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Ridgway, Robert(1850–1929) ornithologist; born in Mount Carmel, Ill. At age nine he was making colored drawings of birds he shot. He was the protégé of the zoologist Spencer Baird, who when he became secretary of the Smithsonian Institution appointed Ridgway curator of birds at the U.S. National Museum (1880–1929). He did field studies but it was his writings that gained him the reputation as the country's leading ornithologist. He systematized the color system for bird identification and wrote Color Standards and Nomenclature (1886, 1912) and The Birds of North and Middle America (8 vols. 1901–19).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.