Amelia Laskey

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Amelia Rudolph Laskey (12 December 1885 - 19 December 1973) was an American amateur naturalist and ornithologist noted for her contributions to biology despite her lack of formal education. Many publications refer to her as "Mrs F.C. Laskey."

Early life and education

Laskey was born Amelia Rudolph to German immigrant parents, Susan and Frank Rudolph, in Bloomington, Indiana. She attended school in Chicago through high school. She then became a stenographer at the Oliver Typewriter Company before her marriage.[1] She also taught girls at the Sunday school of the Ogden Park Methodist Church. She married Fredrick C. Laskey in 1911 and moved to Nashville where Fredrick was a manager at the Swift and Company.[2]

Amateur research

Laskey's research career began when she moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1921. She began to participate in a gardening club, having an expansive garden at her home that she called Blossomdell, and a literary society. She began her studies in ornithology when she joined the Tennessee Ornithological Society in 1928. Her research began with the migratory behavior of chimney swifts, cowbirds, and mockingbirds, and discovered that chimney swifts wintered in Peru. Laskey also studied bluebird nesting behavior and was the first to note a Gambel's sparrow in Tennessee. She was particularly noted for her study of mockingbird behavior; Laskey noted the species' song development, mating behavior and number of mates, egg clutch sizes, and territory defense. She also discovered that brown-headed cowbirds were monogamous.[1] She kept a mockingbird named Honey child at home for 15 years and she made careful studies of behaviour including song acquisition.[3][4] Other birds she took care of included a crippled red-tailed hawk which lived with her for ten years and an albino great horned owl that she kept for 22 years. She began bird banding in 1931 and became a very careful and prolific bander. She also contributed to Lowery and Newman's study of nocturnal bird migration through the observation of flocks crossing the disc of the moon. She was also a pioneer researcher of migratory bird casualties at television towers. She was made a Fellow of the American Ornithologists' Union in 1966 although she was a member from 1933.[2][5] She also collaborated with other ornithologists including Margaret Morse Nice and Josselyn Van Tyne.[6][7]

Her publications spanned 40 years, from 1933 to 1973, the year of her death, and included over 150 papers in ornithological journals. Laskey was also known for her rehabilitation of wounded birds.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Ogilvie, Marilyn; editors, Joy Harvey (2000). The biographical dictionary of women in science : pioneering lives from ancient times to the mid-20th century. New York, NY [u.a.]: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415920391.
  2. ^ a b Goodpasture, Katherine A. (1975). "In Memoriam: Amelia Rudolph Laskey" (PDF). Auk. 9 (2): 252–259.
  3. ^ Laskey, Amelia R. (1944). "A mockingbird acquires his song repertory" (PDF). Auk. 61 (2): 211–219.
  4. ^ Laskey, Amelia R. (1962). "Breeding biology of mockingbirds" (PDF). Auk. 79 (4): 596–606.
  5. ^ Laskey, Amelia R. (1966). "The manner of feeding fledgling woodpeckers" (PDF). Wilson Bulletin. 78 (1): 64–67.
  6. ^ Laskey, Amelia R. (1944). "A study of the cardinal in Tennessee" (PDF). Wilson Bulletin. 56 (1): 27–44.
  7. ^ Laskey, Amelia R. (1957). "Some tufted titmouse life history" (PDF). Journal of Field Ornithology. 28 (3): 135–145.

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