Frank M. Chapman (1864-1945), the visionary innovator who conceived the Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC) now entering its 123rd year, is the forgotten giant of American conservation whose overriding passion from early childhood was birdlife in all its incredible variety and dazzling beauty.
The Man Who Loved BIrds: Pioneer Ornithologist Dr. Frank M. Chapman, 1864-1945 by James Huffstodt is the first full-length biography of this iconic bird man of the American Museum of Natural History. The 2022 biography may be purchased in paperback or E-book format on amazon.book.com. The 400-page book includes vintage photos, extensive footnotes, and bibliography.
Chapman was a self-taught ornithologist and banker who early on abandoned the prison of the teller’s cage for a life of science spent with the New York Museum of Natural History on Central Park West where during his 54-year career he became legendary as the Dean of Ornithologists. This stern, very proper Victorian, had a starchy soul and rather intimidating presence concealing a sensitive and romantic soul.
This extensively researched volume tells the story of Chapman's life of adventure, danger, and discovery spent in search of beautiful wild birds in remote wilderness areas throughout North and South America. He also led the fight against the mass slaughter of wading birds, lobbied for the first bird protection legislation, laid the foundation for modern South American ornithology, and was a friend of President Theodore Roosevelt, who shared his passion for bird and wildlife conservation.
Acknowledged as the Dean of American Ornithologists, Chapman left an imperishable legacy as an influential pioneer whose adventures in the field included dodging rattlesnakes and tornados in Texas, enduring a savage Caribbean hurricane aboard a small sailing craft, negotiating with armed revolutionaries in the South American jungle, and riding muleback on narrow, treacherous trails high in the Andes mountains.
Chapman authored 17 books, and founded Bird Lore magazine, forerunner of today’s Audubon magazine. His landmark bird guide, Handbook of Birds of Eastern North America, 1895, went through several editions and was wildly popular for more than 40 years. He was also a sought-after bird lecturer and educator who helped father the modern birdwatching movement.
Biographer James Huffstodt of Tallahassee spent 25 years working as an information-education officer before retiring to write Chapman’s story. THE MAN WHO LOVED BIRDS is his fourth published non-fiction work. As a freelance writer he published feature stories in various magazines including Civil War Times, the DAR’s American Spirit, Florida Wildlife Magazine Illinois Outdoor Highlights, Dog World Magazine, Tallahassee Magazine, and Sea Classics.
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