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Darwin Correspondence Project

From James Hunt   [before 29 December 1857]1

The Comn Song Thrush, & American Robin or thrush, have bred together, but the young did not live

The Black, or Globose Currassow, & Red Curassow have bred here, several years ago,2 but are they not at present consided the same Species.

The different kind of Guinea Fowl, have never been crossd. here or the Peafowl.

I am very Sorry that I have not been able at present to find the Notes on the Crossbred Pintail Ducks. You wished in your Letter, and as I cannot speak possitively from memory, I have not stated any thing about them, but I will continue serching for them, and should they be found iwill send them to you instantly.3

And I shall be most happy to give you any information, on this or any other subject that lays in my Power.

I am Sir | Your most | Obedent Servant | James Hunt Chas Darwin Esq.

CD annotations

crossed pencil
Verso of letter: ‘Are not all rules false for Cultivated Plants’ pencil


CD used the information in this letter in his chapter on hybridism, which he recorded having completed on 29 December 1857 (‘Journal’; see Correspondence vol. 6, Appendix II).
Hunt was the head keeper at the zoological gardens of the Zoological Society of London until 1859 (Scherren 1905, p. 104). CD had consulted him previously (see Notebook M, p. 138 (Notebooks)).
Hunt apparently did not find the notes. In the manuscript of his species book, CD stated that Hunt showed him ‘several years ago a lot of young birds, which he knew to be the offspring of a pair of these hybrids inter se’ (Natural selection, p. 439; see also p. 433 n. 1).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Natural selection: Charles Darwin’s Natural selection: being the second part of his big species book written from 1856 to 1858. Edited by R. C. Stauffer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1975.

Notebooks: Charles Darwin’s notebooks, 1836–1844. Geology, transmutation of species, metaphysical enquiries. Transcribed and edited by Paul H. Barrett et al. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press for the British Museum (Natural History). 1987.

Scherren, Henry. 1905. The Zoological Society of London: a sketch of its foundation and development and the story of its farm, museum, gardens, menagerie and library. London: Cassell.


Birds that have been hybridised.

Letter details

Letter no.
James Hunt
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 166: 281
Physical description
ALS 1p inc †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2096,” accessed on 29 September 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 6