WHO WAS WHO  IN CALIFORNIA BIRDING
1965-1989
PETER PYLE  [Peter B. Pyle]
Peter Pyle is of a slightly younger generation than all the rest of our 'top 40' selection, and he would become increasingly important in California birding circles in the 1990s. [He only looks 'older' in the photo because it is a recent 2002 shot]. Indeed, a quick glance at a selected list of his publications (below) shows just how much effort and energy Peter expended on important questions of bird identification, biology, and ecology after the close of our period of review in 1989. However, Peter was an active field biologist working for Point Reyes Bird Observatory on S.E. Farallon I. from 1980 on, and he would become the premier biologist there in due course (working not only on birds but pinnipeds and Great White Sharks). He was selected for our 'top 40' because of the publication of his very important book in the late 1980s (Pyle et al. 1981): his first banding guide to North American passerines. It revolutionized the bird-banding world, making accessible a plethora of in-hand criteria. These details would also prove to be of great use in the field identification of birds. From its publication, North America had an in-hand guide equal to those available in Europe. Over the course of time, with additional experience and extensive museum research, Peter would replace this first guide with a tome twice as thick: Pyle (1997b). But that is after the end of our period of review.

Peter grew up in a birding family. His family, Robert L. Pyle, is an internationally known bird observer. Bob Pyle served as a Regional Editor for Audubon Field Notes in southern California before our period began in 1965, and continued as AFN/AB editor for Hawaii after moving there in 1966. Bob Pyle became one of the premier field observers in Hawaii, and Peter grew up there under his dad's tutelage. Peter's expertise extends not only to Hawaiian birds, but to the landbirds of Micronesia and the seabirds throughout the Pacific. Since joining PRBO, he has not only been the biologist on the Farallones, but has conducted numerous seabird surveys throughout the Pacific.

Photo: Peter Pyle (right in the picture) during a banding demonstration at Big Sur Ornithology Lab in March 2002 © BSOL
 

Significant bird records: numerous vagrants on S.E. Farallon I. were found by Peter; the most important in our period were
  • Dusky Warbler  27 Sep 1980  S.E. Farallon I., S.F. first CA record [co-finder]
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird  21 Aug 1985  S.E. Farallon I., S.F. 2nd CA record [co-bander]
  • Yellow-bellied Flycatcher  3 Sep 1986  S.E. Farallon I., S.F. 3rd CA record
  • Veery  26 Sep 1985  S.E. Farallon I., S.F. 5th CA record
  • Yellow-bellied Flycatcher  8 Sep 1989  S.E. Farallon I., S.F. 5th CA record
  • Black-billed Cuckoo  18 Oct 1985  S.E. Farallon I., S.F. 7th CA record
  • Gray-cheeked Thrush  26 Sep 1986  S.E. Farallon I., S.F. 8th CA record
  • LeConte's Sparrow  11 Sep 1986  S.E. Farallon I., S.F. 9th CA record
Peter would be involved in many important records after 1989, including Stejneger's Petrel  (14 Nov 1990, 2nd CA record), and a host of rarities from the Farallone Islands.

Selected publications 1983-1989:

  • Pyle, P. B., DeSante, D. F., Boekelheide, R. J., and Henderson, R. P. 1983. A Dusky Warbler (Phylloscopus fuscatus) on Southeast Farallon Island, California. Auk 100: 995-996.
  • Pyle, P. and Engbring. J. 1985. Checklist of the birds of Micronesia. Elepaio 46(6): 57-68.
  • Pyle, P., Howell, S.N.G., Yunick, R.P., and DeSante, D.F. 1987. Identification guide to North American passerines. Slate Creek Press, Bolinas, CA.
  • DeSante, D. F., and Pyle, P. 1986. Distributional Checklist of North American Birds. Artemisia Press, Lee Vining, CA.
Selected publications since 1989:
  • Pyle, P., and Henderson, P. 1990. On separating female and immature Oporornis in fall. Birding 22: 222-229.
  • Pyle, P., Spear, L.B., and Engbring, J. 1990. A previously unreported population of herald petrel on Ta'u Island, American Samoa. Colonial Waterbirds 13:136-138.
  • Pyle, P. , and Henderson, R.P. 1991. The birds of Southeast Farallon Island: occurrence and seasonal distribution of migratory species. West. Birds 22: 41-84.
  • Pyle, P., Spear, L.B. ,Sydeman, W.J. , and Ainley, D.G. 1991. The effects of experience and age on the breeding performance of Western Gulls. Auk 108: 25-33.
  • Pyle, P., and McCaskie, G. 1992. Thirteenth report of the California Bird Records Committee.  West. Birds 23:97-132.
  • Pyle, P., and Sibley, D. 1992. Juvenal-plumaged Le Conte's Sparrows on migration: Are they being overlooked? Birding 24:70-76.
  • Pyle, P., and Howell, S. N. G. 1993. An Arctic Warbler in Baja California, Mexico. West. Birds 24:53-56.
  • Pyle, P. 1993. A Markham's Storm-Petrel in the northeastern Pacific. West. Birds 24:108-110.
  • Pyle, P., Spear, L. B., and Ainley, D. G. 1993.  Observations of Dark-rumped Petrels off Oregon and California. West. Birds 24:110-112.
  • Pyle, P., Nur, N., Henderson , R.P. and DeSante, D.F. 1993. Effects of weather and lunar cycle on nocturnal migration of landbirds at Southeast Farallon Island, California. Condor 95: 343-361.
  • Pyle, P., Nur, N., and DeSante, D.F. 1994. Trends in nocturnal migrant landbird populations at Southeast Farallon Island, California, 1968-1992. Studies in Avian Biology 15: 58-74.
  • Pyle, P., and DeSante, D.F. 1994. Trends in waterbirds and raptors at Southeast Farallon Island, California, 1974-1993. Bird Populations 2: 33-43.
  • Pyle, P., Hanni, K., and Smith, D. 1994. Bird notes from Isla Guadalupe, including three new island records. Euphonia 3:1-4.
  • Pyle, P. , and Howell, S.N.G. 1996. Spizella sparrows: intraspecific variation and identification. Birding 28: 374-387.
  • Pyle, P. 1997a. A new look at wing and tail formulae in Contopus and Empidonax flycatchers. Allan Phillips Festschrift.
  • Pyle, P. 1997b. Identification Guide to North American Birds, Part 1.  Slate Creek Press, Bolinas, CA.
  • Pyle, P. 1997c. Molt limits in North American passerines. North Amer. Bird Bander 22: 49-89.
  • Pyle, P., and Unitt, P. 1998. Molt and plumage variation by age and sex in the California and Black-tailed Gnatcatchers. West. Birds 29: 280-289.
  • Pyle, P., and Nestler, J. 1998. First record of a Cuculus cuckoo on Midway Atoll and the Hawaiian Islands. West. Birds 29: 124-127.
  • Pyle, P., Sydeman, W.J., McLaren, E.B. 1999. Organochlorine concentrations, eggshell thickness, and hatchability in seabirds off Central California. Waterbirds 22: 376-381.
  • Pyle, P., Sydeman, W.J., and Hester, M. 2001. Effects of age, breeding experience, mate fidelity and site fidelity on breeding performance in a declining population of Cassin's Auklets. J. Animal Ecology 70: 1088-1097.
  • Pyle, P. 2001. Age at first breeding and natal dispersal in a declining population of Cassin's Auklet. Auk 118: 996-1007.
  • Ainley, D.G., Veit, R.L., Allen, S.G., Spear, L.B. , and Pyle, P. 1995. Variations in marine bird communities of the California Current, 1986-1994. CalCOFI Reports 36: 72-77.

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

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