Dr. Oliver Scott

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015

Dr. Oliver Scott was one of Wyoming’s foremost amateur ornithologists. He significantly contributed to many of the birding resources in our state and in the West. Dr. Scott’s passion for birds fostered Wyoming’s birdwatching community in many ways.

Born in Massachusetts in 1914, Scott developed a deep interest in ornithology as a young boy. He was fortunate to have as a mentor, Ludlow Griscom, a premier ornithologist and Harvard professor, known as the “Dean of the Bird Watchers.” While Scott pursued bachelor and medical degrees at Harvard he learned from Griscom, who pioneered identifying free-flying birds rather than hunting them for identification.

When Dr. Scott came to Wyoming in 1948, he became the first board-certified pediatrician in the state, he also brought to Wyoming his love of birds and support for their conservation. He conducted the first Audubon Christmas Bird Count in Casper and was co-founder of the Wyoming Audubon Society, which became the Murie Audubon Society.

Dr. Scott traveled widely across Wyoming and North America finding new and rare birds. He identified 727 unique bird species, known in the birding community as a watcher’s “life birds.” But, what really established his legacy was Dr. Scott readily sharing this knowledge of birds and of Wyoming.

Dr. Scott helped others develop their skills at birding. He taught a popular bird identification class at Casper College encouraging people from his community to learn more about birds and to spend time outside. But, he also devoted time and resources into building resources that others use now and will be used into the future. Dr. Scott was the Rocky Mountain Region editor of Audubon Field Notes for more than two decades putting his mark on that publication, he also provided field identification and range descriptions for Wyoming birds in two editions of A Field Guide to Western Birds, and then in 1993, three years before his death, he published what he considered his life’s work: A Birder’s Guide to Wyoming. This book provides detailed maps and descriptions making it easy for those interested to see Wyoming’s bird species on their own. It is a treasure for Wyoming birdwatchers.

Beyond his passion for birdwatching Dr. Scott has left other lasting impacts for Wyoming’s wildlife. Buying ranches in Natrona County, he was an early advocate for showcasing the positive impact ranching can have on wildlife. He then made a permanent commitment to wildlife and open space by placing 8,000 acres in a conservation easement with The Nature Conservancy.

Dr. Oliver Scott’s passion for the outdoors, for birds and all wildlife left a mark on Wyoming, he passed on this ethic to the generations that have come behind.

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