WHO WAS WHO IN CALIFORNIA BIRDING
1965-1989
CLIFF LYONS  [Clifford R. Lyons]
Cliff Lyons was an active California birder in the late '60s and early '70s. Living in San Diego, he often birded with Guy McCaskie, and therefore regularly hit the San Diego hot spots, the Salton Sea, and desert oases. Cliff participated in a record-setting Big Day (with Guy McCaskie, Scott Terrill, and Jon Winter) in April 1972. Their route was from the Salton Sea to San Diego. It was the highest Big Day in North America at the time, although this was before the institution of ABA Big Day rules which require a uniform approach to this event. 

Cliff was an original member of the California Bird Records Committee and served on the CBRC during its first 7 years of existence. He helped compile the first formal California checklist under the auspices of California Field Ornithologists (which would become Western Field Ornithologists). Cliff was also a member of the editorial board for California Birds magazine during its first three volumes [the journal became Western Birds in vol. 4].

The early 1970s were counter-culture times. Cliff and his then wife Sue Lyons were at the center of the birding social scene, and many a bird party was held at the Lyons' residence. Throughout it all, Cliff was known for his mellow good humor. In the field, Cliff could be counted on to attend and enliven every WFO boat trip or event.

Photo 29 Nov 1975 Furnace Creek INY © D. Roberson
 

Cliff was third on the California state list when the ABA first published a fairly complete set of comparative lists in 1969. He remained among the top five California listers until about 1975.  That was about the time Cliff gave up his corporate career in San Diego and made a lifestyle change. He moved to Mariposa in the Sierran foothills, worked for the county parks department, and limited his birding to the vicinity of his new home. I remember visiting Cliff and Sue in the late seventies and taking a lovely walk around his new neighborhood, seeing a Pygmy Owl in the process.

Cliff and Sue eventually split up, and by the eighties Cliff moved to New England. He continues to reside in the the northeastern U.S. today.

Photo (right) 2 Feb 1974 aboard a boat on Monterey Bay © Van Remsen
 

Significant bird records include:
  • White-rumped Sandpiper  6 June 1969  Salton Sea 1st CA record [co-finder]
  • also present when several other first records were discovered by others, as when Guy McCaskie first spotted the State's first Wood Thrush in the Tijuana R. valley 18 Nov 1967

Selected publications 1970-1989:

  • 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.

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

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Page created 25 Mar 2005