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Patuxent Wildlife Research Center


Alexander Skutch

Alexander Skutch (May 20, 1904- May 12, 2004) was a naturalist writer who published over 30 books and 200 scientific journals on the lives and habitats of Neotropical birds over a 70 year span. His works stimulated discussion and inquiry into avian sociobiology. He was best known for his pioneering work on helpers at the nest.

Skutch was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the eldest of four children. He spent his childhood on a farm where his love of animals was cultivated. He decided to become a biologist at the influence of one of his professors and received his doctorate in Botany from John Hopkins University. It was on a trip to Panama and Honduras to study bananas that he developed a deep interest in birds and began to study their behaviors. He continued collecting plants for his income but birds remained his life’s main focus. In 1941 he purchased a farm in Costa Rica where he lived for the rest of his life. Skutch died one week before his 100th birthday and just shortly after receiving the Loye and Alden Miller Research Award.

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