Florence Merriam Bailey

Merriam in 1904 Florence Augusta Merriam Bailey (August 8, 1863September 22, 1948) was an American ornithologist, birdwatcher, and nature writer. Between 1890 and 1939, she published a series of field guides on North American bird life. These guides were often written with amateur birdwatchers in mind, leading to the popularity of the birding movement.

With little formal education as a child, Merriam developed an interest in the natural sciences from her explorations of the Adirondack Mountains, near where she grew up, and the scientific interests of her family members, including her older brother Clinton Hart Merriam. Her nature writing and activism started at Smith College in 1882, where she was enrolled as a special student. She was later awarded a degree at age 58, due to her subsequent activism and writing. While there, she and Fannie Hardy Eckstrom created a chapter of the Audubon Society to educate their classmates on ornithology and dissuade them from wearing hats with feathers. By the time Merriam left Smith in 1886, one-third of the student body was involved in the Society.

In 1890, Merriam turned a series of bird profiles that she had published in ''Audubon Magazine'' into a book, ''Birds Through a Looking-Glass''. Unlike other ornithological works, which studied trapped birds in indoor settings, Merriam's writing encouraged the natural, outdoor study of live birds. Her later works, such as ''Birds of Village and Field'', were more technical than her early writings, but they retained their focus on ecology. In 1899, Merriam married Vernon Orlando Bailey, a member of the U.S. Biological Survey. Between 1902 and 1919, she wrote over 50 articles for periodicals like ''The Condor'' based on her observations. Her magnum opus was ''Birds of New Mexico'', which she completed at the request of the U.S. Biological Survey after Wells Cooke's death. Originally, she and Cooke were listed as co-authors, but Merriam successfully petitioned the Survey to name her the sole author due to the magnitude of her contributions.

Merriam and her husband lived in Washington, D.C., where she taught birdwatching classes at the National Zoological Park. She was both the first woman elected as a Fellow of the American Ornithologists' Union and awarded the Brewster Medal. After her husband's death in 1942, Merriam mostly retreated from public life until her death at age 85. ''Parus gambeli baileyae'', a subspecies of mountain chickadee, is named in her honor. Provided by Wikipedia
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    Published 1918
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