Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 1998


Published in Great Plains Research Vol. 8 No. 2, 1998. Copyright ©1998 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Used by permission.


I love this book. First and foremost, it is a collection of important paintings beautiful in their own right. George Miksch ("Doc") Sutton was one of the most influential ornithologists and bird artists of the twentieth century and a leader in painting living birds in the field. Among his more important contributions were several paintings of nestling and young birds, many of them now in a collection at Chicago's Field Museum. Baby Bird Portraits reproduces thirty-four of these studies, many for the first time, in outstanding color, making them available in a single volume.

This is a significant book both for aesthetic and scientific reasons. The portraits are charming, and they are accurate, reflecting Doc Sutton's eye for detail. Painted from living models, the colors too are accurate, in a sphere where accurate plates, in some instances, cannot be found in other sources. Writing this as a person who studies sparrows, I value the twenty-seven paintings of rarely illustrated cardinal grosbeaks and New World sparrows as a particularly welcome addition to the literature. In many instances the plates include detailed drawings of legs and feet. Some of these, published earlier in several short papers, proved a significant resource for my Guide to the Sparrows of the United States and Canada (1996). It is a joy to have them reprinted and available in one place. Sutton has a knack for painting