WHO WAS WHO  IN CALIFORNIA BIRDING
1965-1989
ALAN CRAIG  [Alan M. Craig]
Alan Craig was a San Diego birder who was very active in the formation of Western Field Ornithologists, and was the first editor of Western Birds. Alan served on the editorial board of California Birds since its inception; that journal was edited by the board for its first three volumes 1970-1972). In 1972 the journal was renamed Western Birds, and Alan became the sole editor. He set the tone for the journal that lasts to this day: publication of peer-reviewed, field-based, scientific papers aimed at the field ornithologists in western North America. Alan served as Western Birds editor from Vol. 4 (1973) through Vol. 17 (1986), an amazing run of 14 years. During his tenure the journal added color covers (starting with Vol. 12 in 1981) to its standard repertoire.

Alan was also one of the original "ten rare men" that constituted the first California Bird Records Committee. He served on the CBRC for seven years, and he co-authored the first formal California checklist to appear during our period of review.

Alan was already a regular contributor to Audubon Field Notes when our period opened in 1965, and was already regularly birding the San Diego area with Guy McCaskie, Pierre Devillers, Cliff Lyons and others. In spring 1967, he and his then wife Jean set up a banding station in their yard on Pt. Loma, and banded over 2000 migrants between March and June. They banded the State's first Kentucky Warbler there in June 1968, and Alan banded California's second Grace's Warbler there that fall.

Photo (left or above) Sep 1977 San Diego boat trip © Rich Stallcup
 

Although Alan never joined the ranks of the hardcore State listers in the 1970s, his interest in Western Field Ornithologists remained and he served as an officer, board member, convention committee member, and field trip leader throughout our period of review. By the 1980s, his second wife Narca Moore-Craig was also contributing to the organization with art and photos. For the last 7 years of our review period (which ended in 1989), Alan served the manager of the San Jacinto Wildlife Area near Riverside. Alan's interest in California natural history extended beyond birds. Indeed, in the backlit photo (right) he is searching for the endangered Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizard during a break in a WFO Convention held in Palm Springs.

In 1991, Alan and Narca moved from California to the Gray Ranch in southwestern New Mexico where they volunteered as property managers in exchange for a place to live. The house provided was an adobe ranch house that had been used as General John Pershing's headquarters in 1916 during his unsuccessful pursuit of Pancho Villa. In 1993 they moved to Guadalupe Canyon Ranch (where they documented New Mexico's first Berylline Hummingbird), and then moved to Portal, Arizona, in 1994. They remain there today, but continue their surveys on the Gray Ranch, now into their 13th year of observations there. Alan currently (2005) serves on the New Mexico Bird Records Committee.

Photo (right) May 1985 Coachella Valley RIV © D. Roberson
 

Significant bird records: many records of local interest, and many vagrants; those of Statewide significance include
  • Kentucky Warbler  4 June 1968  Pt. Loma SD first CA record [co-bander]
  • Grace's Warbler  8 Sep 1968  Pt. Loma SD second CA record
  • Yellow-throated Warbler  14 Oct 1969  Pt. Loma SD second CA record, first in s. CA and first of dominica race
  • Thick-billed Kingbird  3 Dec 1966 Pt. Loma SD 2nd CA record
  • Thick-billed Kingbird  26 Dec 1966  Bonita SD 3rd CA record [co-finder]

Selected publications 1970-1989:

  • Craig, A. M. 1970. Two California records of Grace's Warbler. Calif. Birds 1:77-78.
  • McCaskie, G., Devillers, P., Craig, A. M., Lyons, C. R., Coughran, V. P., and Craig, J. T. 1970. A checklist of the birds of California. Calif. Birds 1: 4-28.
And while he did not author the following, he banded and photographed the vagrants discussed, and his photos appear in the publications:
  • Craig, J. T. 1970. Kentucky Warbler in San Diego. Calif. Birds 1:37-38.
  • McCaskie, G. 1971. The Wood Thrush in California. Calif. Birds 2: 135-136.
  • Craig, J. T. 1972. Two fall Yellow-throated Warblers in California. Calif. Birds 3:17-18.

All photos © to photographers identified on this page; all rights reserved.
All text © Don Roberson; all rights reserved.

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Page created 23 Mar 2005