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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Henry Reeks   12 June 1871

North End, | East Woodhay, | Newbury,

June 12th. 1871

My dear Mr Darwin,

I have just received a note from a friend, who starts for Nevada, and the “far west” in the course of a day or two—1 He is a capital geologist, and a painstaking observer of Nature, and one whom I could depend on for accurate observations. He writes as follows:— “Has Mr Darwin any special object of enquiry, or investigation out West? I shall be pleased to do what I can if he has.”

If there is any speciality you can think of and will drop me a post card I will communicate with him before he leaves. Especially anything relating to mammals or birds—either living, or preserved in the record of Geology. I may add that he is a most enthusiastic convert to, and supporter of, your theory of Natural Selection—

On my own account it may interest you to know (if you were not previously aware of the fact) that the young of the common chaffinch (Fringilla cœlebs) in its first nestling plumage almost exactly resembles the adult female of its nearest ally the brambling (F. Montifringilla) in winter plumage!

Believe me, dear Mr Darwin, | (In haste)| very faithfully yours, | Henry Reeks—

C. Darwin, Esqre M.A., F.R.S. &c—

CD annotations

1.1 I have … Selection— 2.4] crossed pencil


Reeks’s friend has not been identified.


A geologist friend leaving for Nevada offers to investigate any questions CD may have for this region.

Nesting plumage of common chaffinch resembles adult winter plumage of female brambling.

Letter details

Letter no.
Henry Stephen (Henry) Reeks
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 88: 172
Physical description
ALS 2pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7816,” accessed on 10 June 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19