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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Thomas Carew Hunt   2 July 1855

Grande Rue, No 26. | Boulogne Sur Mer

July 2, 1855


Your letter of the 7th. of May has been forwarded to me from St Michaels’,1 and I hasten to reply to its several queries in the best manner in my power— I must however explain that, although much interested in the subject of natural history, I have not studied it sufficiently to enable me to give you the information you require, as you would receive it from a more competent authority— But I can have no objection to you giving my name for the source of the little I can communicate to you— I regret that I cannot be more useful to you in the attainment of your object.

I will write to the gentleman who has charge of my duty in the Azores, and beg him to send you a bat as you direct— These animals are very numerous in all the towns of the islands; but I have not ascertained if they are of different species— So far as I could judge from their size, general appearance and flight, I should say that there is only one species in the islands— I will beg my deputy to answer a question on this head—2

The land birds of the Azores are not migratory—3 Are quails an exception? They are seen flying in flocks from one island to another occasionally—not that I have ever seen them myself— Do they proceed farther? Great numbers are found in all the lower parts of the islands in the winter half of the year—so many that I have repeatedly heard of gentlemen shooting forty or fifty couple in a day, off one double barrelled gun— In the summer they are comparatively rare, and are supposed to go to the mountains— I have never met them there, in the many botanical excursions that I have made, or heard their call, either morning or evening—To this it may be replied that they are running birds and may easily escape among the high grass and evergreen brushwood of the mountains, and that (am I right in this?) they are mute in summer—

A number of visitants of various species appear in the islands from time to time— In 1844 or 1845 I made out a short account of St Michaels, at the request of Colonel Jackson Secretary of the Geogr Socty which he inserted in the Journal of the Socty4 It contains a list of the visitants that had then been met with.—

Two seeds are constantly found on the shores of the islands; one about an inch and three quarters long (I state this from memory only) an inch and a half wide and three quarters of an inch thick— The other is about one half the size— They appear to be the seeds of two kinds of Acacia. I will have specimens sent to you,5 as well as a reply to your question on the subject of domestic animals, which are in a few instances to be distinguished in different islands—

It only remains for me to assure you that I have great pleasure in affording any information or assistance to my countrymen that my residence in the Azores may induce them to call on me for; and that, as this pleasure is greatly enhanced by the nature of your inquiries no apology is at all requisite for your writing to me—

I subjoin the address through which letters will always find me most readily and remain | Sir | Yours most faithfully | Thomas Carew Hunt Charles Darwin Esqe | &c &c &c

address. | care of Lewis Hertslet Esqe | Foreign Office | London—

CD annotations

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‘Bats are very numerous’added pencil
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double scored pencil
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S\ {a}o Miguel Island, Azores. Hunt had been British consul at the Azores, 1839–48.
No letters from the Azores about bats, or the domestic animals mentioned later in the letter, have been found.
CD cited Hunt on the absence of migratory birds in the Azores in Natural selection, p. 494.
T. C. Hunt 1845a and 1845b. Julian Jackson was secretary of the Royal Geographical Society, 1841–7. The list to which Hunt refers was cited by CD in Natural selection, p. 493 n. 1.
CD forwarded the seeds sent from the Azores to Joseph Dalton Hooker to plant in Kew Gardens. See Correspondence vol. 6, letter to J. D. Hooker, 1 June [1856].


Answers queries on Azores fauna and flora.

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Carew Hunt
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 166: 282
Physical description
4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1709,” accessed on 25 March 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 5