Research & Collections

Doug Pratt

Research Curator of Birds Emeritus

B.S. (biology) Davidson College, 1966
M.S. (zoology) Louisiana State University, 1974
Ph.D. (zoology) Louisiana State University, 1979

Research Interests

Doug returned to his home state to join the museum staff in 2005 after many years as a Research Associate of the Museum of Natural Science at Louisiana State University. During that period, he gained an international reputation as an authority on the birds of tropical Pacific islands. He is a pioneering investigator of speciation on islands, focusing particularly on vocalizations, and was one of the first to obtain systematic bird sound collections, now archived in the Macaulay Library at Cornell, from Hawaii, Micronesia, Fiji, and Samoa.

Doug Pratt recording bird songsDoug is also renowned as a bird illustrator and contributed a quarter of the illustrations to the popular National Geographic field guide, first published in 1983. In 1987, he combined his artwork and research in the first field guide to cover the tropical Pacific. Although that book remains in print, Doug is actively working with his co-author Phil Bruner on a second edition that will incorporate the vast amount of new information that he and others have learned in the ensuing years. He has conducted museum expeditions to Fiji (2005), Samoa (2006), and Micronesia (2007) along with incidental visits to Hawaii, and plans a return to Fiji as soon as possible. Along with work on the new field guide, Doug is developing a taxonomic revision of tropical Pacific birds using his recently published new criteria for hypothesizing species limits among allopatric populations.

Doug has never forgotten his roots, and his illustrative work has included several books that deal with North Carolina birds, such as Simpson’s Birds of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Feduccia’s Birds of Colonial Williamsburg, and several North American field guides in addition to the National Geographic. He takes an active interest in bird distribution in North Carolina, and provides useful information to the recreational birding community through listserves and other internet media. He is active in the Carolina Bird Club and particularly interested in ways to make the museum relevant to both amateur birders and professional ornithologists. Some of his recent research links North Carolina’s birds with those of the tropical Pacific, as in studies of species limits in the Great Egret complex, feeding behavior of Black-crowned Night Herons, and facial skin color and hybridization in White-faced and Glossy ibises. His new Pacific field guide will include updated identification criteria for a number of shorebirds, waterfowl, and seabirds that are also found in North Carolina.

Doug Pratt drawingProfessional Affiliations

  • Fellow, American Ornithologists’ Union, 1993
  • Research Associate, Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science
  • Affiliate, Laboratory of Ornithology, Cornell University
  • Member: Cooper Ornithological Society, Wilson Ornithological Society, British Ornithologists’ Club, New Zealand Ornithological Society

Selected Publications

Pratt, H. D. 2010. Revisiting species and subspecies of island birds for a better assessment of biodiversity. Ornithological Monographs 67:79-89.

Pratt, H. D. 2009. Voices of Hawaii's Birds. Second edition, CD-ROM. Hawaii Audubon Society and Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Honolulu and Ithaca.

Pratt, H. D. 2005. The Hawaiian honeycreepers: Drepanidinae. Bird Families of the World. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Conant, S. L., H. D. Pratt, and R. J. Shallenberger. 1998. Reflections on a 1975 ornithological expedition to the lost world of the Alaka‘i, and other observations on the natural history, status, and systematics of Kaua‘i birds. Wilson Bulletin 110:1-22. [Winner of E. P. Edwards Award for best paper in Wilson Bulletin for 1998.]

Pratt, H. D., P. L. Bruner, and D. G. Berrett. 1987. A field guide to the birds of Hawaii and the tropical Pacific. Princeton University Press, Princeton, N. J.

Complete Publications