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Darwin Correspondence Project

From A. D. Bartlett   19 September 1871

Herne Bay, | Near Canterbury.

Sepr 19. 1871

My Dear Sir

In reply to your letter which I received here yesterday I do not believe the common Goose sifts the water out of the sides of the bill like a Duck.1 But some species of Geese that feed more in the water, may use the bill partially in this manner, but most species of Geese feed on the land, but I think the Black and White Goose of Australia, is the bird most likely to have the lamellæ less developed than any other Goose, we have the bird alive in the Gardens, I have written to my son and asked him to look at the bird and report to you.2 On the other hand I think the Snow Goose of North America has the lamellæ stronger than any other Goose, they are in fact like powerful well developed teeth.3 I have forwarded your letter to my son and you may depend you will hear from him. I shall be home in a few days, and again think over the matter

Yours faithfully | A D Bartlett

P.S. The Black & White Goose of Australia has the webs of the feet less developed than any other Goose.

Chas Darwin. Esqr

CD annotations

1.1 I do … a Duck. 1.2] scored blue crayon
Top of letter: ‘crop the grass closely | Geese good grazers’ pencil


The black and white goose is Anseranas semipalmata, also known as the magpie goose. The magpie goose is now placed in the Anseranatidae, a different family from other geese and ducks (Anatidae). A. D. Bartlett’s son was Edward Bartlett; see letter to A. D. Bartlett, 15 September 1871 and nn. 2–4.
The snow goose is Chen caerulescens.


Geese do not commonly sift water through their bills for food, as they feed on land. A few have well-developed lamellae for sifting. Will have his son check at Zoological Garden.

Letter details

Letter no.
Abraham Dee Bartlett
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Herne Bay
Source of text
DAR 160: 48
Physical description
3pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7951,” accessed on 26 September 2021,

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