Birding in British Guiana & Venezuela, 1908-1909

Above: Mary Blair Beebe with a Butterfly Net

Mary Blair Beebe & C . William Beebe

Our Search for a Wilderness: An Account of Two Ornithological Expeditions to Venezuela and British Guiana (1908-1909)

In 1908-1909, Mary Blair Beebe and her husband, C. William Beebe made two private expeditions to Venezuela and British Guiana, exploring and collecting live birds for the New York Zoological Park. They then collaborated on a book about their “search for a wilderness,” with Mary Blair doing the bulk of the writing. The Beebe’s supplemented tropical birding with visits to gold mines in British Guiana and a lake of pitch, which was being mined in the middle of the Venezuelan jungle.

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Mary Blair’s take on things is evident. “A word must be said here from the woman’s point of view about the costume which was adopted as being absolutely suited to the bush life. In the first place it was light… and thus freed from the drag of heavy clothing one would come in unfatigued from tramps which would have been impossible for a woman in orthodox dress, no matter how short the skirt. In light khaki knickerbockers, loose negligee shirts of scotch flannel or fibrous cellular cloth, stockings and tennis shoes and a waterproof felt hat, one was ready for anything. One realized as never before with what handicaps woman has tried to follow the footsteps of man; with the result that physical exhaustion has robbed her of all the joys of life in the open.”¬†

After her divorce from C. William in 1913, Mary Blair wrote several more travel books in the 1920’s and 1930’s under the pen name Blair Niles.

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