Date: 11/11/18 8:04 pm
From: David Swain <davidswain79...>
Subject: [MASSBIRD] Ludlow Griscom eBirds in France, 1918 (long)
One hundred years ago the American ornithologist Ludlow Griscom was
stationed as a propaganda officer in Chaumont, France, where his office
designed and printed propaganda leaflets to deploy by hydrogen balloons
along the Western Front. Little is know of his work, and even less of his
views of the war, but an astonishing letter on December 6, 1918 to his
friend Jack Nichols (at the American Museum of Natural History) offers
eloquent testimony to Griscom’s relentless focus on birds and their ironic
affirmation of life amid the waste and destruction of war. In 2014 I edited
this letter for Bird Observer, and you can read it here:

In my commentary I noted that Griscom provided "eBird-ready lists," and I
decided that for this Armistice Day I would enter all Griscom's sightings
into eBird as his avatar, Ludlow G. Between September 17 and November 2,
1918 Griscom birded for a week at Colombey-les-Belles during Fall
migration; several days around Chaumont; two days at Bar-le-Duc; and
Griscom gives harrowing accounts of birding during two days at the front
lines in the final days of the war. In all, I have been able to reconstruct
eighteen lists, some quite partial, some quite full. Here are two memorable

Migration at Colombey-les-Belles:
Birding at the Front:

Griscom tripped the eBird filters with five Montagu's Harriers on October 2
at Chaumont, and the two Twite he found at Bar-le-Duc on October 30 were
rare and high for that date. But I won't soon forget the thrill on entering
lists recorded a hundred years ago while shells fell around him. This is
both to remember the man and honor those who served.

good birding,
David Swain
Concord Birds Project

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