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Letter 5426

Newton, Alfred to Darwin, C. R.

1 Mar 1867

    Summary Add

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    Male dotterels take care of young and are less brilliantly coloured than females.


10 Beaufort Gardens | S.W.

1 March 1867.

My dear Sir,

On Tuesday last I met in a birdstuffer's shop at Brighton an intelligent young gentleman by name Booth. He told me that last summer he had opportunities of studying the breeding habits of the Dotterel (Eudromias morinellus) in Scotland and volunteered—without any leading question—the information that the cocks ``looked after the young'', and that the hens seemed to care very little about their offspring.

The Dotterel as you no doubt are aware is one of the species in which the hens are much more brilliantly coloured than the cocks.

Believe me | Yrs. very truly | Alfred Newton

I asked Mr. Booth, (after he had told me what I have mentioned) whether he had taken the trouble to ascertain the sexes of the birds he killed by dissection, & he said he had done so, & shewed me a very dingy looking cock bird that he had obtained while anxiously ``looking after'' its young.

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 5426.f1
    Edward Thomas Booth.
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    f2 5426.f2
    CD discussed differences between the sexes of the dotterel plover (now Caradrius morinellus), including their breeding habits, in Descent 2: 203--4. He mentioned Newton's observations and `those of others' (ibid., p. 204 n. 20). CD had recently exchanged letters about birds in which the female was more brightly coloured and the male cared for the young with Newton and Edward Blyth (see letter to Alfred Newton, 23 January [1867], and letter from Edward Blyth, 24 February 1867).
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    f3 5426.f3
    See letter to Alfred Newton, 4 March [1867] and n. 5.
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    f4 5426.f4
    See letter to Alfred Newton, 4 March [1867] and n. 6.
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    f5 5426.f5
    See letter to Alfred Newton, 4 March [1867] and n. 3.
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