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Kincaid, Edgar Bryan, Jr. (1921–1985)

Vivian Elizabeth Smyrl Biography

Edgar Bryan Kincaid, Jr., ornithologist, was born in San Antonio, Texas, on December 30, 1921, the son of Edgar Bryan and Lucille (McKee) Kincaid. He was raised on the family's ranch in Uvalde County and moved to Austin in 1939 to live with his aunt and uncle, Bertha McKee and J. Frank Dobie. Kincaid studied zoology, botany, and history at the University of Texas and graduated in 1943. His intensive study of birds and his prodigious memory made him an expert in ornithology. The income he received from family ranching and oil interests exempted him from working for a living. Instead he spent most of his time reading or making field trips around Texas or to Mexico. In 1963, after the death of Harry C. Oberholser, Kincaid began to edit Oberholser's The Bird Life of Texas; he spent more than ten years doing research and editing, cutting the three-million-word manuscript by two-thirds and reducing a 572-page bibliography to thirty pages. The finished version was finally published as a two-volume set in 1974.

Kincaid was deeply distressed by the increased urbanization of Texas and the subsequent decrease of natural habitats. In his later years he became more and more reclusive, not wanting to see the highways and houses that intruded upon previously wild areas, and afraid that someone would break into his home while he was gone. One of his idiosyncrasies was to give his close friends bird names. He called himself Cassowary, the name of a large, flightless bird native to Australia and New Guinea, that has the ability to kill men with its dagger-like claws. His friends thought he chose the name because he liked the idea of at least one bird being able to fight back. Kincaid was a charter member of the Travis Audubon Society and was active in the Texas Ornithological Society. He died of a fever in Austin on August 12, 1985, three days after he was robbed in his home at gunpoint. He was buried at Mission Burial Park South in San Antonio.

Austin American-Statesman, August 14, September 1, 1985. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Vivian Elizabeth Smyrl, “Kincaid, Edgar Bryan, Jr.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 23, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.