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Darwin Correspondence Project

From T. M. Story-Maskelyne   4 May 1874

112, Gloucester Terrace, | Hyde Park Gardens. W.

May 4. 1874

Dear Sir

Your letter in “Nature” vol 9. p. 482, leads me to think you may like to know that we have a Canary which is in the habit of flying about the room, & is as fond of primroses as wild birds seem to be.1

I cannot keep a pot of these flowers in the room, for the bird attacks the buds & open flowers directly it is let out, nipping them off without touching the leaves. I am sorry I made no observation as to the portion of the flower selected; but I have enclosed the remains of Cowslips which the bird is very fond of eating—& which if left long enough in the cage, would disappear entirely; the stem being a very quickly disposed of portion. In each of these heads of flowers the same portion has been taken first—a bite into the bottom of the tube of the corolla.

No. 2. is the work of a Siskin in another cage; both the birds would have left nothing, if I had not taken out the specimens soon after giving them to them.2

They have plenty of water & often green food—and often try the leaves in my flower pots—leaving the flowers alone; but it was a remarkable thing to see how the Canary would find out my Primroses never mind in what corner I hid them.

I remain yours faithfully | Thereza Story Maskelyne

To C. Darwin Esqr.

CD annotations

2.5 stem … portion. 2.6] underl pencil
Top of letter: ‘The canaries & siskins cannot squeeze out the nectar.’ ink


See letter to Nature, 18 April [1874].
The cases appear in CD’s letter to Nature, 7 and 11 May [1874], credited to ‘a lady’.


Reply to CD’s letter in Nature ["Flowers of the primrose", Collected papers 2: 183–4]. She has a canary that eats primroses.

Letter details

Letter no.
Thereza Mary Story-Maskelyne
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Gloucester Terrace, 112
Source of text
DAR 177: 263
Physical description
4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9426,” accessed on 28 October 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22