A blog is hardly the most felicitous venue for an obituary, but I’m compelled to make an exception for Rich Stallcup, the co-founder of the Point Reyes Bird Observatory (known these days as PRBO Conservation Science). Stallcup, one of the great ornithologists of his generation, died in December from leukemia at the age of 67.
I interviewed Stallcup several times when I worked as an environmental reporter for The San Francisco Chronicle. With few exceptions, any source a reporter seeks will promote, however subtly, a political or social point of view. Stallcup was one of those exceptions: he let the facts speak for themselves. He was the go-to guy for hard data on the natural world. And PRBO had the data in spades, voluminous and meticulous data, collected over four decades on the Farallon islands, the Point Reyes Peninsula, and ultimately the Sierra Nevada, the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys — even Antarctica.
That data, it must be noted, seldom told a comforting story. Birds were the primary objects of study for Stallcup, but he always viewed them in a larger context: changes in avian populations, food sources and habitats implied larger – and generally, ominous — impacts for the general environment and ultimately, human civilization.
Stallcup grew up in Oakland, and was drawn to birding as a young child. By the age of 12, he was leading Audubon Society field trips to Tomales Point. In 1961, when he was 17, he and a friend discovered that the Point Reyes Peninsula was a hotspot for “vagrants” — songbirds that had strayed from their usual habitats. This discovery, in later years, 南京休闲娱乐