We had the pleasure of interviewing James Thomas Huffstodt, Author of THE MAN WHO LOVED BIRDS: Pioneer Ornithologist Dr. Frank M. Chapman (1864-1945). Here are the excerpts from the interview.
Hi James, Great to have you with us today! Please share with our readers about yourself.
I am a published award-winning book author and freelance magazine writer who retired in 2004 after a 25-year career spent with the Illinois Department of Conservation and, most recently, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. In my capacity as an information-education officer with these agencies, I researched and wrote news releases and magazine articles on all aspects of fish and wildlife conservation. I am a member of the Audubon Society, the American Birding Association, and the National Wildlife Federation.
Please tell us about your book, THE MAN WHO LOVED BIRDS: Pioneer Ornithologist Dr. Frank M. Chapman, 1864-1945.
This biography is a popular account of Chapman’s life of adventure, danger, and discovery in search of beautiful wild birds in remote wilderness areas throughout North and South America. He was an iconic figure at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City for 54 years who founded the Christmas Bird Count, led the fight against the mass slaughter of wading birds, and was a friend of President Theodore Roosevelt, who shared his passion for bird and wildlife conservation. Chapman was a ground-breaking: ornithologist, South American explorer, early bird photographer, innovative museum curator, popular bird magazine owner and editor, and the most popular bird writer of his generation.
Please share with our readers about your journey.
I first became aware of Dr. Frank M. Chapman in 1998 as an employee of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in West Palm Beach when I picked up his 1908 book: “Camps and Cruises of an Ornithologist.” I found him a brilliant writer and a fascinating man who, over his lifetime, led milestone bird research expeditions to wilderness areas from the St. Lawrence River in Canada to Tierra del Fuego at the tip of South America. My in-depth research of his life, including reading more than 150 of his letters, his journals, 17 books, and enumerable magazine articles, transformed my own life in a profound way. Today I am an avid bird watcher primarily inspired by the life and writings of Frank M. Chapman, America’s iconic bird man.
What are the strategies that helped you become successful in your journey?
My primary strategy was to intensively research every aspect of Dr. Frank M. Chapman’s life, which I’ve been doing, on and off, for 24 years. At one point, I spent four days at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where he led the Department of Ornithology during its Golden Age, going over the museum’s archive of his letters and articles.
Any message for our readers.
75 years after Chapman’s death, the wild birds of this planet are dying from air, water, and soil pollution, Climate Change, pesticides, plastics in the environment, habitat degradation and destruction, and, in many countries, unregulated hunting. If the birds die off, humans will soon face the same fate.
Fantastic! So tell us, how can people find out more about you?
Just Google James T. Huffstodt.
Thank you so much, James, for giving us your precious time! We wish you all the best for your journey ahead!
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