Louis Agassiz Fuertes

Louis Agassiz Fuertes, an American bird artist, was born Feb. 7, 1874. Fuertes is considered by many to be the greatest bird painter America has ever seen, eclipsing even John James Audubon for that honor. When he made his first appearance at the annual meeting of the American Ornithological Union in Cambridge in 1896, while still a senior at Cornell, he was already getting a favorable comparison with Audubon from the likes of Elliott Coues, the dean of American ornithologists, and Frank Chapman, who would become Curator of Birds at the American Museum of Natural History…

William MacGillivray

William MacGillivray, a Scottish naturalist, was born Jan. 25, 1796. A native of Aberdeen, he moved at a young age to the Harris end of the island of Lewis and Harris, in the Outer Hebrides, just west of the northern Scottish mainland. He returned to Aberdeen to educate himself, and he used to walk back and forth between Harris and Aberdeen, a fair distance, even for someone on horseback. In 1819, at age 23, and now an enthusiastic birder, he got the urge to see the bird collection in the British Museum in London. So he set off on foot, with ten pounds in his pocket, a drinking glass, and a trowel, to visit a metropolis that was 840 miles away…

George Ord

George Ord, an American naturalist, died Jan. 24, 1866, at the age of about 85; his date of birth is unknown. Ord lived in Philadelphia and was a prominent member of the two great scientific societies of Philadelphia, the American Philosophical Society and the Academy of Natural Sciences. He was also a friend of the early American ornithologist, Alexander Wilson, and when Wilson died of overwork before finishing his 9-volume American Ornithology, Ord stepped in and saw the last volumes through the press…

William Gambel

William Gambel, an American naturalist, died Dec. 13, 1849; his date of birth is unknown. Gambel came from Philadelphia and for several years served as a field assistant to the well-respected Thomas Nuttall. Nuttall, an Englishman transplanted to Philadelphia, had been the first great naturalist explorer of California…

Margaret Morse Nice

Margaret Morse Nice, an American ornithologist, was born Dec. 6, 1883. She studied biology at Holyoke College and zoology as a graduate student, and wanted to pursue a career as a naturalist, but her parents persuaded her to abandon professional aspirations and accept a life as wife and mother, which she did…