Preconfederation Ornithology

A compilation of transcriptions relating to Canadian preconfederation ornithology, 1534-1867

Thomas Davies


This paper is an account of Thomas Davies contributions to the ornithology of Nova Scotia and Quebec over four postings to North America which covered periods between 1757 and 1790.

Davies spent about half of his 18 years in North America in the United States. A brief summary of his American postings is also included. Hopefully at some future date an ornithological historian will attempt to piece together his contribution there.

Davies left virtually no written record of his North American observations and collections. Some of his contributions can be pieced together from the publications of his friends, British ornithologists Thomas Pennant and John Latham. Given the many interconnections between Nova Scotia and Quebec I have prepared a single paper which appears under Nova Scotia and Quebec.

Denis Robillard, educator and writer, who lives in Windsor, Ontario is writing a book on the life of Davies. It is likely that the results of his extensive research will significantly expand the current meagre published accounts of Davies’ life and work. Hopefully Denis’s book will bring to light more information on Davies contribution to North American ornithology.

This paper broadly outlines the evidence that Davies was a much more important contributor to North American ornithology than his record suggests. This is based on evidence of his familiarity with the bird life in northeastern United States and Canada during his long residence there and his strong connections to Thomas Pennant and John Latham two the most important British ornithologists who published on North American birds in late 18th century.

I anticipate that this paper will have to be rewritten when new material is available.

Full Text

Davies Paper