This May, during the 76th annual Wisconsin Society for Ornithology Convention in Wausau, eight Wisconsin residents will receive WSO awards for their outstanding contributions to the protection and appreciation of our local birds.
The awards will be presented at the society’s annual awards ceremony at 7 p.m. Friday, May 22, at the Quality Inn Midway Hotel, headquarters for the convention.
The Samuel D. Robbins Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Roy and Charlotte Lukes. The award honors those whose outstanding service to WSO has continued after they have received the Silver Passenger Pigeon Award for “distinguished service.” Roy and Charlotte’s long time conservation efforts in Door County have resulted in ongoing education and preservation, more than five books about the natural history of Door County, and more than a thousand newspaper articles. They both are long time WSO members, and Roy has served as president, vice president, and Education Committee chair.
They were jointly awarded the Silver Passenger Pigeon in 1984 and the Bronze Passenger Pigeon in 1999 and again in 2010 for their conservation work outside of WSO, including founding the Friends of Toft Point, working extensively with the Door County Land Trust and their extensive public education outreach.
The Noel J. Cutright Conservation Award, formerly known as the Green Passenger Pigeon Award, is given out each year to a person, group, or organization that has worked to protect birds or bird habitat or toward educating the public on bird conservation issues. This award was renamed in 2014 to honor one of Wisconsin’s leading bird conservationists who twice served as WSO president and died in 2013.
This year, the award goes to Kent Hall, coordinator of data collection and analysis and former vice president of the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin (BRAW). Kent’s efforts as a bluebird ambassador and bird advocate have helped make Wisconsin the top producing bluebird state in North America since 2007. In what is judged the most successful restoration of a songbird in Wisconsin conservation history, Hall has contributed to education, awareness and citizen participation in monitoring bluebird nest boxes. Hall also is being recognized for leadership roles with the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative (WBCI), the Aldo Leopold Chapter of the National Audubon Society, the Wisconsin Audubon Council and the Bird City Wisconsin Steering Committee.
This year’s Silver Passenger Pigeon Award goes to Carl Schwartz for his dedication to bird conservation across the state. Schwartz helped launch Bird City Wisconsin’s education and community recognition efforts as project coordinator in 2009 and in 2014 took over as chair of the BCW Steering Committee. He also chairs the Steering Committee for the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory and serves on steering committees for the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II and the Great Wisconsin Birdathon, where his Big Day team of Cutright’s Old Coots has been a leading fundraiser for the past three years. He is program chair for the Noel J. Cutright Bird Club and past board president of the Friends of Cedarburg Bog.
The Silver Pigeon specifically looks at service to WSO, where Schwartz is the immediate past president and a current board member. He now is the editor of the monthly newsletter for WSO, The Badger Birder, and for a decade led the Honey Creek Birdathon/Bandathon, helping raise nearly $60,000.
The Bronze Passenger Pigeon Award is presented to individuals that have made outstanding contributions, either locally or in the state, to promote ornithology. These contributions might include teaching and outreach, conservation, or the creation and support of birding organizations.
This year, the award goes to Mike Meyer for his long time dedication to loon monitoring- including citizen science and public outreach and education. Meyer also is being recognized for the work he has done with contaminants such as mercury and other bioaccumulating toxins in a variety of bird species, including loons and eagles, as well as his work on the adaptations of Wisconsin wildlife to climate change and on shoreline restoration. Meyer also has made significant contributions through his published research and leads many Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin field trips.
Certificates of Achievement are awarded to past recipients of the Silver Passenger Pigeon for continued service to WSO. This year, two will be awarded.
The first goes to Robert Domagalski, who received a Silver Pigeon in 2008. Domagalski was statewide compiler for Wisconsin’s 100+ Christmas Bird Counts for 14 years before retiring from that role in 2014. He continues to coordinate four CBC circles in the Manitowoc County area and has served since 2010 as Fall Field Notes Compiler (or seasonal editor) for WSO’s Passenger Pigeon quarterly journal. He also has maintained an online database of Wisconsin Rare Bird Records for WSO.
The second Certificate of Achievement will be awarded to Christine Reel, who received a Silver Pigeon in 2009, along with her husband Don. The Reels managed the WSO Bookstore from 1996 to 2001 before Christine became treasurer in 2002, serving for 11 years. Since “retiring” as treasurer, Reel has continued to keep the books for the Honey Creek Birdathon/Bandathon, the annual convention and WBCI annual meetings, as well as working to update WSO bylaws, policies and procedures. In 2014, the WSO board recognized Reel’s continuing involvement by naming her “treasurer emeritus.” That same year, she became a member of the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II planning team and serves as project treasurer.
This year, the WSO Board also has created a Special Recognition Award to recognize Dr. Stanley Temple for his work on the 100th anniversary of the Passenger Pigeon’s extinction. WSO wanted to honor not only his work nationally with the Passenger Pigeon Project, but also the pivotal role he played in helping to organize WSO’s 75th anniversary convention last year in Prairie du Chien, which featured the premier of the film “From Billions to None,” which WSO helped finance, as well as the restoration and rededication of the Passenger Pigeon Monument during a ceremony at Wyalusing State Park. Temple was editor of The Passenger Pigeon from 1988 to 1992. He was awarded the Silver Passenger Pigeon in 1993, after receiving the society’s Golden Passenger Pigeon, for individuals who have made outstanding contributions to ornithology, in 1989.