William Henry Phelps
|William Henry Phelps|
William Henry Phelps at the Isla de Aves in 1954
14 June 1875|
New York City
|Died||8 December 1965
|Alma mater||Harvard College|
|Doctoral advisor||Frank M. Chapman|
|Known for||239 new taxa|
|Notable awards||Brewster Medal 1955|
Born in New York City to Dudley F. Phelps, and of Louise Lander Prince Phelps, he attended Milton Academy and Harvard College. In the summer of 1896 he decided to go on a journey of ornithological exploration to Venezuela following the advice of Wirt Robinson, who had visited Margarita Island the year before, and from his mentor Frank M. Chapman. He went to the ports of Puerto Cabello and La Guaira to finally explore a region near Cumaná. After a long stay in the states of Sucre and Monagas, he became fascinated with the country and its birds. In San Antonio de Maturín, he met a family of British settlers, the Tuckers, and felt in love with one of the daughters, Alicia Elvira.
He returned to the United States with a small collection of specimens that he brought to Chapman at the American Museum of Natural History. The specimens he collected became the basis for his first publication published with Chapman in 1897.
Settling in Venezuela
Once he finished his studies at Harvard, Phelps returned to Venezuela in 1897, to marry Alicia Elvira Tucker and settle in Maturín. There he began one of many successful business ventures by selling coffee. His first two children, John and William Henry Jr., were born during that time. This second son, William H. Phelps, Jr. became one his foremost collaborators in all matters concerning ornithology.
William H. Phelps also founded Radio Caracas Radio.
- (With John Todd Zimmer and Ernest Thomas Gilliard A new race of the honey-creeper, Diglossa cyanea, from Venezuela (New York : American Museum of Natural History 1952)
- (With John Todd Zimmer) New subspecies of birds from Surinam and Venezuela (New York : American Museum of Natural History 1951)
- (With William H. Phelps, Jr.) Lista de las aves de Venezuela con su distribución (Caracas: Editorial Grafolit 1950)
- (With John Todd Zimmer) A new name for Basileuterus culicivorus roraimae (New York : American Museum of Natural History 1949)
- El viajero de las aves : la obra científica de William H. Phelps (Ediciones PPC : Libros de El Nacional 2006) ISBN 980-6454-25-1
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