AOS Council is pleased to announce the new Florence Merriam Bailey Publication Award. This new annual publication award, to be given in 2021, will recognize an outstanding article published within the preceding two calendar years by an early career member in an AOS journal. The award consists of a cash prize of $1,500 to the lead author. In even-numbered years, this new annual publication award will recognize a paper published in Ornithology. In odd-numbered years a paper published in Ornithological Applications will be recognized. All award nominees are expected to have a high standard of ethical and social behavior that is strongly aligned with the AOS Code of Conduct & Ethics.

Award Eligibility Details & Selection Process

  • The award is presented to the lead author no more than three calendar years post terminal degree (Master’s or Ph.D.) at the time their paper is published. A recipient of the Bailey award may only receive the award once.
  • The award is administered by the Publication Awards Committee.
  • The annual cycle coincides with the awarding of the Painton and Kessell Publication awards for best papers in Ornithological Applications and Ornithology, respectively.
  • The criteria for eligibility coincides with the James G. Cooper Early Professional Award (3 years post terminal degree). Any great paper by an early career member during the two-year publication period in the corresponding journal may be recognized.

Florence A. Merriam Bailey

Florence Merriam Bailey in the 1886 Smith College yearbook. Photograph by Notman Photographic Company.

Born in 1868, Florence A. Merriam Bailey became the preeminent woman ornithologist of the late 1800’s and throughout the early decades of the 1900’s. A frequent publisher in Auk and Condor, her scientific works chronicled bird distributions, habitat use, and breeding biology, especially throughout the western U.S. where she conducted numerous field trips with her husband (Vernon Bailey). By the time they were married in 1899, Florence Merriam Bailey had already established herself as an important ornithologist and she continued to publish at a rapid clip including tens of papers in both Auk (e.g., 1904, 1905, 1919) and Condor (e.g., 1904, 1912, 1916, 1918, 1922). Some of her longer key works are listed below. A fuller but brief account of her life is here and in this memorial in the Auk.

Florence A. Merriam Bailey was also very involved in bird conservation, having campaigned against slaughtering birds for the millinery industry as a Smith undergrad where she founded the “chapter” of what would eventually become the National Audubon Society, and inspired the Lacey Act, which prohibited trade in illegally acquired wildlife, and the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.  She is also credited with producing the first field guides to birds and a book that launched bird watching through binoculars (see below).

Florence A. Merriam Bailey was the first woman “associate” (member) of the AOU in 1885, first woman elected as a Fellow of the AOU in 1929 and the first woman to receive the Brewster Award (1932). She was also honored by the Cooper Ornithological Society. Merriam Bailey was also a member of the Cooper Ornithological Club, the Wilson Ornithological Club, the National Audubon Society, and the Biological Society of Washington.

She passed away in 1948, was memorialized in the Auk and finally received a deserved obituary in The New York Times in 2019.

Major books:

1889 Birds Through the Opera Glass (225 pages) is the book credited with ushering in modern bird watching.  doi:10.5962/bhl.title.60311

1896 A-Birding on a Bronco (227 pages)  doi:10.5962/bhl.title.12539

1898 Birds of Village and Field: A Bird Book for Beginners (406 pages) which contained simple field color-keys for bird identifications and more than 200 drawings by Ernest Thompson Seton, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, and John L. Ridgway.  doi:10.5962/bhl.title.30028

1902 Handbook of Birds of the Western United States (600 pages) became the companion volume to Chapman’s Birds of the Eastern US (1895), and was arguably more complete. doi:10.5962/bhl.title.7872

1928   Birds of New Mexico (807 pages) was recognized as a major work, which culminated in the Brewster Medal (1931)

1939   “Among the Birds in the Grand Canyon National Park” (211 pages) was published by the National Park Service in 1939, when she was 75.

Previous Florence Merriam Bailey Award Winners

2023Allison E. Huysman, Nathan W. Cooper, Joseph A. Smith, Susan M. Haig, Susan A. Heath, Luanne Johnson, Elizabeth Olson, Kevin Regan, Jennifer K. Wilson, Peter P. Marra. 2022. Strong migratory connectivity indicates Willets need subspecies-specific conservation strategies. Ornithological Applications 124, Issue 3: 1-11
2022Amelia-Juliette Demery, Kevin J. Burns, & Nicholas A. Mason. 2021. Bill size, bill shape, and body size constrain bird song evolution on a macroevolutionary scale. Ornithology 138, Issue 2: 1–11
2021Megan Garfinkel, Emily S. Minor, & C. J. Whelan. 2020. Birds suppress pests in corn but release them in soybean crops within a mixed prairie/agricultural system. The Condor: Ornithological Applications 122, Issue 2: 1-12.