Touracou - Encyclopedia




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TOURACOU, the name, evidently already in use, under which in 1743 G. Edwards figured a pretty African bird,' and presumably that applied to it in Guinea, whence it had been brought alive. It is the Cuculus persa of Linnaeus, and Turacus (After Schlegel.) White-Crested Touracou (Turacus albicristatus). or Corythaix persa of later authors. Cuvier in 1799 or 1800 Latinized its native name (adopted in the meanwhile by both French and German writers) as above, for which barbarous term J. K. W. Illiger, in 1811, substituted a more classical word. In 1788 Isert described and figured (Beobacht. Gesellsch. naturf. Freunde, iii. 16-20, pl. 1) a bird, also from Guinea, which he called Musophaga violacea. Its affinity to the original Touracou was soon recognized, and both forms have been joined by modern systematists in the family Musophagidae, commonly Englished Plantain-eaters or Touracous.

To take first the Plantain-eaters proper, or the genus Musophaga, of which only two species are known. One, about the size of a crow, is comparatively common in museums, and has the horny base of its yellow bill prolonged backwards over the forehead in a kind of shield. The top of the head and the primaries, except their outer edge and tip, are deep crimson; a white streak extends behind the eye; and the rest of the plumage is glossy purple. The second species, M. rossae, which is rare, chiefly differs by wanting the white eye-streak. Then of the Touracous - the species originally described is about the size of a jay, and has the head, crest (which is vertically compressed and tipped with red), neck and breast of grass-green, varied by two white streaks - one, from the gape to the upper part of the crimson orbit, separated by a black patch from the other, which runs beneath and behind the eye. .The wing-coverts, lower part of the back, and tail are of steel-purple, the primaries deep crimson, edged and tipped with bluish black. Over a dozen other congeneric species, more or less resembling this, have been described, and all inhabit some district of Africa. One, found in the Cape Colony and Natal, where it is known as the "Lory" (cf. xv. 7, note I), though figured by Daubenton and others, was first differentiated in 1841 by Strickland (Ann. Nat. History, vii. 33) as Turacus albicristatus - its crest having a conspicuous white border, while the steel-purple of T. persa is replaced by a rich and glossy bluish green of no less beauty. In nearly all the species of this genus the nostrils are almost completely hidden by the frontal feathers; but there are two others in which, though closely allied, this is not the case, and some systematists would place them in a separate genus Gallirex; while another species, the giant of the family, has been moved into a third genus as Corythaeola cristata. This differs from any of the foregoing by the absence of the crimson coloration of the primaries, and seems to lead to another group, Schizorrhis, in which the plumage is of a still plainer type, and, moreover, the nostrils here are not only exposed but in the form of a slit, instead of being oval as in all the ' Apparently the first ornithologist to make the bird known was Albin, who figured it in 1738 from the life, yet badly, as "The Crown-bird of Mexico." He had doubtless been misinformed as to its proper country; but Touracous were called "Crown-birds" by the Europeans in West Africa, as witness Bosman's Description of the Coast of Guinea (2nd ed., 1721), p. 251, and W. Smith's Voyage to Guinea (1745), p. 149, though the name was also given to the crowned cranes, Balearica. rest. This genus contains about half-a-dozen species, one of which, S. concolor, is the Grey Touracou of the colonists in Natal, and is of an almost uniform slaty brown. A good deal has been written about these birds, which form the subject of a beautiful monograph - De Toerako's afgebeld en beschreven - by Schlegel and Westerman, brought out at Amsterdam in 1860; while further information is contained in an elaborate essay by Schalow (Journ. f. ornithologie, 1886, pp. 1-77). Still, much remains to be made known as to their distribution throughout Africa and their habits. They seem to be all fruit-eaters, and to frequent the highest trees, seldom coming to the ground. Very little can be confidently asserted as to their nidification, but at least one species of Schizorrhis is said to make a rough nest and therein lay three eggs of a pale blue colour. An extraordinary peculiarity attends the crimson coloration which adorns the primaries of so many of the Musophagidae. So long ago as 1818, Jules Verreaux observed (Prot. Zool. Society, 1871, p. 40) that in the case of T. albicristatus this beautiful hue vanishes on exposure to heavy rain and reappears only after some interval of time and when the feathers are dry.2 The Musophagidae form a distinct family, of which the Cuculidae are the nearest allies, the two being associated to form the Cuculine as compared with the Psittacine division of Cuculiform birds (see Bird and Parrot). C. Eyton pointed out (Ann. Nat. History, 3rd series, vol. ii. p. 458) a feature possessed in common by the latter and the Musophagidae, in the "process attached to the anterior edge of the ischium," which he likened to the so-called "marsupial" bones of Didelphian mammals. J. T. Reinhardt has also noticed (Vidensk. meddels. naturhist. forening, 1871, pp. 326-341) another Cuculine character offered by the os uncinaturn affixed to the lower side of the ethmoid in the Plantain-eaters and Touracous; but too much dependence must not be placed on that, since a similar structure is presented by the frigate-bird and the petrels (q.v.). A corresponding process seems also to be found in Trogon. The bill of nearly all the species of Musophagidae is curiously serrated or denticulated along the margin and the feet have the outer toe reversible, but usually directed backwards. No member of the family is found outside of the continental portion of the Ethiopian region. (A. N.) an old province in France, which stretched along both banks of the Loire in the neighbourhood of Tours, the river dividing it into Upper and Lower Touraine. It was bounded on the N. by Orleanais, W. by Anjou and Maine, S. by Poitou and E. by Berry, and it corresponded approximately to the modern department of Indre et Loire. Touraine took its name from the Turones, the tribe by which it was inhabited at the time of Caesar's conquest of Gaul. They were unwarlike, and offered practically no resistance to the invader, though they joined in the revolt of Vercingetorix in A.D. 52. The capital city, Caesarodunum, which was built on the site of the eastern part of the present city of Tours, was made by Valentinian the metropolis of the 3rd Lyonnaise, which included roughly the later provinces of Touraine, Brittany, Maine and Anjou. Christianity seems to have been introduced into Touraine not much earlier than the beginning of the 4th century, although tradition assigns St Gatien, the first bishop of Tours, to the 3rd. The most famous of its apostles was St Martin (fl. 375-400), who founded the abbey of Marmoutier, near Tours, and whose tomb in the city became a celebrated shrine. Tours was besieged by the Visigoths in 428, and though it offered a successful resistance on this occasion it was included fifty years later in the territory of the Visigoths. The Tourangeans refused to adopt the Arian heresy of their conquerors, and this difference in religion materially assisted in 507 the conquest of the province by Clovis, whose orthodoxy was guaranteed by the miraculous intervention of Martin. St Clotilda, wife of Clovis, spent the last years of her life in retreat at Tours. The possession of Touraine was constantly the subject of dispute between the Merovingian princes, and the province enjoyed no settled peace until the reign of Charlemagne. He established Alcuin as abbot of St Martin of Tours, and under his auspices the school of Tours became one of the chief seats of learning in The fact of this colouring matter being soluble in water was incidentally mentioned at a meeting of the Zoological Society of London by W. B. Tegetmeier, and brought to the notice of Professor A. H. Church, who, after experiment, published in 1868 (Student and Intellectual Observer, i. 161-168) an account of it as "Turacin, a new animal pigment containing copper." Further information on the subject was given by Monteiro (Chem. News, xxviii. 201; Quart. Journ. Science, 2nd series, vol. iv. p. 132). The property is possessed by the crimson feathers of all the birds of the family.

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the middle ages. In the 9th century Tours also became the ecclesiastical metropolis of Brittany, Maine and Anjou, and when the empire was divided by Louis the Pious into various districts or missatica, Tours was the centre of one of these, the boundaries of which corresponded roughly with those of the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the city. Touraine suffered from the invasions of the Northmen, who massacred the monks of Marmoutier in 853, but never pillaged Tours. The administration of Touraine was entrusted, from Merovingian times onward, to counts appointed by the crown. The office became hereditary in 940 or 941 with Thibault the Old or the "Tricheur." His son Odo I. was attacked by Fulk the Black, count of Anjou, and despoiled of part of his territory. His grandson Thibault III., who refused homage to Henry I., king of France, in 10 44, was entirely dispossessed by Geoffrey of Anjou, called the Hammer (d. 1060). The 7th count, Fulk (d. 1109), ruled both Anjou and Touraine, and the county of Touraine remained under the domination of the counts of Anjou (q.v.) until Henry II. of England deprived his brother Geoffrey of Touraine by force of arms. Henry II. carried out many improvements, but peace was destroyed by the revolt of his sons. Richard Coeur de Lion, in league with Philip Augustus, had seized Touraine, and after his death Arthur of Brittany was recognized as count. In 1204 it was united to the French crown, and its cession was formally acknowledged by King John at Chinon in 1214. Philip appointed Guillaume des Roches hereditary seneschal in 1204, but the dignity was ceded to the crown in 1312. Touraine was granted from time to time to princes of the blood as an appanage of the crown of France. In 1328 it was held by Jeanne of Burgundy, queen of France; by Philip, duke of Orleans, in 1344; and in 1360 it was made a peerage duchy on behalf of Philip the Bold, afterwards duke of Burgundy. It was the scene of dispute between Charles, afterwards Charles VII., and his mother, Isabel of Bavaria, who was helped by the Burgundians. After his expulsion from Paris by the English Charles spent much of his time in the châteaux of Touraine, although his seat of government was at Bourges. He bestowed the duchy successively on his wife Mary of Anjou, on Archibald Douglas an' on Louis III. of Anjou. It was the dower of Mary Stuart as the widow of Francis II. The last duke of Touraine was Francis, duke of Alencon, who died in 1584. Plessis-les-Tours had been the favourite residence of Louis XI., who granted many privileges to the town of Tours, and increased its prosperity by the establishment of the silk-weaving industry. The reformed religion numbered many adherents in Touraine, who suffered in the massacres following on the conspiracy of Amboise; and, though in 1562 the army of Conde pillaged the city of Tours, the marshal of St Andre reconquered Touraine for the Catholic party. Many Huguenots emigrated after the massacre of St Bartholomew, and after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes the silk industry, which had been mainly in the hands of the Huguenots, was almost destroyed. This migration was one of the prime causes of the extreme poverty of the province in the next century. At the Revolution the nobles of Touraine made a declaration expressing their sympathy with the ideas of liberty and fraternity. Among the many famous men who were born within its boundaries are Jean le Meingre Boucicaut, marshal of France, Beroalde de Verville, author of the Moyen de parvenir, Rabelais, Cardinal Richelieu, C. J. Avisseau, the potter (1796-1861), the novelist Balzac and the poet Alfred de Vigny.

See the quarterly publication of the Memoires of the Societe archeologique de Touraine (1842, &c.) which include a Dictionnaire geographique, historique et biographique (6 vols., 1878-1884), by J. X. Carre de Busserolle. There are histories of Touraine and its monuments by Chalmel (4 vols. Paris, 1828), by S. Bellanger (Paris, 1845), by Bourrasse (1858). See also Dupin de Saint Andre, Hist. du protestantisme en Touraine (Paris, 1885); T. A. Cook, Old Touraine (2 vols. London, 1892).

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