Nebraska Authors

George Miksch Sutton

Born 1898 Bethany (Lincoln), NE (USA)

Died 1982-12-07

Distinguished ornithologist and bird illustrator George Miksch Sutton was born in Bethany, Nebraska, in 1898 while his father H.T. Sutton, a peripatetic minister and educator, taught Eloquence at Cotner College. The family moved to Minnesota in 1901, returned to Bethany in 1903 and remained through 1906, when Sutton's father was an unsuccessful Prohibition candidate for Nebraska governor. The family moved away in 1907, never to return.

Sutton's only further contact with Nebraska was when, at the age of 13, now living in Bethany, West Virginia, he took a mail-order Taxidermy course from the Northwestern School of Taxidermy in Omaha, Nebraska.

Sutton became Curator of Birds at Cornell University after obtaining his PhD there. He also had ties to a number of other institutions including the Carnegie Museum, he taught briefly the University of Michigan, and for a long time at the University of Oklahoma, from which he retired. His connections to other distinguished ornithologists were many, Sewall Pettingill was a lifelong friend, while in the army in World War II, he birded with Roger Tory Peterson and Franklin McCamey. He did field work in the Arctic, Texas, Mexico, and Iceland, among other places. He published many books, including a memoir Bird Student: An Autobiography, 1980, that recounts his career through 1935, when he left Cornell. The government of Iceland awarded him the Knight Cross Order of the Falcon in 1972 for his work in Iceland. He is remembered as a very successful fine artist, as well as a scientist.

Nebraska ornithologist Paul Johnsgard has assembled a 14 page bibliography of Sutton's publications A George Miksch Sutton Bibliography, which is available on-line via the University of Nebraska digital commons. Johnsgard has also given a stellar review to Jerome A. Jackson's scholarly bibliography George Miksch Sutton: Artist, Scientist and Teacher, 2007 (the review is also available via the UN digital commons).

The University of Oklahoma's George Miksch Sutton Avian Research Center has a more detailed on-line biographical sketch of Sutton by his biographer Jerome Jackson. See also Sooner Magazine, 12:1, Spring/Summer 1992.


Places Lived

Author Of

  • Nonfiction
  • Visual Work


Ornithology; Bird Life; Bird Illustration; Scientific Illustration


Eskimo Year: A Naturalist's Adventures in the Far North. 1934.
Iceland Summer: Adventures of a Bird Painter. 1961.
High Arctic: An Expedition to the Unspoiled North 1971.
At a Bend in a Mexican River. 1972.
Bird Student: An Autobiography. 1980.
Baby Bird Portraits: Watercolors in the Field Museum. 1998 and 2006. (written by Paul Johnsgard)

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George Miksch Sutton

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(e.g. Author is buried in Fremont, not in David City / Also wrote for the Daily Nebraskan during her time as a student)