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Appendix 1 in the book lists several books about the history of ornithology. Below is a more complete, more fully annotated annotated list of books,  articles about the history of ornithology, in chronological order.


Newton A (1893–96). A Dictionary of Birds. A and C Black: London.

The Introduction (pp. 1–124) to this encyclopedia is a comprehensive, chronological, and scholarly survey of the history of ornithology to the end of the nineteenth century; includes much information on the history of systematics and regional avifaunas.

Coues E (1894). Key to North American Birds (4th edition). Estes and Lauriat: Boston.

Pages xi–xxix are a historical overview of predominantly North American ornithology to the end of the nineteenth century.

Mullens WH, Swann HK (1917). A Bibliography of British Ornithology from the Earliest Times to the End of 1912. Macmillan: London.

As its name implies, the focus is on British ornithologists; excellent set of mini–biographies (but not a history).

Gurney JH (1921; reprinted 1972). Early Annals of Ornithology. Witherby: London.

A selective but scholarly account, focused on Britain; chronological by century to the end of the 1800s; readily available in secondhand shops.

Chapman FM, Palmer TS (eds) (1933) Fifty Years’ Progress of American Ornithology 1883–1933. American Ornithologists’ Union: Lancaster, PA.

Covers fourteen ornithological topics by various authors; introductory and concluding information relating to the AOU.

Stresemann E (1951). Die Entwicklung der Ornithologie. Von Aristoteles bis zur Gegenwart. F. W. Peters: Berlin. [translated into English as Stresemann, E. (1975) Ornithology from Aristotle to the Present. Harvard University Press: Cambridge, MA].

A scholarly account of ornithology written in the late 1940s; in 1975 translated into English by H. J. and C. Epstein with a final chapter (“Materials for a History of American Ornithology”) by Ernst Mayr; an excellent source of information on ornithologists to the mid–1900s.

Farber PL (1982). The Emergence of Ornithology as a Scientific Discipline: 1760–1850. Reidel: Dordrecht [re–issued as Farber, P. L. (1997) Discovering Birds: The Emergence of Ornithology as a Scientific Discipline: 1760–1850. Johns Hopkins Univ Press: Baltimore].

Focuses on the towering figures of Buffon and Brisson during this period.

Davies WE, Jackson JA (1995). Contributions to the History of North American Ornithology. Nuttall Ornithological Club Memoir 12; Davies WE, Jackson JA (2000) Contributions to the History of North American Ornithology. Nuttall Ornithological Club Memoir 13.

Edited volumes comprising short chapters by a wide range of authors on diverse topics, mostly rather specific, such as “ornithology in the Canadian Wildlife Service.

Voous K (1995). In de Ban Van Vogels: Ornithologisch Biografisch Woordenboek van Nederland. Uitgeverij Scheffers: Utrecht.

Ornithology in the Netherlands in the twentieth century; biographies of ornithologists born before 1950.

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, Mayr E (1997) Ornithologen-Briefe Des 20. Jahrhunderts. Ludwigsburg, Germany: Jochen Hölzinger.

Barrow MVJ (1998). A Passion for Birds: American Ornithology after Audubon. Princeton University Press: Princeton, NJ.

A detailed, readable account; includes much on the formation of North American ornithological societies and the relationship between professional and amateur ornithologists; mainly focused on mid–1800s to 1930s, and the professionalization of ornithology.

Battalio JT (1998). The Rhetoric of Science in the Evolution of American Ornithological Discourse. Ablex Pub.: Stamford, CT.

A unique analysis of the structure of language, arguments, images, and graphical displays in The Auk from 1884 to 1990.

Robin L (2001). The Flight of the Emu: A Hundred Years of Australian Ornithology. Melbourne University Press: Melbourne.

Focuses on the Royal Australian Ornithological Society (RAOU) from 1901 to 2001; chapters are thematic and organized chronologically; spans bird watching and scientific ornithology; well illustrated.

Walters M (2003). A Concise History of Ornithology. Helm: London.

Based largely on Stresemann (1975); formulaic, chronological structure with detailed information on various classification systems; final chapter by J. Coulson on twentieth–century ornithology added at publisher’s request.

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.

Bircham P (2007). The History of Ornithology. Collins: London.

Focused mainly on British ornithology; on a wide range of disparate topics, attractively illustrated and produced.

Chansigaud V (2007). Histoire de L’Ornithologie. Delachaux & Niestle: Paris. [translated into English as Chansigaud V (2009) The History of Ornithology. New Holland: London].

A chronological account of the entire history of ornithology; richly illustrated, with some information on French ornithologists; contains a useful, illustrated timeline.

Haffer J (2007) Ornithology, Evolution, and Philosophy: The Life and Science of Ernst Mayr 1904-2005. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.

Birkhead TR (2008). The Wisdom of Birds. Bloomsbury: London.

Structured by topic, from fertilization to development, maturation, territory acquisition, migration and longevity; from Aristotle to the twentieth century; beautifully illustrated with historically important paintings of birds by various artists.

Neumann J, et al. (2010). Lebensbilder sächsicher Ornithologen. Mitt. Ver. Sächs. Ornithol. [Mitteilungen des Vereins Sächsischer Ornithologen] 10, Sonderheft 3. Hohenstein–Ernstthal

Detailed biographies of all known ornithologists in Saxony, Germany.

Pittie A (2010). Birds in Books: Three Hundred Years of South Asian Ornithology—-A Bibliography. Permanent Black: India.

A comprehensive, annotated listing of about 1,700 books that contain information about the birds of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Tibet; with a brief overview of the history of ornithology in the region since 1700 and short biographies of about 200 prominent ornithologists whose books are included in the annotated list.


Fowler SP (1862). Ornithology of the United States, Its Past and Present History. Proceedings of the Essex Institute 2:.327–34.

A useful summary of the major works to the middle of the nineteenth century.

Allen JA (1876). Progress of ornithology in the United States during the last century. American Naturalist 10:.536–50. 

A summary of the major works, both books and papers, as well as an assessment of the progress that had been made since Thomas Jefferson’s bird list of 1776.

Palmer TS (1900). A Review of Economic Ornithology in the United States. Yearbook of the US Department of Agriculture 1899: 259–92.

An excellent overview of mainly nineteenth century studies on the economic importance of birds with respect to agriculture, game, guano, feathers, eggs, and invasive species.

Allen EG (1951). The History of American Ornithology Before Audubon. Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 41: 385–591.

Comprehensive, rich in detail; chronological; much more than its title suggests, including European history.

Sibley CG (1955). “Ornithology.” Pp. 629–59 in Kessel EL (ed.) A Century of Progress in the Natural Sciences, 1853–1953. California Academy of Sciences: San Francisco, CA.

An excellent, if selective, worldwide overview with sections on ornithological journals and monographs.

Bock WJ (2001) Contributions of Central European ornithology to world ornithology.  Journal of Ornithology 142:94-108.

Haffer J (2001) Ornithological research traditions in central Europe during the 19th and 20th centuries Journal of Ornithology 142:27–93.

Haffer J (2004) Erwin Stresemann (1889-1972)—life and work of a pioneer in scientific ornithology: a survey Acta Historica Leopoldina 34:1–465.

Haffer J, Bairlein F (2004) Ernst Mayr—’Darwin of the 20th century’ Journal of Ornithology 145:161–162.

Haffer J (2004) Ernst Mayr – Intellectual leader of ornithology Journal of Ornithology 145:163–176.

Haffer J (2006) Altmeister der Feld-Ornithologie in Deutschland Blätter aus dem Naumann-Museum 25:1–55.

Haffer J (2007) The development of ornithology in central Europe. Journal für Ornithologie 148:S125–S153.

Haffer J (2008) The origin of modern ornithology in Europe. Archives of Natural History 35:76–87.



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