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The all-too-brief life of Greene Smith is a story of trials and triumph.

From his lifelong struggle to please a strict father, to his brush with death in the brutal Battle of the Crater during the Civil War, to his pioneering work in the preservation of hundreds of birds, Greene Smith walked a path few others could claim as a naturalist, a philanthropist, and an outdoorsman of the first order.

The extraordinary ‘Bird House’ he constructed on the grounds of the Smith Estate in Peterboro, NY was an innovative structure for its time, and it was there that he created a collection of thousands of examples of expert taxidermy that survive to this day in the natural collections at Cornell University, Harvard University and Colgate University. With this book, the story of his fascinating life is told for the first time.

A balanced, critical, but sensitive look at the life of a Civil War veteran, a naturalist, and above all, an avid outdoorsman who was enthralled by collecting and mounting birds.  This gracefully written, thoroughly researched book unearths many facts that will provide you with a comprehensive and intimate account of Greene Smith’s life. 

-John Pumilio
Director of Sustainability at Colgate University
Ornithology Instructor, National Audubon Society

Like a wounded bird, Greene Smith was brought down to earth before his time. While insightfully exploring the dissonances in Greene Smith’s tempestuous life, Norm Dann clears away the brush and brambles and invites us to contemplate the legacy of a naturalist who was done far too soon.

-Milton C. Sernett, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus of History, Syracuse University

An early citizen/scientist, Greene Smith launched his own bird research and amassed the most important American ornithological collection of its time. Norm Dann brings Smith’s fascinating story vividly to life in this book, a must-read for anyone interested in this pivotal time in the history of American science.

-Tim Gallagher
Editor-in-Chief, LIVING BIRD
Cornell Lab of Ornithology