The Zoologist/4th series, vol 4 (1900)/Issue 704/Obituary for Dr. Elliott Coues, Dresser

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Obituary for Dr. Elliott Coues  (1900) 
by Henry Eeles Dresser


Dr. Elliott Coues.

Another first-rate ornithologist has, we regret to say, gone home to his last resting-place, and will be sorely missed, not only in America, but also in Europe, and especially in England, where he was personally known to so many of us.

Dr. Elliott Coues, who passed away on Christmas Day last at the comparatively early age of fifty-seven, was not only a most painstaking and hard-working cabinet naturalist, but equally good as a field naturalist, as shown by the good fieldwork he did during the many years he served as assistant-surgeon in the U.S. army. Not only was he one of the first authorities on North American ornithology, but he also did excellent work, in conjunction with Mr. J.A. Allen, in the study of North American mammals, and especially in the publication of their work on the 'Fur-bearing Animals.' His separately published works, by which his name is best known, are the 'Key to North American Birds,' 'The Birds of the North-West,' 'The Birds of the Colorado Valley,' and 'Check-List of North American Birds'; but besides these, his various articles in periodicals are numerous, and of considerable value.

Dr. Coues was an unusually hard worker, as no trouble was too great for him when working out a difficult problem; and he was also enthusiastic to a degree. On whatever subject he wrote he displayed great originality of thought, and his pen was verily that of a ready writer. A firm friend and an excellent companion, he was also, as so often is the case, a somewhat bitter enemy.

The writer and he have been on friendly terms during the past thirty years, and when he was in England he stayed with him, and many and pleasant were the discussions on ornithology that took place, especially those on trinomial nomenclature, on which each held very different views.

Dr. Coues, who was one of the founders of the American Ornithologists' Union, and at one time its President, became Professor of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy at Norwich University, Vermont, in 1869, and held the chair of Anatomy in the National Medical College from 1877 to 1883. For some months prior to his death he had been in bad health, and on the 6th of December underwent "a serious surgical operation; his death, which took place at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, resulting from the same.


This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.