Du Cane Godman, Monograph of the Petrels

Frederick Du Cane Godman.  A Monograph of the Petrels (Order Tubinares). 


This was the last major, completed work to which Keulemans contributed illustrations in his lifetime.  It was issued in five parts over a period of three years, and only 225 copies were produced.  Witherby & Co. of London published Monograph of the Petrels, and the firm of Hanhart oversaw production of nearly all of its 106 folio-sized plates.  (The plates were numbered 1--103, and nos. 5, 98, and 102 were each afforded a second plate, "A").  Keulemans was not the artist for four of these:  89, 91, 98A, 102A.  Plates that were issued by the firm of Mintern are noted here by an asterisk.


The arrangement followed that of Osbert Salvin (1835--1898) in Catalogue of the Birds in the British Museum, vol. XXV.  Salvin had intended to create the monograph following publication of the Catalogue, but the writing of such a work had been only minimally completed at the time of his death, and it was Du Cane Godman who later took it upon himself the task of finishing it. 


The Order Tubinares was divided into four families, the largest of which being the fulmars and shearwaters (Puffinidae), followed in numbers by the storm-petrels (Procellariidae), the albatrosses (Diomedeidae), and the diving petrels (Pelecanoididae).  Shortly thereafter this arrangement changed, and this is reflected in the list of Howard and Moore (A Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World, second ed., Academic Press), with the order being designated the Procellariiformes, the fulmars and shearwaters being called Procellariidae, and the storm-petrels bearing the name Hydrobatidae, a designation once used to describe the dippers of the family Cinclidae, as well as the diving-petrels of the family Pelecanoididae.  Another recent revision by Sibley and Monroe (Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World, Yale University Press) united all families into one, Procellariidae, sequentially last in the order Ciconiiformes.

This group of oceanic birds is characterized by having a tube-like projection above the beak which is used as a filter while feeding.  This projection is positioned laterally among the albatrosses.  The terms for members of the family of the present Procellariidae (fulmar, petrel) have been used invariably for different species and genera.  They have two joint tubes on their beaks, whereas in the Hydrobatidae there is only one.  The term "storm-petrel" is merely an appellation without any bearing to members of the latter family other than that in Britain, in previous centuries, the Procellaria [Hydrobates] pelagica was often found beached during or after storms.  The diving-petrels of the family Pelecanoididae represent a family that is a southern, austral parallel to the auks of the family Alcidae and are characterized by tubes which open upward and are suited for diving underwater.  


The ornithologists who studied the order of Tubinares, and the illustrators who figured them, were not particularly familiar with them as living birds, and the great amount of the literature on the subject, running well into the past century, is derived from their examination of study skins.  

This is reflected in the plates themselves.  Members of this order establish breeding colonies on isolated, remote islands, but otherwise spend the greater part of their lives at sea, in flight or coasting along oceanic waves.  Their legs are weak and are positioned back further than on most birds, which gives them advantages while in flight and in water.  With the exception of the albatrosses (Diomedeidae) and petrels of the genus Macronectes, they can only assume an upright position on their legs momentarily, and while on land can only move about by crawling or waddling (or by running short distances as is best characterized in the background figure of pl. 58 (Oestrelata [Pterodroma] hypoleuca) and pl. 33 (Puffinus persicus)), though some of the other petrels have been frequently observed in an upright position (Pagodroma, Priofinus [Procellaria] cinereus).  A tree or upright rock is often used as a necessary means of assuming take-off when leaving land.  Some of the plates in Godman's Monograph (pls. 1, 5A, 10, 11, 12, 15, 19, 23, 28, 33 (background figure), 35, 36, 38, 43, 45, 46, 48, 54, 56, 58 (foreground figure), 60, 62, 66, 67, 68, 72, 75, 81)  may be construed as inaccurate in the sense that it is suggested that these birds typically assume an upright position, and one which is assumed for periods of time.

Further, most petrels fly with their wings outstreched, and this belies another criticism of the plates, as many are depicted, in the background detail, with their wings held above the body (pls. 21, 23, 32, 35, 36, 38, 43, 53, 54, 56, 60, 67, 68, 71, 81).  By the time of Mathews (Birds of Australia, pls. 88, 91), several years after Godman's Monograph, these discrepancies appear to have been remedied.  Many of the smaller-winged storm petrels often flutter with wings held over their bodies.

Ultimately, the prepared plates, as proofs, required approval from the respective authors of the books in which they appeared before printing.

34 images of plates are available here, four of which are black/white copies from colored images.


The parts were issued as follows:

1 (1907) (pls. 1--19);

2--3  (1908)  2 (pls. 20--39);  3 (pls. 40--66);

(1909) (pls. 67--84);

(1910) (pls. 85--103)


This exhibit of is featured on two webpages, with a link provided below to access the second page.





5A  Oceanodroma macrodactyla.

 p. 18

 The plate for this petrel (which was found on the island of Guadalupe off the coast of Mexico but is now extinct), does not show the diagnostic feature which separates it from the similar form leucorhoa--the underwing coverts are lighter in tone and, unlike that of leucorhoa, are in contrast with the darkly-colored primaries.


10  Oceanodroma hornbyi.

 p. 36



12  Oceanites oceanicus.

p. 41



53  Oestrelata (Pterodroma) incerta.

p. 195 




58  Oestrelata (Pterodroma) hypoleuca. 

p. 212 

 ((partly cropped))




62  Oestrelata (Pterodroma) externa.

p. 221 




71  Oestrelata (Pterodroma) cooki.

 p. 247


54  Oestrelata (Pterodroma) mollis.

((b/w copy from colored image))

 p. 197


66  Oestrelata (Pterodroma) trinitatis.

((image partly obscured; b/w copy from colored image))

p. 232 



 90  Diomedea regia.

 p. 319




Additional pictures are available through this link--