historical photo of a group of ornithologists - ornithology biographies page

People who study birds have made fundamental contributions to our understanding of almost every biological phenomenon, as well as contributing to our basic knowledge of the biology of hundreds of bird species.

On this page we provide links to a wide variety of information about many of these women and men who have studied birds, from personal autobiographies and learned biographies to memorial tributes and, occasionally, stories of adventure in field and laboratory.

A few prominent ornithologists have been the subject of books chronicling their lives and work, mainly by biographers but sometimes by the ornithologists themselves. These are listed here in alphabetical order by the last name of the ornithologist rather than the book’s author.

Regional Ornithology Biographies

Nowak E (2005). Wissenschaftler in turbulenten Zeiten. Erinnerungen an Ornithologen, Naturschützer und andere Naturkundler. Stock und Stein: Schwerin. Personal memories and biographical details of around fifty mid–20th century European ornithologists active during the Second World War and the subsequent twenty–five years.

Neumann J, et al. (2010). Lebensbilder sächsischer Ornithologen. Mitt. Ver. Sächs. Ornithol. [Mitteilungen des Vereins Sächsischer Ornithologen] 10, Sonderheft 3. Hohenstein–Ernstthal.] Detailed biographies of all known ornithologists in Saxony, Germany.

Charles Darwin

Beer GD (1974) Charles Darwin; Thomas Henry Huxley: autobiographies. Oxford University Press, London.

Browne J (1995) Charles Darwin, Voyaging. Pimlico, London.

Peter and Rosemary Grant

Weiner J (1994) The Beak of the Finch. Alfred Knopf, New York.

David Lack

Anderson T (2013) The Life of David Lack: Father of Evolutionary Ecology. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Konrad Lorenz

Greenstein E (2010) The Goose Man: The Story of Konrad Lorenz. Clarion Books

Nisbett A (1997) Konrad Lorenz. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Burkhardt R (2005) Patterns of Behavior: Konrad Lorenz, Niko Tinbergen, and the Founding of Ethology. University Of Chicago Press, Chicago

Ernst Mayr

Haffer J (1997) “We Must Lead the Way on New Paths”: The Work and Correspondence of Hartert, Stresemann and Ernst Mayr–International Ornithologists. Ludwigsburg, Germany: Jochen Hölzinger.

Haffer J (2008) Ornithology, Evolution, and Philosophy: The Life and Science of Ernst Mayr, 1904-2005. Springer-Verlag, Berlin

Margaret Morse Nice

Nice MM (1979) Research is a Passion With Me. Consolidated Amethyst Publications, Toronto.

Richard Meinertzhagen

Garfield B (2007) The Meinertzhagen Mystery: The Life and Legend of a Colossal Fraud. Potomac Books Inc, Washington, DC.

Roger Tory Peterson

Carlson D (2012) Roger Tory Peterson: A Biography. University of Texas Press, Austin, TX.

Rosenthal E (2010) Birdwatcher: The Life of Roger Tory Peterson. Lyons Press, Guilford, CT.

Niko Tinbergen

Kruuk H (2003) Niko’s Nature: The Life of Niko Tinbergen and His Science of Animal Behaviour. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Burkhardt R (2005) Patterns of Behavior: Konrad Lorenz, Niko Tinbergen, and the Founding of Ethology. University Of Chicago Press

David Wingate

Gehrman E (2012) Rare Birds: The Extraordinary Tale of the Bermuda Petrel and the Man Who Brought It Back from Extinction. Beacon Press, Boston, MA.