Orthonyx - Encyclopedia

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ORTHONYX, the scientific name given in 1820, by C. J. Temminck, to a little bird, which, from the straightness of its claws - a character somewhat exaggerated by him - its large feet and spiny tail, he judged to be generically distinct from any other form. The typical species, 0. spinicauda, is from southeastern Australia, where it is very local in its distribution, and strictly terrestrial in its habits. It is rather larger than a skylark, coloured above not unlike a hedge-sparrow. The wings are, however, barred with white, and the chin, throat and breast are in the male pure white, but of a bright reddishorange in the female. The remiges are very short, rounded and much incurved, showing a bird of weak flight. The rectrices are very broad, the shafts stiff, and towards the tip divested of barbs. 0. spaldingi from Queensland is of much greater size than the type, and with a jet-black plumage, the throat being white in the male and orange-rufous in the female.

Orthonyx is a semi-terrestrial bird of weak flight, building a domed nest on or near the ground. Insects and larvae are its chief food, and the males are described as performing dancing antics like those of the lyre-bird. Orthonyx belongs to the Oscines division of the Passeres and is placed in the family Timeliidae. (A. N.)

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