Robert Henry Ivy, taxidermist, may have come to the Eastern Cape from Australia, for in December 1889 he exhibited a flying fox from New South Wales at a meeting in Port Elizabeth of the Eastern Province Naturalists' Society, of which he was a member. He was already living in Port Elizabeth by 1884, when his son was born there. By 1892 he appears to have settled in Grahamstown, where he gave a lecture on "Some rare South African birds" before the Natural History Section of the Eastern Province Literary and Scientific Society. That same year he donated a number of identified bird's eggs to the Albany Museum. He was still living in Grahamstown in 1909.
In 1894, from Grahamstown, he donated 50 identified bird's eggs to the Port Elizabeth Museum, followed the next year by several birds, eight nests, and the eggs of 20 species. Some of the birds were from New South Wales. However, his interest in natural history was not confined to birds, for in 1898 he donated six small mammals and a lizard to the South African Museum in Cape Town. Ashton (1980, p. 28) referred to him as a celebrated taxidermist.
Ivy contributed "Notes on the nesting and other habits of some South African birds" to The Ibis in 1901. In 1905 he became a member of the South African Ornithologists' Union (founded in 1904) and contributed several items to the first three volumes of its Journal. His first contribution consisted of two plates only (1905, Vol. 1(2), pp. 43, 61). Thereafter he was co-author, with A.K. Haagner*, of three papers: "Notes on the nidification of the genus Chrysococcyx" (1906, Vol. 2(1), pp. 35-39), "A contribution to our knowledge of the Indicatoridae (Honey Guides)" (1907, Vol. 3(1), pp. 1-5), and "The birds of Albany Division, Cape Colony" (ibid, pp. 76-117). In 1908 Haagner and he published a popular book, Sketches of South African bird life. A second edition appeared in 1914, and a third edition in 1923. Meanwhile his collection of bird skins had been bought by the Transvaal Museum in 1905 or 1906 and was found to contain many species and very many localities new to its collections.
Ivy was a fellow of the Zoological Society of London. His son, John Robson Ivy, was also a taxidermist.