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LEAVING TRACKS
by Keith Evans
Where did our vast knowledge of American birds originate? What is the origin of names like Steller's Jay, Wilson's Warbler, or Brewer's Sparrow? In this series I introduce a few explorers, naturalists and field ornithologists from the late 1700s into the 1800s who discovered bird species new to science and named them.


Steller, Georg Wilhelm (1709-1746)

Wilson, Alexander (1766-1813)

Brewer, Thomas Mayo (1814-1880)

Cassin, John (1813-1869)

Audubon, John James (1785-1851)

Ross, Bernard Rogan (1827-1874) and Ross, Sir James Clark (1800-1862)

MacGillivray, William (1796-1852)

Barrow, Sir John (1764-1848)

Bonaparte, Charles Lucien Jules Laurent (1803-1857)

Forster, Johann Reinhold (1729-1798)

Nuttall, Thomas (1786-1859)

Gambel, William (1821-1849)

Clark, William (1770-1838) and Lewis, Meriwether (1774-1809)

Williamson, Robert Stockton (1824-1882)

Townsend, John Kirk (1809-1851)

Cooper, William (1798-1864)

Swainson, William John (1789-1855)

Baird, Spencer Fullerton (1823-1887) and his daughter Baird, Lucy Hunter (1848-1913)

Bell, John Graham (1812-1899)

Say, Thomas (1787-1834)

Hammond, William Alexander (1829-1900)

Abert, James William (1820-1897)

Bewick, Thomas (1753-1828)

Le Conte, John Lawrence (1825-1883)

Harris, Edward (1799-1863)

Lincoln, Thomas (1812-1833)


Steller, Georg Wilhelm (1709-1746). In Utah, the Steller's Jay usually resides at higher elevations throughout the mountains. Occasionally these birds move to lower elevations and visit our "valley" feeders during the winter. The winter of 2007-2008 was one of these special winters. In addition to being a striking blue bird with a crest, the Steller's Jay does an excellent imitation of the Red-tailed Hawk scream. Enough for the present, let's look back in time. Georg Steller was born in Windsheim, Germany and studied to be a doctor. He joined Vitus Bering on an Arctic expedition and was listed as the ship's surgeon and mineralogist. Mr. Steller is said to be the first European to set foot in Alaska on July 16, 1741 where he collected several birds unknown to science. Later, John Latham named one of these birds the Steller's Crow, commemorating Georg Steller. We know the bird as the Steller's Jay. The scientific nomenclature, Cyanocitta stelleri also includes the "Steller" name. Other species named after Steller include the Steller's Eider, Steller's Sea Eagle, and Steller's Sea Lion. Georg Steller returned to Kamchatka in 1742. German systematic zoologist, Peter Pallas, named a duck discovered by Steller the Steller's Eider in 1769. Steller collected this duck along the coast of Kamchatka Peninsula, they also nest in Alaska. Arctic expeditions by Vitus Bering discovered previously unexplored territory and many place names commemorate Bering.

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Wilson, Alexander (1766-1813). When birding in the Ogden area, I often hear someone call out Wilson's Snipe or Wilson's Warbler. Why are these names used instead of names like Long-billed Snipe and Black-capped Warbler? Yes, it is because these birds, when discovered, were named after Alexander Wilson. Mr. Wilson was born in Paisley, Scotland and immigrated to America in 1794. The story goes that Mr. Wilson and a companion landed at Newcastle, Delaware and walked the 35 miles to Philadelphia. Along the way, Wilson saw a Red-headed Woodpecker and thought it was the most beautiful bird in the world. Alexander Wilson was known for his curiosity, accuracy as an observer, patience, hard work, and thoroughness. He studied the living bird and its environment. Wilson is often referred to as the "father of American ornithology." He authored nine volumes of American Ornithology, the last two volumes were published, by his friend George Ord, posthumously. Wilson painted or drew 320 figures of American birds representing 262 species. He named such birds as Ruddy Duck, Western Tanager, and Pine Siskin. His work is often overshadowed by John James Audubon, but his name remains on Wilson's Storm-Petrel, Wilson's Phalarope, Wilson's Snipe, Wilson's Plover and Wilson's Warbler. The Wilson's Warbler commemorates his name both with the common and genus name, Wilsonia. The Wilson's Snipe and Common Snipe (a similar species found in Eurasia) were classified as separate species until 1945 when they were lumped into one species with two races, then recently they were re-split into individual species. The Wilson's Snipe, named for Wilson by Ord, goes by the scientific name of Gallinago delicata. Alexander Wilson also leaves his name on the Wilson Ornithological Society, a nonprofit educational organization founded in 1888.

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Brewer, Thomas Mayo (1814-1880). Tom Brewer was a friend of John James Audubon and Thomas Nuttall. He was a Boston physician, ornithologist, and political writer. Audubon named the Brewer's Blackbird after him and John Cassin named the Brewer's Sparrow after him. We commonly see both of these birds in our area. Brewer graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1838. After practicing medicine for many years, he turned to ornithology; specifically oology (the study of eggs). He published the first part of North American Oology but did not continue due to the cost of illustrations. He shared authorship of A History of North American Birds with Spencer Baird and Robert Ridgway. His collection of bird's eggs was considered one of the best of his time and was left to the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard. The Brewer's Blackbird has also been referred to as the Glossy Blackbird as a sunlit male gives the impression of exhibiting several colors. The Brewer's Blackbird has recently expanded its range and serves as a model for the understanding of avian range extensions promoted by human alteration of habitats. The Brewer's Sparrow has often been described as the most nondescript of all sparrows or as one writer said - totally non-committal. I prefer to think of this sagebrush species as possessing a subtle beauty. I also like its variable song and parts of the song are low enough in pitch for my old ears to hear. A similar bird, nesting in alpine grasslands, was once called the Timberline Sparrow but is now a subspecies of the Brewer's Sparrow group; some ornithologists are calling for a "re-split." The scientific name, Spizella breweri, also commemorates Thomas Brewer.

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Cassin, John (1813-1869). Mr. Cassin became Curator of Birds at the Academy of Natural Sciences beginning in 1842. During this tenure he named approximately 200 species of birds. In 1856 he published Illustrations of the Birds of California. He also prepared many ornithological reports of collections made by the Wilkes Exploring Expeditions from around the world. And, he shared authorship of one of the Pacific Railroad Surveys with Spencer Baird and George Lawrence. John Cassin's name is commemorated with five bird species; these are the Cassin's Auklet, Cassin's Finch, Cassin's Kingbird, Cassin's Vireo and Cassin's Sparrow. We can definitely say the Cassin's Auklet is not a Utah resident, but the other species warrant some discussion. The Cassin's Sparrow is a bird of the southern Great Plains and Mexico, a Utah sighting would warrant a call to the birding hot line. The Cassin's Vireo is the result of a recent split of the Solitary Vireo group and is uncommon in Utah with the center of the Cassin's range occurring further west. Utah's most abundant species from this split is the Plumbeous Vireo. The Cassin's Kingbird is uncommon in Utah and usually viewed in the southern part of the state. However, the Cassin's Finch is a common nesting bird of our mountains and often shows up at bird feeders in the valley, especially during migration. Cassin's name is also commemorated in the scientific name of the Cassin's finch, Carpodacus cassinii. Cassin described and named the Western Snowy Plover as a separate species from the Eastern Snowy Plover; these are currently lumped into one species. He named the Audubon's Caracara from Florida, but later this population was determined to be the northern extension of the Crested Caracara's (also called Northern Caracara) larger range in Mexico and South America. Cassin's American Merganser is now called the Common Merganser. The constant changing of bird names, especially the common names, continues to add complexity to birding. Some refer to this complexity as frustration.

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Audubon, John James (1785-1851). We all know of and often hear the name of John James Audubon. Many birders, including me, complained when the American Ornithologists' Union (AOU), in 1973, lumped the Myrtle Warbler and the Audubon Warbler into a single species creating the common name of Yellow-rumped Warbler name. Some of us retaliated by calling this beautiful warbler a "butter-butt." It was 1837 when John Townsend named the Audubon Warbler in honor of J. J. Audubon. I never heard any complaints when the "Audubon's Warbler" name was still used. Now let's go back to John James Audubon. Most of you don't need to be told that Audubon was an artist, explorer, frontiersman and ornithologist. His legacy lives on through the National Audubon Society and other organizations, businesses, museums, books, streets, towns, birds, etc. bearing his name. Audubon gained worldwide fame when he began publishing his 435 life-size, full-color paintings of 489 species of North American birds. These paintings were published in the elephant folio size of 39.5 by 29.5 inches. This publishing marathon started in 1827 and took 11 years to complete. Audubon also collaborated with his son, John Woodhouse Audubon, and Rev. John Bachman to illustrate a three-volume work of mammals, The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America. Some of the readers may not have known that Audubon's birth name was Jean Jacques Rabine. Some bird species bearing the Audubon name now command a subspecies rank, like the Audubon's Hermit Thrush and the Audubon's Hairy Woodpecker. The Audubon Shearwater and the Audubon Oriole still maintain the species rank. Among the birds that Audubon named include the Green-tailed Towhee, the Yellow-billed Magpie, the Common Poorwill which Audubon called the Nuttall's Poorwill, and the Baird's Cormorant now called the Pelagic Cormorant.

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Ross, Bernard Rogan (1827-1874) and Ross, Sir James Clark (1800-1862). As we look hard for a Ross's Goose mixed in with thousands of Snow Geese or dream of observing the first Ross's Gull ever recorded in Utah, we need to remember two men with the same last name. Bernard Ross worked for the Hudson Bay Company and sent a small goose to John Cassin in 1861. Mr. Cassin honored Bernard Ross with the name of Ross's Goose from this specimen taken at the Great Slave Lake, Canada. The scientific name also commemorates Bernard Ross, Chen rossii. During his tenure with the Hudson Bay Company, Bernard Ross sent many bird specimens to the Smithsonian Institution. Sir James Ross was a British explorer and Arctic navigator. He accompanied William Parry on four Arctic expeditions. He collected a gull, previously unknown to science, on his second voyage in June 1823 on Melville Pensula in the Canadian Arctic. This gull was later to bare his name. The species name, rosea, given to the Ross's Gull by William MacGillivray in 1824 was for the pink breast during the breeding season. We often observe a pink tinge on our spring Franklin's Gulls.

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MacGillivray, William (1796-1852). William MacGillivray was a Scottish ornithologist who wrote much of the technical information about birds for J. J. Audubon's Ornithological Biography published in five volumes from 1831 to 1839. MacGillivray's largest and most important publication was the five-volume set of History of British Birds (1837-1852). MacGillivray held several positions before becoming a professor of natural history at Marischal College in Aberdeen in 1841. He was an accomplished artist and changed the teaching methods of the day by taking his students into the field to learn. He criticized some of the prominent naturalists of the day by calling them "cabinet naturalists" because they were describing and naming many bird specimens without observing the birds alive in the field. Audubon named the MacGillivray's Warbler after this ornithologist. So when you see a small gray-headed warbler in the low brushy habitat of a riparian area, you'll know where the name comes from even if it takes a few years to learn to spell it.

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Barrow, Sir John (1764-1848). Utah birders observe many more Common Goldeneye than Barrow's Goldeneye. Therefore, the Barrow's Goldeneye would expect to carry the name of Occasional Goldeneye. However, Sir John Richardson attached the "Barrow's" name to a small North American duck as a tribute to the many talents of Sir John Barrow. John Barrow joined a whaling expedition to Greenland when only 16 years old. He was good at math and became interested in astronomy leading to his navigation skills. Sir John Barrow was an English traveler, writer, Secretary of the Admiralty, Chief founder of the Royal Geographical Society, and promoter of Arctic exploration. He believed there was a Northwest Passage and became an obsessed with finding it. According to a recent program on global warming, he may have been ahead of his time. He made expeditions with John Ross, James Clark Ross and John Franklin. He authored many books and biographies including an article entitled, Eventful History of the Mutiny and Piratical Seizure of the H. M. S. Bounty. In addition to the Barrow's Goldeneye which Utah birders seek out, a map search will turn up names like Barrow Straits, Barrow Sound, and Point Barrow in the Arctic and Cape Barrow in the Antarctic.

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Bonaparte, Charles Lucien Jules Laurent (1803-1857). Charles Bonaparte was honored in American ornithology with the name of Bonaparte's Gull named by George Ord. This tidbit has some interest as it was George Ord who opposed Bonaparte when Charles was trying to get the work of John James Audubon accepted within the ornithological community. Charles Bonaparte was the eldest son of Emperor Napoleon's brother Lucien. When Charles was only 19 he married his cousin Zenaide, the daughter of Napoleon's oldest brother Joseph. During his years living near Bordentown, NJ and Philadelphia, PA (1822-1828) he began his studies of American birds. He devoted his attention to continuing Alexander Wilson's work, publishing four additional volumes after Wilson died. He described and named over 100 species new to science, these included North American birds like the Cooper's Hawk, Swainson's Hawk, and White-winged Scoter. In 1825 while at the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences, Charles Bonaparte named a genus of doves, Zenaide, in honor of his wife. This genus includes the Mourning Dove and the White-winged Dove.

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Forster, Johann Reinhold (1729-1798). This German naturalist and Lutheran pastor, with his son George, accompanied Cook on his second voyage around the world. His son was an accomplished artist. In 1771 Johann published A Catalogue of Animals of North America. This was the first attempt to cover North American fauna. Birds that Johann Forster described and named include Great Gray Owl, White-throated Sparrow, Blackpoll Warbler, Boreal Chickadee, and Eskimo Curlew. Johann Forster was one of the earliest authorities on American zoology. Thomas Nuttall, in 1834, named the Forster's Tern, Sterna forsteri, in recognition of Forster's work. The call and antics of these small terns over the Utah marshlands is always a fun experience. I would have been comfortable with a descriptive name like Marsh Tern, but I've accepted the Forster's Tern name. I just have to remember not to insert an 'e' in the middle of the name - I guess this come from too many years with the Forest Service.

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Nuttall, Thomas (1786-1859). Thomas Nuttall was born in England and came to the United States in 1808. He spent 33 of his 73 years in America. He was a noted botanical explorer and ornithologist for whom William Gambel named the Nuttall's Woodpecker. His name was also honored in scientific names of various western birds. The genus name for Olive-sided Flycatcher, Nuttallornis, is one of these instances. Another is the Common Poorwill, Phalaenoptilus nuttallii, named by Audubon as the Nuttall's Poorwill. He was professor of natural history and curator of the botanical gardens at Harvard. The Nuttall Ornithological Club, centered at Harvard, is still in existence. Their journal, the Auk, is well known among ornithologists. In 1834, with John Townsend, he crossed the Rocky Mountains to Oregon and California. It's difficult to look at the names of plants in any part of the west without seeing the influence of Nuttall and Townsend. In 1833 he authored Manual of Ornithology of the United States and Canada. From 1836-1841 he was with the Academy of Natural Science in Philadelphia. One race of the White-crowned Sparrow was once called the Nuttall's Sparrow (originally named by William Gambel. Other familiar birds named by Nuttall include Forster's Tern, Western Hairy Woodpecker (now lumped within the Hairy Woodpecker group).

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Gambel, William (1821-1849). William Gambel was an early field ornithologist and spent considerable time in California as well as crossing the continent on the Santa Fe Trail. He also traveled from Utah to California on the Mormon Trail. When young he worked for Thomas Nuttall. He headed for California when he was 18 years old as a collector for his mentor, Thomas Nuttall. After leaving California, he completed medical training and planned on practicing medicine in California, but died of typhoid before his 28th birthday. His name is commemorated in the common and scientific name of a desert quail, the Gambel's Quail, which is common in southern Utah. Some of his other discoveries also bare his name, like the scientific name of Mountain Chickadee, Poecile gambeli, the Gambel's race of White-crowned Sparrow, and the Gambel's Oak of the dry foothills of the Great Basin and Colorado Plateau; including my backyard. Gambel described and named the Elegant Tern.

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Clark, William (1770-1838) and Lewis, Meriwether (1774-1809). It seems appropriate to cover these two Virginians together as their adventures are commemorated in the Lewis and Clark Expedition organized by President Thomas Jefferson to find an overland route to the Pacific Ocean. I won't elaborate on the personal lives of these two great explorers as they are well known. As for William Clark, we see his name commemorated with the Clark's Nutcracker and Clark's Grebe. The Clark's Nutcracker was originally named the Clark's Crow. And, the Clark's Grebe was considered a color morph of the very similar Western Grebe until the 1980s. Now to Meriwether Lewis, in 1805 near the present town of Helena Montana, Lewis first observed a strange woodpecker he described as "black as a crow." The expedition then collected several of these black woodpeckers near Kamiah, Idaho. Alexander Wilson examined these specimens and provided the name of Lewis's Woodpecker. It is believed many of the plants collected and described by Thomas Nuttall were first collected by the Lewis and Clark expedition, but lost when a winter cache was flooded by high spring runoff.

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Williamson, Robert Stockton (1824-1882). He was born in New York City and graduated from West Point in 1848. He was an accomplished army engineer and was assigned to head one of the Pacific Railroad Survey expeditions to the far west. In 1857, Dr. John Newberry collected a male woodpecker he thought new to science, so named it in honor of his commanding officer, thus the Williamson's Woodpecker which we now know as the Williamson's Sapsucker. It turned out that in 1852 John Cassin had collected a female woodpecker which he named the Black-breasted Woodpecker. It wasn't until 1873 that the two birds were determined to be the same species. The scientific name goes to the one first name used by Cassin, Sphyrapicus thyroideus, but the common name remained Williamson's Sapsucker (Woodpecker).

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Townsend, John Kirk (1809-1851). Audubon named the Townsend's Solitaire, Myadestes townsendi, from a bird collected by John Townsend along the Columbia River near Astoria, Oregon. Townsned's name is also commemorated with the Townsend's Warbler and several subspecies of birds including Dark-eyed Junco, Rock Ptarmigan, Fox Sparrow, and Snow Bunting. John Townsend was educated at Westtown Boarding School, a famous Quaker institution attended by Thomas Say and John Cassin. In 1834, when John Townsend was 25 years old, he accompanied Thomas Nuttall on a trip across the continent and stayed in the west for over 3 years. He collected many specimens that were used by Audubon, John Bachman, and John Cassin to describe new species. Townsend named the Mountain Plover which is more of a Great Plains species than a mountain species. However, the Mountain Plover population has declined sharply and this species warrants our priority conservation efforts. He shipped hundreds of specimens to the Academy of Natural Science in Philadelphia from one trip when he was paid $100 to collect and prepare specimens. His illness near the end of his life was attributed to the effects of powdered arsenic which he had used to cure so many bird skins.

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Cooper, William (1798-1864). William Cooper was honored in 1828 with the naming of the Cooper's Hawk by Charles Bonaparte from a specimen collected by Mr. Cooper. William Cooper named and described the Evening Grosbeak in 1825 and was the first American member of the London Zoological Society. He is not to be confused with James Graham Cooper and army surgeon and naturalist in California who is commemorated by the Cooper Ornithological Society.

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Swainson, William John (1789-1855). William Swainson was born in Liverpool England and became an experienced and versatile English naturalist and prolific writer and illustrator. He was the son of John Timothy Swainson, and original fellow of the Linnaean Society. William followed his father's footsteps by also becoming a fellow of the Linnaean Society. He was the first naturalist/artist to publish by using lithography which did not require the skills of an engraver. Charles Bonaparte named the Swainson's Hawk in 1838, Audubon named the Swainson's Warbler in 1834 and Thomas Nuttall named the Swainson's Thrush. Several South American species are named after him. William Swainson named and described more than 20 species of North American birds including the American Scoter, now called the Black Scoter and the Bullock's Oriole. After one 2-year trip to Brazil, he returned to England with a collection of 760 bird skins. His most important contribution to the knowledge of North American birds was the publishing of the four volume Fauna Boreali-Americana.

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Baird, Spencer Fullerton (1823-1887) and his daughter Baird, Lucy Hunter (1848-1913). We normally think of Spencer Baird when discussing field ornithological accomplishments. However, I'm starting with his daughter, Lucy, as she assisted in secretarial work at the Smithsonian Institution and the U. S. Fish Commission. More importantly, James Cooper named the Lucy's Warbler after her. The Lucy's Warbler is on of my list of favorite finds when birding the brushy desert habitats of southern Utah or Arizona. Lucy's Warbler is one of the smallest of the wood-warbler group and has been called the Desert Warbler. Now lets move on to the many accomplishments of her father, Spencer Baird. Mr. Baird was one of the most brilliant, energetic and influential zoologists of his time. He was a leader in organizing the information from the Pacific Railroad Surveys. He probably did more than any other man of his time to advance field ornithology by arranging for naturalists to join early survey parties, helping both Audubon and Louis Agassiz, and with his work at the Smithsonian Institution. His work and name are intertwined with Elliott Coues, Joel Allen, Robert Ridgway, John Cassin, Thomas Brewer, John James Audubon, Louis Agassiz and others. We now see his name commemorated with Baird's Sandpiper (named by Elliott Coues) and Baird's Sparrow (named by Audubon). The Baird's Sandpiper nests in the far north, but is a fairly common migrant through Utah. The Baird's Sparrow has a limited nesting range on the northern Great Plains and has not been documented in Utah. Birds described and named by Baird include the Western Warbling Vireo now lumped as one species with the Eastern Warbling Vireo,

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Bell, John Graham (1812-1899). John Bell was a friend and associate of Audubon, Baird, Cassin, Le Conte, and other early American Ornithologists. Audubon named the Bell's Vireo after him in 1844. His name is also commemorated in the scientific name of Sage Sparrow, Amphispiza belli, named for him in 1850 by John Cassin and once called the Bell's Sparrow. Bell was a naturalist-taxidermist and accompanied Audubon on his Missouri River expedition in 1843.

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Say, Thomas (1787-1834). Born in Philadelphia he became an entomologist who accompanied Major Long to the Rocky Mountains from 1819-1820. Thomas Say prepared the expedition's report on birds. He was a professor of natural history at the University of Pennsylvania from 1822-1828. Say described and named such birds as the Long-billed Dowitcher, Lazuli bunting, and Band-tailed Pigeon. The Say's Phoebe was named in his honor by Charles Bonaparte in 1825. The genus name for phoebes, Sayornis, also commemorates his name. In Utah, we enjoy seeing this flycatcher in non-forested habitats including ranch sites, sagebrush steppes, barren foothills, cliffs, and other dry habitats. I feel like something is missing if I spend a summer day on Antelope Island without observing a Say's Phoebe.

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Hammond, William Alexander (1829-1900). Dr. Hammond became the Surgeon General for the Army. Most of the birds collected by Dr. Hammond were collected at Fort Riley in Kansas. The Hammond's Flycatcher was named in 1858 by his subordinate and friend John Xantus. If this flycatcher was collected in Kansas, it was during migration as they nest at higher elevations than the other "empid" flycatchers in pine, fir, and spruce forests. Birders know that identification of specific "empids" is very difficult unless the song is heard or the nest observed. Hammond's Flycatchers join the look-alike group of 10 other flycatchers with names like Least, Gray, Dusky, Willow, and Alder.

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Abert, James William (1820-1897). James Abert graduated from West Point in 1842 and while on duty in New Mexico collected birds for Spencer Baird of the Smithsonian Institution. Following the Mexican War, the Army sent a number of well trained officers to the southwest to survey the territory recently obtained. Among the birds collected was a towhee previously unknown to science. It is likely that this bird was collected in Arizona and passed on to Abert who in turn sent it to Baird. In 1852, Baird named it Pipilo aberti in honor of Major Abert. The common name of this attractive southern Utah towhee remains Abert's Towhee. If this towhee was not given a name to honor Major Abert, it may have been known as a Gray Towhee, a name often used by locals. When we walk through a desert riparian zone and hear a squeaky noise that sounds like "tennis shoes on a gym floor" then we know we are close to Abert's Towhees feeding on the ground. In Utah, the best place to observe Abert's Towhee is along the Virgin and Santa Clara Rivers near St. George.

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Bewick, Thomas (1753-1828). Mr. Bewick (sounds like Buick) was an English artist, wood engraver and a friend of J. J. Audubon. Bewick was an apprentice to Ralph Beilby and engraver, and later became a partner in the firm. He began work on the engraving blocks for A General History of Quadrupeds in 1785 and the first edition was published in 1790. From 1797-1826, Bewick published several editions of Land Birds, Water Birds, and Quadrupeds. He was the author and illustrator of one of the great English books of the 18th century, A History of British Birds. Audubon last visited him in 1827. Audubon named the Bewick's Wren after him. The Eurasian race of the Tundra Swan is also called the Bewick's Swan.

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Le Conte, John Lawrence (1825-1883). Dr. Le Conte was born in New York City becoming a medical doctor, civil war physician, and eminent entomologist. He described and named about 6,000 species of insects, but named no birds. Audubon named a sparrow for John Le Conte, Ammodramus leconteii, which was collected by John Bell in 1843 while both men were on a Missouri River expedition. Audubon called this bird the Le Conte's Sharp-tailed Bunting, but we now know it as the Le Conte's Sparrow. In 1851, John Lawrence named the Le Conte's Thrasher, Toxostoma lecontei, from specimen(s) collected by Le Conte while he explored the Colorado River. These species inhabit widely separated ranges on either side of Utah. Either species would be a rare find in Utah although Le Conte's Thrashers have been reported on the Beaver Dam Slope in southwestern Utah.

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Harris, Edward (1799-1863). Edward Harris was a wealthy amateur naturalist and friend of John James Audubon. Mr. Harris accompanied Audubon on his Gulf Coast expedition and later on his Missouri River expedition to the Yellowstone region (1843). Audubon named the Harris's Hawk in honor of this friendship and assistance. Near the present-day town of St. Joseph, Missouri, Harris shot a sparrow that Audubon believed to be new to science and gave it the specific name of harrisii. It turned out that Thomas Nuttall had collected the first specimen of this sparrow in 1834 near Independence, Missouri. The scientific "species" name given by Nuttall, querula, took precedent and is still used; however the common name of Harris's Sparrow in used instead of Mourning Finch given by Nuttall. North American sparrows were given a variety of names based on appearance, song, and habitat as well as to commemorate other workers in the field. We now have descriptive names like White-crowned Sparrow, behavior names like Vesper Sparrow from their habit of singing late in the evening, and Harris's Sparrow in honor of the work of Edward Harris.

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Lincoln, Thomas (1812-1833). Thomas Lincoln was one of several young men to accompany Audubon on his Labrador expedition. Of the birds collected, only one sparrow was new to science, thus named the Lincoln's Finch, now called the Lincoln's Sparrow, Melospiza lincolnii. Thomas Lincoln collected this reclusive sparrow after many attempts by others in the party to get a clear shot. This Utah mountain sparrow usually skulks through the underbrush near a stream. It is often easier to view during migration in more open habitats at lower elevations. Their song has a sweet, gurgling, bubbling quality somewhat like a House Wren. As he discussed the song, Audubon stated in his Birds of America, "ůsurpassing in vigour those of any American Finch with which I am acquainted, and forming a song which seemed a compound of those of the Canary and Wood-lark of Europe." Three subspecies are generally recognized with Melospiza lincolnii alticola breeding in Utah.

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