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montgomery-account-muttonbird-1891.pdf (699.17 kB)

Some account of the mutton birds, or Sooty petrels (Nectris brevicaudus), as seen in their homes among the Furneaux Islands, Bass Straits, Tasmania, from notes taken during a visit to the locality in March, 1891.

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-11-22, 09:04 authored by Henry Hutchinson Montgomery
My duties called me last March to undertake a trip to the Furneaux Islands. Before I started I was aware that one of the most interesting subjects for an ornithologist in that part of the colony would be the habits of the mutton bird.
But the reality so far surpassed my expectations that I have ventured to lay before the Society some results of my observations.
Mr. J. B. Walker has shown me allusions to the subject in old books of travel. Mr. Barnard has been good enough to furnish me with the second volume of the Tasmanian Journal, in which a short but excellent account is given of the habits of the sooty petrel, or mutton bird, by Mr. R. H. Davies. As the paper was written 45 years ago it may be worth while putting on record what I now propose to lay before you. These petrels choose islands where the soil is composed of a loose sand, covered in places by a bush with a blue flower called " barilla," where they congregate for the purpose of digging the holes in which they lay their eggs. I have heard of a rookery in Port Davey : and among the Hunters Islands they breed on Trefoil, Sheephead, Doughboys, and the Petrels. On the northern coast there used to be large numbers on Waterhouse Island, until the pigs kept by Mr. Barrett found them out, and destroyed such vast quantities that the birds deserted the place, and now there are just a few which are carefully preserved.
In the Furneaux group they used to breed in much greater numbers than at present, and I venture to hope that the chief effect of this paper may be a timely movement by the Government to save from almost utter destruction an industry which adds distinctly to the wealth of the colony, and supplies a healthy article of food.
Rt. Rev. Henry Hutchinson Montgomery, DD, KCMG, (1847-1932), Bishop of Tasmania - In 1889 he was chosen as fourth bishop of Tasmania.
Montgomery published many papers and books ranging from impassioned pleas for the protection of mutton-birds (which gave him the nickname of the "Mutton bird Bishop") to biographies of eminent ecclesiastics, reflections on mission work, visions of the Church, old age and personal joy.

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Publication title

Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania

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1-10

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In 1843 the Horticultural and Botanical Society of Van Diemen's Land was founded and became the Royal Society of Van Diemen's Land for Horticulture, Botany, and the Advancement of Science in 1844. In 1855 its name changed to Royal Society of Tasmania for Horticulture, Botany, and the Advancement of Science. In 1911 the name was shortened to Royal Society of Tasmania..

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