Melbourne Armstrong Carriker was born in 1879, in Sullivan, Illinois, the first child of Malachi Armstrong Carriker and Mary Catherine Romine. Mary died in 1881, at which time Malachi was Principal of Prairie College. Melbourne Armstrong Carriker, later known as"Meb"by family members, was cared for by Samuel Romine, MaryÂ´s father, in southern Kansas, while Malachi pursued a degree at the Eclectic Medical College, Eclectic Medical Institute, Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1885, following the completion of his medical training, Malachi married Ollie King and Meb joined them in Nebraska City in southeast Nebraska, where Malachi established a successful medical practice.
At age sixteen Meb joined the Nebraska City NaturalistÂ´s Association, and through this association actively explored the wilds of Nebraska. He graduated from high school in 1898 and enrolled the following year at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. At the University he majored in languages and sciences. During his first year he joined the newly formed Nebraska OrnithologistsÂ´ Union as a Charter Member. At the end of his first year of college, his adviser and favorite teacher, Dr. Lawrence Bruner arranged a month of field work for Meb and his friend Merrit Cary. Merrit collected butterflies and shot small mammals while Meb shot and mounted birds, in western Sioux County, Nebraska.
In January, 1902, Meb and Merrit accompanied Dr. Bruner on a six-week bird-collecting trip in Costa Rica. They sailed from New Orleans to Limon, Costa Rica. Meb covered his expenses by the sale of bird skins to the Carnegie Museum and mammal skins to the American Museum of Natural History. Dr. Bruner and Merrit returned at the end of six weeks, however, Meb stayed an additional six months. He returned to the University of Nebraska in the Fall of 1902. At the end of the school year in 1903, Meb, having completed two years and one semester of college, returned to Costa Rica.
The life of Melbourne Armstrong Carriker, from which the above has been extracted, is described in Vista Nieve by his eldest son, Melbourne Romaine Carriker. Meb pursued many opportunities and explored much of northern South America. His energies are legendary, and he contributed greatly towards our understanding of the aviafauna of the Neotropics. Most of his income came from the sale of bird skins to museums in the United States. The study of lice began with his first visit to Costa Rica and continued until his death. In 1933 he was interviewed on radio in Philadelphia wherein he reported conditions in 1909 when he was collecting birds along the Rio Caura, Venezuela. The transcript of this account is attached as a pdf file.
It should be noted that Melbourne Armstrong Carriker used the name M. A. Carriker, Jr., in all his publications and professional correspondence. He was junior, only in the sense that he and his father, Malachi Armstrong Carriker had the same initials. Dr. M. A. Carriker refers to Malachi Armstrong Carriker, M.D.For chronology click here.