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The Linnaean Society of New York


The Bronx County Bird Club
Ernst Mayr Scientist
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The Bronx County Bird Club was a… informal gathering of about seven young – originally teenage, later in their early 20s – ornithologists, bird watchers, who… none of them was an academic, but they were having a wonderful time and they loved to get together, and it was called the Bronx County Bird Club, because one of their statutes said you couldn't become a member until you were born… unless you were born in… in the Bronx. And the Bronx had a… interesting reputation around the country and particularly in New York. Now, I was also a member of the Bronx County Bird Club, not having been born in the Bronx, but so I was made an honorary member. And another honorary member was Roger Terry Peterson, and a third honorary member was Bill Vogt; we were the three honorary members. Well, we went together for Christmas censuses and… came together again. It was just a… a somewhat rowdy group of youngsters who were having a wonderful time.

The late German-American biologist Ernst Mayr (1904-2005) was a leading light in the field of evolutionary biology, gaining a PhD at the age of 21. He was also a tropical explorer and ornithologist who undertook an expedition to New Guinea and collected several thousand bird skins. In 1931 he accepted a curatorial position at the American Museum of Natural History. During his time at the museum, aged 37, he published his seminal work 'Systematics and Origin of the Species' which integrated the theories of Darwin and Mendel and is considered one of his greatest works.

Listeners: Walter J. Bock

Walter J. Bock is Professor of Evolutionary Biology at Columbia University. He received his B.Sc. from Cornell and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard. His research lies in the areas of organismal and evolutionary biology, with a special emphasis on functional and evolutionary morphology of the skeleto-muscular system, specifically the feeding apparatus of birds.

Tags: Bronx County Bird Club, Bronx, Christmas, William Vogt

Duration: 1 minute, 14 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1997

Date story went live: 24 January 2008