Last Updated on August 20, 2023

Famous birdwatchers tend to fall into two different categories and that includes birdwatchers who are famous for birding and celebrities who love birding. In our guide will cover both types of well-known birders.

But regardless of why they’re famous, the people on our list have one thing in common, and that’s their love of birding. So, read on to learn about these celebrities and scholars and find out what they contributed to the world of birding. We guarantee that some people on our list will surprise you.

Famous bird watchers can be found throughout history. Many important scholars, artists, musicians, and even a president were known for their passion for birding. Some even discovered and named several species of birds or brought new and rare birds right into our homes through music inspired by the sounds of songbirds or in books and paintings.

Throughout the years, many famous birders have enjoyed sighting and studying wildlife, whether it was birds in their own backyards or those they sighted when traveling. But these bird watchers not only shared our passion for birding, but they also taught us many things we didn’t know about certain species of birds. Some even discovered new species or documented their findings, which taught us many interesting facts about lesser-known species including habitats, diet, behaviors, and more. Continue reading to learn more about these popular birders.

Popular Birders in History

Below, you’ll find a list of some of the world’s best-known birders throughout history. Many of these birders spent most of their time dedicated to studying, sketching, and painting rare species of birds, giving us a window into a world that at the time, many people did not know existed.

bill oddie
Bill Oddie. Source: Wikipedia

Bill Oddie

Bill Oddie is an English birder, television presenter, artist, comedian, musician, and writer. Born in Quinton, Birmingham, Oddie has been a birdwatcher since childhood and has an established reputation as a conservationist on wildlife issues.

John James Audubon

John James Audubon was an American naturalist, painter, and birdwatcher. He was well-known for his extensive studies that involved documenting different species of birds for his illustrated book that showed us birds in their natural habitat. The Birds of America is one of his most well-known books and it’s considered one of the best birdwatching books ever written. Additionally, he helped to identify over twenty-five species of birds.

Louis Agassiz Fuertes

An American birder, Louis Agassiz Fuertes was an artist and illustrator. He took birding art to whole new levels and is known as one of the most prolific bird artists of all time, after James Audubon. He created thousands of bird sketches and paintings that were all based on studies in nature.

Oliver Messiaen
Olivier Messiaen. Soruce: Wikipedia

Olivier Messiaen

A French composer, Olivier Messiaen was a birdwatcher, organist, and one of the biggest composers of the twentieth century. His beautiful haunting and complex pieces changed music forever. He traveled often and wrote pieces that were heavily inspired by Japanese music. Aside from his love of music he was widely known as an avid birder and often claimed that the sounds of birds were also influential when it came to composing new pieces.

Paul Johnsgard

Paul Austin Johnsgard was a famous artist, birder, and an emeritus professor at the University of Nebraska. He wrote over fifty books that included several monographs of cranes and waterfowl. He spent many years during his childhood birding, thanks to his cousin who worked as a game warden.

William Beebe

An American naturalist, marine biologist, birder, and entomologist explorer, William Beebe made a name for himself due to his numerous expeditions, his scientific writing and his love of birding. He’s also well-known for his innovative habitat designs which he created specifically for the New York Zoo.

Thure Kumlien

Thure Ludwig Theodor Kumlien was an American birdwatcher, taxidermist, and naturalist. He played a major role in studying the native birds of Wisconsin and was close friends will John James Audubon. Aside from his passion for birding he also taught zoology and botany.

Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro was a Marxist and dictator who was also known for his love of birdwatching. Although there is not much written regarding his passion for birding and he did nothing to contribute to the birding world as a whole, it’s widely known that birding was one of his great passions.

Albert Einstein
Source: Wikipedia

Albert Einstein

Fans and students of Albert Einstein are probably familiar with the fact that he loved birdwatching. In fact, it’s said that he was very fond of heading out early in the morning for birdwatching excursions when time allowed. If you’d like to learn more about Einstein’s passion for birding you can find more information regarding his favorite pastime in numerous biographies written on him.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

In Pennsylvania, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Park is known as an important birding area, but this comes as no surprise considering he was an avid birder and spent plenty of time outdoors on a mission to sight rare and elusive birds all over the country.

Related Questions

How Can I Get Started Birding?

If you’re new to the world of birding then you’re probably excited and eager to get started on your first birding adventure. But if you don’t have any friends or family who bird, then finding someone to teach you the ropes may be a challenge. If you’d like to learn more about birding, how to get started or find out if there are any birding groups in your area, read our article on Birding Organizations Across The USA.

As a Beginner, What Do I Need to Get Started Birdwatching?

To start, you’ll need to purchase some field guides, which can teach you a lot about birds found in your neck of the woods, the best time to sight them, where to find them, and the times of day when they’re the most active. Next, you’ll need to use the best birding binoculars, if you want to be able to clearly view birds in different lighting conditions, different times of day, or elusive birds that are difficult to sight at a closer range. The Celestron 71336 Nature DX 12×56 Binoculars offer an impressive range, which can make sighting birds without disturbing them, much easier.

Who Has Sighted the Most Birds?

Currently, Noah Strycker holds the record for the most birds sighted in one year. His record is strong with 4,342 birds. Of course, Big Year birding is highly competitive. This competition involves sighting as many birds as possible within one calendar year. However, unless you have the time and money it takes to sight this amount of birds, you’ll be hard-pressed to come anywhere near this record. The Big Year is a competition that the American Birding Association puts on each year, however, there are other Big Year competitions each year. Strycker entered the global Big Year competition and won by spending the year traveling all over the world to sight new and rare species.

Final Thoughts

Famous bird watchers can be found throughout history. While many did contribute to the birding community, others were celebrities in their own right that just happened to have a passion for birdwatching, like the rest of us.

It’s the early birders that seem to have brought so much knowledge to the birdwatching community by bringing more attention to this fun and challenging pastime and teaching us through art and literature more about the hundreds of species of birds all over the world.