Robert Ridgway, America's leading ornithologist was born at Mt..Carmel .Illinois on July 2, 1850. As a youth he became interested in birds and sketched many specimens around his home. At the age of seventeen he was appointed zoologist on a geological survey of the 40th parallel. From 1874 to 1929 he was connected with the Smithsonian Institution, first as ornithologist and later as curator of birds. He was founder of the American Ornithologist's Union (1853) and contributed greatly to its official checklist of North American Birds pub-lished in 1886. He was a member of the National Academy of Science, 1926 - 1929.
Ridgway published extensively in his field and related areas from 1869 to 1929. His experience with problems of color and color description in bird portraits resulted in a work entitled Color Standards and Color Nomenclature, which proved valuable in many fields besides ornithology. He also wrote an eight volume study of Birds of North and Middle America.
In 1916 Ridgway retired to Olney to continue his research at his home which he called Larchmound. He developed an eight-teen acre tract nearby called Bird Haven as a bird sanctuary and experimental area for the cultivation of trees and plants native to the region. He died on March 25, 1929. Bird Haven and its variety of trees and birds remain as a memorial to this much honored ornithologist. It and Dr. Ridgway1s grave are approximately two miles north of here.
The above is the wording of a plaque erected by the Illinois Department of Conservation and the Illinois Historical Society, 1987. This large bronze plaque is located near the junction of U.S. 50 and South East Street Street, Olney, Illinois.