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The finches of the Galapagos Islands are famous in the history of evolutionary theory. But Charles Darwin spent four years studying other birds as well, as the Beagle circumnavigated southern South America before reaching the Galapagos in 1835. It was not just the birds, but a lifetime of attending to all the wild things in his path that brought Darwin to his great idea. Join your local Audubon and find the wild things near you.
Written by Lyanda Haupt
This is BirdNote!
The finches of the Galapagos Islands are famous in the history of evolutionary theory. [Song of Sharp-beaked Ground-Finch] But Charles Darwin spent four years studying other birds as well, as his ship, the Beagle, circumnavigated southern South America before reaching the Galapagos in 1835. [Sound of boat creaking] It was during these many months that ornithology became a gratifying pursuit for him, and he kept a diary of his findings.
In southern Uruguay, he experienced the beauty and variety of tropical songbirds, [Golden-winged Cacique] and noticed how keenly they differed from the birds of England.
In Patagonia, observing Andean Condors pulled him out of a depression brought on by symptoms of typhoid. Darwin was convinced, scientist though he was, that they often flew for pure joy.
[Ship and waves]
It was not just the Galapagos finches, [Song of the Warbler Finch] but a lifetime of attending to all the birds and wild things in his path that brought Darwin to his great idea. In Darwin’s bird diaries, his most important lesson appears again and again: We become lively and intelligent in our careful observation of life’s details. Everything in the natural world is worthy of our attention. [Golden-winged Cacique]
To learn more about the world of birds and nature, visit our website, BirdNote.org. I’m Mary McCann.
Bird Audio provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Song of the Sharp-beaked Ground-Finch and Warbler Finch recorded by Robert Bowman; Golden-winged Cacique 63643 P. Schwartz.
Ambient recordings by Kessler Productions
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2011 Tune In to Nature.org September 2011 Narrator: Mary McCann