Chris Leahy retired from Mass Audubon in the spring of 2017 after a 45-year career as a professional naturalist and conservationist, and he continues to work on selected conservation projects under the Bertrand Chair (emeritus). He was the first occupant of the Gerard A. Bertrand Chair of Natural History and Field Ornithology at the Massachusetts Audubon Society from 2001 to 2017. His comprehensive interest in natural history began in childhood, and he is a recognized authority on birds and insects.
During his long career at Mass Audubon, Chris has been deeply involved in all of Mass Audubon’s mission functions, including land protection, ecological management, scientific research, education, and advocacy.
In the early 1970’s he was instrumental in the development of the organization’s international Natural History Travel Program, one of the first of its kind in the world, designing and leading natural history explorations to more than 80 countries on all of the continents. He is especially fascinated with the world’s great remaining wilderness areas and biodiversity hot spots, especially those with rich indigenous cultures such as Mongolia, Bhutan, Gabon, and Madagascar.
Chris’s published works include The Birdwatcher’s Companion to North American Birdlife (Princeton University Press, 2nd edition, 2004), The First Guide to Insects in the Peterson series (Houghton-Mifflin), Introduction to New England Birds (Mass Audubon), and The Nature of Massachusetts (Addison-Wesley). He is co-author (with Gombobaatar Sundev) of the first comprehensive English language guide to the Birds of Mongolia, published by Bloomsbury Press in August 2019. He initiated Mass Audubon’s State of the Birds series, and co-authored the first two installments, published in 2011 and 2013 and is the editor of a series of authoritative books on the flora and fauna of New England.
He grew up in Marblehead, Massachusetts and has lived in nearby Gloucester with his family since the 1970’s.