin. Loc.: Kneisna, Cape, [Knysna, South Africa]. Ex: J. Verreaux. [= Buteo oreophilus trizonatus].