Florence Merrium Bailey was a renowned ornithologist, naturalist and author. Her main passion was for birds and observing them in nature. However, during her lifetime many bird studies were made using collections and skins of dead birds. Bailey was horrified by the killing of birds and was one of the first to advocate live bird studies. She became instrumental in what we know as bird-watching today. Bailey went into the field with opera glasses and a notebook to make records and observations regarding different bird species. Florence later published Birds Through an Opera-Glass, describing 70 species with detailed notes that she collected in the field. With the wealth of information and knowledge Florence gathered studying birds, she continued to publish one of the first popular American bird guides, A-birding on a Bronco.
During Bailey’s time, birds were used as fashion pieces for many women’s hats. Florence’s strong desire for the live study of birds lead her to organized the Smith College Audubon Society to outlaw the practice of killing birds for fashion. Continuing her involvement to protect birds, she joined the Committee on Bird Protection of the American Ornithologists’ Union. Florence was also the first woman associate member of the American Ornithologists’ Union in 1885, first woman fellow in 1929, and first woman to receive the Brewster Medal in 1931.