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Darwin's finches (also known as the Galápagos finches) are a group of about 18 species of passerine birds. They are well known for their remarkable diversity in beak form and function. They are often classified as the subfamily Geospizinae or tribe Geospizini. They belong to the tanager family and are not closely related to the true finches. The closest known relative of the Galápagos finches is the South American dull-coloured grassquit (Asemospiza obscura). They were first collected when the second voyage of the Beagle visited the Galápagos Islands, with Charles Darwin on board as a gentleman naturalist. Apart from the Cocos finch, which is from Cocos Island, the others are found only on the Galápagos Islands.
|Large ground finch, Medium ground finch
Small tree finch, Green warbler-finch
The term "Darwin's finches" was first applied by Percy Lowe in 1936, and popularised in 1947 by David Lack in his book Darwin's Finches. Lack based his analysis on the large collection of museum specimens collected by the 1905–06 Galápagos expedition of the California Academy of Sciences, to whom Lack dedicated his 1947 book. The birds vary in size from 10 to 20 cm (4 to 8 in) and weigh between 8 and 38 grams (0.3 and 1.3 oz). The smallest are the warbler-finches and the largest is the vegetarian finch. The most important differences between species are in the size and shape of their beaks, which are highly adapted to different food sources. The birds are all dull-coloured. They are thought to have evolved from a single finch species that came to the islands more than a million years ago.
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