West Reading Avenues Winter 2021-22 - 16

In the Community
The Baird
Ornithological
Club celebrates
its 100th year.
By Bill Uhrich
O
ver this past year, the Baird Ornithological Club of Reading has been
celebrating its centennial. But the roots of the club can be traced deep
into the 19th century, as far back as John James Audubon.
Spencer Fullerton Baird, the club's namesake, was born in Reading in the family
home at the southwest corner of Fifth and Washington streets in 1823. The family
moved to Carlisle when Baird was 6. He was an avid collector of all things related
to natural history, and in his youth, Baird maintained a lively correspondence with
Audubon after Baird had sent him a specimen of a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, a
species then new to science. In return, Audubon named the Baird's Sparrow,
Amodramus bairdii - a bird of the Great Plains, in his honor. The Baird's Sparrow
is the last bird species described by Audubon and is the final plate in Audubon's
monumental work, The Birds of America.
The Baird's Sandpiper, Calidris bairdii, was also named for him in 1861. Baird rose
to prominence as the first curator of the National Museum at the Smithsonian
Institution in 1850 and was named the second Secretary of the Smithsonian in
1878. He concurrently held the position of the first director of the United States
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West Reading Avenues Winter 2021-22

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