John W. Fitzpatrick

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John Weaver Fitzpatrick
John Fitzpatrick Ornithologist .jpg
John Fitzpatrick in conversation with Bangalore birdwatchers after a talk about bird conservation in January 2017[1]
Born 1951
Alma mater Harvard University
Occupation Ornithology, Conservation
Employer Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Known for Conservation of Florida Scrub Jay, eBird
Home town Ithaca
Awards Brewster Medal, Eisenmann Medal
Website Message on Cornell Lab of Ornithology

John Weaver Fitzpatrick (17 September 1951 in Saint Paul, Minnesota[2]) is an American ornithologist primarily known for his research work on the South American avifauna and for the conservation of the Florida scrub jay. He is currently the Louis Agassiz Fuertes Director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York.

Early life[edit]

In 1974, Fitzpatrick graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University with a B.A. in biology. His early inspiration to work on Bird conservation came from a talk by John Terborgh and his travels in the summer of 1974 Manú National Park in south-eastern Peru.[3] His summer in Peru made him change his plans from pursuing graduate study in University of California, Berkeley. In 1978, he earned a Ph.D. in biology from Princeton University for his study of the foraging behaviour of tyrant flycatchers in Manu.[4]

Early ornithological career[edit]

After his PhD, he moved to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago as its curator.[5] In 1988, he left for Florida to take over as the executive director and senior research biologist at the Archbold Biological Station, a private ecological research foundation in central Florida.[5] Much of his early research focused upon neotropical avifauna. He travelled many times to remote areas of South America, in particular to the western Amazonian basin and to the Andean foothills. In 1996, he published Neotropical Birds: Ecology and Conservation, a comprehensive synthesis of ecological information of the region covering 4037 species of birds from Mexico south to Tierra del Fuego.[6] Along with other biologists, Fitzpatrick has described several species and sub-species new to science such as bar-winged wood wren,[7] cinnamon screech owl,[8] royal sunangel,[9] Manu antbird,[10] the cinnamon-breasted tody-tyrant,[11] and the cinnamon-faced tyrannulet.[12]

Conservation of the Florida Scrub Jay[edit]

Fitzpatrick's current research focuses on the ecology, conservation biology, and population genetics of the endangered Florida scrub jay, based on a nearly 50-year field study of a color-banded population since his work at Archbold biological station.[13] He began studying the species in 1972 with Glen Everett Woolfenden. In 1985, Fitzpatrick and Woolfenden earned a Brewster Medal for their long-term study, the highest research award given by the American Ornithologists' Union.[14] His work on this species has helped slow its decline.[15]

Other work on bird conservation[edit]

From 1995 to 2005, Fitzpatrick was on the board of trustees of The Nature Conservancy.[16] He has served on many professional ornithological committees, two species recovery teams (for the Hawaiian crow and the ivory-billed woodpecker), and advisory boards right up to the present. He has served on the National Audubon Society Board of Directors and has been the President of American Ornithologists' Union (AOU) from 2000 to 2002.[15] Under his leadership, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has become a global leader public engagement with birds and bird conservation through widely accessed online resources such as Avian Knowledge Network and Citizen science platforms such as EBird.[15] Public data from the EBird platform is used worldwide to guide and plan conservation programmes, study climate change and study bird occurrence and migration patterns.[15][17][18]

Directorship at Cornell Lab of Ornithology[edit]

In 1995, Dr.Fitzpatrick became the Louis Agassiz Fuertes Director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York. He is also a professor in ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell University. He continues to teach and mentor graduate and undergraduate students.[15]

Awards and achievements[edit]

In 2005, Fitzpatrick won the Eisenmann Medal from the Linnaean Society of New York.[15] In 2011, he was honored with the AOU's Marion A. Jenkinson Service Award, given in memory of Marion Anne Jenkinson (1937–1994), former AOU treasurer. For his achievements in the study of Peruvian birds and his guidance to a new generation of ornithologists, the newly described Sira barbet of Peru was named in his honor in 2012.[19] In 2016, in a rare instance, the American Ornithologists' Union awarded him a second time (after the Brewster Medal) with the Ralph W. Schreiber Conservation Award.[15]

Personal life[edit]


  1. ^ Gurung, Regina. "Can birds save the world?". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 29 January 2017. 
  2. ^ The role of the research museums: hearing before the Task Force on Science Policy of the Committee on Science and Technology, House of Representatives, Ninety-ninth Congress, first session, April 17, 1985. United States. Congress. House. Committee on Science and Technology. Task Force on Science Policy U.S. G.P.O., 1986 p 133
  3. ^ "Hooked on Peru: Lab Director John Fitzpatrick's Early Career in the Tropics". All About Birds. 2008-04-15. Retrieved 2017-01-29. 
  4. ^ Fitzpatrick, John W. (1980-01-01). "Foraging Behavior of Neotropical Tyrant Flycatchers". The Condor. 82 (1): 43–57. doi:10.2307/1366784. 
  5. ^ a b "A True Believer". Harvard Magazine. 2007-03-01. Retrieved 2017-01-29. 
  6. ^ Stotz, Douglas F. (1996-06-01). Neotropical Birds: Ecology and Conservation. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226776309. 
  7. ^ "A New Species of Wood-Wren from Peru". 
  8. ^ "Overview - Cinnamon Screech-Owl (Megascops petersoni) - Neotropical Birds". Retrieved 2017-01-29. 
  9. ^ Fitzpatrick, John W.; Willard, David E.; Terborgh, John W. (1979-01-01). "A New Species of Hummingbird from Peru". The Wilson Bulletin. 91 (2): 177–186. 
  10. ^ "Cercomacra manu, a new species of antbird from Southwestern Amazonia". The Auk. 107 (2). ISSN 0004-8038. 
  11. ^ Fitzpatrick, John W.; O'Neill, John P. (1979-01-01). "A New Tody-Tyrant from Northern Peru". The Auk. 96 (3): 443–447. 
  12. ^ "A New Species of Tyrannulet (Phylloscartes) from the Andean Foothills of Peru and Bolivia". ResearchGate. Retrieved 2017-01-29. 
  13. ^ "John Fitzpatrick | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Cornell Arts & Sciences". Retrieved 2017-01-29. 
  14. ^ The Auk, Vol 103, No. 2, 1986 Brewster Award, 1985 (PDF; 171 kB)
  15. ^ a b c d e f g "Ralph W. Schreiber Conservation Award 2016, to John Fitzpatrick". The Auk. 134 (1): 279–280. 2017-01-01. doi:10.1642/AUK-16-233.1. ISSN 0004-8038. 
  16. ^ "Former Board Members | The Nature Conservancy". Retrieved 2017-01-29. 
  17. ^ Hurlbert, Allen H.; Liang, Zhongfei (2012-02-22). "Spatiotemporal Variation in Avian Migration Phenology: Citizen Science Reveals Effects of Climate Change". PLOS ONE. 7 (2): e31662. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0031662. ISSN 1932-6203. PMC 3285173Freely accessible. PMID 22384050. 
  18. ^ "Publications | eBird". Retrieved 2017-01-29. 
  19. ^ "New Species Discovered by Cornell Grads, Named for Cornell Lab Director". All About Birds. 2012-07-15. Retrieved 2017-01-29.