- Robert Ridgway
:"This article is about the American ornithologist. For the
Virginiacongressman, lawyer and editor, see Robert Ridgway (congressman)."Robert Ridgway ( July 2, 1850– March 25, 1929) was an American ornithologist.
Mount Carmel, Illinois, Ridgway was a protege of zoologist Spencer Fullerton Baird, who, on becoming the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, appointed Ridgway the first full-time curator of birds at the U.S. National Museum. He served from 1880 until his death in 1929. Ridgway also published one of the first and most important color system for bird identification, with his 1886 book "A Nomenclature of Colors for Naturalists" (Boston: Little, Brown & Co.). In 1912 he self-published a larger work on color nomenclature, "Color Standards and Color Nomenclature", financed using money from his friend and colleague José Castulo Zeledónof Costa Rica. Ornithologists all over the world continue to cite Ridgway's color studies and books.
In the Spring of 1867, at the age of 16, Ridgway was hired as the naturalist on
Clarence King's Survey of the 40th Parallel. In an undertaking that lasted nearly two years, Ridgway collected many bird specimens and served as a key member on one of the four great surveys of the American West. Upon his return to the Smithsonian, he was taken on in an informal basis until he was formally named as the Curator of Ornithology. Although Ridgway had nothing more than a high school education, he was articulate and literate, and served as the Smithsonian's mouthpiece and representative for many years in the study of birds. Friends and colleagues described him as almost painfully shy, and he generally shirked publicity and the limelight.
In 1875 he married Julia Evelyn Parker. They had one son, Audubon Whelock Ridgway, who died of pneumonia in 1901 while working at the
Field Museumin Chicago.
Ridgway was the joint author (with
Thomas Mayo Brewerand Spencer Fullerton Baird) of "History of North American Birds" (Boston, 1875-1884; Land Birds, 3 vols., Water Birds, 2 vols). He also authored several other books and monographs, and had a total of more than 450 articles and publications to his credit.
In 1899, he joined
E. H. Harrimanon his famous Harriman Alaska Expeditionof the Alaska coastline, where he was accompanied by John Muirand a number of other naturalists and scientists, for an extended study of Alaska's coastline floraand fauna.
Robert Ridgway's brother,
John Livzey Ridgway(1859–1947) was an illustrator.
Birds named for Ridgway include the
Buff-collared Nightjar, "Caprimulgus ridgwayi", Ridgway's Hawk, "Buteo ridgwayi", the Aztec Thrush"Ridgwayia pinicola", and the Caribbeansubspecies of the Osprey, "Pandion haliaetus ridgwayi".
Barrow, M. V. "A passion for Birds: American ornithology after Audubon." Princeton University Press. 1998
* [http://library.usu.edu/Specol/manuscript/caine8.html Ridgway Family Papers at Utah State University]
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