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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Thomas Mayo Brewer to Augustus Addison Gould1   [March 1858]2

My Dear Dr

In regard to the subject matter of Mr Darwins note to you I have to say that I have never known an instance in which 〈our〉 Yellow-billed Cuckoo has been known to drop an egg in the nest of any othe〈r〉 bird.3 I have however seen a nest (—it was exhibited so not found in the field—) of the Chipping Sparrow containing the egg of a Black-billed Cuckoo—but I have always supposed it was deposited there by human 〈    〉

〈I know〉 of few birds more faithful apparently to their own young than both species of our cuckoos.

Very truly yrs | T M Brewer Dr A. A. Gould

CD annotations

Bottom of last page: ‘Ch. 10’4 brown crayon

CD note:

‘Yarrell Vol. 2 p. 205 2d Editn saysQQQQ thatQQQQ the Coccyzus Americanus occasionally lays eggs in other birds nests

Nothing in Wilson or Audubon or QQQQ

get Yarrell

QQQQ colourQQQQ of eggs present, QQQQed in QQQQ but some thingQQQQ

WilsonQQQQ says CoccyzusQQQQ eggs areQQQQ small’ pencil ‘Ch 10’ brown crayon

‘Look in Agassiz Catalogue for Grays paper on allQQQQ coloursQQQQ of Cuckoo— Read before Zoolog. Soc.’ pencil


CD had asked Gould for information on the habits of the American cuckoo. Gould, in turn, had forwarded the queries to Thomas Mayo Brewer, an authority on birds’ eggs, and then sent Brewer’s reply to CD (see letter to A. A. Gould, 6 April [1858]).
For the basis of the date, see letter to A. A. Gould, 6 April [1858], n. 1.
See letter to A. A. Gould, 6 April [1858].
The annotation refers to chapter 10, on ‘Mental powers and instincts of animals’, where CD discussed the American cuckoo (Natural selection, pp. 506–7).


Writes regarding CD’s query on yellow-billed cuckoo and the laying of eggs in other birds’ nests.

Letter details

Letter no.
Brewer, T. M.
Gould, A. A.
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 160: 305
Physical description
2pp damaged †(by CD), CD notes 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2421,” accessed on 29 March 2017,