David W. Snow, 1924-2009

It was sad to hear of the death last Wednesday (February 4th) of the distinguished British ornithologist David W. Snow, following a period of illness. I'm sure that formal obituaries will appear elsewhere - I just wanted to post a quick appreciation of his wonderful writings. Snow was an expert on the birds of the New World tropics. His name will be particularly associated with the cotingas – a varied array of glorious fruit-eating birds, mostly found in South America, and second only to the birds of paradise for their astonishing plumage and display behaviour. (The cocks of the rock and bellbirds are perhaps the best-known.) He studied many of these exotic species in the field and made countless discoveries about their natural history.
Snow's best-known book is probably The Cotingas (Cornell UP, 1982), which is a masterly overview of this group of birds - easy to read for the non-specialist, and with excellent colour plates. It's out of print, but second-hand copies can easily be found on the internet. Highly recommended.
David Snow's standing in the bird world is summed up by the fact that he didn't merely have a species named in his honour - he had a genus: Snowornis, which contains two enigmatic cotinga species from the Andes. And he also had the honour of describing a new species to science in 1980 - the grey-winged cotinga (Tijuca condita) of SE Brazil. 
David Snow was a true pioneer among ornithologists, perhaps one of the last individuals who will ever make so many new discoveries about the natural history of birds in the wild.