January Photo Contest Winner

Bushtit. Salem. January 3.
Photographer: Theresa Byrne

John Cassin 1813-1869

John Cassin was a Pennsylvania Quaker, businessman, and ornithologist.

He drew, engraved, and colored many of the illustrations published in the Pacific Railroad Surveys.

He was named curator of the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences in 1842. A careful and talented taxonomist, Cassin named 198 birds not described in the works of his predecessors Alexander Wilson and John James Audubon.

He died of arsenic poisoning caused by his handling of bird skins preserved with arsenic. His collection, some 4,300 birds, was purchased for $500 by John Whipple Potter Jenks for Brown University's new museum of natural history.

Birds named for him are Cassin's Auklet, Cassin's Kingbird, Cassin's Vireo, Cassin's Sparrow, and Cassin's Finch.

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