Dean Amadon was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1912. When a teacher told him that E H. Eaton, author of an impressive work on the birds on New York State, was a professor at Hobart College, Geneva became his destination. Graduating from Hobart in 1934, Amadon began graduate work at Cornell University under A. A. Allen, the first professor of ornithology in the United States. After a year with the fish and game department of the State of Connecticut, he made a career as curator at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. World War II intervened, but after its abrupt conclusion, while awaiting transportation home, Amadon was able to have published a paper about the birds he encountered in the shrapnel-blasted forests of the Philippines. Once back at Cornell he completed and published his Ph.D. thesis, and wrote or co-wrote other publications, including a two-volume treatise on the hawks and eagles of the world. At Hobart, Amadon had minored in English literature. Years later he became president of the John Burroughs Association, whose goal is to foster excellence in literature about nature. He also served as president of the American Ornithologists' Society, as a member of the board of directors of the Explorers Club of New York, and was active in a conservation group that later became Bird Life International. For fifteen years he was head of the Bird Department at the American Museum of Natural History.