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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

BALDWIN BIRD RESEARCH LABORATORY

BALDWIN BIRD RESEARCH LABORATORY

The BALDWIN BIRD RESEARCH LABORATORY, a pioneering ornithological research facility, was established in 1914 by SAMUEL PRENTISS BALDWIN at his estate in GATES MILLS. As a boy, Baldwin developed an interest in birds inhabiting the woods around Cleveland and SHAKER HTS. and studied biology and geology at Dartmouth, graduating in 1892. Although a lawyer, Baldwin spent much of his time pursuing his scientific interest in ornithology after 1900. In 1914 he became interested in banding birds for scientific study and his methodical approach to banding helped revolutionize the practice.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Baldwin, with several assistants, undertook more sophisticated studies of the lives and habits of individual birds, inventing the potentiometer--a recording electrical thermometer. Using the device, Baldwin proved that young birds develop from cold-blooded to warm-blooded animals, confirming their reptilian origin. He also perfected a camera capable of filming the course of bird embryo development in the egg and designed the wrenograph to keep a record of the birds' entrances into and exits from the nest to measure their attentiveness to the eggs. By 1936 Baldwin's research lab had produced more than 30 papers and scientific studies, including "Physiology of the Temperature of Birds" (1932). Work at the lab ended with his death in 1938, but his widow, Lilian Hanna Baldwin, later donated much of their Gates Mills estate for a bird sanctuary and park facilities.