The sub-genus Nesomimus

The archipelago and its mockingbirds

Galápagos Mockingbird
Floreana Mockingbird
Española Mockingbird
San Cristóbal Mockingbird

Darwin and mockingbirds

Mainland relatives

Cooperative breeding

Galápagos mockingbird bibliography

Galápagos links

About this site
Created by Robert L. Curry

Last modified: 24 Feb 2010



Darwin's Mockingbirds

The endemic mockingbirds of the Galápagos

On 17 September 1835, Charles Darwin disembarked from H. M. S. Beagle in the Galápagos near Sappho Cove on Chatham Island (now known as Isla San Cristóbal). Among the first animals Darwin encountered was a bold, terrestrial mockingbird (left), similar to those he had seen previously in South America.

The bird is known today as Mimus melanotis, the San Cristóbal Mockingbird. Over the subsequent 6 weeks that Darwin spent in the Galápagos, he observed mockingbirds on three other islands. The 3 species in his collections had a profound influence on Darwin's thinking about geographic variation ... and its causes:

"My attention was first thoroughly aroused by comparing together the various specimens ... of the mocking-thrush"

 ~  C. Darwin, The Voyage of the Beagle (1839)


Arguably, these birds had a greater influence than any other organism on the initial development of Darwin's concept of Natural Selection.

Subsequent exploration and research revealed the presence of 4 endemic, allopatric mockingbird species within the Galápagos archipelago. I invite you to explore this web site to learn more about Darwin's mockingbirds.

Latest news and research:

Research publication

Arbogast, B. S., S. V. Drovetski, R. L. Curry, P. T. Boag, G. Seutin, P. R. Grant, B. R. Grant, and D. J. Anderson. 2006. Origin and diversification of Galapagos mockingbirds. Evolution 60:370-382

Taxonomy and nomenclature

Based in large part on the analyses of Arbogast et al. (2006), the American Ornithologists' Union South American Check-List committee merged Nesomimus, the endemic clade comprising the four traditionally recognized Galápagos mockingbirds, into Mimus (September 2007).


Reintroduction of the Floreana Mockingbird: joint project of the Charles Darwin Foundation, the Galapagos National Park, and the Galapagos Conservation Trust hopes to return mockingbirds (Mimus trifasciatus) to Floreana beginning in 2010

Popular press

To understand a mockingbird: specimens that sparked Darwin's theory of evolution (The Guardian, 14 Nov 2008)