Nicholas Aylward Vigors

Nicholas Aylward Vigors (1785 – 26 October 1840) was an Irish zoologist and politician. He popularized the classification of birds on the basis of the quinarian system.

Toucan by Nicholas Aylward Vigors 1831
Painting, oil on canvas, of a toucan by Vigors, 1831

Early life

Vigors was born at Old Leighlin, County Carlow. He studied at Trinity College, Oxford. He served in the army during the Peninsular War from 1809 to 1811. He then returned to Oxford, graduating in 1815. He practiced as a barrister and became a Doctor of Civil Law in 1832.[1]


Sabine's Snipe woodcut Bewick's British Birds 1847
Vigors described the "Sabine's snipe", shown here in a woodcut from Bewick's British Birds, in 1825.[2]

Vigors was a co-founder of the Zoological Society of London in 1826, and its first secretary until 1833. In that year, he founded what became the Royal Entomological Society of London. He was a fellow of the Linnean Society and the Royal Society. He was the author of 40 papers, mostly on ornithology. He described 110 species of birds, enough to rank him among the top 30 bird authors historically. He provided the text for John Gould's A Century of Birds from the Himalaya Mountains (1830–32).

One bird that he described was "Sabine's snipe". This was treated as a common snipe by Barrett-Hamilton in 1895[3] and by Meinertzhagen in 1926, but was thought to be probably a Wilson's snipe in 1945. Vigors lent a skin for later editions of Thomas Bewick's History of British Birds.[4]


Vigors succeeded to his father's estate in 1828. He was MP for the borough of Carlow from 1832 until 1835. He briefly represented the constituency of County Carlow in 1835. Vigors had been elected in a by-election in June after the Conservative MPs originally returned at the 1835 United Kingdom general election were unseated on petition and a new writ issued. On 19 August 1835 Vigors and his running mate, in the two member county constituency, were unseated on petition. The same two Conservatives who had previously been unseated were awarded the seats. On the death of one of them, Vigors won the subsequent by-election in 1837 and retained the seat until his own death.


  1. ^ Nicholas Aylward Vigors M.P. (1786-1840) by Brother P. J, Kavanagh, M.A., Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects
  2. ^ Vigors, NA (May 1825). "XXVI. A Description of a new Species of Scolopax lately discovered in the British Islands: with Observations on the Anas glocitans of Pallas, and a Description of the Female of that Species". Transactions of the Linnean Society of London. 14 (3): 556–562. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.1823.tb00102.x.
  3. ^ Barrett-Hamilton, GEH (January 1895). "Sabine's Snipe. Gallinago Coelestis, var. Sabinii". The Irish Naturalist. 4 (1): 12–17. JSTOR 25584879.
  4. ^ "General Notes" (PDF). The Wilson Bulletin. 57 (1): 75–76. March 1945.


  • Webb, Alfred (1878). "Vigors, Nicholas Aylward" . A Compendium of Irish Biography. Dublin: M. H. Gill & son – via Wikisource.
  • Kavanagh, P. J. (1983). "Nicholas Aylward Vigors, MP, 1786-1840". Carloviana: [Journal of the Old Carlow Society]. 30: 15–19.
  • Parliamentary Election Results in Ireland, 1801-1922, edited by B.M. Walker (Royal Irish Academy 1978)

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Lord Tullamore
Member of Parliament for Carlow
Succeeded by
Francis Bruen
Preceded by
Henry Bruen
Thomas Kavanagh
Member of Parliament for County Carlow
With: Alexander Raphael
Succeeded by
Thomas Kavanagh
Henry Bruen
Preceded by
Thomas Kavanagh
Henry Bruen
Member of Parliament for County Carlow
With: Alexander Raphael
Succeeded by
Thomas Kavanagh
Henry Bruen
Professional and academic associations
New institution Secretary of the Zoological Society of London
Succeeded by
Edward Turner Bennett

The Anserinae are a subfamily in the waterfowl family Anatidae. It includes the swans and true geese. Under alternative systematical concepts (see e.g., Terres & NAS, 1991), it is split into two subfamilies, the Anserinae contain the geese and the ducks, while the Cygninae contain the swans.

Asian thrush

The Asian thrushes are medium-sized mostly insectivorous or omnivorous birds in the genus Zoothera of the thrush family, Turdidae. The genus name Zoothera comes from the Ancient Greek zoon, "animal" and theras, "hunter".Two New World species traditionally regarded as Zoothera; (varied thrush and Aztec thrush) actually belong elsewhere in the thrush family. A group containing Siberian thrush and the African species is not closely related to the other Zoothera and are now assigned to the genus Geokichla.

Black-headed jay

The black-headed jay or lanceolated jay (Garrulus lanceolatus) is roughly the same size as its close relative the Eurasian jay, but a little more slender overall except for the bill which is slightly shorter and thicker. The top of the head is black and it has a more obvious crest too and a longer tail.

It ranges from eastern Afghanistan eastwards, across the Himalayas, from India to Nepal and Bhutan. It occurs in wooded country with large areas of open ground rather than dense forest. It also occurs in some cultivated areas and even near villages as long as there are enough trees and scrubland nearby.

It feeds both on the ground and in trees, and takes virtually the same wide range of plant and animal foods as its close relative, including eggs and nestlings, as well as scraps near human habitation.

It nests in trees and suitable bushes and in this resembles the Eurasian jay in every respect. There are usually 3–5 eggs incubated over 16 days. Both parents feed the young.

The voice is very similar to its close relative too and is most often a loud screech but with longer pauses between.

Black turnstone

The black turnstone (Arenaria melanocephala) is a species of small wading bird. It is one of two species of turnstone in the genus Arenaria the ruddy turnstone (A. interpres) being the other. It is now classified in the sandpiper family, Scolopacidae, but was formerly sometimes placed in the plover family, Charadriidae. It is native to the west coast of North America and breeds only in Alaska.

Blue-winged kookaburra

The blue-winged kookaburra (Dacelo leachii) is a large species of kingfisher native to northern Australia and southern New Guinea.

Measuring around 40 cm (16 in), it is slightly smaller than the more familiar laughing kookaburra. It has cream-coloured upper- and underparts barred with brownish markings. It has blue wings and brown shoulders and blue rump. It is sexually dimorphic, with a blue tail in the male, and a rufous tail with blackish bars in the female.


Cossypha are small insectivorous birds, with most species called robin-chats. They were formerly in the thrush family Turdidae, but are now more often treated as part of the Old World flycatcher Muscicapidae.

These are African woodland dwelling species, but some have become adapted to sites around human habitation.

The name Cossypha for the genus was introduced by the Irish zoologist Nicholas Aylward Vigors in 1825. The word comes from the Classical Greek kossuphos for a blackbird or thrush.The genus contains the following species:

Mountain robin-chat, Cossypha isabellae

Archer's ground robin, Cossypha archeri

Olive-flanked ground robin, Cossypha anomala

Cape robin-chat, Cossypha caffra

White-throated robin-chat, Cossypha humeralis

Angolan cave chat, Cossypha ansorgei

Grey-winged robin-chat, Cossypha polioptera

Blue-shouldered robin-chat, Cossypha cyanocampter

Rüppell's robin-chat, Cossypha semirufa

White-browed robin-chat, Cossypha heuglini

Red-capped robin-chat, Cossypha natalensis

Chorister robin-chat, Cossypha dichroa

White-headed robin-chat, Cossypha heinrichi

Snowy-crowned robin-chat, Cossypha niveicapilla

White-crowned robin-chat, Cossypha albicapilla


The cuckooshrikes and allies in the family Campephagidae are small to medium-sized passerine bird species found in the subtropical and tropical Africa, Asia and Australasia. The roughly 86 species are found in eight (or nine) genera which comprise five distinct groups, the 'true' cuckooshrikes (Campephaga, Coracina, Celebesica, Ceblepyris, Edolisoma, Lobotos, Pteropodocys and Campochaera) the trillers (Lalage), the minivets (Pericrocotus), the flycatcher-shrikes (Hemipus) comprise a total of 316 taxa. The woodshrikes (Tephrodornis) were often considered to be in this family but are probably better placed in their own family, Tephrodornithidae, along with the philentomas and the flycatcher-shrikes. Another genus, Chlamydochaera, which has one species, the black-breasted fruithunter, was often placed in this family but has now been shown to be a thrush (Turdidae).


Fantails are small insectivorous birds of Australasia, Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent belonging to the genus Rhipidura in the family Rhipiduridae. Most of the species are about 15 to 18 cm long, specialist aerial feeders, and named as "fantails", but the Australian willie wagtail is a little larger, and, though still an expert hunter of insects on the wing, concentrates equally on terrestrial prey.

The true wagtails are part of the genus Motacilla in the family Motacillidae and are not close relatives of the fantails.


Grouse are a group of birds from the order Galliformes, in the family Phasianidae. Grouse are frequently assigned to the subfamily Tetraoninae (sometimes Tetraonidae), a classification supported by mitochondrial DNA sequence studies, and applied by the American Ornithologists' Union, ITIS, and others. Grouse inhabit temperate and subarctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere, from pine forests to moorland and mountainside, from 83°N (rock ptarmigan in northern Greenland) to 28°N (Attwater's prairie chicken in Texas).


The honeyeaters are a large and diverse family, Meliphagidae, of small to medium-sized birds. The family includes the Australian chats, myzomelas, friarbirds, wattlebirds, miners and melidectes. They are most common in Australia and New Guinea, but also found in New Zealand, the Pacific islands as far east as Samoa and Tonga, and the islands to the north and west of New Guinea known as Wallacea. Bali, on the other side of the Wallace Line, has a single species.In total there are 187 species in 50 genera, roughly half of them native to Australia, many of the remainder occupying New Guinea. With their closest relatives, the Maluridae (Australian fairy-wrens), Pardalotidae (pardalotes), and Acanthizidae (thornbills, Australian warblers, scrubwrens, etc.), they comprise the superfamily Meliphagoidea and originated early in the evolutionary history of the oscine passerine radiation. Although honeyeaters look and behave very much like other nectar-feeding passerines around the world (such as the sunbirds and flowerpeckers), they are unrelated, and the similarities are the consequence of convergent evolution.

The extent of the evolutionary partnership between honeyeaters and Australasian flowering plants is unknown, but probably substantial. A great many Australian plants are fertilised by honeyeaters, particularly the Proteaceae, Myrtaceae, and Ericaceae. It is known that the honeyeaters are important in New Zealand as well, and assumed that the same applies in other areas.


The ibisbill (Ibidorhyncha struthersii) is a bird related to the waders, but sufficiently distinctive to merit its own family Ibidorhynchidae. It is grey with a white belly, red legs and long down-curved bill, and a black face and black breast band. It occurs on the shingle riverbanks of the high plateau of central Asia and the Himalayas.


Icterids make up a family (Icteridae) of small- to medium-sized, often colorful, New-World passerine birds. Most species have black as a predominant plumage color, often enlivened by yellow, orange or red. The species in the family vary widely in size, shape, behavior and coloration. The name, meaning "jaundiced ones" (from the prominent yellow feathers of many species) comes from the Ancient Greek ikteros via the Latin ictericus. This group includes the New World blackbirds, New World orioles, the bobolink, meadowlarks, grackles, cowbirds, oropendolas and caciques.

Despite the similar names, the first groups are only distantly related to the Old World common blackbird (a thrush) or the Old World orioles.

Icteridae is not to be confused with Icteriidae, a family created in 2017 and consisting of one species (the yellow-breasted chat).


The jacamars are a family, Galbulidae, of near passerine birds from tropical South and Central America, extending up to Mexico. The family contains five genera and 18 species. The family is closely related to the puffbirds, another Neotropical family, and the two families are often separated into their own order, Galbuliformes, separate from the Piciformes. They are principally birds of low-altitude woodlands and forests, and particularly of forest edge and canopy.

Major Mitchell's cockatoo

The Major Mitchell's cockatoo (Lophochroa leadbeateri), also known as Leadbeater's cockatoo or pink cockatoo, is a medium-sized cockatoo restricted to arid and semi-arid inland areas of Australia. It is here placed in its own monotypic genus Lophochroa, though to include it in Cacatua as others do is not wrong as long as the corellas are also included there. They are also a type of cockatoo.

Old World oriole

The Old World orioles (Oriolidae) are an Old World family of passerine birds.


The ostriches are a family, Struthionidae, of flightless birds. The two extant species of ostrich are the common ostrich and Somali ostrich, both in the genus Struthio, which also contains several species known from Holocene fossils such as the Asian ostrich. The common ostrich is the more widespread of the two living species, and is the largest living bird species. Other ostriches are also among the largest bird species ever.

Ostriches first appeared during the Miocene epoch, though various Paleocene, Eocene, and Oligocene fossils may also belong to the family. Ostriches are classified in the ratite group of birds, all extant species of which are flightless, including the kiwis, emus, and rheas. Traditionally, the order Struthioniformes contained all the ratites. However, recent genetic analysis has found that the group is not monophyletic, as it is paraphyletic with respect to the tinamous, so the ostriches are classified as the only members of the order.


Owlet-nightjars are small crepuscular birds related to the nightjars and frogmouths. Most are native to New Guinea, but some species extend to Australia, the Moluccas, and New Caledonia. A flightless species from New Zealand is extinct. There is a single monotypic family Aegothelidae with the genus Aegotheles.

Owlet-nightjars are insectivores which hunt mostly in the air but sometimes on the ground; their soft plumage is a cryptic mixture of browns and paler shades, they have fairly small, weak feet (but larger and stronger than those of a frogmouth or a nightjar), a tiny bill that opens extraordinarily wide, surrounded by prominent whiskers. The wings are short, with 10 primaries and about 11 secondaries; the tail long and rounded.


The todies are a family, Todidae, of tiny Caribbean birds in the order Coraciiformes, which also includes the kingfishers, bee-eaters and rollers. The family has one living genus, Todus, and one genus known from the fossil record, Palaeotodus.


Zosterops (meaning "eye-girdle") is a genus of passerine birds containing the typical white-eyes in the white-eye family Zosteropidae. The genus has the largest number of species in the white-eye family. They occur in the Afrotropic ecoregion, the Indomalaya zone, and the Australasia ecozone. Typical white-eyes have a length of between 8 and 15 cm (3.1 and 5.9 in). Their most characteristic feature is a conspicuous white feather ring around the eye, though some species lack it. The species in this group vary in the structural adaptations of the tongue. The Zosterops [griseotinctus] group is an example of a "great speciator" inhabiting a vast area and showing a remarkable morphological differentiation on islands, some of which maybe as close as 2 km (1.2 mi) apart.


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