is today one of California's leading experts on the State's bird populations,
their ecology, and our threatened and endangered species. He has lived
in Marin County since 1975 and long been associated with Point Reyes Bird
Observatory (PRBO); his friends call him "Shuf" [pronounced Shoof].
Like his first birding mentor, David Gaines, Shuf came from the ranks of
the State's active birders before he focused his energies on bird populations
and habitats. While the pages of my project on California birding history
tend to focus on rare vagrants, State listing, and advances in bird identification
techniques, I think it important to recognize those who began as hardcore
birders and evolved to become experts in ecology and environmental advocacy,
as did both David Gaines and Dave Shuford.
In the early 1980s, Shuf lead the banding teams that studied the changes in the populations of California Gulls at Mono Lake, critical research that helped the Mono Lake Committee, guided by David Gaines, to save Mono Lake (e.g., see Shuford et al. 1984, 1985, 1986a; Winkler & Shuford 1988). The photo (left) depicts Shuf banding a nestling gull at Mono Lake. His interest in Statewide bird population projects have propelled him to study such diverse groups as coastal waterbirds (Shuford et al. 1989), Red-breasted Sapsucker (Shuford 1986b), nesting gulls (Shuford & Ryan 2000), White-faced Ibis (Shuford et al. 1996), owls (Shuford & Fitton 1998), and Black Terns (Shuford et al. 2001), among others.
This broad range of expertise has made Shuf the perfect choice to compile and edit a major revision of California's "birds of special concern" project, currently (2005) in its final review process. That publication will have an important impact on the future of many bird populations in the State.
Photo (above) at Negit Island, Mono Lake MNO, ~1982 © Daniel D'Agostini, courtesy Mono Lake Committee
Dave Shuford has a background in a wide range of California bird topics. He was searching for eastern vagrants at desert oases in the mid-1970s, just as did almost all of the State's hardcore birders [indeed, the photo (right) shows Shuf arriving at Deep Springs in Inyo County after one of those famed all-night drives; more of this shot in on Dick Erickson's page]. His background well suited him as a Regional Editor of American Birds for northern California over six seasons.
Shuf's interests are also broader than birds. He has published on botany and plant communities (Shuford & Timossi 1989), and long been a friend of Bob Stewart, who has a special expertise in butterflies. Shuf is one of the State's well-rounded naturalists.
Photo (right) at Deep Springs INY, 26 May 1975 ©
Shuf's greatest achievement during our period of review (1965-1989) was
his work (with Bob Stewart) as coordinator of Marin County's Breeding Bird
Atlas project between 1976 and 1982, and then his ten-year effort to write
the Atlas. This was the first grid-based atlas project in California
and in many ways set the standard for all other atlas projects within the
State. Unlike smaller states back East, or even country-wide atlas projects
in Europe, California is so large and governmental funding so hard to obtain
that all of California's atlas projects to date have been at the county
level, and undertaken primarily by volunteers.
The Marin County Breeding Bird Atlas was published in 1993 (Shuford 1993; cover below). It not only presented the atlas results, but is Shuf's tour de force summary of the natural history of all of California's coastal breeding birds. The bibliography alone runs over 30 pages. It is required reading for anyone interested in the breeding birds of California
Selected publications 1982-1989:
All photos © to photographers identified on this page; all rights
All text © Don Roberson; all rights reserved.
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