Well deserved: AOU honors puffin conservationist, bird-coloration expert

12/11/2014 | 0

Geoffrey Hill, photo courtesy of Auburn University Photographic Services.

Geoffrey Hill, photo courtesy of Auburn University Photographic Services.

Two ornithologists familiar to readers of BirdWatching magazine received high honors from the American Ornithologists’ Union recently.

Stephen Kress, photo by Bill Scholtz.

Stephen Kress, photo by Bill Scholtz.

The first was Geoffrey Hill, one of the world’s leading experts on bird coloration and the evolution of animal signals. He received the William Brewster Award, given annually to the author or co-authors of an exceptional body of research on birds of the Western Hemisphere.

The curator of birds at Auburn University, Hill gained fame as the leader of a team that looked for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker in the Florida Panhandle after he and two colleagues reported seeing the bird there in 2005. He wrote about his under-the-radar search in our February 2007 issue.

The second was Stephen Kress, vice president for bird conservation for the National Audubon Society and the founder of Project Puffin. He received the Ralph W. Schreiber Conservation Award for his work with numerous seabirds.

For decades, Project Puffin has worked to restore colonies of Atlantic Puffins to islands in the Gulf of Maine. (Kress was quoted about the birds’ successful 2014 nesting season in our December 2014 issue.)

Arctic Tern, Razorbill, and other species have also benefited from his work, and the project’s techniques have been used in 12 countries on at least 40 seabirds, including Short-tailed Albatross in Japan and Gould’s Petrel in Australia.

Read Geoffrey Hill’s article about searching for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker.

How a cold winter led to more successful Atlantic Puffin nests in 2014.

View readers’ photos of Atlantic Puffin.

A version of this article will appear in the February 2015 issue of BirdWatching. Subscribe.