Robert Ridgway and 'Bird Haven'
The marker is located in a turnout on the south side of US 50, about 0.8 mile south of Olney, just east of its intersection with South East Street.
Illinois Department of Transportation and The Illinois State Historical Society
Robert Ridgway, leading American ornithologist, was born at Mount Carmel, Illinois, on July 2, 1850. As a youth he became interested in birds and sketched many specimens around his home. At the age of seventeen, he was appointed zoologist on a geological survey of the Fortieth Parallel. From 1874 to 1929 he was connected with the Smithsonian Institution first as ornithologist and later as Curator of Birds. He was a founder of the American Ornithologists' Union (1883) and published in 1886. He was a member of the National Academy of Science (1926-1929).
Ridgway published extensively in his field and related areas from 1869 to 1929. His experience with the problems of color and color description in bird portraits resulted in a work entitled Color Standards and Color Nomenclature which proved valuable in many fields besides ornithology. He also wrote an authoritative eight-volume study of The Birds of North and Middle America published between 1901 and 1919 with two additional volumes in preparation when he died.
In 1916 Ridgway retired to Olney to continue his research at his home which he called Larchmound. He developed an eighteen-acre tract nearby called Bird Haven as a bird sanctuary and experimental area for the cultivation of trees and plants not native to the region. He died at Olney on March 25, 1929. Bird Haven with its variety of trees and birds remains as a memorial to this much-honored American ornithologist. It and Dr. Ridgway's grave are approximately two miles north of here.
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