Vieillot, Louis Jean Pierre

At a Glance:

Ornithologist

Nationality:

French

Bird Names: 1

Region: Haiti

Louis-Pierre Vieillot, sculpture by unknown artist [link]

The Birds

Vieillot’s Barbet (Lybius vieilloti)

Vieillot’s Black Weaver (Ploceus nigerrimus) 

The Name:

While there are many figures from ornithological history who have extensive records of their lives, this doesn’t always match with the scale of their contributions. Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot (1748-1831) is a prime example of man highly regarded in the field during his day, but little remains to document his own life.

As a fairly young man he was in Haiti as a representative of his brother’s spice business, where he first picked up an interest in birds. However, he fled the country to the United States after the Haitian revolution broke out. The love of birds would stay with him however, and he would develop into a prodigious describer of genera, a good number of which are still in use. He worked with Jean Baptiste Audebert on a multi part volume called “Oiseaux dorés”, but upon the latters death would continue to work upon it.

Through his later years, he would suffer a life of considerable misfortune; two of his daughters would die of yellow fever while returning to France, with apocryphal stories of his wife and third daughter also perishing on this same voyage. He would end his time living in poverty, only recieving a pension for the last year of his life.

Alex Holt

Sources:

  • The Auk, Vol. 65 – 1948, p 568-576 [link]