Ornithological Notes (Galapagos Mockingbirds)
Cambridge University Library DAR 29.2: 71r
Galapagos Ms p 71
Ornithology3189 « ⃫ Cop ⃫» Petrel. Callao. Bay.— Lima
3190 « ⃫ Cop ⃫» Petrel. Iquique. Peru
3191 « ⃫ Cop ⃫» Plover. near sea beach. do.
3204 « ⃫ Cop ⃫» Tyrannus.— Lima.—
The Archipel: of the Galapagos: end of Sept & part of Oct: 1835.
These islands are scattered over a space of ocean, included between 125 miles of Latitude & 140 of Longitude.
They are situated directly beneath the Equator «and» about 500 miles from the coast of S. America.
The constitution of the land is entirely Volcanic;
and the climate being extremely arid, the islands are «but» thinly clothed with nearly leafless, stunted
brushwoodt1 &t2 trees. On the windward side however. & at an elevation between one & two thousand
feet, the clouds fertilize the soil; & it there produces a green & tolerably luxuriant Vegetation.
In such favourable spots. & under so general a climate. I expected to have found swarms of various
insects; to my surprise, these were scarce to a degree, which I never remember to have
observed in any other such country. Probably these green Oases, bordered by arid land, & placed
in the midst of the sea, are effectually excluded from receiving any migratory colonists.
However this may arise, the scarcity of prey causes a like scarcity of insectivorous
birds & the green woods are scarcely tenanted by a single animal. The greater number
of birds haunt, and are adapted for, the dry & wretched looking thickets of the coast
land: here however a store of food is laid up. Annually. heavy torrents of rain at one
particular season fall; grasses and the other plants
Cambridge University Library DAR 29.2: 72r
Galapagos Ms p 72
Ornithology. Galapagosrapidly shoot up.— flower. & as rapidly disappear. The seeds however lie dormant, till the next year. buried in the cindery soil. Hence these Finches are in number of species & individuals far preponderant over any other family of birds. Amongst the species of this family, their reigns (to me) an inexplicable confusiont1. Of eackt2 kind, some are jet black, & from this by intermediate shades, to brown; the proportional number, in all the black kinds is exceedingly small; yet my series of specimens would go to show, that, that color is proper to the old cock birds alone.— On the other hand, Mr Bynoe &t3 Fuller assert, they have each a small Jet black bird of the female sex.— Moreover a gradation in form of the bill, appears to me to exist.—t4 There is no possibility of distinguishing the species by their habits, as they are all similar, & «they» feed together (also with doves) in large irregular flocks.— I should observe, that with respect to the probable age of the «smaller» birds, that in no case were any of the feathers imperfect, or bill soft. so as indicate immaturity, & on the «other» hand, in no
case — were the eggs in the ovarium of the hen birds much developed.—
I should suppose the season of incubation would be two or three months later.—
3296 Heron: female.— Sea . coast & salt lagoons.—
3297 « Cop ⃫ » 3298.t5 Caracara. (former male, latter young female) v. P. 42
3299. Duck: male: salt water lagoons: bill lead coloured.
« ⃫ Cop ⃫» base of upper mandible purple with black marks above.
3300 Bittern. Female
3301 do — do
3302 « ⃫ Cop ⃫» Tern. — F
3303 « ⃫Cop ⃫» Owl. — Male. Fuller has another species.—
⃫ analagous to Mr Blyth case ⃫t6
Cambridge University Library DAR 29.2: 73r
Galapagos Ms p 73
Ornithology — Galapagos3304 « ⃫ Cop ⃫» Gull: Male
3305 « ⃫ Cop ⃫» Dove: do: One of the most numerous birds in the Islands.
3306 « ⃫Cop ⃫» Thenca: Male: Charles Isd —
3307 « ⃫Cop ⃫» do: do: Chatham Isd.—
These birds are closely allied in appearance to the Thenca of Chile (2169) or Callandra of la Plata (1216).
In their habits I cannot point out a single difference;— They are lively inquisitive, active,
run fast, frequent houses to pick the meat of the Tortoise. which is hung up.— singt1 tolerably
well; are said to bu«i»ld a simple open nest.— are very tame, a character in common with «the» other
birds: I imagined however its note or cry was rather different from the Thenca of Chile?— Are very abundant, over the whole Island;t2
are chiefly tempted up into the high & damp parts, by the houses & cleared ground. I have specimens
from four of the larger Islands; the two above enumerated, and. (3349: female Albermalet3 «Isd»)
& (.3350: male: James Isd).— The Specimens from Chatham & Albermalet4 Isd appeart5
to be the same; but the other two are different. In each Isld. each.t6 kind is exclusively found: habits of all are indistinguishable.
When I recollect, the fact, that from the formt7 of the body, shape of scales & general size, the Spaniards can at once
pronounce, from which Island. any Tortoise may have been brought. When I see these Islands in sight of each other, & ‹but›
possessed of but a scanty stock of animals, tenantedt8 by these birds, but slightly differing in structure & filling the same place in
Nature, I must suspect they are only varieties. The only fact of a similar kind‹,› of which I am aware, is the constantt9
Cambridge University Library DAR 29.2: 74r
Galapagos Ms p 74
Ornithology — Galapagosasserted difference, between the wolf-liket1 Fox of East & West Falkland Isds.— If there the slightest foundation for these remarks
the zoology of Archipelagoes, will be well worth examining; for such facts «would» undermine the stability of Species
3308 « ⃫ Cop ⃫» Yellow breasted Tyrannus: Female: Chatham Isd: ‹Found in damp as›
3309 « ⃫ Cop ⃫» Scarlet do Male
3310 Wren Female
3312 Fringilla Male
3313 do. (Sex unknown)
3314 do. Female
3315 do. do V. Suprāt2
3316 do. Male
3317 do. Male
3318 do. Male
3319 do. Male
3320 (Icterus 3320: Male. jet black) (3321: 3322. Males)
3321t3 (3323. Female). This is the only bird, out of the number which compose the «large» irregular flocks, which can be
3322 distinguished from its habits.— Its most frequent resort is hopping & climbing about the great Cacti, to feed with its sharp
3323 beak on the fruit & flowers.— Commonly however it alights on the ground. & with the Fringilla in the same manner, seeks
for seeds. The rarity of the jet black specimens is well exemplified in this case; out of the many «brown ones» which I daily saw,
‹this›. I never could observe a single black one, besides the one preserved. Mr Bynoes however has another Specimen; Fuller in vain
tried to procure one.— I should add. that Specimen (3320) was shot when picking together with ‹at› a brown one, the fruit
of a Cactus.
3324 Fringilla. Male. (young?)
3325 do — Female.—
Cambridge University Library DAR 29.2: 74v
Galapagos Ms p 74 verso
Textual Features: pencil
- t1 Geopiza] misspelling
Reproduced with the permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library and William Huxley Darwin
Transcription and apparatus © American Museum of Natural History
Transcription and apparatus © American Museum of Natural History