To Alfred Newton 4 March 
Down. | Bromley. | Kent S.E.
My dear Sir
Very many thanks about the Dotterel, & I am pleased to hear of this additional evidence.1 I have looked to Swinhoe’s papers, but the case does not seem very conclusive.2 After writing to you I remembered that the female of the carrion-hawk of the Falkland I’s (formerly called Polyborus N. Zealandii) is very much brighter coloured than the male, as I ascertained (Zoolg. Voyage of Beagle: Birds) by dissection; I have written to the Missionaries there about its nidification & if I receive any answer, will inform you.3 The other day I thought I had got a case at the Zoolog Gardens in the Casuarinus Galeatus, in which the female has the finest & brightest caruncles &c; but Sclater tells me it wd be rash to trust to the comparison of a single pair, & he tells me that the male ostrich has the finest plumes.4
With my best thanks | I remain my dear Sir | yours very sincerely | Charles Darwin
P.S. Mr Blyth tells me that according to Jerdon, the natives say the male Turnix alone incubates & attends to young—5
There is another consideration which might lead to the females being the most beautiful, viz if they were the more numerous than the males & the species were not polygamous, for in this case the more beautiful females wd. be selected.—6
Thanks for information about the dotterel.
CD had ascertained by dissection that the female of the carrion-hawk of the Falkland Islands is very much brighter coloured than the male. Has inquired about its nidification. Mentions other instances of female birds that are brighter and more beautiful than the males and suggests causes for this anomaly.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5430,” accessed on 22 February 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-5430