Searching for Spelman’s Birds

gloved hand holding stuffed downy woodpecker specimen

In the 1880s, a group of Harvard students known as the Champlain Society spent their summers on Mount Desert Island documenting flora and fauna, the first comprehensive surveys of the area’s natural history. Their Ornithology Department was led by Henry Spelman, a lifelong lover of birds. His story, and the search for the bird specimens he collected 138 years ago, is the subject of an article in the 2018 issue of Chebacco, the magazine of the Mount Desert Island Historical Society, and related Beholdings exhibit online and at the Somesville Museum, with photographs by Jennifer Steen Booher.