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Doctor Alexander Frank Skutch (May 20, 1904 – May 12, 2004) was a naturalist and writer. He published numerous scientific papers and books about birds and several books on philosophy. He is best remembered for his pioneering work on helpers at the nest.

Contents

Biography

Alexander Skutch was born in Baltimore, Maryland. He received a Doctorate in Botany from Johns Hopkins University. He then found employment with United Fruit Company, which had a problem with banana diseases, for which it needed the expertise of a botanist.

After an initial stay in Jamaica, Skutch traveled to Guatemala, Panama and Honduras. During this time he fell in love with the tropics and also acquired a deep interest in birds. He began studying their habits.

Skutch collected plants for museums to make money, but observing birds remained his life’s main focus. In 1941 he purchased a farm in Costa Rica, where he lived for the rest of his life. In 1950, Skutch married Pamela Lancaster, who was also a naturalist.[1]

One of the writers of his obituary said: "A lifelong vegetarian, Skutch grew corn, yucca and other crops, and, without running water until the 1990s, bathed and drank from the nearest stream. He believed in "treading lightly on the mother Earth". With his wife Pamela, daughter of the English naturalist Sir Ray Lankester, whom he married in 1950, and their adopted son Edwin, he stayed there for the rest of his life."

Skutch wrote over 40 books and over 200 papers on ornithology, preferring a descriptive style and eschewing statistics and even banding.[2]

Alexander Skutch died one week before his 100th birthday, in the same year he received the Loye and Alden Miller Research Award. He is universally regarded as one of the world's greatest ornithologists.

Publications

As well as numerous contributions to the scientific literature, books and book-length papers authored or coauthored by Skutch include:

  • 1954 – Life Histories of Central American Birds I: Families Fringillidae, Thraupidae, Icteridae, Parulidae and Coerebidae. (Pacific Coast Avifauna No.31). Cooper Ornithological Society: Berkeley.
  • 1960 – Life Histories of Central American Birds II: Families Vireonidae, Sylviidae, Turdidae, Troglodytidae, Paridae, Corvidae, Hirundinidae and Tyrannidae. (Pacific Coast Avifauna No.34). Cooper Ornithological Society: Berkeley.
  • 1967 – Life histories of Central American highland birds. (Publications of the Nuttall Ornithological Club No.7). Harvard University: Cambridge.
  • 1969 – Life histories of Central American birds III: Families Cotingidae, Pipridae, Formicariidae, Furnariidae, Dendrocolaptidae, and Picidae. (Pacific Coast Avifauna No.35). Cooper Ornithological Society: Berkeley.
  • 1970 – The Golden Core of Religion. Holt, Rinehart and Winston: New York. ISBN 0030850827
  • 1971 – A Naturalist in Costa Rica. University of Florida Press: Gainsville. ISBN 0813003121
  • 1972 – Studies of Tropical American Birds. (Publications of the Nuttall Ornithological Club No.10). Harvard University: Cambridge.
  • 1973 – The Life of the Hummingbird. Crown Publishers: New York. ISBN 051750572X
  • 1976 – Parent Birds and Their Young. (Corrie Herring Hooks series, No.2). University of Texas Press: Austin. ISBN 0292764243
  • 1977 – A Bird Watcher's Adventures in Tropical America. (Corrie Herring Hooks series, No.3). University of Texas Press: Austin. ISBN 0292707223
  • 1979 – The Imperative Call: A Naturalist's Quest in Temperate and Tropical America. University of Florida Press: Gainesville. ISBN 0813005795
  • 1980 – A Naturalist on a Tropical Farm. (Illustrated by Dana Gardner). University of California Press. ISBN 0520038029
  • 1981 – New Studies of Tropical American Birds. (Illustrated by Dana Gardner). (Publications of the Nuttall Ornithological Club No.19). Harvard University: Cambridge. ISBN 1877973297
  • 1983 – Birds of Tropical America. (Illustrated by Dana Gardner). (Corrie Herring Hooks series, No.5). University of Texas Press: Austin. ISBN 0292746342
  • 1984 – Aves De Costa Rica. (Illustrated by John S. Dunning). Editorial Costa Rica: San Jose. ISBN 9977231087
  • 1984 – Nature Through Tropical Windows. University of California Press. ISBN 0520047451
  • 1985 – La Finca De Un Naturalista. (Illustrated by Dana Gardner). Libro Libre: San Jose, Costa Rica. ISBN 9977901201
  • 1985 – Life Ascending. University of Texas Press: Austin. ISBN 0292703740
  • 1985 – Life of the Woodpecker. (Illustrated by Dana Gardner). Ibis Publishing: Santa Monica. ISBN 0934797005
  • 1987 – Helpers at Birds’ Nests: A Worldwide Survey of Cooperative Breeding and Related Behavior. (Illustrated by Dana Gardner). (1st edition). University Of Iowa Press. ISBN 0877451508
  • 1987 – A Naturalist Amid Tropical Splendor. (Illustrated by Dana Gardner). University of Iowa Press. ISBN 087745163X
  • 1989 – A Guide To The Birds Of Costa Rica. (With F. Gary Stiles. Illustrated by Dana Gardner). Comstock Publishing Associates/Cornell University Press: Ithaca. ISBN 0801422876
  • 1989 – Birds Asleep. (Corrie Herring Hooks series, No.14). University of Texas Press: Austin. ISBN 0292707738
  • 1989 – Life of the Tanager. (Illustrated by Dana Gardner). Comstock Publishing: Ithaca. ISBN 0801422264
  • 1991 – Life of the Pigeon. (Illustrated by Dana Gardner). Comstock Publishing: Ithaca. ISBN 080142528X
  • 1992 – The Origins of Nature's Beauty. Essays. (Corrie Herring Hooks series). University of Texas Press: Austin. ISBN 029276037X
  • 1996 – Antbirds and Ovenbirds: Their Lives and Homes. (Illustrated by Dana Gardner). University of Texas Press: Austin. ISBN 0292777051
  • 1996 – Orioles, Blackbirds, and Their Kin: A Natural History. (Illustrated by Dana Gardner). University of Arizona Press. ISBN 0816516014
  • 1996 – The Minds of Birds. (Louise Lindsey Merrick Natural Environment Series, No.23). Texas A&M University Press: College Station. ISBN 0-89096-671-0
  • 1997 – Life of the Flycatcher. (Illustrated by Dana Gardner). University of Oklahoma: Norman. ISBN 0806129190
  • 1999 – Helpers at Birds’ Nests: A Worldwide Survey of Cooperative Breeding and Related Behavior. (Illustrated by Dana Gardner). (2nd expanded edition). University Of Iowa Press. ISBN 0877456747
  • 1999 – Trogons, Laughing Falcons, and Other Neotropical Birds. (Louise Lindsey Merrick Natural Environment Series). Texas A&M University: College Station. ISBN 0890968500
  • 2000 – Harmony and Conflict in the Living World. (Illustrated by Dana Gardner). University of Oklahoma Press: Norman. ISBN 0806132310
  • 2002 – Field Guide to the Wildlife of Costa Rica. (With Carrol L. Henderson and Steve Adams). (Corrie Herring Hooks series). University of Texas Press: Austin. ISBN 029273459X
  • 2006 – Moral Foundations: An Introduction to Ethics. Axios Press. ISBN 0966190890

References

External links

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