A comprehensive treatment of Darwin's work as an ornithologist, a side of him that has not often been covered.
Much of Charles Darwin's groundbreaking work as an evolutionary biologist stemmed from his study of birds. It is universally acknowledged that Darwin's observation of bird groups and species like the Galapagos finches, mockingbirds, and rock doves was critical to the development of his theories on natural selection, evolution, and sexual selection. The significant number of diverse birds that Darwin covered in his published works represents a most substantial ornithological contribution. His major books alone contain reference to and consideration of almost 500 bird species, as well as interesting and pertinent discussion of over 100 ornithological topics.
Clifford Frith discusses every ornithological topic and bird species that Darwin researched, providing a complete historical survey of his published writing on birds. Through this, we learn how Darwin became an increasingly skilled and eventually exceptional ornithologist, and how his relationships grew with contemporary scientists like John Gould. It examines how Darwin was influenced by birds, and how the major themes of his research developed through his study of them. The book also features 4 appendices, which contain brief accounts of every bird species Darwin wrote about, basic ornithological information about each of the species, and a listing of where the species appears in Darwin's work.