This watercolour of the Rufous Bristlebird, Dasyornis broadbentii by Neville William Cayley depicts an adult feeding its young.

This species was first described by Sir Frederick McCoy in the Annals of Natural History in 1867, where he named the species Sphenura broadbenti, Rufous Bristle Bird, in honour of the collector Kendall Broadbent who had presented the specimen to Museum Victoria. Broadbent had "shot it in December 1858 in dense scrub twenty-four miles from Portland Bay in south-western Victoria."

McCoy sent the specimen to Gould, who published the first illustration of the species in the Supplement to the Birds of Australia. Gould acknowledged: 'My thanks are by hereby tended to Professor M'Coy and the Governors of the National Museum at Melbourne, for their liberality in sending to London, for my use, the only specimen of this bird which has as yet been discovered, and which I consider to be one of the most important and interesting species that the colony of Victoria has unfolded to us..."

"My Plate, which represents the bird in two positions, will enable ornithologists, both in Australia and elsewhere, to form a just conception of this rare avis. Many other new species of birds will doubtless yet come to light when the dense scrubby portions of Australia are more closely investigated than they have yet been. Many peculiar physical features characterize that great southern land; and each has to be closely searched before we can gain a complete knowledge of its inhabitants."

This watercolour of the species was used in the next stage of that growing knowledge. In 1936 H.M. Whittell Cayley, published a review of the species and this watercolour accompanied the article in Emu, The journal of the Royal Australasian Ornithologist Union. Cayley was perhaps best known for his field guide to Australian birds, What Bird is That? (1931) which featured full colour illustrations.

Description of Content

Rufous Bristlebird

More Information