WHO WAS WHO  IN CALIFORNIA BIRDING
1965-1989
DAVE SHUFORD  [W. David Shuford]
Dave Shuford 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 © D. Roberson
 

Perhaps 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

Significant bird records: numerous records of local interest, and those of Statewide interest include:
  • Black-billed Cuckoo  29 Aug 1986  Mono Lake Co. Park MNO 8th CA record

Selected publications 1982-1989:

  • Shuford, W.D. 1982. Field checklist of the birds of Marin County, Alta California. PRBO, Stinson Beach, CA.
  • Shuford, W.D. 1985. Acorn Woodpecker mutilates nestling Red-breasted Sapsucker. Wilson Bull. 97: 234-236.
  • Shuford, W.D., Strauss, E., and Hogan, R. 1984. Populations size and breeding success of California Gulls at Mono Lake, California, in 1983. Pt. Reyes Bird Observatory contrib. 126.
  • Shuford, W.D., Super, P., and Johnston, S. 1985. Populations size and breeding success of California Gulls at Mono Lake, California, in 1983. Pt. Reyes Bird Observatory contrib. 294.
  • Shuford, W.D. 1985. Populations size and breeding success of California Gulls at Mono Lake, California, in 1985, with special reference ot the Negit islets: an overview of three years of research. Pt. Reyes Bird Observatory contrib. 318.
  • Shuford, W.D. 1986a. Populations size and breeding success of California Gulls at Mono Lake, California, in 1985, with special reference ot the Negit islets. Pt. Reyes Bird Observatory contrib. 347.
  • Shuford, W. D. 1986b. Have ornithologists or breeding Red-breasted Sapsuckers extended their range in coastal California. West. Birds 17: 97-105.
  • Winkler, D.W., and Shuford, W.D. 1988. Changes in the numbers and location of California Gull nesting at Mono Lake, California, in the period 1863-1986. Colonial Waterbird
  • Shuford, W.D., Page, G.W., Evens, J.G., and Stenzel, L.E. 1989. Seasonal abundance of waterbirds at Point Reyes: a coastal California perspective. West. Birds 20: 137-265.
  • Shuford, W.D., and Timossi, I.C. 1989. Plant Communities in Marin County. Calif. Native Plant Soc. Spec. Publ. 10.
Selected publications since 1989:
  • Sealey, S. G., Carter, H. R., Shuford, W. D., Powers, K. D., and Chase, C. A., III. 1991. Long-distance vagrancy of the Asiatic Marbled Murrelet in North America 1979-1989. West. Birds 22:145-155.
  • Shuford, W.D. 1993. The Marin County Breeding Bird Atlas: a Distributional and Natural History of Coastal California Birds. Bushtit Books, Bolinas, CA.
  • Shuford, W.D., Hickey, C.M., Safran, R.J., and Page, G.W. 1996. A review of the White-faced Ibis in winter in California. West. Birds 27: 169-196.
  • Shuford, W.D., and Fitton, S.D. 1998. Status of owls in the Glass Mountain Region, Mono County, California. West. Birds 29: 1-20.
  • Shuford, W.D., and Ryan, T.P. 2000. Nesting populations of California and Ring-billed Gulls in California: recent surveys and historical status. West. Birds 31: 133-164.
  • Shuford, W.D., Humphrey, J.M., and Nur, N. 2001. Breeding of the Black Tern in California. West. Birds 32: 189-217.
  • Shurford, W.D., and Molina, K.C. 2004. Ecology and conservation of birds of the Salton Sink: an Endangered Ecosystem. Cooper Ornithol. Soc., Studies in Avian Biology 27

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

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