John Gould

John Gould was an outstanding ornithologist of the 19th century who helped Darwin to identify the finch of Galapagos. Gould was fascinated by humming birds, having  identified over four hundred different species. 

Gould left a rather large legacy on hummingbirds and toucans – another bird that is exclusive of Americas. In order to proceed with his research, the scientist counted on the illustrations of his wife Elizabeth Gould, the artist Edward Lear, and others. The observation of these birds of extravagant colors and shapes, as well as that of the English cuckoo, is a powerful proof of the resilience of life in the struggle for existence.

“My thoughts are often directed to them during the day, and my night dreams have not infrequently carried me to their native forests in the distant country of America.” 


A Monograph of the Trochilidae, or Family of Hummingbirds, 1887

“The English cuckoo usually lays its eggs in the nest of some other bird, thus avoiding the task of hatching them. This, of course, implies that the cuckoo parents transfer the task of caring for the young birds to the bird that has hatched them either unconsciously or against its will. This bird tries to choose the nest of another bird whose eggs are somewhat alike in color, probably with the intention of deceiving the one whose nest it has invaded. The young cuckoos seem to suffer from a total lack of gratitude, for the very simple reason that when they are mature enough, they expel the nestlings of their foster parents.”

Charles Darwin

On the Origin of Species, 1859

“The Toucans, contrary to all appearances, destroy a great number of birds, and on account of their large and strong beak are respected and feared by all species. They attack and drive them from their nests, and in their very presence eat their eggs and young; these they draw from the holes with the long beak, or throw down nest all together.”


A monograph of the Ramphastidae, 1834

“During the remainder of my stay at Rio, I resided in a cottage at Botafogo Bay. it was impossible to wish for anything more delightful than thus to spend some weeks in so magnificent a country. In England, any person fond of natural history enjoys in his walks a great advantage, by always having something to attract his attention; but in these fertile climats, teeming with life, the attractions are so numerous, that he is scarcely able to walk at all”.

Charles Darwin

 The Voyage of the Beagle, 1839