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Letter 508

Darwin, C. R. to Gray, G. R.

[June–Oct 1839]

Summary

Asks for some Anthus skins to examine [for Birds]. Fears they may turn out to be all one species. Sends details from his notes on Falkland Island specimens.

Transcription

My dear Sir

Will you be so good as to give my servant the skins of the Merulidæ Anthus;f1 as I want to look at some of them.— and likewise the stuffed specimen of Upucerthia,f2 as I forgot yesterday to measure its beak.— I will not forget to try to negotiate the specimen for you from the Soc. Zog.—

From what I see of the localities of the Anthus’es I almost suspect they will all turn out one Species.— I will look over the specimens with my notes & see whether I can get any aid from habits.—f3

With respect to the Falkland Emberiza,f4 I can give little assistance 1919 ] 1919 “shot in same large scattered flock on the hills” 1920 1922 female But 1920 & 1923 & 1879 “I think more commonly occur on the plains” I put mark of ? to 1923 whether different species or not.—f5

In another part of my catalogue I say I saw 1046. & 1047. together

My specimens were shot in March, corresponding to September, & this is all the very little inform: I can tell you—f6

Believe me | Most truly Yours | Chas. Darwin
12 Upper Gower St

Tuesday—

true

Footnotes

f1
Described in Birds, p. 85.
f2
Uppucerthia dumetoria, is described in Birds, p. 66.
f3
Three species of Anthus, all previously known, are described (Birds, p. 85). Two others were considered identical to Muscisaxicola nigra, a new species to which Gray gave his name (ibid., p. 84).
f4
Birds, pp. 95–6. Gray identified two new species as Chlorospiza? melanodera, G. R. Gray and Chlorospiza? xanthogramma, G. R. Gray.
f5
The extracts were taken from CD’s ornithological notes (DAR 29.2: 33; Ornithological notes, p. 233).
f6
CD’s entry in DAR 29.2: 4–5 reads: 1046 Emberiza. March. 1833. East Falkland I. 1047. d[itt]o. Perhaps the Male of the last bird, but they were not shot together: I saw them however subsequently together. They are by far the commonest land bird in the Islands.— Ornithological notes, p. 213, omits ‘I saw … together.’
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