To A. D. Bartlett 16 February 1
Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.
My dear Sir
I want to beg two favours of you.— I wish to ascertain whether the Bower-Bird discriminates colours. Will you have all the coloured worsted removed from cage & the bower, & then put, all in a row, at same distance from bower, the enclosed coloured worsted, & mark whether the Bird at first makes any selection.2 Each packet contains equal quantity; the packets had better be separated & each thread put separate, but close together; perhaps it would be fairest, if the several colours were put alternately,—one thread of bright scarlet, one thread of brown, &c &c. There are six colours.— Will you have kindness to tell me whether the birds prefer one colour to another?
Secondly, I very much want several heads of the fancy & long-domesticated rabbits to measure the capacity of skull. I want only small kinds; such as Himalaya, small Angora, Silver Grey or any small-sized rabbit which has long been domesticated. The Silver-Grey from warrens would be of little use. The animals must be adult. & the smaller the breed the better.3
Now when any one dies would you send me the carcase named ; if the skin is of any value it might be skinned; but it would be rather better with skin & I could make present to any keeper to whom the skin is perquisite.
This would be great assistance to me, if you would have kindness thus to aid me.
My dear Sir | Yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin
Address for dead Rabbits
Ch. Darwin Esqre care of Down Postman Bromley | Kent | per Rail
Asks ADB to perform experiment on colour perception in bower-bird.
Asks for rabbit specimens.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5401,” accessed on 1 May 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-5401