natural selection

Charles Darwin Day


It’s Darwin Day!

I can think of no better way to celebrate Charles
Darwin’s birthday than with his Galapagos finches, the
most famous birds in Natural History.

The illustrations below are from The Zoology of the
Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, under the command of Captain
Fitzroy, R.N., during the years 1832 to 1836, Part 3,
Birds.  This five volume work was edited by Darwin, who
was the ship’s naturalist on the expedition to South
America, Tahiti, Australia, New Zealand and of course
the Galapagos Islands.

On Darwin’s return, the birds he collected were sent to
John Gould for classification. Gould’s wife Elizabeth,
by now a gifted artist, used her husband’s sketches to
draw and lithograph the new discoveries.


This is Cactornis scandens, now known as Geospiza scandens, the Common Cactus Finch.  ‘Common indeed, I inspired the theory of natural selection!’

Darwin's Finches

Darwin's Finches by Elizabeth Gould

Above, Camarhynchus psittacula, the Large Tree-finch.  Below,  the magnificently beaked Geospiza magnirostris, the Large Ground-finch.

Darwin's Finches

The next illustration – not a finch – is Tanagra darwini, named by Gould for Charles Darwin.  This species is now known as the Blue and Yellow Tanager (Thraupis bonariensis darwinii).

The Blue-and-yellow Tanager (Pipraeidea bonariensis)

Finally, I couldn’t resist this little Flycatcher eyeing up a bug.  A nice touch by Mrs. Gould.  Happy Darwin Day 🙂

Galapagos Flycatcher, Pyrocephalus rubinus nanus