John W. Fitzpatrick

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John Weaver Fitzpatrick (17 September 1951 in Saint Paul, Minnesota[1]) 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.


In 1974, Fitzpatrick graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University with a B.A. in biology. In 1978, he earned a Ph.D. in biology from Princeton University. From 1978 through 1983, Dr. Fitzpatrick held a number of positions at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, including head of the Division of Birds, and chairman of the Department of Zoology, Scientific Support Service[citation needed], and Science Advisory Council[citation needed]. He also held an appointment as senior lecturer at the University of Chicago[citation needed]. From 1988 to 1995, he served as executive director and senior research biologist at the Archbold Biological Station, a private ecological research foundation in central Florida. 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. From 1992 through 1994, Dr. Fitzpatrick was the chairman of The Nature Conservancy Board of Trustees, Florida chapter.[citation needed] Dr. Fitzpatrick has served on many professional ornithological committees[citation needed], two species recovery teams (for the Hawaiian crow and the ivory-billed woodpecker), and advisory boards right up to the present[citation needed]. He has served on the National Audubon Society Board of Directors, multiple positions with the American Ornithologists' Union (AOU)[which?], including as president, and on a host of National Science Foundation panels.[citation needed]

Much of Dr. Fitzpatrick's 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. He published Neotropical Birds: Ecology and Conservation in 1996. Fitzpatrick was co-describer of six bird species and one subspecies new to science, including the bar-winged wood wren (Henicorhina leucoptera), the cinnamon screech owl (Otus petersoni), the royal sunangel (Heliangelus regalis), the Manu antbird (Cercomacra manu), the cinnamon-breasted tody-tyrant (Hemitriccus cinnamomeipectus), and the cinnamon-faced tyrannulet (Phylloscartes parkeri).

Dr. Fitzpatrick's current research focuses on the ecology, conservation biology, and population genetics of the endangered Florida scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens), based on a continuously running field study of a color-banded population at Archbold. He began studying the species in 1972 with Glen Everett Woolfenden (1930–2007). In 1985, Fitzpatrick and Woolfenden earned a Brewster Medal for their long-term study, the highest research award given by the American Ornithologists' Union.[2]

In 2005, Fitzpatrick won the Eisenmann Medal from the Linnaean Society of New York. 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 Dr. Fitzpatrick's achievements in the study of Peruvian birds and his guidance to a new generation of ornithologists, the newly described Sira barbet (Capito fitzpatricki) of Peru was named in his honor in 2012.

Works (selected)[edit]


  1. ^ 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
  2. ^ The Auk, Vol 103, No. 2, 1986 Brewster Award, 1985 (PDF; 171 kB)