WHO WAS WHO  IN CALIFORNIA BIRDING
1965-1989
JERI LANGHAM  [Jeri M. Langham]
Jeri Langham is a longtime botany teacher at Sacramento State University who became interested in birding in the mid 1970s. He first appears in the fall 1977 issue of American Birds when he is cited with various records in both northern and southern California. Jeri's background in biology meant he already knew the common birds, and he immediately entered the hardcore California birding world. He and his "Dragon Wagon" (below), often filled with eager new beginning birders who had been inspired by Jeri at Sac State, became a regular feature on the Death Valley loop in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and at major rarities anywhere in the State. Jeri thus quickly became known for his interest in rare birds, and for his mentoring of an entire new generation of birders.

Jeri rose rapidly in the California birding world, and he was elected to the California Bird Records Committee by 1985, serving out much of the rest of that decade. Among the many disciples that followed him in the '80s was Mike Lippsmeyer, who became a member of the CBRC in 1989 after finding such major rarities as Whooper Swan, Eurasian Dotterel, and Spotted Redshank. Jeri's influence was widespread and lasted well into the following decades, even as his days as an active State lister began to wane.

In the 1980s, Jeri was well known for his qualities as a field birder. He had birded much of the United States before and during the times he became an avid California lister. He was (and is) an accomplished photographer with an exceptional list of species photographed. With this background, he was picked to be a member of the record-tying California Big Day in 1983, and then joined the record-setting California Big Day team in 1984.

Jeri was born and raised in Venezuela, and speaks fluent Spanish. By 1985 he began leading bird tours to Venezuela and eventually led tours there professionally for Victor Emanuel Nature Tours. His son, Gary, would also become a bird tour leader for VENT, and there have been times since the end of our period of review (in 1989) when father and son co-led tours. One standard tour that Jeri continues to do is "Grand California," an annual transect of the State.

Jeri continues to reside in Sacramento, but now mostly confines his birding to his extensive "back yard" along the American River and on VENT tours. He continues to serve as a member of the Sacramento area bird records committee.

Photo (above) at Big Bear Lake, SBE, 28 Apr 1984 © B.B. Roberson
Photo (below) 30 May 1982 at Dyer, Nevada. Jeri (left) with the "Dragon Wagon" as Guy McCaskie (right) looks on; © D. Roberson


Official bird name: Great Kiskadee
 
Significant bird records: many vagrants throughout California those of Statewide interest include
  • White-rumped Sandpiper  2 June 1978  Carmel R. mouth MTY 3rd CA rec
  • Spotted Redshank  19 Nov 1988  San Joaquin delta SJ 4th CA rec [co-finder]
  • Little Curlew  23 Sep 1988  Santa Maria R. valley SBA although treated as a separate bird by CBRC, this is very likely the 1984 bird returning for an additional fall migration [co-finder on this 2nd year of occurrence]
Jeri also found several birds of interest since 1989, including a singing Eastern Wood-Pewee in this "backyard."

Selected publications after 1989:

  • Langham, J.M. 1991. Twelfth report of the California Bird Records Committee. West. Birds 22:97-130.

All photos © to photographers identified on this page; all rights reserved.
Photo of Great Kiskadee © Greg W. Lasley
All text © Don Roberson; all rights reserved.

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