Robert Ridgway

Robert Ridgway (July 2, 1850 – March 25, 1929) was an American ornithologist specializing in systematics. He was appointed in 1880 by Spencer Fullerton Baird, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, to be the first full-time curator of birds at the United States National Museum, a title he held until his death. In 1883, he helped found the American Ornithologists' Union, where he served as officer and journal editor. Ridgway was an outstanding descriptive taxonomist, capping his life work with The Birds of North and Middle America (eight volumes, 1901–1919). In his lifetime, he was unmatched in the number of North American bird species that he described for science. As technical illustrator, Ridgway used his own paintings and outline drawings to complement his writing. He also published two books that systematized color names for describing birds, A Nomenclature of Colors for Naturalists (1886) and Color Standards and Color Nomenclature (1912). Ornithologists all over the world continue to cite Ridgway's color studies and books.

Robert Ridgway
Robert Ridgway sitting
BornJuly 2, 1850
DiedMarch 25, 1929 (aged 78)
Known forSystematics, The Birds of North and Middle America, Color Standards and Color Nomenclature
AwardsDaniel Giraud Elliot Medal (1919)
Scientific career
InstitutionsSmithsonian Institution
InfluencesSpencer Fullerton Baird
Author abbrev. (botany)Ridgway
Author abbrev. (zoology)Ridgway


Early life and family

Ridgway was born in Mount Carmel, Illinois to David and Henrietta (née Reed) Ridgway. He was the oldest of ten children.[1] He was educated at common schools in his native town, where he showed a special fondness for natural history.[2] This interest to explore nature, both shooting with a gun given to him by his father, as well as drawing from life, was encouraged by his parents, his uncle William, and his aunt Fannie Gunn.[3]

In 1871 he met Julia Evelyn Perkins, the daughter of one of the engravers for The History of North American Birds.[4] Ridgway's courtship of the girl who became known as "Evvie" lasted until she reached the age of eighteen, and they were married on October 12, 1875.[4]

Ornithological training and the King expedition

In 1864, at the age of thirteen, the young Ridgway wrote to the Commissioner of Patents, seeking advice on the identification of a bird he had seen. He enclosed a full-sized color drawing of what turned out to be a pair of purple finches. His letter eventually was referred to Spencer Fullerton Baird of the Smithsonian Institution. Baird replied, identifying the bird and praising the boy's artistic abilities, yet cautioning him to learn and use the scientific names of birds in further correspondence.[5]

The mentor and protégé continued their exchange of letters, which led to Ridgway's appointment, in the spring of 1867, as the naturalist on Clarence King's Survey of the 40th Parallel.[2] After a brief, intensive stint of training in Washington, where he learned to prepare study skins, Ridgway joined the expedition in May.[6] Starting from Sacramento, California, the team explored parts of Nevada, Utah Territory, and Idaho Territory. A highlight of the trip was a stop at Nevada's Pyramid Lake.[7] In the fall of 1868, the members of the team were reduced for funding reasons, but Ridgway returned in 1869 for more work in Utah.[8] In an undertaking that lasted nearly two years, Ridgway collected 1,522 bird-related specimens (753 nests and eggs and 769 skins) and served as a key member on one of the four great surveys of the American West.[8] He observed 262 species, most of these on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada.[8] He had written most of his portion of King's report by 1872,[9] but the "Ornithology" section was not published until 1877.

The Washington years

Robert Ridgway BirdLore
Portrait in Bird Lore 1903

Upon his return to Washington, Ridgway illustrated and wrote for Baird and Thomas M. Brewer's History of North American Birds project.[10] He formally joined the Smithsonian in 1874, under the supervision of curator George Brown Goode.[11] In 1880 he received the job title of curator (variously, of ornithology or of the department of birds); he was titled Curator of Birds from 1886 until his death.[10] Working with the institution's collection of approximately fifty thousand bird skins, Ridgway devoted himself to unraveling the taxonomic relationships among North American bird species.[12] As well, he continued his field work to collect new specimens, making several trips to his home state of Illinois, Florida, other states of the U.S., and Costa Rica.[13] The Smithsonian exchanged study skins with other museums, either by donation or loan, and provided material and publications to collectors such as José Castulo Zeledón of the Costa Rican National Museum in exchange for specimens.[14]

Ridgway was articulate and literate, and served as the Smithsonian's mouthpiece and representative for many years in the study of birds. He welcomed visits to the museum from colleagues and the general public alike, and would give tours.[15] One of his responsibilities involved assembling public exhibits. In the interest of accessibility, he made books available for browsing and displayed examples of birds described in popular natural histories. As well, he showed birds from well-known poetry, species like the nightingale that are not found in North America.[16] Returning the favor that Baird had paid him, he responded to letters from the public to identify birds and provided artist's materials to a painter in California.[17] Nevertheless, friends and colleagues described him as almost painfully shy, and he generally shirked publicity and the limelight.[18]

Among Ridgway's colleagues at the Smithsonian were Pierre Louis Jouy, who provided an important collection of Asian birds in 1883.[19] Charles Wallace Richmond joined the institution in 1893 (at first, as a night watchman) and was soon tasked by Ridgway with writing reviews and other short pieces.[20] During Samuel Pierpont Langley's tenure as Secretary, Ridgway assisted Langley's aviation research. He provided calculations of the wing loading and other aerodynamic characteristics of species like the wandering albatross, turkey vulture, and other soaring birds.[21]

In 1883, Robert Ridgway was a founding member of the American Ornithologists' Union (AOU)[22] and he became an associate editor of the organization's journal The Auk.[23] He was prevailed upon to serve as an officer of the organization, but on the condition that he not be required to preside at public meetings.[18][24] He served as a vice president of the AOU (September 1883 – November 1891)[22][25] and as its president (November 1898 – November 1900).[26][27]

As scientific knowledge expanded quickly in the second half of the nineteenth century, the need for reorganizing the system of names used to describe North American birds grew commensurately. For example, certain names assigned by William Bartram in his catalog of 1791 were now deemed unusable.[28] Robert Ridgway addressed this need with two publications in 1880 and 1881, while Elliott Coues published a competing checklist in 1882.[29] Ridgway and Coues, along with Joel Asaph Allen, William Brewster, and Henry W. Henshaw, came together as a committee on nomenclature and classification, serving the newly founded AOU, to reconcile the various systems and catalogs. In 1886, the committee released The Code of Nomenclature and Check-List of North American Birds, both a consistent checklist and a set of rules for the naming of birds to be described in the future. The Code settled the disagreement about capitalization of species names[30] and established today's order of presentation, with waterbirds first and passerines last.[31] Several of the handbook's innovations were adopted by other branches of zoology, and were incorporated into the 1905 version of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature.[32]

The committee's work served to standardize the way that birds are described, identifying them at the subspecies level and using a three-part trinomial name. While American ornithologists embraced the descriptive detail, European researchers of the time were reluctant to adopt it.[33] Ridgway was an enthusiastic supporter of trinomial nomenclature,[34] although his thinking in later life became more moderate.[35][36]

Other affiliations

Robert Ridgway was corresponding member of the Zoological Society of London; was associated with the Davenport (Iowa) Academy of Natural Sciences, the New York Academy of Sciences, the Brookville, Indiana, Society of Natural History, and the Chicago Academy of Sciences; and was a foreign member of the British Ornithologists' Union.[2] He was a member of the permanent ornithological committee of the first international congress at Vienna in 1884.[37] Ridgway was also honorary member of the Nuttall Ornithological Club of Cambridge, Massachusetts, for which he contributed illustrations and 48 articles to its Bulletin.[38]

The short-lived Ridgway Ornithological Club of Chicago, Illinois (active from 1883 to about 1890) was named in Ridgway's honor, and he was an honorary member.[39][40]

Although he lacked formal post-secondary education, Ridgway received an honorary master's degree in science from Indiana University in 1884, as a sign of gratitude for his supplying them with bird specimens after their museum burned down. He was listed with the title of Professor in Smithsonian annual reports and staff directories, despite his lack of a teaching appointment.[41][42][a] He is sometimes referred to as "Dr. Ridgway," particularly by writers from his home state of Illinois. Ella Dean's profile is an example.[43]

The Harriman expedition

D.G. Elliot, A.K. Fisher, and Robert Ridgway in woods bordering Indian River, Sitka, Alaska, 1899
Ridgway (right) with D. G. Elliot and A. K. Fisher in Alaska, 1899

In 1899, Robert Ridgway joined E. H. Harriman on his famous Harriman Alaska Expedition. John Muir, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, John Burroughs, Edward S. Curtis, and a number of other scientists and artists made a four-month expedition to study the flora and fauna of Alaska's coastline. However, the trip did not yield significant publications by Ridgway.[44]

Other family members

Robert and Julia Ridgway had one son, Audubon Whelock Ridgway (May 15, 1877 – February 22, 1901). "Audie" had begun a promising career in ornithology at the Field Museum of Natural History when his life was cut short by a fatal bout of pneumonia.[45][46]

Robert Ridgway's second-born brother, John Livzey Ridgway (February 28, 1859 – December 27, 1947), was a nationally prominent bird illustrator who worked for many years at the United States Geological Survey, as well as the Smithsonian, the California Institute of Technology, and the Los Angeles County Museum of History, Science, and Art.[1][47] The two brothers often collaborated on illustrations, sometimes with Robert doing the drawing and John the coloring.[48]

Later life and death

Grave marker of Robert Ridgway, at Bird Haven.

In early June, 1913, Robert Ridgway and his wife Julia ("Evvie") moved to Olney, Illinois, to reduce physical and mental stress so that he might complete The Birds of North and Middle America, of which five of eight parts had already appeared.[49] They built a new house on 8 acres (3.2 hectares) that they had purchased in 1906, and named the place Larchmound for two large larch trees growing on the property.[50] Ridgway also acquired a tract of 18 acres (7.3 hectares) located in the country, to be called Bird Haven, which he developed as a private nature reserve for birds and as a nursery for cultivation of non-native plants.[51] His skill in landscaping and tending to the grounds was such that his expertise in that area was in some demand. Bird Haven, in part, is now an Olney city park.[52]

Evvie's death on May 24, 1927 was a severe blow to Robert.[53][54] Robert continued to live at Larchmound, tending to his beloved trees and shrubs, until his death on March 25, 1929, at the age of 78.[55] Robert was buried at Bird Haven where Julia's ashes had been scattered.[56]


Bald Eagle by Dr. Robert Ridgway
A chromolithograph of a bald eagle by Robert Ridgway, from A.K. Fisher's The hawks and owls of the United States in their relation to agriculture (US Dept of Agriculture, 1893)

Robert Ridgway's first publication, at the age of 18, was an article about the belted kingfisher. In the course of the next 60 years, he would go on to publish more than 500 titles and 13,000 printed pages, most of it concerning North American birds.[57][58][59][60][b]

Ridgway collaborated with Brewer and Baird on the five-volume History of North American Birds (three volumes on the land birds published in 1874, and two volumes published as The Water Birds of North America in 1884). In its time, the work was considered the standard work on North American ornithology.[61] While Ridgway primarily contributed illustrations to the land bird volumes, he wrote the bulk of the water bird volumes.[62]

Ridgway provided full-color illustrations for his own books and those of others. He was at the peak of his artistic proficiency in the late 1870s. Even though certain of his contemporaries (for instance, Daniel Giraud Elliot) may have produced more artistically pleasing renderings, Ridgway's were the most accurate. In the words of his biographer Daniel Lewis, Ridgway "may have had the best grasp of bird coloration in the country."[63]

With the publication of A Manual of North American Birds in 1887, Robert Ridgway condensed what was known about the continent's birds into a relatively compact 642 pages and 464 outline drawings. A prototype of today's field guides, it was quite successful, going into a second edition in 1896, and was described by Montague Chamberlain as "far away the best thing we have for the working naturalist."[64] Nevertheless, its bulk was unwieldy for use in the field, and its identification keys depended on characteristics of the bird in the hand, not field marks.[65] Harry Oberholser characterized the quality of the illustrations as "rarely equaled, never excelled" in beauty and accuracy.[66]

With Stephen Alfred Forbes, he wrote a two-volume work, The Ornithology of Illinois. Ridgway's contributions were published in two parts, in 1889 and 1895.[67] Ridgway also published a number of papers dealing with the woody plants of his region.[68] He contributed twenty short pieces to Forest and Stream, a magazine edited by George Bird Grinnell.[69]

The color books

Robert Ridgway published two books whose goal was to standardize the names of colors used by ornithologists to describe birds. The first, A Nomenclature of Colors for Naturalists, appeared in 1886, and was relatively small in scope, illustrating 186 colors. It proposed a simple classification system, doing away with many subjective and evocative names that were currently popular.[70]

Ridgway sought to improve and expand upon this work. By 1898, he was in discussions with Secretary Langley about a new, expanded dictionary of color, to be published by (or at least supported by) the Smithsonian.[71] An advisory committee was formed, with scientific illustrator William Henry Holmes as chairman and Richard Rathbun (newly appointed assistant secretary) as one of its five members.[72] Children's game inventor Milton Bradley, who had devised a color wheel for instructional use, was consulted by the project.[73] Langley thought it important that the work include spectral information about the colors to be cataloged,[74] and he proposed physicist and color theorist Ogden Rood as a co-editor of the work.[75] In 1901, however, the tension between the committee's broad vision of commercial applications for the project and Ridgway's narrow objective of a naturalist's reference book ended the Ridgway-Smithsonian collaboration in the endeavor.[76]

Ridgway published Color Standards and Color Nomenclature himself in 1912, financed in part by a loan from his friend and colleague Zeledón.[77][78] The work became a standard reference used by ornithologists for decades after Ridgway's death, as well as specialists in such wide-ranging fields as mycology, philately, and food coloring.[79] The book named 1,115 colors, illustrated with painted samples reproduced on 53 plates.[80] Special care was taken to ensure consistency of color reproduction across the edition, as well as the prevention of fading.[81] The color samples were printed as large sheets by A. Hoen & Co., cut into swatches one inch by one-and-one-half inches, and pasted into each bound book.[82]

In the book's foreword, Ridgway acknowledged the assistance of many, among them his brother John, Zeledón, and ornithologist John Thayer.[83] With more than a thousand colors to be named, Ridgway devised some of his own imaginative identifiers (such as Dragons-blood Red and Pleroma Blue). He also paid tribute to colleagues, including Rood (with colors like Rood's Lavender), Bradley (Bradley's Blue), field guide pioneer Frank Chapman, watercolorist Samuel Prout, and others.[84]

Descriptions of new forms

A significant proportion of Ridgway's output consisted of formal scientific descriptions of new forms of birds (new genera, species, and subspecies), many of them native to Central and South America. Many of these papers were short reports dealing with a single taxon, but he also would describe tens of new forms in a single publication, as in a paper describing 22 species from the Galápagos Islands[85] or his Manual of North American Birds (four new genera, 39 new species and subspecies).[86] As subsequent research has revised the taxonomy of birds, not all of the forms that Ridgway described remain recognized as distinct, but his contributions are still substantial. During his lifetime, no other ornithologist described more new taxa of American birds than Ridgway.[87]

While most of the forms described and named by Ridgway came from outside the United States, in one instance he identified a new taxon first collected no earlier than 1881, in the Catskill Mountains of New York, an area already well-explored by ornithologists. From two specimens collected by Eugene Bicknell, Ridgway wrote the description of Bicknell's thrush as a subspecies of gray-cheeked thrush, naming it for Bicknell.[88][89] The bird, a breeder of New England and southern Canada, has since been recognized as a distinct species.[90]

From specimens collected in 1888, Ridgway was the first to describe hood mockingbird, Española cactus finch, Geospiza conirostris, and medium tree finch, all endemic to the Galápagos.[91] The latter two are members of the so-called Darwin's finch group of tanagers, significant for their impact on Charles Darwin's reasoning about evolution and the emergence of new species.[92]

The Birds of North and Middle America

Robert Ridgway's career-crowning work, on bird systematics, was the monumental 6,000-page The Birds of North and Middle America, published by the Smithsonian in eleven volumes between 1901 and 1950. He began the work in 1894 at the direction of Goode. A major objective of the work was to resolve problems of naming and classification in the scientific literature of the time and to identify synonyms.[93] Dry, rigorous, and technically detailed in its language, the book was not considered to be accessible by the general reading public.[94] Continuing the pattern of the Manual (and Baird's earlier Review of American Birds), each volume featured an appendix of engraved outline drawings of generic characteristics.[95]

Ridgway published the eighth installment of the work, commonly known as Bulletin 50, in 1919. Although he continued to work on the project, outlining a projected two more volumes, it was incomplete at the time of his death in 1929.[96] Following Ridgway's plan but doing his own writing, Herbert Friedmann of the Smithsonian completed the final three volumes.[97]

The Birds of North and Middle America and Color Standards and Color Nomenclature are complementary works, and indeed Ridgway divided his time between the two projects in the first decade of the century. He used his own color terms extensively throughout Bulletin 50.[98]

Legacy and recognition

Spencer Fullerton Baird and his followers emphasized precision of description, traceability through the literature, the accumulation of empirical evidence (that is, numerous specimens), and deductions drawn from facts—in opposition to the so-called "European school" of the time, which depended on personal authority.[99] Harris calls Robert Ridgway and his Birds of North and Middle America the culmination of the "Bairdian school" of bird study.[100] However, as ornithology around the turn of the twentieth century began to focus on bird behavior, reproduction strategies, and other aspects of the living organism, Ridgway fell behind the advances made by his colleagues of the succeeding generations. Paradoxically, because the overwhelming Bulletin 50 was so authoritative, no new publication could replace it for many years. Accordingly, systematics declined in importance as a means to study birds.[101]

Birds named for Ridgway include the buff-collared nightjar, Caprimulgus ridgwayi (once known as Ridgway's whip-poor-will);[102] the turquoise cotinga, Cotinga ridgwayi; the Caribbean subspecies of the osprey, Pandion haliaetus ridgwayi; a Big Island subspecies of the ʻelepaio, Chasiempis sandwichensis ridgwayi; Ridgway's hawk, Buteo ridgwayi; Ridgway's Rail, Rallus obsoletus; and many other species and subspecies.[103] The monotypic genus Ridgwayia is named for him; it consists of Aztec thrush, R. pinicola.[104]

In 1919, Ridgway was awarded the Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal from the National Academy of Sciences for his Birds of North and Middle America.[105][106] The Academy elected him to membership in 1926.[107] In 1921, he was the first to receive the AOU's William Brewster Memorial Award, which recognizes "an exceptional body of work on birds of the Western Hemisphere."[107][108]

The American Birding Association has established the Robert Ridgway Award for Publications in Field Ornithology, which recognizes professional achievements in field ornithology literature.[109]

Selected publications


  1. ^ a b Lewis (2012), p. 3.
  2. ^ a b c Wikisource-logo.svg Wilson, J. G.; Fiske, J., eds. (1900). "Ridgway, Robert" . Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton.
  3. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 4–5.
  4. ^ a b Lewis (2012), p. 49.
  5. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 7–8.
  6. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 15–18.
  7. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 23–25.
  8. ^ a b c Lewis (2012), p. 27.
  9. ^ Lewis (2012), p. 30.
  10. ^ a b Wetmore (1931), p. 60.
  11. ^ Lewis (2012), p. 52.
  12. ^ Lewis (2012), p. 38.
  13. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 58–61.
  14. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 44–45.
  15. ^ Lewis (2012), p. 39.
  16. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 41–42.
  17. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 43–44.
  18. ^ a b Harris (1928), p. 53.
  19. ^ Lewis (2012), p. 53.
  20. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 57–58.
  21. ^ Harris (1928), p. 63.
  22. ^ a b "The American Ornithologists' Union". Bulletin of the Nuttall Ornithological Club. VIII (4): 221–226. October 1883. Retrieved 18 December 2012.
  23. ^ Lewis (2012), p. 104.
  24. ^ Oberholser (1933), pp. 165–166.
  25. ^ "Ninth Congress of the American Ornithologists' Union" (PDF). The Auk. 9 (1): 56–59. January 1892. doi:10.2307/4067598. Retrieved 1 February 2013.
  26. ^ Sage, John H. (January 1899). "Sixteenth Congress of the American Ornithologists' Union" (PDF). The Auk. 16 (1): 51–55. doi:10.2307/4069268. Retrieved 1 February 2013.
  27. ^ Sage, John H. (January 1901). "Eighteenth Congress of the American Ornithologists' Union" (PDF). The Auk. 18 (1): 63–67. doi:10.2307/4069676. Retrieved 1 February 2013.
  28. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 151–152,159.
  29. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 152–154.
  30. ^ Lewis (2012), p. 163.
  31. ^ Lewis (2012), p. 167.
  32. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 170–172.
  33. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 173–180.
  34. ^ Lewis (2012), p. 175.
  35. ^ Ridgway, Robert (April 1923). "A Plea for Caution in the Use of Trinomials" (PDF). The Auk. 40 (2): 375–376. doi:10.2307/4073877. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  36. ^ Lewis (2012), p. 223.
  37. ^ "Ridgway, Robert". The Cyclopædia of American Biographies. 6. Cambridge, MA: John Wilson and Son. 1903. p. 479. ISBN 9781428640511. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
  38. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 75,80,87.
  39. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 45–46.
  40. ^ "Bulletin of the Ridgway Ornithological Club" (2). 1887: 3, 84. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
  41. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 52–53.
  42. ^ University Archives, Indiana University. Details on the conferral of his honorary master's degree in the Board of Trustees minutes for 1884, p. 81.
  43. ^ Dean, Ella R. (March 1923). "Robert Ridgway at Home". In High School Visitor's Office (ed.). Proceedings of the High School Conference of November 23, 24 and 25, 1922. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois. pp. 112–117. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
  44. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 60–61.
  45. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 51,207.
  46. ^ Harris (1928), p. 36.
  47. ^ Palmer, T. S. (April 1954). "John Livzey Ridgway" (PDF). The Auk. 71 (2): 237. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  48. ^ Lewis (2012), p. 193.
  49. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 219–220.
  50. ^ Lewis (2012), p. 255.
  51. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 261–262.
  52. ^ City of Olney, Illinois. "Bird Haven". Retrieved 25 February 2013.
  53. ^ Wetmore (1931), p. 66.
  54. ^ Ridgway's correspondence at the Blacker-Wood Library in Montreal details his sense of loss. See, for instance, Ridgway to Wood, Casey Albert, 16 October 1927, Robert Ridgway Collection, Blacker-Wood Library, McGill University, Montreal.
  55. ^ Lewis (2012), p. 261.
  56. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 224,261.
  57. ^ Oberholser (1933), p. 165.
  58. ^ Harris (1928), pp. 71–118.
  59. ^ Wetmore (1931), pp. 69–101.
  60. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 267–300.
  61. ^ Oberholser (1933), p. 161.
  62. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 196–197.
  63. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 195–196.
  64. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 202–203.
  65. ^ Dunlap, Thomas R. (2011). In the Field, Among the Feathered: A History of Birders & Their Guides. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. p. 18.
  66. ^ Oberholser (1933), p. 164.
  67. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 199–200.
  68. ^ Lewis (2012), p. 200.
  69. ^ Lewis (2012), p. 191.
  70. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 231–233.
  71. ^ Lewis (2012), p. 235-238.
  72. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 239–240.
  73. ^ Lewis (2012), p. 238.
  74. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 235–236.
  75. ^ Lewis (2012), p. 242.
  76. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 242–243.
  77. ^ Ridgway, Robert to Ridgway, John Livzey, 26 August 1918, Robert Ridgway Collection, Blacker-Wood Library, McGill University, Montreal.
  78. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 246,257.
  79. ^ Lewis (2012), p. 235.
  80. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 241,249.
  81. ^ Lewis (2012), p. 248.
  82. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 249,255–256.
  83. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 246,248.
  84. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 252–253.
  85. ^ Ridgway, Robert (November 1894). "Descriptions of Twenty-Two New Species from the Galapagos Islands". Proceedings of the United States National Museum. 17 (1007): 357–370. doi:10.5479/si.00963801.1007.357. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
  86. ^ Harris (1928), p. 95.
  87. ^ Mayr, Ernst (1975). "Ridgway, Robert". In Gillispie, Charles Coulston (ed.). Dictionary of Scientific Biography. XI. New York, NY: Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 443–444.
  88. ^ Ridgway, Robert (1882). "Description of Two New Thrushes from the United States". Proceedings of the United States National Museum. 4 (240): 374–379. doi:10.5479/si.00963801.240.374. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
  89. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 115–116.
  90. ^ Ouellet, Henri (December 1993). "Bicknell's Thrush: Taxonomic Status and Distribution" (PDF). The Wilson Bulletin. 105 (4): 545–572.
  91. ^ Ridgway, Robert (February 1890). "Scientific Results of Explorations by the U. S. Fish Commission Steamer Albatross, No. I: Birds Collected on the Galapagos Islands in 1888". Proceedings of the United States National Museum. 12 (767): 101–128. doi:10.5479/si.00963801.12-767.101. Retrieved 11 March 2013.
  92. ^ Darwin, Charles (2009). Costa, James T. (ed.). The Annotated Origin: A Facsimile of the First Edition of On the Origin of Species. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. p. 398. ISBN 978-0-674-03281-1.
  93. ^ Lewis (2012), p. 203.
  94. ^ Lewis (2012), p. 216.
  95. ^ Lewis (2012), p. 205.
  96. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 223–224.
  97. ^ Lewis (2012), p. 225.
  98. ^ Lewis (2012), p. 237.
  99. ^ Lewis (2012), p. 67.
  100. ^ Harris (1928), pp. 63–65.
  101. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 211–212.
  102. ^ Gruson, Edward S. (1972). Words for Birds: A Lexicon of North American Birds with Biographical Notes. New York, N.Y.: Quadrangle Books. p. 153.
  103. ^ Harris (1928), p. 70.
  104. ^ Stejneger, Leonhard (February 1882). "Remarks on the Systematic Arrangement of the American Turdidae". Proceedings of the United States National Museum. 5: 460–461. doi:10.5479/si.00963801.5-301.449. Retrieved 8 March 2013.
  105. ^ "Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  106. ^ Lewis (2012), p. 221.
  107. ^ a b Wetmore (1931), p. 67.
  108. ^ "William Brewster Memorial Award". American Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  109. ^ "American Birding Association Awards". Retrieved 28 April 2018.
  110. ^ Lewis (2012), pp. 269–270.
  111. ^ "The Code Online". International Council of Zoological Nomenclature.
  112. ^ IPNI.  Ridgway.


External links

Abbott's booby

Abbott's booby (Papasula abbotti) is an endangered seabird of the sulid family, which includes gannets and boobies. It is a large booby, smaller than gannets, and is placed within its own monotypic genus. It was first identified from a specimen collected by William Louis Abbott, who discovered it on Assumption Island in 1892.

Abbott's booby breeds only in a few spots on the Australian territory of Christmas Island in the eastern Indian Ocean, although it formerly had a much wider range. It has white plumage with black markings, and is adapted for long-distance flight. It forages around Christmas Island, often around nutrient-rich oceanic upwellings, although individuals can travel for thousands of kilometres. Pairs mate for life and raise one chick every two or three years, nesting near the top of emergent trees in the rainforest canopy.

The population is decreasing. Historically much of its former habitat was logged to make way for phosphate mining. Some logging continues, and the effects of the former logging continue to adversely affect the current population. Another threat has been caused by the introduction of yellow crazy ants, which decrease habitat quality. Minimal habitat declines have a significant effect on the bird population. All nesting areas have been included in a national park.

Aldabra fody

The Aldabra fody (Foudia aldabrana) is a passerine bird in the family Ploceidae. It is endemic to Aldabra Island in the Indian Ocean.

Until recently it was treated as conspecific with the Comoros fody (Foudia eminentissima).

The species is monotypic.

Azure-hooded jay

The azure-hooded jay (Cyanolyca cucullata) is a species of bird in the family Corvidae. It is found in Middle America. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist montane forest. This species is known to have four subspecies. It is 11 to 12 inches (28 to 30 cm) in length and is dark blue with a black head and upper chest. The back of the head and neck are sky blue with a white border.

The jays travel in groups of two to ten individuals and may join mixed-species flocks. It is a secretive species and therefore difficult to observe in the wild. As an omnivore, this jay eats berries, seeds, and small, dead animals. Females lay three to four eggs, and the young fledge after twenty days. This species is listed as Least Concern, meaning it is not threatened with extinction.


Barn owls (family Tytonidae) are one of the two families of owls, the other being the true owls or typical owls, Strigidae. They are medium to large owls with large heads and characteristic heart-shaped faces. They have long, strong legs with powerful talons. They also differ from the Strigidae in structural details relating in particular to the sternum and feet.The barn owls are a wide-ranging family, although they are absent from northern North America, Saharan Africa, and large areas of Asia. They live in a wide range of habitats from deserts to forests, and from temperate latitudes to the tropics. The majority of the twenty living species of barn-owls are poorly known. Some, like the red owl, have barely been seen or studied since their discovery, in contrast to the common barn-owl, which is one of the best known owl species in the world. However, some subspecies of the common barn-owl possibly deserve to be separate species, but are very poorly known.

Five species of barn owl are threatened, and some island species have gone extinct during the Holocene or earlier (e.g. Tyto pollens, known from the fossil record of Andros Island in the Bahamas, and possibly the basis for the mythical Chickcharnie). The barn owls are mostly nocturnal, and generally non-migratory, living in pairs or singly.

Black-headed antthrush

The black-headed antthrush (Formicarius nigricapillus) is a species of bird in the family Formicariidae.

Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and subtropical or tropical moist montane forests.


Calcariidae is a small family of passerine birds. It includes longspurs and snow buntings. There are six species in three genera worldwide, found mainly in North America and Eurasia. They are migratory and can live in a variety of habitats including grasslands, prairies, tundra, mountains, and beaches.


The Caprimulgiformes is an order of birds that includes a number of birds with global distribution (except Antarctica). They are generally insectivorous and nocturnal. The order gets its name from the Latin for "goat-milker", an old name based on an erroneous view of the European nightjar's feeding habits.

Cardinal (bird)

Cardinals, in the family Cardinalidae, are passerine birds found in North and South America. They are also known as cardinal-grosbeaks and cardinal-buntings.

The South American cardinals in the genus Paroaria are placed in the Tanager family Thraupidae. Contrariwise, DNA analysis of the genera Piranga (which includes the scarlet tanager, summer tanager, and western tanager), Chlorothraupis, and Habia showed their closer relationship to the cardinal family. They have been reassigned to that family by the American Ornithological Society.

Hawaiian petrel

The Hawaiian petrel or ʻuaʻu (Pterodroma sandwichensis) is a large, dark grey-brown and white petrel that is endemic to Hawaiʻi.

Hood mockingbird

The Hood mockingbird (Mimus macdonaldi) also known as the Española mockingbird is a species of bird in the Mimidae family. It is endemic to Española Island in the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador, and it is one of four closely related mockingbird species endemic to the Galápagos archipelago. It is found in dry forests and is omnivorous, though it primarily is a carnivore or scavenger. The species has a highly territorial social structure and has no fear of humans. It is the only species of Galápagos mockingbird that Charles Darwin did not see or collect on the voyage of the Beagle.

Lesser prairie chicken

The lesser prairie chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) is a species in the grouse family. It is a medium to large bird, striped white and brown, slightly smaller and paler than its near relative the greater prairie chicken. Adults range from 15.0-16.1 in (38-41 cm) in length and 22.1-28.7 oz (628-813 g) in weight.About half of its current population lives in western Kansas, with the other half in the sandhills and prairies of western Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle including the Llano Estacado, eastern New Mexico, and southeastern Colorado.

Like its larger relative, it is known for its lekking behavior.

Considered "vulnerable" by the IUCN due to its restricted and patchy range, it is vulnerable to habitat destruction. There is evidence suggesting that global warming may have a particularly detrimental influence by greatly reducing the size of the sagebrush ecosystem. Subfossil remains are known, e.g., from Rocky Arroyo in the Guadalupe Mountains, outside the species' current range but where more habitat existed in the less humid conditions in the outgoing last ice age. Range contraction apparently took place no later than about 8000 BC.

The United States Department of the Interior proposed creating a Lesser Prairie Chicken Preserve as a National Monument, but action was never taken action on the proposal. On March 27, 2014, the lesser prairie chicken was listed as threatened (T) under the Endangered Species Act but the listing was vacated in 2015 following a legal challenge and the bird's status remains uncertain.In 2015, Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan) introduced an amendment to legislation authorizing construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline that would overturn the listing. He disputed the listing as, "... another example of unnecessary intrusion into private lives and businesses by the federal government." His action as supported by the American Energy Alliance, and opposed by the League of Conservation Voters.When the Senate voted on the Keystone bill, it did not get the 60 votes in favor that was required to pass. It got only 53 Republican and 1 Democratic Senator to vote in favor.

Mountain chickadee

The mountain chickadee (Poecile gambeli) is a small songbird, a passerine bird in the tit family Paridae. Often, it is still placed in the genus Parus with most other tits, but mtDNA cytochrome b sequence data and morphology suggest that separating Poecile more adequately expresses these birds' relationships. The American Ornithologists' Union has been treating Poecile as a distinct genus for some time.

Adults of both sexes have a black cap joining a black postocular stripe behind distinctive white eyebrows. Their backs and flanks are gray and they have paler gray underparts; they have a short black bill, and a black bib. The typical adult wingspan is 7.5 in (19 cm), and the overall length is 5–6 in (13–15 cm).

Common inhabitants of the mountainous regions of the western United States, their range extends from the southern Yukon to California and Rocky Mountain States in the United States. A few mountain chickadees may migrate locally up the mountains in the summer and down into the mountain foothills in the winter; but this phenomenon is not well documented.

They breed monogamously, producing 1 to 2 broods per year. Incubation by the female is 14 days. The young are altricial, and stay in the nest for 21 days while being fed by both parents.

Their primary diet is insects during the summer and breeding season; conifer seeds and other plant seeds are taken throughout the year. They cling to the undersides of branches and to tree trunks, searching for food in the bark or breaking seeds open by hammering them with their beaks.

Their call is a throaty chick-adee-dee-dee, while their song is a 3- or 4-note descending whistle fee-bee-bay or fee-bee-fee-bee. They travel in pairs or small groups, and may join multi-species feeding flocks after breeding season.

Recent studies have indicated that in mixed flocks, black-capped chickadees become dominant over mountain chickadees.

The specific name honors naturalist William Gambel.

Ridgway's hawk

Ridgway's hawk (Buteo ridgwayi) is a bird of prey in the family Accipitridae, native to the island of Hispaniola. It was named after the American ornithologist Robert Ridgway. It is a brownish-grey bird with barred tail and underparts. It feeds mainly on reptiles, but also consumes small birds and mammals. It nests high in a tree in spring. Populations of this bird have been declining because of habitat destruction and human persecution in the Dominican Republic and is classified as "critically endangered".

Ridgway's rail

Ridgway's rail (Rallus obsoletus) is a near-threatened species of bird. It is found principally in California's San Francisco Bay to southern Baja California. A member of the rail family, Rallidae, it is a chicken-sized bird that rarely flies.

This species is closely related to the clapper rail, and until recently was considered a subspecies. It has a long, downward curving bill and is grayish brown with a pale chestnut breast and conspicuous whitish rump patch. The population levels of Ridgway's rail are precariously low due to destruction of its coastal and estuarine marshland habitat by prior land development and shoreline fill. It has year-long, circadian activity and is most vocal nocturnally and crepuscularly.

Robert Ridgway (engineer)

Robert Ridgway, sometimes spelled Robert Ridgeway (October 19, 1862 – December 19, 1938), was an American civil engineer. He did not study engineering at any school, but worked 49 years for New York City in the construction of major projects, and became Chief Engineer of the Transit Commission in 1921. He became president of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Metropolitan section. Further he became president of the national ASCE in 1925. The Ridgway Awards are an annual award of the ASCE Met section named for him.At the time of his death, Ridgway was consulting Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes on Chicago's first subway. According to the December 20, 1938 edition of the Brooklyn Eagle, he died in Fort Wayne, Indiana after suffering a heart attack, while en route to New York after attending ground-breaking ceremonies for the Chicago Subway. He was 76.

Saint Lucia warbler

The Saint Lucia warbler (Setophaga delicata) is a species of bird in the family Parulidae.

It is endemic to Saint Lucia. It was once considered a subspecies of the Adelaide's warbler.

Worthen's sparrow

Worthen's sparrow (Spizella wortheni) is a species of American sparrow that is endemic to northeastern Mexico. It was first described by Robert Ridgway in 1884 and named for the American naturalist Charles K. Worthen. This small bird has been listed as endangered by the IUCN since 1994.


The wrenthrush or Zeledonia (Zeledonia coronata) is a unique species of nine-primaried oscine which is endemic to Costa Rica and western Panama. Neither a wren nor a thrush (and unrelated to both), it has a short tail, rounded wings and elongated tarsi.

It is the only species in the genus Zeledonia, whose relations have been uncertain, but are now coming into focus. It is sometimes placed in its own family (which is supported by recent genetic data) or (erroneously) with the thrushes. It is currently placed by some authorities in the New World warbler family, an arrangement which has also been shown to be incorrect via recent data.

The genus name commemorates José Castulo Zeledón, a Costa Rican ornithologist.


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