A scientific exchange in the 1860s

For this post, I note a trans-Atlantic, 19th-century scientific exchange involving a California condor.

A major scientific journal documented the story.

00 Title page ZSL proceedings

Here is part 1 of the exchange, from the 1866 proceedings:

01 Sclater 1866

And, from the 1868 proceedings, here is part 2:

02a Baird 1868

Spencer Fullerton Baird, referred to in both reports, went on to become the second secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.

The condor chick illustration that Baird provided to his London colleagues and that appears in part 2 is captioned “Cathartes californianus, jr.”:

02b Baird 1868

I have not been able to come up with a technical meaning for the “jr.” so I am inclined to read it as a light-hearted, even affectionate way of identifying the illustration as that of a young bird.

Baird included the chick image in an 1874 book, crediting the art to Edwin L Sheppard.

It is not surprising that scientists in London would appreciate receiving a live specimen of a “scarce bird” from colleagues in the USA. It is delightful that the associated exchange of artwork would also receive mention in a major scientific publication.

To see the illustration of the adult California condor sought by Baird and to view an entry for the California condor in the 1879 census of animals in the London zoo, see the post Zoo guides: 1879, 1911 & 1923.

For more about Baird’s work related to the California condor, see the post The beginning of Baird’s catalogs of birds.

All the images for this post are via the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

S F Baird, T M Brewer, and R Ridgway. A history of North American birds. Little, Brown. 1874.