Paul Johnsgard

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Paul Johnsgard
Johnsgard in Nebraska (2011)
Born(1931-06-28)June 28, 1931
DiedMay 28, 2021(2021-05-28) (aged 89)
CitizenshipUnited States
Alma materNorth Dakota State University, Washington State University, Cornell University
Known forNumerous publications on birds and natural history
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Nebraska

Paul Austin Johnsgard (28 June 1931 – 28 May 2021) was an ornithologist, artist and emeritus professor at the University of Nebraska. His works include nearly fifty books including several monographs, principally about the waterfowl and cranes.

Childhood and education[edit]

Born in Christine, North Dakota, a small village around 20 miles south of Fargo, he was introduced to the study of birds by a distant cousin who was a game warden. He spent these early years taking part in duck counts. After high school and junior college at Wahpeton, he enrolled at North Dakota State University to major in zoology. He then moved to Washington State University for his master's degree, encouraged by a professor who suggested that he could have a career in ornithology. His master's study was on the impact of the construction of O'Sullivan Dam to wetland habitats. Apart from the data collected and his interpretation, it included his pen sketches. This was published in The Condor and the article attracted the attention of Charles Sibley who invited him to consider a Ph.D. at Cornell University with him, with his work focusing on the phylogeny of six ducks.


After completing his graduate degree, Johnsgard moved to England at the Wildfowl Trust at Gloucestershire founded by Sir Peter Scott. Over the course of two years, he produced his first book, the Handbook of Waterfowl Behaviour, which was published by Cornell University in 1965.[1] He is considered one of the most prolific authors of ornithology books.[2]

Selected publications[edit]


  1. ^ Klopfer, Peter H. (1965). "Review of Handbook of Waterfowl Behavior by Paul A. Johnsgard". Science. 150 (3700): 1144. doi:10.1126/science.150.3700.1144.a. S2CID 239571271.
  2. ^ Hayward, J. (1994). "Beguiled by birds". Living Bird. 13 (4): 6–7.
  3. ^ Beissinger, Steven R. (1994). "Review of Cormorants, Darters, and Pelicans of the World by Paul A. Johnsgard". The Quarterly Review of Biology. 69 (3): 416–417. doi:10.1086/418705. ISSN 0033-5770.
  4. ^ Houston, C. Stuart (2005). "Review of Grassland Grouse and their Conservation by Paul A. Johnsgard". The Canadian Field-Naturalist. 119 (4): 598. doi:10.22621/cfn.v119i4.224. ISSN 0008-3550.


  • Farrar, J. 1993. Paul Johnsgard, Nebraska's Birdman. Nebraskaland 71(2): 38–47.
  • Johnsgard, Paul. 2010. My life in biology. Nebraska Bird Review 78(3):103-120.
  • Klucas, G. 2002. A beautiful mind. Nebraska Magazine. Summer, 2002. pp. 24–27.
  • Miles, L. 1993. Paul Johnsgard and the Harmony of Nature. pp. 91–93, in A. Jenkins (ed.), The Platte River: An Atlas of the Big Bend Region. Univ. Nebr. Kearney. 194 pp.
  • Scully, M. G. 2001. Heeding the call of sandhill cranes. Chronicle of Higher Educ. 47(30:): B-17.

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