Alexander Wilson

The Father of American Ornithology

Today is the anniversary of the death of the Scottish ornithologist and poet Alexander Wilson.
Wilson immigrated to the United States from Paisley Scotland. His family called him Sandy.
He quickly became one of the foremost naturalists of his time. Before John James Audubon, there was Alexander Wilson - who was born the 20 years before Audubon.
Wilson is known as the father of American ornithology.
Wilson wrote the very first ornithology of American birds. When Wilson completed his publication, which he had prepared in nine volumes, it was sold for an exorbitant price: $120. Even John James Audubon passed on owning a copy for that sky-high price.
Wilson ended up living at Gray’s Ferry, where he took charge of a school founded by John Bartram.
Right down the street, lived William Bartram, of all people. Bartram operated his nursery called Bartram Botanical Gardens, and he became a mentor for Wilson. Bartrum was the best kind of mentor, encouraging and honoring Wilson's unique talents and interests. It was William Bartram who helped Wilson learn to draw birds.

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Alexander Wilson
Alexander Wilson

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