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Nebraska Author Paul A. Johnsgard

Paul A. Johnsgard, photograph from a UNL news article

Paul A. Johnsgard, photograph from a UNL news article

A list of works by Nebraska author
Paul A. Johnsgard

Paul Austin Johnsgard was a Nebraska scientist, ornithologist, artist and professor emeritus at UNL. As he closed in on the publication of 75 books with his survey of the Yellowstone ecosystem (in 2012), he was already the most published ornithologist of all time, the most published author in the history of the University of Nebraska, and the most prolific of all Nebraska authors, of fiction or non-fiction. At the time of his death in 2021, he was completing work on his 105th book.

Johnsgard is one of Nebraska’s most famous scholars. He is a world authority on waterfowl behavior and on several other bird groups such as grouse and cranes. His Handbook of Waterfowl Behavior (Cornell University Press, 1965) is considered the classic reference work on the subject. His book Grouse and Quails of North America (1973) received a Wildlife Society honor and Waterfowl: Their Biology and Natural History (1968) received honorable mention from the Wildlife Society and many other awards. His publications in professional scientific journals exceed 150.

Johnsgard is also famous for his world surveys of the major bird groups, which, appearing regularly over some 40 years, have made him the most prolific of all ornithological writers. He has written books on regional natural history, on the Platte River, on Teton and Yellowstone wildlife, and classic natural histories of special interest to Nebraska readers, among them: This Fragile Land: A Natural History of the Nebraska Sandhills, 1995, The Nature of Nebraska: Ecology and Biodiversity, 2001, The Niobrara: A River Running Through Time, 2007, and a collection of essays, Seasons of a Tallgrass Prairie: A Nebraska Year, 2014.

He has written several books in the genre of literary appreciation of aspects of nature, including books on the Sandhill crane and the snow goose. One of these, Song of the North Wind (1974), was translated into both Russian and Latvian. With his daughter Karin, Johnsgard wrote a whimsical book on dragons and unicorns, Dragons and Unicorns: A Natural History (1982). Many of his books are illustrated with his own sketches and artwork.

Paul Johnsgard was born in Fargo, ND on June 28, 1931, and died at the age of 89 on May 28, 2021 in Lincoln, NE. As a youth, he was introduced to the study of birds by a distant cousin who served as a game warden. He spent some of his early years taking part in duck counts – starting a tradition of bird counts that lasted his entire life. He attended junior college in Wahpeton, before transferring to North Dakota Agricultural College (now North Dakota State University).

He attended Washington State University for his Masters program. His master’s study was on the impact of the construction of O’Sullivan Dam to wetland habitats. Apart from the data collected and his interpretation, it included his own pen sketches. This was published in The Condor and the article attracted the attention of naturalist and author Charles Sibley, who invited him to consider a Ph.D. at Cornell University with him, with his work focusing on the phylogeny of six ducks.

After completing his graduate degrees, Johnsgard moved to England at the Wildfowl Trust at Gloucestershire founded by Sir Peter Scott. Over the course of two years, he produced his first book, the Handbook of Waterfowl Behaviour, which was published by Cornell University in 1965.

He joined the faculty of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1961. In his nearly 60 years at UNL, Johnsgard earned the university’s highest honors including the Distinguished Teaching Award, Outstanding Research and Creative Activity Award, and an honorary Doctor of Science degree. Major national recognitions included a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, the National Wildlife Federation’s National Conservation Achievement Award, the National Audubon Society’s Charles H. Callahan Award, and the American Ornithologists’ Society’s Ralph Schreiber Conservation Award, all in recognition of his ornithological research, writing and conservation work.

Johnsgard has been a multi-times participant in the John H. Ames Reading series in the Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors in 1996, 2004, and 2007, not to mention several other non-Ames video presentations. Videos of his readings are available, both on tape, on DVD and digitally via the Lincoln City Libraries’ YouTube channel.

(Biographical information compiled from multiple sources, including the Paul Johnsgard entry on NebraskaAuthors.org, which library staff have contributed to — see link below.)

Additional information about Paul A. Johnsgard can be found at the following Web sites:

Papers in the Biological Sciences: The Paul Johnsgard Collection – in the Digital Commons of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Wikipedia page on Paul A. Johnsgard
Paul A. Johnsgard page on NebraskaAuthors.org
Johnsgard, renowned ornithologist, remembered for prolific career — obituary on UNL website
CBS News interview with Dr. Johnsgard and their feature on the spring 2014 sandhill cranes migration

Books by Paul A. Johnsgard

Waterfowl of North Dakota
(Heritage 598.292 Joh) (1953)


Handbook of Waterfowl Behavior
(Heritage 598.4 Joh) (1965)


Animal Behavior
(not in library collection) (1967)


Waterfowl: Their Biology and Natural History
(Heritage 598.41 Joh) (1968)

Also: Waterfowl: Their Biology and Natural History: Typescript: 1968
(Heritage Manuscripts Johnsgard) (1968)


Animal Behavior: Second Edition
(Heritage 591.5 Joh 1972) (1972)


Grouse and Quails of North America
(Heritage 598.61 Joh) (1973)


Song of the North Wind: A Story of the Snow Goose
(598.41 Joh) (1974), reprinted 1979

Also available in Latvian and Russian translations


North American Game Birds of Upland and Shoreline
(Heritage 598.297 Joh) (1975)


Waterfowl of North America
(Heritage 598.4 Joh) (1975)


The Bird Decoy: An American Art Form: A Catalog of Carvings Exhibited at the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, Lincoln, Nebraska
(736.4 Joh and Heritage 745.593 Joh) (1976)


Ducks, Geese and Swans of the World
(598.41 qJoh) (1978)


Birds of the Great Plains: Breeding Species and Their Distribution
(598.2 Joh) (1979)


A Guide to North American Waterfowl
(598.41 Joh) (1979)


A Preliminary List of the Birds of Nebraska and Adjacent Plains States
(Heritage 598.2 qJoh) (1980)

Occasional papers of the Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union no. 6


A Revised List of the Birds of Nebraska and Adjacent Plains States
(Heritage 598.2 qJoh) (1980)

Occasional papers of the Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union no. 6


The Plovers, Sandpipers and Snipes of the World
(Heritage 598.33 qJoh) (1981)


Those of the Grey Wind: The Sandhill Cranes
(598.3 Joh) (1981) reprinted 1986 (cover shown here), 2017

Also: Touch the Earth, Embrace the Sky: Typescript, 1981?
(Heritage Manuscripts Johnsgard) (1984?) (early draft of what would eventually be Those of the Gray Wind)
Also: Those of the Gray Wind: The Sandhill Crane: Typescript
(Heritage Manuscripts Johnsgard) (1982? 1984?)


Teton Wildlife: Observations by a Naturalist
(Heritage 917.875 Joh) (1982)

Also: Teton Wildlife: Observations by a Naturalist: Typescript
(Heritage Manuscripts Johnsgard) (1982) (two separate draft versions of this manuscript)
Also: Correspondence Relating to Teton Wildlife: Observations by a Naturalist: Typescript
(Heritage Manuscripts Johnsgard) (1982)


Dragons & Unicorns: A Natural History (with Karin Johnsgard)
(398.245 Joh and Heritage 398.234 Joh 1992) (1982) reprinted 1992

Also: Dragons & Unicorns: An Unnatural Historie: Typescript (with Karin Johnsgard)
(Heritage Manuscripts Johnsgard) (1982)
Also: Dragons & Unicorns: Their Lives and Histories: Typescript (with Karin Johnsgard)
(Heritage Manuscripts Johnsgard) (1981?)


The Grouse of the World
(Heritage 598.616 Joh) (1983)


The Hummingbirds of North America
(598.764 Joh) (1983) 2nd ed. 1997, ebook for 2nd ed. 2016


The Cranes of the World
(Heritage 598.31 qJoh) (1983)


The Platte: Channels in Time
(574.526 Joh) (1984) 2nd edition 2008

Also: The Platte: Channels in Time: Typescript
(Heritage Manuscripts Johnsgard) (1984?) (two separate drafts)


Prairie Children, Mountain Dreams
(Heritage Johnsgard) (1985)

Also: Prairie Children, Mountain Dreams: First Draft: Typscript
(Heritage Manuscripts Johnsgard) (1984?)


The Birds of Nebraska Checklist
(Heritage 598.297 qNeb) (1985)


The Pheasants of the World
(Heritage 598.617 qJoh) (1986) 2nd. ed. 1999


Birds of the Rocky Mountains, With Particular Reference to National Parks in the Northern Rocky Mountain Region
(Heritage 598.2 Joh) (1986) reprinted 1992 (this is the cover shown)


Diving Birds of North America
(Heritage 598.33 Joh) (1987)


Waterfowl of North America: The Complete Ducks, Geese and Swans
(not in library collection) (1987)


The Quails, Partridges and Francolins of the World
(Heritage 598.617 qJoh) (1988)


North American Owls: Biology and Natural History
(598.97 Joh) (1988) 2nd. ed. 2002.


Nebraska Birds: Breeding Status and Distribution
by James E. Ducey, with illustrations by Paul A. Johnsgard
(598 qDuc) (1988)


Hawks, Eagles and Falcons of North America: Biology and Natural History
(598.916 Joh) (1990)


Crane Music: A Natural History of American Cranes
(598.31 Joh) (1991) reprinted 1998 (cover shown)


Bustards, Hemipodes and Sandgrouse: Birds of Dry Places
(Heritage 598.31 qJoh) (1991)


Ducks in the Wild: Conserving Waterfowl in Their Natural Habitats
(598.41 qJoh) (1992)


Cormorants, Darters and Pelicans of the World
(598.43 qJoh) (1993)


Arena Birds: Sexual Selection and Behavior
(Heritage 598.256 Joh) (1994)


This Fragile Land: A Natural History of the Nebraska Sandhills
(508.782 Joh) (1995)


Ruddy Ducks and other Stifftails: Their Behavior and Biology (with Montserrat Carbonell)
(598.41 Joh) (1996)


Birds of Nebraska and Adjacent Plains States
(Heritage 577.44 qJoh) (2008)

Occasional papers of the Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union no. 6


The Avian Brood Parasites: Deception at the Nest
(598.74 Joh) (1997)


The Hummingbirds of North America, 2nd Edition
(598.764 Joh 1997) (1997)


Baby Bird Portraits by George Miksch Sutton: Watercolors in the Field Museum
(598.097 Joh and Heritage 598.072 Sut) (1998)


Earth, Water and Sky: A Naturalist’s Stories and Sketches
(598 Joh) (1999)


The Pheasants of the World: Biology and Natural History
(Heritage 598.617 qJoh) (1999)

enlargement and expansion of the 1986 book


Trogons and Quetzals of the World
(Heritage 598 Joh) (2000)


Prairie Birds: Fragile Splendor in the Great Plains
(598.2 Joh) (2001)


The Nature of Nebraska: Ecology and Biodiversity
(508.782 Joh) (2001)


The Grassland Grouse and their Conservation
(not in library collection) (2002) ebook 2014


The North American Owls: Biology and Natural History, 2nd Edition
(not in library collection) (2002)


Migrations of the Imagination
(not in library collection) (2002)

Catalog of an art exhibit.


Great Wildlife of the Great Plains
(591.978 Joh) (2003)


Lewis and Clark on the Great Plains: A Natural History
(508.78 Joh) (2003)


Faces of the Great Plains: Prairie Wildlife (with photos and photographic notes by Bob Gress)
(not in library collection) (2003)


Prairie Dog Empire: A Saga of the Shortgrass Prairie
(578.74 Joh) (2004) paperback edition 2005, reprinted 2013


Prairie Suite: A Celebration
(Johnsgard was illustrator of this poetry collection by Twyla Hansen)
(811 Han) (2006)


The Niobrara: A River Running Through Time
(508.782 Joh) (2007)


A Guide to the Natural History of the Central Platte Valley, Nebraska
(Heritage 508.782 qJoh) (2007)


Wind Through the Buffalo Grass: A Lakota Story Cycle
(Johnsgard) (2008)


A Guide to the Tallgrass Prairies of Eastern Nebraska and Adjacent States
(Heritage 577.44 qJoh) (2008)


The Status of Cranes of the World in 2008: A Supplement to Crane Music
(not in library collection) (2008)


The Platte: Channels in Time
(577.64 Joh) (2008) 1st edition 1984


Louis A. Fuertes and the Zoological Art of the 1926-1927 Abyssinian Expedition of the Field Museum of Natural History
(not in library collection) (2009)


Four Decades of Christmas Bird Counts in the Great Plains: Ornithological Evidence of a Changing Climate
(not in library collection) (2009)


Celebrating Charles Darwin’s Legacy: Evolution in the Great Plains and Galapagos Islands
(not in library collection) (2009)

Catalog of art exhibition.


The Sandhill and Whooping Cranes: Ancient Voices over America’s Wetlands
(598.32 Joh) (2011)


Rocky Mountain Birds: Birds and Birding in the Central and Northern Rocky Mountains
(not in library collection) (2011)


A Nebraska Bird-Finding Guide
(Heritage 598 Joh) (2011)


Nebraska’s Wetlands: Their Wildlife and Ecology
(not in library collection) (2012)


Wings Over the Great Plains: The Central Flyway
(not in library collection) (2012)


Wetland Birds of the Central Plains: South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas
(not in library collection) (2012)


A Prairie’s Not Scary (Children’s book on prairie ecology)
(not in library collection) (2012)


Birds of the Central Platte Valley, Nebraska (with Mary B. Brown.)
(Heritage 598 Bro) (2013)


The Birds of Nebraska
(Heritage 598 Joh) (2013) – exists in multiple versions, the latest of which was 2018


Yellowstone Wildlife: Ecology and Natural History of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
(508.787 Joh) (2013) ebook 2013


Birds and Birding in the Bighorn Mountains Region of Wyoming (with Jacqueline R. Canterbury & Helen Downing)
(Heritage 598 Can) (2013) 2nd edition


Game Birds of the World: A Catalog of the Madson Collection
(Heritage 598 Joh) (2014)


Seasons of the Tallgrass Prairie: A Nebraska Year
(577.44 Joh) (2014)


Global Warming and Population Responses Among Great Plains Birds
(Heritage 598 Joh) (2015)


Natural Treasures of the Great Plains: An Ecological Perspective (Edited with T. Lynch & J. Phillips (6 drawings and 4 contributed essays).)
(not in library collection) (2015)


At Home and at Large on the Great Plains: Essays and Memories
(Heritage 598 Joh) (2015)


A Chorus of Cranes: The Cranes of North America and the World
(598.32 Joh) (2015)


Birding Nebraska’s Central Platte Valley and Rainwater Basin
(Heritage 598.072 Joh) (2015)


Swans: Their Biology and Natural History
(598.41 Joh) (2016)


The North American Grouse: Their Biology and Behavior
(Heritage 598.61 Joh) (2016)


The North American Geese: Their Biology and Behavior
(598.417 Joh) (2016)


The North American Sea Ducks: Their Biology and Behavior
(598.41 Joh) (2016)


The North American Perching and Dabbling Ducks: Their Biology and Behavior
(598.41 Joh) (2017)


The North American Whistling-Ducks, Pochards and Stiff-tailed Ducks
(not in library collection) (2017)


Common Birds of The Bradford Brinton Museum and The Bighorn Mountains Foothills (with Jacqueline L. Canterbury)
(Heritage 598 Can) (2017)


The North American Quails, Partridges and Pheasants: Their Biology and Behavior
(598.62 Joh) (2017)


Those of the Gray Wind: The Sandhill Cranes, New Edition
(Heritage 598.3 John 2017) (2017)


The Birds of Nebraska
(598 Joh 2018) (2018)


The Ecology of a Tallgrass Treasure: Audubon’s Spring Creek Prairie
(577.44 Joh) (2018)


A Naturalist’s Guide to the Great Plains
(Heritage 591.978 Joh) (2018)


Wyoming’s Ucross Ranch: Its Birds, History, and Natural Environment (with Jacqueline L. Canterbury)
(Heritage 598 Can) (2018)


Wyoming Wildlife: A Natural History
(591.978 Joh) (2019)


The Abyssinian Art of Louis Agassiz Fuertes in the Field Museum
(Heritage 598.296 Joh) (2020)


The North American Swans Their Biology and Conservation
(not in library collection) (2020)


Audubon’s Lillian Annette Rowe Sanctuary: A Refuge, a River, and a Migration
(Heritage 598 Joh) (2020)


Wildlife of Nebraska: A Natural History
(Heritage 508.872 Joh) (2020)


The Lives, Lore and Literature of Cranes: A Catechism for Crane Lovers
(Heritage 598.32 Joh) (2020)


The Birds of the Nebraska Sandhills: (Black and White Field Edition) (with Josef Kren)
(Heritage 598 Joh) (2020)


S is for Sandhill
(not in library collection) (2021)



Additional library material related to Paul A. Johnsgard

Prairie Children, Mountain Dreams
(Heritage DVD 813 Joh) (1985 in VHS/Beta, 2021 in DVD)

Paul Johnsgard reads from his children’s book, Prairie Children, Mountain Dreams, and discusses the themes of this book and his experience in writing it.


Paul Johnsgard Reads From This Fragile Land: A Natural History of the Nebraska Sandhills
(Heritage DVD 508.872 Joh) (1996 program on VHS, DVD 2020)
John H. Ames Reading Series 97

Professor Johnsgard discusses his writing career and in particular his most recent book, This Fragile Land: A Natural History of the Nebraska Sandhills.


Paul Johnsgard Author
(DVD 818 Joh) (2004)

Paul Johnsgard, professor emeritus at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is a prolific author, illustrator, and nature photographer. He is an internationally renowned ornithologist and is recognized as one ot the world’s foremost authorities on sandhill cranes. In this program, Johnsgard comments on his evolution as a writer, noting that his current writing is more philosophical and poetic than his early writing. He intersperses his comments about writing with reading excerpts from several of his books.

Twyla Hansen and Paul Johnsgard Discuss Their Book Prairie Suite: A Celebration
(DVD 811 Han) (2007)

Twyla Hansen and Paul Johnsgard collaborated on a collection of poems and associated drawings titled “Prairie Suite: A Celebration”. In this episode of the John H. Ames Reading Series, they discuss their collaborative work.


The Bur Oak Manifesto: Seeking Nature and Planting Trees in the Great Plains
by Jack Phillips — Paul Johnsgard contributed the foreword to this text.
(Heritage 333.7 Phi) (2013)


Nebraska 150 Books Program: Readings by Non-Fiction Authors
(Heritage DVD 810.978 Lin) (2017)

The 215th John H. Ames Reading Event was held Sunday, October 8, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. in the Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors. This was the final official event of the Nebraska 150 Books program. Readers are all Nebraska Nonfiction Authors, most of whom are represented on the Nebraska 150 Books list. Readers include: Pamela Barger, Alan Boye, John Janovy Jr., Paul Johnsgard, Mary Pipher and Barbara Schmitz.


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