WHO WAS WHO  IN CALIFORNIA BIRDING
1965-1989
LEE JONES  [H. Lee Jones]
Lee Jones was an active southern California birder during the late '60s and '70s. I remember running into Lee during my first trip to Morongo Valley in March 1972, and he was already a well established name in the birding world by then. He was probably the first 'big-name' southern California birder that I met. He was collecting Phainopepla eggs for Charles Sibley's studies of egg-white proteins and their potential for clarifying taxonomic relationships.

By the time I met him, Lee had already discovered California's first Whip-poor-will (Jones 1971a) and Neotropic Cormorant (then called "Olivaceous Cormorant; Jones 1971b). He was one of the first hardcore birders to spend considerable time on the Channel Islands, off southern California, and to document their importance as vagrant traps in migration. His master thesis at UCLA was on the status and distribution of birds on Santa Catalina Island (Jones 1974).

In the late 1970s and early 1080s, Lee completed two full terms (6 years) on the California Bird Records Committee, and he also spear-headed the first major upgrade to the published WFO checklist (Jones et al. 1981). He pioneered some of the first uses of four-letter codes for banding and field notes (see, for example, Jones 1980, 1992).

Photo (above) aboard the Paisaino enroute to Santa Barbara I., 20 Sep 1974 © D. Roberson
 

It is probably fair to say that Lee danced to the beat of a somewhat different drummer than many California birders, and was never part of the "drive to Death Valley today, head to Arcata tomorrow" social crowd. He worked professionally as a biological consultant in the 1980s, but often with different organizations than other State birders. For a time in the early 1980s, he lived in an alternative community in a remote canyon in Riverside County.

I admit to losing track of Lee's whereabouts until recently. Lee is now serving as as North American Birds' Regional Editor for Central America, with an address in Belize. How he got there, I haven't a clue . . .  [but it sounds pretty much like a tropical paradise].

Photo (right) ~ 1976 © Barry Clark

Photo (above) aboard skiff to land on Santa Barbara I., 20 Sep 1974.  © D. Roberson 
At bow Lee Jones; 2d row Jon Dunn, Guy McCaskie; 3d row Linda Terrill, prob. Mike San Miguel (far end); 4th row Harry Krueger, Kimball Garrett. It was Lee who arranged access for this trip.

Official Bird Name: Horned Puffin
 
Significant bird records: many records of local interest, especially in Riverside County, and those of Statewide interest include:
  • Whip-poor-will  2 May 1968  San Jacinto Mts. RIV first CA record
  • Neotropic Cormorant  13 Apr 1971  West Pond, nr Imperial Dam IMP first CA record
  • Red-faced Warbler  14 Jun 1973  San Gabriel Mts. LA 2nd CA record [co-finder]
  • White-eyed Vireo  9 May 1981  Whitewater Canyon RIV 5th CA rec

Selected publications 1971-1989:

  • Jones, H.L. 1971a. The Whip-poor-will in California. Calif. Birds 2:33-36.
  • Jones, H.L. 1971b. Olivaceous Cormorant record for California. Calif. Birds 2:134.
  • Jones, H.L. 1974. Annotated Checklist of the birds of Santa Catalina Island and adjacent waters. Unpublished MS thesis, UCLA.
  • Jones, H.L. 1975. Studies of avian turnover, dispersal, and colonization of the California Channel Islands. Unpublished PhD dissertation, UCLA.
  • Jones, H.L., and Diamond, J.M. 1976. Short-time-base studies of turnover in breeding bird populations on the California Channel Islands. Condor 78: 256-549.
  • Jones, H.L. 1980. Birding as a four-letter word. West. Tanager 47(3): 8.
  • Jones, L., Garrett, K., and Small, A. 1981. Checklist of the birds of California. West. Birds 12:57-72.
  • Jones, L., Stefani, R., and Collins, P. 1981. Checklist of the birds of the Channel Islands National Park. U.S. Nat. Park Serv., Oxnard.
Selected publications after 1989:
  • Jones, H.L. 1992. A simple four-letter code for the birds of North America. Birding 24: 377-380.

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 Apr 2005