Key Publication: The Ornithology of Francis Willughby, 1676

Ray founded the scientific study of birds, laying down the fundamentals of bird taxonomy and also launching the field study of birds.

He first studied birds with his friend Francis Willughby. After Willughby’s death he continued his friend’s research and published ‘The Ornithology of Francis Willughby’ in 1676. Through dissection and close field observation Ray began to classify birds by their structure and feathers, and also sometimes by their habitat.

Title Page of the Ornithology of Francis Willughby. Reproduced with the permission of Braintree District Museum