Meet the Team
Pacific Coast and Central Valley
I have enjoyed the natural world and bird watching ever since I was a teenager. In 1966, I started my career in ornithology as warden of Long Point Bird Observatory. There over 4 years, I banded thousands of land birds for the Observatory’s study of migration and also learned how to trap shorebirds. I joined the staff of Point Blue Conservation Science in February 1971 shortly after completing an MS Thesis on the migration of Semipalmated Sandpipers at the University of Guelph, Ontario. I have worked at Point Blue ever since.
While at Point Blue, my main research interest has been the behavior, ecology, and conservation of shorebirds. I led a study of the ecology of shorebirds at Bolinas Lagoon from 1971-1976, the legacy of which is a long term census program of winter water bird numbers on the lagoon that has continued to the present.
My research on the Snowy Plover commenced in 1977. In 1977-1978, I organized the first coast-wide and interior surveys of breeding Snowy Plovers in California and have organize similar state-wide surveys since then. I then led two teams of researchers in an examination of the behavior and ecology of breeding plovers at Mono Lake and Monterey Bay between 1977 and 1983. In 1979, the study added a component of citizen science winter surveys to document plover numbers and search for color-banded birds in the non-breeding season -- a project that has continued to the present. In 1984, the behavioral and ecological studies of the Snowy Plover were refocused on an examination of long-term variability in its reproductive success, survival, and dispersal in the Monterey Bay area. Since 1984, our team also has examined plover reproductive success in other sites in California. I helped author the petition to list the coastal population of the Snowy Plover as threatened and subsequently served on the Recovery Team for the species.
Working with marine scientists at Point Blue in 1979-80, I made an early effort at modeling the potential effects of oil spills on birds in the near-shore and estuarine waters of the Gulf of the Farallones. I also led efforts to document the number and composition of dead oiled birds that beached in the Gulf of the Farallones during the T/V Puerto Rican spill in 1984 and in the Apex Houston spill in 1986.
From 1988-1994, I headed up the Pacific Flyway Project, an investigation of shorebird abundance, distribution, and habitat west of the Rocky Mountains from British Columbia to Baja California. That project involved several Point Blue staff members and hundreds of volunteer, state and federal agency, and other NGO collaborators from throughout that range. It served as the precursor for Point Blue’s Pacific Flyway Shorebird Survey today.
My most recent work has focused on the conservation of the Snowy Plover and Long-billed Curlew. For the Long-billed Curlew, I have been part of a group that used satellite transmitters to delineate migration routes and stopover areas between the breeding and wintering grounds in the American west. With colleagues and citizen scientists I have also conducted surveys to document the importance of agricultural land to curlews in the Central Valley of California. For the Snowy Plover, I lead a group that uses data from a long-term study to identify causes of variation in the population size, annual survival and the dispersal of adult and juvenile plovers. Most importantly, federal and state wildlife management agencies use findings from the study to initiate management actions to restore the population size and improve the breeding success of Snowy Plovers in the Monterey Bay area.