Ornithologists

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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.
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 1 
Bill Oddie
(Writer)
Bill Oddie
6
Birthdate: July 7, 1941
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Rochdale, Lancashire, England, UK
 2 
John James Audubon
(US Artist and Ornithologist Known for His Drawings of North American Birds)
John James Audubon
4
Birthdate: April 26, 1785
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Les Cayes
Died: January 27, 1851

American artist and ornithologist John James Audubon is remembered mostly for his illustrations of North American birds. Born as an illegitimate child in France, he later moved to the US and then to Canada, for business, but ended up documenting birds. His best-known work is the pioneering ornithological work The Birds of America.

 3 
Olivier Messiaen
(One of the Major Composers, Organists and Ornithologists of the 20th Century Who Developed 'Modes of Limited Transposition')
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
(Austrian Zoologist, Ethologist, Ornithologist and Winner of 1973 Nobel Prize in Medicine)
Konrad Lorenz
4
Birthdate: November 7, 1903
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: February 21, 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
(British Politician and Zoologist Who Served as a Member of Parliament from Aylesbury)
Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild
3
Birthdate: February 8, 1868
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: England
Died: August 27, 1937

Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild was a British soldier, politician, zoologist, and banker. He is best remembered for his service as the president of the largest Jewish communal organization in the UK, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, between 1925 and 1926. Walter Rothschild also made immense contributions to the field of zoology.

 6 
Peter Scott
(Ornithologist)
Peter Scott
3
Birthdate: September 14, 1909
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London, England
Died: August 29, 1989
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 7 
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.

 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 
James Bond
(US Ornithologist and an Expert on Birds of the Caribbean)
James Bond
3
Birthdate: January 4, 1900
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Philadelphia
Died: February 14, 1989

US ornithologist James Bond is remembered as the author of Birds of the West Indies. British author Ian Fleming, himself a bird enthusiast, borrowed his name to create James Bond, the iconic fictional spy. He was mostly associated with the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia’s Drexel University.

 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 
Charles Lucien Bonaparte
(French Ornithologist and Naturalist)
Charles Lucien Bonaparte
3
Birthdate: May 24, 1803
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: July 29, 1857

Charles Lucien Bonaparte was a French ornithologist and naturalist. His father Lucien Bonaparte was the brother of Napoleon I, making Charles Lucien Bonaparte the emperor’s nephew. In Luigi Magni's 1990 Italian historical film In the Name of the Sovereign People, Charles was portrayed by Carlo Croccolo.

 12 
John Gould
(Ornithologist)
John Gould
3
Birthdate: September 14, 1804
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Lyme Regis, United Kingdom
Died: February 3, 1881
 13 
Gilbert White
(Naturalist)
Gilbert White
3
Birthdate: July 18, 1720
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Selborne, Hampshire, England
Died: June 26, 1793
 14 
William Beebe
(US Explorer and Ornithologist Who Co-Discovered the Bathysphere)
William Beebe
3
Birthdate: July 29, 1877
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: June 4, 1962

American marine biologist, ornithologist, and entomologist William Beebe is remembered for his exploratory expeditions conducted for the New York Zoological Society. He also co-discovered the Bathysphere, penned many books, was a renowned lecturer, worked with the New York Zoological Gardens, and led tropical research at the New York Zoological Society.

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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 Henry Hudson
(Anglo-Argentine Author, Naturalist and Ornithologist)
William Henry Hudson
2
Birthdate: August 4, 1841
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Quilmes, Buenos Aires Province, 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.

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 17 
Hubert Wilkins
(Australian Polar Explorer, Ornithologist, Pilot, Soldier, Geographer and Photographer)
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.

 18 
William Bartram
(The 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

William Bartram was an American ornithologist, botanist, explorer, and natural historian. He is best remembered for authoring an acclaimed book, which is now known as Bartram's Travels. The book chronicles Bartram's explorations of the British colonies in North America. William Bartram was also one of America's first ornithologists.

 19 
Robert Dougall
(Ornithologist)
Robert Dougall
2
Birthdate: November 27, 1913
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Croydon, Surrey, England
Died: December 19, 1999
 20 
Roger Tory Peterson
(US Ornithologist and a Leading Figure of the 20th-Century Environmental Movement)
Roger Tory Peterson
2
Birthdate: August 28, 1908
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Jamestown, New York, United States
Died: July 28, 1996

US ornithologist, environmentalist, and wildlife artist Roger Tory Peterson was one of the leading figures of the environmental movement of the 20th century. Known for his iconic books such as Wild America and the Peterson Field Guide Series, he received countless honors and awards, too, such as the US Medal of Freedom.

 21 
Spencer Fullerton Baird
(US Naturalist, Ornithologist, and Zoologist Who Mostly Studied North American Birds and Mammals)
Spencer Fullerton Baird
2
Birthdate: February 3, 1823
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Reading, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: August 19, 1887

American naturalist, ornithologist, and vertebrate zoologist Spencer Fullerton Baird was an expert on North American birds and mammals. Initially a professor of natural history, he was later associated with the Smithsonian Institution as a curator and assistant secretary. He was also instrumental in the establishment of the US Commission of Fish and Fisheries.

 22 
Lorenz Oken
(One of the Most Prominent German Natural Philosophers of the 19th Century)
Lorenz Oken
2
Birthdate: August 1, 1779
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Bohlsbach, Germany
Died: August 11, 1851

German naturalist and botanist Lorenz Oken is remembered as one of the most significant German natural philosophers of the 19th century and a leader of the Naturphilosophie movement. His studies on Wolfgang von Goethe’s theory on the vertebrate skull helped prepare ground for Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

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 23 
Thomas Pennant
(Welsh Naturalist, Traveller and Writer Known for Writings on Natural History, Geology and Geographical Expeditions)
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.

 24 
Clinton Hart Merriam
(Father of Mammalogy)
Clinton Hart Merriam
2
Birthdate: December 5, 1855
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: March 19, 1942

Clinton Hart Merriam was an American mammalogist, zoologist, ornithologist, ecologist, entomologist, geographer, ethnographer, physician, and naturalist. Referred to as the father of mammalogy, Merriam owned a private collection of mammal specimens. Clinton Hart Merriam is also credited with co-founding the National Geographic Society and the American Ornithologists' Union.

 25 
Giovanni Antonio Scopoli
(Italian Naturalist and Physician)
Giovanni Antonio Scopoli
0
Birthdate: June 3, 1723
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Cavalese, Italy
Died: May 8, 1788

Giovanni Antonio Scopoli was an Italian naturalist and physician. He published a number of taxonomic works, such as Entomologia Carniolica, which described hundreds of new species. Giovanni Antonio Scopoli also served as a professor at the University of Pavia and the Mining Academy in Schemnitz.

 26 
John Gerrard Keulemans
2
Birthdate: June 8, 1842
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Rotterdam, Netherlands
Died: March 29, 1912
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 27 
Elliott Coues
(American Ornithologist Who Advanced the Study and Classification of 'North American Birds')
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.

 28 
Ronald Lockley
(Welsh Ornithologist and Naturalist Best Known for His Book 'The Private Life of the Rabbit')
Ronald Lockley
2
Birthdate: November 8, 1903
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Cardiff, Wales
Died: April 12, 2000

Ronald Mathias Lockley was a Welsh naturalist and ornithologist. He is credited with writing more than 50 books, which include a detailed study of shearwaters. He is best remembered for his 1964 book The Private Life of the Rabbit, which inspired Richard Adams' 1972 children's book Watership Down. Ronald Mathias Lockley also made immense contributions to magazines like The Countryman.

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 29 
Edward Max Nicholson
(Environmentalist, Ornithologist and Internationalist Best Remembered as a Founder of the ‘World Wildlife Fund’)
Edward Max Nicholson
1
Birthdate: July 12, 1904
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kilternan, Ireland
Died: April 26, 2003

Environmentalist, ornithologist and internationalist Edward Max Nicholson is most noted as a founder of World Wildlife Fund (presently World Wide Fund for Nature Inc.), world’s largest conservation-organization. Nicholson was also a member of the British policy-think-tank Political and Economic Planning (PEP) that was formed in response to his article A National Plan for Britain published in The Week-End Review magazine.

 30 
Sidney Dillon Ripley
(American Wildlife Conservationist and Ornithologist)
Sidney Dillon Ripley
1
Birthdate: September 20, 1913
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: March 12, 2001

Sidney Dillon Ripley was an American wildlife conservationist and ornithologist. He is best remembered for his association with the Smithsonian Institution, where he served as secretary between 1964 and 1984. He was part of the institute through its period of greatest expansion and growth. Sidney Ripley’s leadership role at the Smithsonian earned him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1985.

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 31 
Florence Merriam Bailey
(American Birdwatcher, Ornithologist, and Nature Writer)
Florence Merriam Bailey
1
Birthdate: August 8, 1863
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Locust Grove, Syosset, New York, United States
Died: September 22, 1948

Florence Augusta Merriam Bailey was an American birdwatcher, ornithologist, and nature writer. Over the course of her career, Merriam wrote more than 50 articles for journals like The Condor. Among her best known works are Birds Through a Looking-Glass and Birds of New Mexico. Florence Augusta Merriam Bailey was the first woman to be honored with the prestigious Brewster Medal.

 32 
Tso-hsin Cheng
(Ornithologist)
Tso-hsin Cheng
1
Birthdate: November 18, 1906
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Fuzhou, China
Died: June 27, 1998
 33 
Frank Chapman
(American Ornithologist and Writer of Field Guides)
Frank Chapman
1
Birthdate: June 12, 1864
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Teaneck, New Jersey, United States
Died: November 15, 1945

Frank Chapman was an American ornithologist and writer of field guides. He is best remembered for his immense contribution to magazines and scientific journals like the National Geographic Magazine. Frank Chapman also wrote numerous ornithological books, such as Birds of Eastern North America, Bird Life, and Life in an Air Castle.

 34 
Alfred Newton
(Ornithologist)
Alfred Newton
1
Birthdate: June 11, 1829
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Geneva, Switzerland
Died: June 7, 1907
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 35 
Alexander Wetmore
(American Ornithologist and Paleontologist Known for His Research on Birds of the Western Hemisphere)
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.

 36 
Margaret Morse Nice
(American Ornithologist Who is Remembered for His Extensive Study of Song Sparrow)
Margaret Morse Nice
1
Birthdate: December 6, 1883
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Amherst, Massachusetts, United States
Died: June 26, 1974

Margaret Morse Nice was an American ornithologist, child psychologist, and ethologist. She is best remembered for her extensive study of song sparrow. Nice is credited with writing Studies in the Life History of the Song Sparrow. Over the course of her career, Margaret Morse Nice wrote almost 250 papers on birds. She also wrote several books, including Birds of Oklahoma.

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 37 
Jean Théodore Delacour
(French-American Aviculturist and Ornithologist Who Reared and Studied Rare Birds)
Jean Théodore Delacour
1
Birthdate: September 26, 1890
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: November 5, 1985

French-American aviculturist and ornithologist Jean Theodore Delacour is remembered for his study of some of the rarest birds in the world. His first aviary, of over 1,000 live birds, was destroyed in World War I, but he built a second one in Normandy. He also penned works such as The Birds of French Indochina.

 38 
John Xantus
(Zoologist, Ornithologist)
John Xantus
0
Birthdate: October 5, 1825
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Hungary
Died: December 13, 1894
 39 
Harriet Mann Miller
(American Children's Author, Ornithologist, and Naturalist)
Harriet Mann Miller
0
Birthdate: June 25, 1831
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Auburn, New York, United States
Died: December 25, 1918

US author and ornithologist Harriet Mann Miller, also known by her pseudonyms such as Olive Thorne and Olive Thorne Miller, began her career as a children’s author, before switching to making nature sketches. She later also penned a series of bird-oriented books and the Kristy series.

 40 
Peter Marler
(British-born American Zoosemiotician and Ethologist)
Peter Marler
1
Birthdate: February 24, 1928
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Slough, United Kingdom
Died: July 5, 2014

Peter Marler was a British-born American zoosemiotician and ethologist. He is best remembered for his research on the science of bird song and animal sign communication. Peter Marler is also remembered for his association with the University of California, Davis, where he was emeritus professor of physiology, neurobiology, and ethology.

 41 
Fannie Hardy Eckstorm
(US Author, Folklorist, and Ornithologist Known for Her Writings on Maine)
Fannie Hardy Eckstorm
0
Birthdate: June 18, 1865
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Brewer, Maine, United States
Died: December 31, 1946

US author and ornithologist Fannie Hardy Eckstorm is remembered for her extensive writings on the folklore and culture of Maine, her native land. She also scripted history as the first female school superintendent in Maine and later penned countless books, such as The Woodpeckers and The Penobscot Man.

 42 
Richard Pough
(US Ornithologist and Conservationist Known for His Pioneering Work on Bird Preservation)
Richard Pough
0
Birthdate: April 19, 1904
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States
Died: June 24, 2003

US ornithologist and conservationist Richard Pough is known for his best-selling bird guides, written for the National Audubon Society. Apart from being the founder-president of the Nature Conservancy, he also drove socialite Rosalie Edge to launch the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary for birds. He was also associated with the American Museum of Natural History.

 43 
Frank Knowlton
(American Botanist, Ornithologist and Naturalist Who Discovered Much About the Distribution and Structure of Fossilized Plants)
Frank 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.