Tallahassee man writes biography of 'The Man Who Love Birds' – Tallahassee Democrat


Famed ornithologist, explorer, author, and longtime Florida winter resident Dr. Frank M. Chapman (1864-1945) of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, is the subject of a recently published biography by James Huffstodt of Tallahassee, a retired Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission veteran.
“The Man Who Loved Birds: Pioneer Ornithologist Dr. Frank M. Chapman, 1864-1945” (paperback, $16.95) is the first comprehensive biography of a pivotal figure in the early history of conservation, bird study, museum innovation, and bird photography.
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The 400-page paperback with vintage photographs is published by Bird Love Unlimited Publishers, and may be purchased on Amazon.books.com.
Although remembered most often today for conceiving the Christmas Bird Count,  Chapman made many other significant contributions to ornithology while conducting milestone expeditions to the wild and remote recesses of North and South America, according to the author.
“Chapman’s life story is literally the history of American ornithology during an epic era lasting a half-century and marked by enormous changes and memorable achievements,” Huffstodt said.
“This self-taught ornithologist who never attended college won international renown during a life of adventure and discovery played out from the frigid waters of the St. Lawrence in Canada to the high Andes mountains of South America. He led many expeditions into the Everglades and played a key role in creating the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge on the Indian River Lagoon.”
The author noted that Chapman earned the unofficial titles of the Dean of American Bird Watchers and godfather of the modern bird watching (birding) movement during his 54-year career at New York City’s American Museum of Natural History.
He was the most popular bird writer of his era, wrote 17 books, hundreds of articles, and founded the nation’s first popular bird magazine, “Bird Lore,” the forerunner of today’s “Audubon” magazine.
“Born in Englewood, New Jersey during the Civil War, Chapman spent almost every winter in Florida beginning in 1885 until his death in 1945,” Huffstodt said.
“He and his wife, Fannie, owned a cottage in Coconut Grove in their later years when they were neighbors and friends with conservationist Marjory Stoneman Douglas, author of “Everglades: Sea of Grass.” During the Twenties, Chapman was a winter resident in Ormond Beach where he golfed with John D. Rockefeller.”  
Before retiring, the author of “The Man Who Loved Birds” worked as an information-education officer for 25 years, initially with the Illinois Department of Conservation, and, most recently for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.
Huffstodt is the author of four non-fiction books including “Everglades Lawmen: True Stories of Game Wardens in the Glades,” published by Pineapple Press of Sarasota in 2000. He has been an Army journalist, a reporter for a small daily newspaper, and community college public relations specialist.
Huffstodt has also written more than 100 freelance feature stories for a dozen magazines and journals including “Tallahassee Magazine,” winning writing awards from United Press International, the Association of Conservation Information, and the Florida Outdoor Writers Association (FOWA). 
He and his wife, Judy, have lived in Tallahassee since 2004.
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