Academy scientist Luis Felipe Baptista conducts field recordings with Mary Ward

Early life

Luis Felipe Baptista was born of Portuguese-Chinese descent in Hong Kong on August 9, 1941. He grew up with a Christian education, which introduced him to classical arts and music. Most of his childhood was spent exploring the world around him, making observations of insects and birds. With the combination of his education and hobbies, Baptista’s upbringing curated his love for nature’s aviators.


Educational background

University of San Francisco (1961–1965)

University of California, Berkeley (1965–1971)


At the Academy

In 1980, Baptista joined the California Academy of Sciences in the ornithology and mammalogy department as the chairman and curator of birds, however he had already been affiliated with the Academy during his time as a student. There, he continued to study birds, specifically on the White-crowned Sparrows (Baptista insisted bird species be capitalized) and bioacoustics.

Baptista’s research made him a well respected scientist in the world of ornithology and at the workplace. Fond memories between him and his colleagues can be found on his desk—from souvenirs to birthday messages. He truly put love into the relationships he had with others as he did with birds. Baptista died in 2000.

“Kind, unassuming, and affable, he was an inspiration to everyone, whatever the field one was in, and a marvelous companion” - Cecília Jorge



Gaunt, S.L.L, and B.B. DeWolfe. 2001. “In Memoriam: Luis Felipe Baptista, 1941–2000.” The Auk, 118(2): 496–499.

Jorge, C. 11 Aug. 2000. “Friend of the Feathered Creatures.” Speech from memorial for Baptista. California Academy of Sciences Archives.

Poole, W. 6 Jul. 1986“The Man Who Speaks Sparrow.” San Francisco Examiner. San Francisco, CA.


About the author

Racqyl Basas is a Careers in Science Level 3 intern at the California Academy of Sciences.

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