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.

From the field

Congratulations to all of the recipients of this year's AOS awards! Our annual awards honor members for their research and volunteer work. The work of the 2020 awardees spans a diversity of ornithological disciplines from genetics to landscape ecology in a range of habitats around the world, as well as invaluable service to AOS and ornithology. This year’s slate of awardees represents just a small sample of the broad diversity of our members and the contributions they are making to the scientific study and conservation of birds. Learn more about all of them at the link in our profile! #ornithology #science #biologyThe charismatic Euphonia and Chlorophonia finches are small, colorful birds that inhabit forests and woodlands from Mexico to Brazil as well as much of the Caribbean, and how exactly they fit into the songbird family tree has been debated for 20 years. The researchers behind a paper recently published in The Auk used tissue specimens and study skins from every species in this group to generate 40 *billion* base pairs of sequence data, including nearly 5,000 loci from the nuclear genome and near-complete mitochondrial genomes for every species. This amazing dataset shows has helped resolve their relationships once and for all. It also suggests that this group likely dispersed from South America into the Caribbean and North America multiple times between 2 and 4 million years ago, lending support to a younger geological timeframe for the formation of the Isthmus of Panama than argued by some other recent studies. Photos by Daniel J. Field (University of Cambridge) and Tyler Imfeld. #ornithology #science #birds #wildlife #neotropicalbirds #taxonomy #biology #finchesOne final #NationalVolunteerWeek post! Meet Rebecca Kimball, longtime AOS volunteer and Treasurer of the society since 2015, one of the leaders helping shape AOS's future. We hope you've enjoyed celebrating Volunteer Week with us!Today for #NationalVolunteerWeek we're featuring Brian Peer, who's given his time to chair the AOS Research Awards Committee for the past eight years, leading the group that evaluates applications for Student Research Awards. Thank you, Brian!AOS is celebrating #NationalVolunteerWeek! Today, meet Kyle Horton, who volunteered his time to judge student presentations at last summer's AOS meeting in Anchorage, Alaska.Today for #NationalVolunteerWeek, meet Lori Hargrove! Lori works at the San Diego Natural History Museum and is a regular reviewer for AOS journal The Condor. Scholarly journals can't function without reviewers like Lori, who volunteer their time to read and assess the papers that are submitted.We're celebrating #NationalVolunteerWeek! AOS couldn't function without the many members who volunteer their time to assist with our meetings, publications, awards, and other programs, and we'll be introducing you to one of those volunteers every day this week. Today, meet Juita Martinez, a PhD student who helped staff the registration desk at last year's annual AOS meeting in Anchorage, Alaska!
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