Ornithologists

Ornithologist is a type of zoologist who specializes in the study of birds. They study the evolution, behaviour, genetics, life processes, migration patterns, and habitats of birds. Ornithologists may work with wild birds, or birds in zoos or sanctuaries. This field of science has a long history dating back to the Stone Age. The ancient Greek polymath Aristotle mentioned about bird migration, egg laying and moulting in 350 BC. Bird watching began evolving from the early 19th century with the invention of the telescope. With development in technology, a variety of sophisticated and modern tools and techniques are used today to study birds. Ornithologists work in the fields observing birds and collecting samples such as eggs, nests, bones, etc. These samples are them analyzed in the laboratories and results are published in scientific papers. Research on birds helps to classify and understand the various species of birds, and provides information on the effects of climate change, pollution and human encroachment on the lives of different types of birds. Ornithologists may work in research institutions, governmental agencies, zoos and sanctuaries, and environmental agencies. Read on to browse through a list of world famous ornithologists and read their biographies and timelines.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 
John James Audubon
(Naturalist, Painter, Ornithologist)

John James Audubon
4
Birthdate: April 26, 1785
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Les Cayes
Died: January 27, 1851

 2 
Bill Oddie
(Writer)

Bill Oddie
6
Birthdate: July 7, 1941
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Rochdale, Lancashire, England, UK

 3 
Olivier Messiaen
(Composer, Organist)

Olivier Messiaen
6
Birthdate: December 10, 1908
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Avignon, France
Died: April 27, 1992

French composer and organist Olivier Messiaen is credited with creating melodically innovative scores, using what he called "modes of limited transposition." An ornithologist, too, he added bird songs into his compositions such as La fauvette des jardins and Catalogue d'oiseaux. His Messiaen: Concert A Quatre won a Grammy.

 4 
Konrad Lorenz
(Zoologist)

Konrad Lorenz
4
Birthdate: November 7, 1903
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: February 27, 1989

Nobel Prize-winning Austrian zoologist Konrad Lorenz is remembered as a pioneer of ethology. The son of a surgeon father and a physician mother, Lorenz was a qualified physician himself. A university degree awarded to him was rescinded posthumously due to his association with the Nazi party

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 5 
Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild
(Biologist, Banker, Politician, Zoologist, Ornithologist, Entomologist, Lepidopterist)

Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild
3
Birthdate: February 8, 1868
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: England
Died: August 27, 1937

 6 
Salim Ali
(Ornithologist)

Salim Ali
8
Birthdate: November 12, 1896
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Died: June 20, 1987

Known as the Birdman of India, legendary ornithologist Salim Ali was the first to conduct bird surveys in India. The Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan winner is best remembered for penning the book The Book of Indian Birds, and for setting up the Bharatpur and Ranganathittu bird sanctuaries.

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 7 
Peter Scott
(Ornithologist)

Peter Scott
3
Birthdate: September 14, 1909
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London, England
Died: August 29, 1989
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 8 
Nikolaas Tinbergen
(Ornithologist)

Nikolaas Tinbergen
3
Birthdate: April 15, 1907
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: The Hague, Netherlands
Died: December 21, 1988

Nikolaas Tinbergen was a Dutch ornithologist and biologist. Counted among the founders of modern ethology, Tinbergen shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1973 with Konrad Lorenz and Karl von Frisch for their discoveries concerning the social behavior patterns in animals. He is also credited with authoring an influential book on animal behavior titled The Study of Instinct.

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 9 

Robert Stroud
6
Birthdate: January 8, 1890
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Seattle, Washington, USA
Died: November 21, 1963

 10 
Ernst Mayr
(Biologist)

Ernst Mayr
3
Birthdate: July 5, 1904
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kempten
Died: February 3, 2005

Ernst Mayr was a renowned taxonomist, ornithologist, tropical explorer, historian of science, and philosopher of biology. He was also one of the leading evolutionary biologists of the 20th century. His work contributed immensely to the progression of the biological species concept. Ernst Mayr is also credited with originating the modern philosophy of biology, especially the part concerning evolutionary biology.

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 11 
James Bond
(ornithologist)

James Bond
3
Birthdate: January 4, 1900
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Philadelphia
Died: February 14, 1989

 12 

Charles Lucien Bonaparte
3
Birthdate: May 24, 1803
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: July 29, 1857

 13 
John Gould
(Ornithologist)

John Gould
3
Birthdate: September 14, 1804
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Lyme Regis, United Kingdom
Died: February 3, 1881

 14 
Gilbert White
(Naturalist)

Gilbert White
3
Birthdate: July 18, 1720
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Selborne, Hampshire, England
Died: June 26, 1793
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 15 
Edward Adrian Wilson
(Explorer, Ornithologist, Painter, Scientist)

Edward Adrian Wilson
3
Birthdate: July 23, 1872
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Cheltenham
Died: March 29, 1912

 16 
William Beebe
(Ornithologist)

William Beebe
3
Birthdate: July 29, 1877
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: New York, United States
Died: June 4, 1962
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 17 

William Henry Hudson
2
Birthdate: August 4, 1841
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: near Buenos Aires, Argentina
Died: August 18, 1922

British-Argentine author, naturalist, and ornithologist William Henry Hudson not just published a number of ornithological studies but also several novels, such as Green Mansions. He criticized Darwinism and was inspired by Samuel Butler’s writings. He was also part of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

 18 
Hubert Wilkins
(Explorer)

Hubert Wilkins
2
Birthdate: October 31, 1888
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Mount Bryan, Australia
Died: November 30, 1958

Australian-born British explorer and ornithologist Hubert Wilkins is best remembered for pioneering the use of the submarine for polar exploration. While he initially studied photography and engineering, he later embarked on the world’s first transpolar airplane flight across the Arctic and the first over parts of Antarctica.

 19 
William Bartram
(First Naturalist Who Penetrated the Dense Tropical Forests of Florida)

William Bartram
3
Birthdate: April 20, 1739
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: July 22, 1823

 20 
Robert Dougall
(Ornithologist)

Robert Dougall
2
Birthdate: November 27, 1913
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Croydon, Surrey, England
Died: December 19, 1999

 21 
Roger Tory Peterson
(Zoologist, Ornithologist)

Roger Tory Peterson
2
Birthdate: August 28, 1908
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Jamestown, New York, United States
Died: July 28, 1996

 22 
Lorenz Oken
(Naturalist)

Lorenz Oken
2
Birthdate: August 1, 1779
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Bohlsbach, Germany
Died: August 11, 1851
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 23 

Spencer Fullerton Baird
2
Birthdate: February 3, 1823
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Reading, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: August 19, 1887

 24 
Thomas Pennant
(Naturalist)

Thomas Pennant
2
Birthdate: June 14, 1726
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Downing, Wales
Died: December 16, 1798

Welsh naturalist Thomas Pennant is remembered for his extensive research on zoology, especially ornithology. Known for his books such as British Zoology and History of Quadrupeds, he traveled to Scotland and remote parts of Britain, writing about his expeditions in his travelogues and treatises.

 25 
Thomas Nuttall
(Botanist)

Thomas Nuttall
2
Birthdate: January 5, 1786
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Long Preston, England
Died: September 10, 1859

English botanist and naturalist Thomas Nuttal is best known for his popular volume The Genera of North American Plants. He later taught natural history at Harvard and also studied birds, eventually releasing a book on American birds, too. He also undertook a voyage to Columbia River and Hawaii.

 26 
Giovanni Antonio Scopoli
(Physician and Naturalist)

Giovanni Antonio Scopoli
0
Birthdate: June 3, 1723
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Cavalese, Italy
Died: May 8, 1788
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 27 

Clinton Hart Merriam
2
Birthdate: December 5, 1855
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: March 19, 1942

 28 

John Gerrard Keulemans
2
Birthdate: June 8, 1842
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Rotterdam, Netherlands
Died: March 29, 1912
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 29 
Elliott Coues
(Historian)

Elliott Coues
1
Birthdate: September 9, 1842
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Portsmouth, New Hampshire, United States
Died: December 25, 1899

Renowned ornithologist Elliott Coues, known for his pathbreaking written works such as Key to North American Birds, had established the American Ornithological Union. He had also previously worked as an army surgeon and later taught anatomy. He was also briefly part of the Theosophical Society, though he later lost interest.

 30 
Edward Sabine
(Astronomer)

Edward Sabine
2
Birthdate: October 14, 1788
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: June 26, 1883

Anglo-Irish astronomer Edward Sabine initially served the British Army and eventually retired as a major-general. The Copley Medal-winning scientist is remembered for his work on determining the shape and magnetic field of the Earth. He also studied birds in Greenland and was knighted for his achievements.

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 31 
Ronald Mathias Lockley
(Ornithologist)

Ronald Mathias Lockley
2
Birthdate: November 8, 1903
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Cardiff, United Kingdom
Died: April 12, 2000

 32 
David Lack
(Biologist)

David Lack
2
Birthdate: July 16, 1910
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: London, England
Died: March 12, 1973

 33 

Florence Augusta Merriam Bailey
1
Birthdate: August 8, 1863
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: New York, United States
Died: September 22, 1948

 34 

Sidney Dillon Ripley
1
Birthdate: September 20, 1913
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: March 12, 2001
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 35 
Edward Max Nicholson
(Environmentalist)

Edward Max Nicholson
1
Birthdate: July 12, 1904
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kilternan, Ireland
Died: April 26, 2003

 36 
Tso-hsin Cheng
(Ornithologist)

Tso-hsin Cheng
1
Birthdate: November 18, 1906
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Fuzhou, China
Died: June 27, 1998
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 37 
Alfred Newton
(Ornithologist)

Alfred Newton
1
Birthdate: June 11, 1829
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Geneva, Switzerland
Died: June 7, 1907

 38 
Frank Chapman
(Ornithologist)

Frank Chapman
1
Birthdate: June 12, 1864
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Teaneck, New Jersey, United States
Died: November 15, 1945

 39 
Alexander Wetmore
(Ornithologist)

Alexander Wetmore
1
Birthdate: June 18, 1886
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: North Freedom, Wisconsin, United States
Died: December 7, 1978

Alexander Wetmore was an American avian paleontologist and ornithologist who served as the Secretary of the popular Smithsonian Institution from 1945 to 1952. He also served as the president of The Explorers Club from 1944 to 1946. Alexander Wetmore is also remembered for his influential 4-volume book, Birds of the Republic of Panama.

 40 
Margaret Morse Nice
(Ornithologist)

Margaret Morse Nice
1
Birthdate: December 6, 1883
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Amherst, Massachusetts, United States
Died: June 26, 1974

 41 
Jean Theodore Delacour
(Ornithologist)

Jean Theodore Delacour
1
Birthdate: September 26, 1890
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: November 5, 1985

 42 
John Xantus
(Zoologist, Ornithologist)

John Xantus
0
Birthdate: October 5, 1825
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Hungary
Died: December 13, 1894

 43 
Peter Marler
(Brain researcher)

Peter Marler
1
Birthdate: February 24, 1928
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Slough, England
Died: July 5, 2014

 44 

Harriet Mann Miller
0
Birthdate: June 25, 1831
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Auburn, New York, United States
Died: December 25, 1918

 45 
Volcher Coiter
(Physician)

Volcher Coiter
0
Birthdate: 1534 AD
Birthplace: Groningen, Netherlands
Died: June 2, 1576

Volcher Coiter was a Dutch anatomist who first described cerebrospinal meningitis. Volcher Coiter is also remembered for his work during the French Wars of Religion where he served as field surgeon to John Casimir, Count Palatine of Simmern.

 46 

Fannie Hardy Eckstorm
0
Birthdate: June 18, 1865
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Brewer, Maine, United States
Died: December 31, 1946

 47 
Richard Pough
(Conservationist)

Richard Pough
0
Birthdate: April 19, 1904
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States
Died: June 24, 2003

 48 

Frank Hall Knowlton
0
Birthdate: September 2, 1860
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Brandon, Vermont, United States
Died: November 22, 1926

Renowned paleobotanist Frank Hall Knowlton is remembered for his pioneering study of fossilized plants and geologic climates. He not just taught botany but had also been associated with the U.S. Geological Survey. His interests also included birds, and he contributed to a volume named Birds of the World.