To J. J. Weir 14 June 1
Down. | Beckenham | Kent. S.E.
My dear Sir
As usual I am going to beg for information. Can you tell me whether any Fringillidæ, or Sylviadæ erect their feathers when frightened or enraged?2 I want to show that this expression is common to all or most of the families of Birds— I know of this only in the Fowl, Swan, Tropic-bird, Owl, Ruff & Reeve, & Cuckoo—3 I fancy that I remember having seen nestling birds erect their feathers greatly when looking into nests, as is said to be the case with young cuckoos. I shd much like to know whether nestlings do really thus erect their feathers? I am now at work on expression in animals of all kinds & birds; & if you have any hints I shd be very grateful for them, & you have a rich wealth of facts of all kinds.—
Any cases like the following: the sheldrake pats or dances on the tidal sands to make the sea-worms come out; & when Mr. St John’s tame sheldrake came to ask for their dinners, they used to pat the ground; & this I shd call an expression of Hunger & impatience.—4
How about the Quagga case?5
I am working away as hard as I can on my book,6 but good Heavens how slow my progress is.— I hope that 〈you〉 are well.—
Believe me | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin.
Asks about birds erecting feathers when enraged or frightened. Interested in examples of expression in birds and animals.
Tells of the sheldrake dancing on tidal sands to make worms come out.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7231,” accessed on 1 October 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-7231