Biography of Charles Bird
by Gregory Pohl, Canadian Forest Service
Charles Durham Bird was born on July 7, 1932, in Oklahoma. His father was an entomologist who worked with Norman Criddle, and his mother was a botanist, so he was brought up in an environment very rich in the theme of natural history. As a child, Charley spend many days at the Entomology lab at Aweme, where his father worked. As a young man, Charley spent three summers working on the Northern Insect Survey (including a year with Alexander Klots) and two years in forest entomology in Manitoba. Charley obtained a B.Sc. from the University of Manitoba, and a M.Sc. and Ph.D. in botany from Oklahoma State University. In 1962 he took a teaching position in botany at the University of Calgary. Although employed as a botanist, Charley always maintained a broad interest in all things biological. He retired from the university in 1979 to become a rancher, which he pursued full-time until his final retirement in 1992. Then, rather than adopting a life of leisure, he continued to pursue his biological interests with a passion. Charley presently lives near Erskine, Alberta.

In the 1960s while at the University of Calgary, Charley became involved with John Legge in writing a book on Alberta butterflies. When Legge left Calgary a few years later, Charley took over theproject, and enlisted the help of a group of young butterfly enthusiasts, Gerald Hilchie, Ted Pike, and Felix Sperling. With the help of Norbert Kondla, Alberta Butterflies was published in 1995 by the Provincial Museum of Alberta. It is a beautiful and comprehensive guide to the butterflies of our area, and stands as a model for later field guides to other jurisdictions.

After completing the butterfly book, Charley turned his attention to moths. For the past decade, he has regularly surveyed a number of sites in the parklands and badlands of central Alberta. He also runs annual public butterfly counts in a number of these sites. He maintains a database of his collection activities and an extensive collection of vouchers, and produces annual reports for these sites, which include a number of parks and protected areas. He has also submitted many voucher specimens and a large amount of data to the University of Alberta for their "Virtual Museum" online database. His extensive collecting for many years has produced a comprehensive inventory of Lepidoptera species in central Alberta, and their phenologies.

Over the years, Charley has published many papers and notes on insects, and in 2005 he co-authored a paper documenting 57 species of microlepidoptera new to Alberta. He has always been quick to offer assistance and expertise to other entomologists, both professional and amateur. He is one of the charter members of the Alberta Lepidopterists' Guild, formed in 1999. He has also been involved for many years with the Calgary Field Naturalist's Society, the Federation of Alberta Naturalists, the Buffalo Lake Naturalists, The Entomological Society of Alberta, and the (International) Lepidopterists' Society.

Charley's entomological work has been done almost entirely at his own expense, simply for the joy of discovering and documenting Alberta's insect diversity. Because of his vast contribution to Alberta Entomology, it is the pleasure for the Entomological Society of Alberta to award to Charley Bird the F.S. Carr Award.


Updated: December 30, 2007

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