ALBERT KENRICK FISHER
Photo of A. K. FisherPhoto of A. K. Fisher

Albert was born in Ossining (then called Sing Sing), New York, on March 21, 1856. He was the son of Hiram and Susan E. Fisher. His home was on a hill overlooking the Hudson River and was surrounded by countryside. He spent much time as a child in the tidal marshes along Croton Point and in the surrounding hills. He went to Holbrook’s Military High School and attended the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New York, graduating with medical training in 1879. He married Alwilda Merritt and they raised four children: Harry, Ethel, Walter, and Alberta.

After working together with 21 others to found the American Ornithologists’ Union and set up studies of migration and distribution, Dr. C. Hart Merriam, a friend of Albert, convinced him to help him found the Branch of Economic Ornithology in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Division of Entomology, in 1885. On July 1, 1886, the branch they were founding was given separate status as the Division of Economic Ornithology and Mammalogy. At this time he wrote The Hawks and Owls of the United States in Their Relation to Agriculture, which was published in 1893 and quickly became a fundamental work in the field. Albert played a role again in 1905 in the creation of a Bureau of Biological Survey, which focused on biological explorations of relatively unknown areas of North America. He later put significant effort into making the Bureau of Biological Survey an important part of the Fish and Wildlife Service. He retired in 1931.

Albert was involved in several major expeditions, including the Death Valley Expedition of 1891, the Harriman Alaska Expedition in 1899, and the Pinchot South Seas Expedition in 1929. From these expeditions he added many birds to the collection of the U.S. National Museum.

The more than 150 other papers that he wrote covered topics such as birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, various invertebrates, and biographical sketches.

He was a member of the Nuttall Ornithological Club, the Delaware Valley Ornithological Club, and the International Association of Game and Fish Commissioners; associate member of the Boone and Crocket Club, the Baird Ornithological Club, and the Cosmos Club; honorary member of the American Game Protective Association and the Cooper Ornithological Club; and corresponding member of the Linnaean Society of New York.

He was an active member of the Washington Biologists’ Field Club for more that 45 years, being elected in 1903 and bringing hundreds of friends to Plummers Island on excursions over the years. He served as president from 1906 to 1911. Albert participated in the management and study of Plummers Island, as well as being a famed excellent cook for the shad bakes and oyster roasts. Albert was very popular among Washington Biologists’ Field Club members, who referred to him as A.K. His last visit to the Island was only a few weeks before his death. His ashes were placed there after he died on June 12, 1948, in Washington, D.C., by Fran Uhler and Arnold Nelson. They buried his ashes by a twinleaf flower as A.K. had requested. A memorial plaque was installed on the Island for this popular and much admired naturalist.