Ornithologists and Benefactors of Birds at Mount Auburn

Early Mount Auburn Field Note from Thomas Mayo Brewer, in A History of North American Birds by S.F. Baird, T.M. Brewer, and R. Ridgway, 1875:

“Late in May, 1838, I have a note of having met with this species [Mourning Warbler] in Mount Auburn. The bird was fearless and unsuspecting, busily engaged among some low shrubbery, in search of insects. It suffered our near presence, was often within a few feet, and was so readily distinguishable that my companion, with no acquaintance with birds, at once recognized it from Audubon’s plates.”

Mount Auburn was selected as one of the state’s Important Bird Areas (IBA) by Massachusetts Audubon in 2003.

Notes About Mount Auburn and the Birds of the Area:

From William Brewster, The Birds of the Cambridge Region of Massachusetts, 1906:

“Mount Auburn or Sweet Auburn, as it was formerly called was one of Nuttall’s favorite haunts. Its abrupt heights and deep hollows were covered in his time by heavy and perhaps primeval forest, frequented by sportsmen in pusuit of game and by troops of children looking for nuts or the shy hepaticas which bloomed in early spring on some of the sunnier slopes.

Its summer fauna, also rich and varied, included one species of especial interest, viz., the Olive-sided Flycatcher, which Nuttall found breeding near Mount Auburn before 1832, and which continued to nest in the same locality 1867 to 1879.”

From Ludlow Griscom, unpublished manuscript, circa 1940:

“…thanks to careful planting and planning, the cemetery grounds are more attractive than ever. If Brewster could revisit the Cemetery today, he would deplore the scarcity of nesting and wintering birds, and the abundance of Starlings and English Sparrow, but he would rub his eyes in amazement at the spectacular concentrations or rare warblers, as nothing even remotely approximating them were known during the decades of his field work.”

Griscom described Mount Auburn Cemetery as one of the most advantageous stations for the migration of land birds in eastern Massachusetts. He explained that from the point of view of the birds the Cemetery is primarily a piece of woodland. Birds seeking woodland will swarm to the Cemetery at the season of their migration. Since Mount Auburn is on the edge of a great metropolitan area, with a broad belt of badly wrecked suburbs beyond it, the Cemetery “appears as a green oasis in a vast desert and they make for it, as the best place they can see below them” when they put down at dawn for food and rest after a night’s migration.

To ensure the attractiveness of the grounds for birds, Mount Auburn Cemetery has planted trees and shrubs that support birds. In the Trustee Minutes of September 14, 1870, Trustee T.M. Brewer reported from the Committee on Birds that they favored the introduction of the trees and shrubs attractive to birds. In fact, the Committee recommended that the Cemetery’s Superintendent “be directed to the preparation of a list of such suitable fruit-bearing shrubbery as we can recommend for planting in the Cemetery.” This careful consideration of the needs of wildlife continues today.

Orinthologists and Benefactors of Birds at Mount Auburn

Thomas Mayo Brewer (1814-1880)
#792 Yarrow Path

Henry Augustus Purdie (1840-1911)
#1484 Mimosa Path

Charles Foster Batchelder (1856-1956)
#5481 Excelsior Path

Wendell Taber (1897-1960)
#7380 Excelsior Path

Elizabeth Taber Taintor (1895-1955)
#7380 Excelsior Path

Samuel Atkins Eliot, Jr. (1893-1984)
#713 Amethyst Path

Thomas Barbour (1884-1946)
#5279 Excelsior Path

Harriett Lawrence Hemenway (1858-1960)
#1463 Thistle Path

Oakes Ingalls Ames (1893-1970)
#9210 Begonia Path

Richard A. Forster (1944-1997)
#11000 Willow Pond Knoll

Ruthven Deane (1851-1934)
#5892 Beryl Path

Francis Parkman Atkinson (1851-1874)
#4337 Palm Avenue

Henry Munson Spelman (1861-1946)
#1346 Olive Path

Ludlow Griscom (1890-1959)
#7370 Palm Avenue

Charles Wendell Townsend (1859-1934)
#523 Rose Path

Zebedee Cook, Jr. (1786-1858)
#397 Rose Path

Outram Bangs (1863-1932)
#411 Woodbine Path

Glover Morrill Allen (1879-1942)
#8275 Maple Avenue

Horace Winslow Wright (1848-1920)
#72 Lily Path

William Brewster (1851-1919)
#1099 Larch Avenue