Florence Merriam Bailey

Florence Merriam Bailey (1863–1948) was a life-long proponent of studying birds alive in the field instead of deceased in a lab or specimen drawer. She favored binoculars (what were then known as opera glasses) over the shotgun, and deplored the killing of birds for fashion and the millinery trade.

Beginning as an undergraduate at Smith College in 1886, where she co-founded a chapter of the original Audubon Society, and later as a founding member of the Washington D.C. chapter of the rekindled National Audubon Society, she led birding trips, wrote extensively for Bird-Lore (later Audubon) Magazine, The Condor, and other publications, and authored a number of influential field guides and travelogues recounting her travels in the western United States. Notable published works include: Birds through an Opera Glass (1889); A-birding on a Bronco (1896); and Birds of Village and Field: a Bird Book for Beginners (1898), all published under her maiden name, Florence A. Merriam. Under her married name, Florence Merriam Bailey, she published: Handbook of Birds of the Western United States, including the Great Plains, Great Basin, Pacific Slope, and Lower Rio Grande Valley (1902); and the seminal Birds of New Mexico (1928).

Nominated by her brother, C. Hart Merriam, she became the first woman Associate Member of the American Ornithologists' Union in 1885, its first woman Fellow in 1929, and the first woman recipient of the AOU’s Brewster Medal in 1931 for an exceptional written work on birds of the Western Hemisphere, awarded for her book Birds of New Mexico.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/17/obituaries/florence-merriam-bailey-overlooked.html

https://nctc.fws.gov/History/Documents/2020-Conservation-History-journal.pdf

Para información sobre Florence Merriam Bailey en español: https://mujeresconciencia.com/2017/03/14/las-alas-florence-merriam-bailey-naturalista-ambientalista-amante-los-pajaros/

Compiled by WFVZ staff from cited sources and the FMB biography No Woman Tenderfoot, by Harriet Kofalk (Texas A&M University Press, 1989).

Florence Bailey

John Muir's Letter to Florence Bailey

Handbook of Birds of the Western United States

Handbook of Birds of the Western United States

Handbook of Birds of the Western United States

Image 1: Florence Merriam Bailey conducting field research in the Guadalupe Mountains, New Mexico. Photo from the American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming, downloaded from https://www.sierracollege.edu/ejournals/jscnhm/v6n1/bailey.html.

Image 2: Letter from John Muir to Florence Bailey complimenting her on publication of the Handbook of Birds of the Western United States, December 14, 1902. From Florence Merriam Bailey correspondence file in the collections of the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology.

Image 3: Cover of the 1902 First Edition of the Handbook from the Western Foundation library.

Image 4: Page spread with illustrations from the Handbook of Birds of the Western United States.

Image 5: Handwritten corrections to illustration numbers in the Handbook of Birds of the Western United States, including the Golden and Bald Eagle images seen in Image 4, listed as Aquila and Haliaeetus, 2nd and 3rd lines from bottom. From a notebook in the Florence Merriam Bailey correspondence file in the collections of the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology.