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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ernie Taber & Bird-Lore Posting

Back on January 11th of this year I posted a brief piece about Bird-Lore Magazine and bird photography. It was a short article written in 1899 by a man named Ernie Taber. Nearly a year later I received the following, very interesting comment from a woman in Cincinnati, Ohio:

I was so excited to find your post. I'm writing a history of Mr. Taber's home town, Meridian, New York, and there will be a chapter on Ernie, a small-town polymath.

There is a tale that Frank Chapman of the American Museum of Natural History, after having read many of Ernie's articles, visited Ernie at Meridian.

Ernie took Chapman out on Otter Lake with the goal of finding a bittern nest. Both had their cameras. Chapman apparently took many, many photos, and Ernie just one. Ernie's was perfect. Chapman's were unusable.

His glass plate negatives still exist in the possession of a retired biology professor and birder (also from the environs of Meridian). There are plans to donate them to the New York State Museum.

Ernie died in 1954, after a long career as a birder, collector of Iroquois artifacts (many in the collection of the Museum of the American Indian in D.C.), philatelist, numismatist and taxidermist. He served as Cayuga County Clerk for something close to thirty years, and also served in several other capacities in local government.

His large collection of mounted birds and small mammals is on display at the Cato-Meridian Middle School, in Cato, NY, just a mile from where Ernie lived.

He was a fascinating man.

Thanks for posting this.

Christine Wands
Cincinnati, Ohio

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