In Conservation With… interview

In Conservation With… Q&A

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Chris Leahy


Chris retired in June 2017 from a 45-year career as a professional conservationist with the Massachusetts Audubon Society, most recently as the Gerard A. Bertrand Chair of Natural History and Field Ornithology (now Emeritus). For 16 years he was the Director of Mass Audubon’s Center for Biological Conservation.

His interests in natural history are comprehensive and he is a recognized authority on birds and insects. His natural history books owe their popularity to his ability to describe the living world with clarity and wit. His published works include The Birdwatcher’s Companion (first published by Hill & Wang, 1982 and reissued in a comprehensively revised edition by Princeton University Press in 2004), The First Guide to Insects (Houghton-Mifflin, 1987), Introduction to New England Birds (Massachusetts Audubon, 1990), An Introduction to Massachusetts Insects (1983, Massachusetts Audubon), and The Nature of Massachusetts (Addison-Wesley, 1996), and, most recently, Birds of Mongolia, the first comprehensive field guide to the Mongolian avifauna (Bloomsbury Press, 2019) of which he is coauthor with Gombobaatar Sundev. He is also the editor of a series of authoritative books on the flora and fauna of New England and a principal author of State of the Birds: Documenting Changes in Massachusetts Birdlife (Mass Audubon, 2011).

In addition, Chris has designed and led natural history tours to over 90 countries on all of the continents and is especially fascinated with the world’s great remaining wilderness areas and biodiversity hot spots such as Bhutan, Gabon, Madagascar and Mongolia. He grew up in Marblehead, Massachusetts and has lived in Gloucester, MA with his family since the 1970’s.

His latest book, Birdpedia: A Brief Compendium of Avian Lore, will be published by Princeton University Press in June, 2021.

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