Melbourne Armstrong Carriker

Name and Identifiers
Other/given name(s) : 
Melbourne Armstrong
Family name: 
Professional information

Carriker, Howard H., Carriker Origins. 1993. 216 pp. Miriam's Copy Shop, Inc., Oceanside, California, U.S.A. see attachment. Carriker, Melbourne R., Vista Nieve: The remarkable true adventures of an early twentieth century naturalist and his family in Colombia, South America. 2001. 312 pp. Blue Mantle Press, Rio Hondo, Texas, U.S.A. Carriker, Melbourne R., Vista Nieve. 2002. Federacafé, Chinchiná. 264pp. [in Spanish] Carriker, Melbourne Armstrong, Jr., Experiences of an Ornithologist along the highways and byways of Bolivia. 2006. 452 pp. Carriker, Melbourne Romaine and Dalgleish, Robert C. eds. Authorhouse, Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.A. Carriker, Melbourne R., The Bird Call of the Río Beni 2006. 225 pp. The Narrative Press, Crabtree, Oregon, U.S.A.

Correspondence bearing on the history of ornithologist M. A. Carriker Jr. and the use of arsenic in preparation of museum specimens by Olson (2007), Archives of Natural History, 34(2), 246-251

Personal information
Areas of professional interest : 
  • As a charter member of The Nebraska Ornithologists' Union, Mr. Carriker read a paper ("Nesting Habits of the Raptores of Otoe County") at the first meeting held in Lincoln, Nebraska, in December of 1899. In 1949, the members decided to make all living charter members Honorary Members and thus Mr. Carriker became an Honorary Member .... more

Birth Date: 
Date of Death: 

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, Mary´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 Naturalist´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 Ornithologists´ 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.

Associated images: 
Additional information

From 1903 until his death Meb Carriker described 866 species of chewing lice (including those posthumasly described by Emerson). Price et al, 2003 list 568, or 66% as being valid. The lice were collected during the processing of bird skins for museums and as a consquence considerable contamination occurred in the"game bag"and on the skinning table. Numerous corrections were made to the originally identified type hosts by Carriker and others. These corrections address probable contaminants rather than erroneous identifications of the host. Carriker was a very capable ornithologist and described a number of the host as well as their lice. A list of the species he described, together with images of their slide are available here!

Carriker origins
Werneck letters
Werneck letters
Slides Carriker.xls
Experiences of An Ornithologist cover
Experiences of An Ornithologist back
Christmas letter 1945.pdf
Hopkins letter Jan 1964.pdf

Hopkins letter July 1964.pdf

Carriker on Mallophaga

United States
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