Thursday, March 28, 2002

A Little About Me

Being the one-month anniversary of the beginning of this web log, it seems appropriate to reveal a little bit about myself. So here goes.

What sparked my interest in birds? As near as I can tell, it was a book that I checked out of our local library, probably when I was about 10 or so. I can't remember the name of the book now, but it consisted of stories about a man's adventures photographing and studying birds. I've had a passion for birds ever since.

My first life's ambition (after cowboy, farmer, or fireman, in no particular order) was to move to the wilds of Canada and become a hermit, where I could spend my days studying birds. It soon occurred to me that life would be infinitely easier if I had some source of income. That led me to think about pursuing an education that would allow me to focus as much attention on birds as possible. After intermediate stops at Central Michigan University and Lake Michigan College, I finally graduated from Michigan State University in 1969 with a B.S. degree in Wildlife Biology.

My ornithology professor at MSU, and a great inspiration to me, was George J. Wallace. Dr. Wallace was the author of An Introduction to Ornithology (a major college textbook), an early expert on the Bicknell's Thrush, and one of the pioneers in showing a link between the pesticide DDT and declining bird populations (his studies of DDT and American Robins on the MSU campus were referenced by Rachel Carson in Silent Spring).

Shortly after graduating from MSU, I received an invitation from Uncle Sam to serve our country. Not relishing the thought of spending time in Viet Nam, I opted to enlist in the U.S. Navy for 4 years. As luck would have it, I hever set board a ship during my tour of duty, instead enjoying shore duty in Scotland and Alaska.

My Navy tenure on Adak Island, centrally situated in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska, allowed me the opportunity to work as a volunteer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which maintained a satellite office on the island for the Aleutian Islands National Wildlife Refuge (now the Aleutian Islands Unit of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge). Shortly after being discharged from the Navy in 1973, I applied for a temporary job as a Wildlife Biologist. I jumped at the opportunity, and worked for the next several years in various capacities in a series of temporary assignments. Major projects in which I was involved included restoration of the then-endangered Aleutian Canada Goose in the western Aleutians, removal of introduced Arctic Foxes from selected Aleutian Islands, and an inventory and survey of Aleutian Island seabird colonies. During the winter months, we conducted bird surveys on Adak Island and banded Gray-crowned Rosy Finches and Snow Buntings. I also got the shipboard experience that I missed out on in the Navy. The principle mode of transportation between island field stations during the summer field season was the 65-foot Marine/Vessel Aleutian Tern.

From the Aleutians, I transferred to the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, Kodiak, Alaska, where I served as Assistant Refuge Manager and Acting Refuge Manager. Craving more involvement with birds, and less with Kodiak Brown Bears I transferred to the Alaska Regional Office in Anchorage to accept a position as Assistant Regional Migratory Bird Coordinator. Soon thereafter, I was put in charge of the Marine Bird Management Project, a small group responsible for monitoring the status and trends of Alaska's seabirds.

After living in Alaska for nearly 16 years, I started craving new challenges. Thus, I applied for (and was hired as) a staff wildlife biologist in the Office of Migratory Bird Management (now the Division of Migratory Bird Management) in Washington, D.C. Moving from Alaska to the Nation's Capitol provided just a bit of cultural shock! So much of a shock, in fact, that I eventually settled in the Eastern Panhandle of the "Wild and Wonderful" State of West Virginia, thereby committing to a long-term long-distance daily commute.

Staff-wise, the Division of Migratory Bird Management is a relatively small part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, but it has national responsibilities for managing migratory bird populations. My specific area of responsibility is restricted largely to nongame (i.e., non-hunted) species. Projects that I have worked on include the Double-crested Cormorant depredation issue, the Executive Order for migratory birds, migratory nongame birds of management concern (now known as Birds of Conservation Concern), and revisions to the list of migratory birds, among many others.

At one time or another over the years, I have belonged to the following conservation and scientific organizations:

Alaska 200 Club
American Institute of Biological Sciences
American Ornithologists' Union
Anchorage Audubon Society
Association of Field Ornithologists
Bird Populations Institute
British Ornithologists' Union
British Trust for Ornithology
Brooks Bird Club
Cooper Ornithological Society
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Eastern Bird Banding Association
Inland Bird Banding Association
Kentucky Ornithological Society
Michigan Audubon Society
National Audubon Society
National Geographic Society
National Wildlife Federation
Oronoko Bird Club
Pacific Northwest Bird and Mammal Society
Pacific Seabird Group
Raptor Research Foundation
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Scottish Ornithologists' Club
South Bend Audubon Society
Waterbird Society
Western Bird Banding Association
Western Field-Ornithologists
Wilderness Society
Wildlife Society
Wildlife Society--Alaska Chapter
Wilson Ornithological Society
Zero Population Growth


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