Chandler Seymour Robbins, one of the greatest birders and field ornithologists of all time, died yesterday in Columbia, Maryland. He was 98.
Robbins created the Golden Guide, among the most influential bird books ever published, and he conceived the Breeding Bird Survey, a landmark achievement in bird conservation. His contributions to science and conservation were prodigious.
Robbins’ professional career, spanning seven decades, significantly influenced nearly every serious birder and ornithologist in the New World. Because of Robbins, we are all better citizen-scientists. And there is something else: Because of Robbins, we are better citizens, period.
Robbins, known as “Chan” to all, was universally acclaimed as a gentleman. Chan was gracious and giving. He was possessed of the deepest humanity. An encounter with Robbins typically resulted in a “Chan story,” usually entertaining and a bit surreal, invariably humbling, and sometimes literally life-changing.
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