The Bird Collectors
Barbara and Richard Mearns
This is an engrossing and fascinating book, detailing the early ornithologists from the late eighteenth century to the present. Many of these collectors, early scientists, carried out practices frowned upon today but their collections formed the base on which most of our current knowledge is founded.
While many birds were shot as food or trophies, or even simply as ‘sport’, those who actively collected birds were doing so for knowledge; so that their skins could be studied and specimens stuffed or measurements taken. There was an old adage- ‘what’s hit is history, what’s missed is mystery’. This book makes no attempt to justify the killing, it sets out, and I believe succeeds, to increase our awareness and appreciation of those, often brave, early explorers and seekers of knowledge.
Book from my shelves:
The Bird Collectors, Barbara and Richard Mearns. Academic Press, 1998. ISBN 0 12 487440 1