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Announcing the 2017 ABA Awards Recipients!

The ABA Board of Directors recently voted to present three ABA Awards in 2017. The awardees are Judy Pollock, Jerry Liguori, and Scott Weidensaul. We congratulate each of them on their substantial achievements.

The 2017 ABA Awards Recipients (l-r): Judy Pollock (Evanston, IL) Jerry Liguori (Salt Lake City, UT), Scott Weidensaul (Schuylkill Haven, PA).


The 2017 Betty Petersen Award for Conservation and Community goes to Judy Pollock of Evanston, Illinois.

Judy Pollock has been described as the backbone of bird conservation in the Chicago area for nearly two decades. She has been at the center of dozens of projects, large and small, often taking on an the most difficult roles—coalition-building, grant writing, planning—to bring them to fruition. Among her successful endeavors are Lights Out Chicago, a light reduction program in the downtown areas during spring and fall migration which the City of Chicago later took up, and the launch of Wild Indigo Natural Explorations, engaging residents in Chicago’s poor, and mostly African-American south and west sides, in their local forest preserves.

She encourages Chicago-area residents to take pride and ownership in their local natural areas and to become advocates for those places, creating new alliances in the process.


The 2017 Robert Ridgway Award for Publications in Field Ornithology goes to Jerry Liguori of Salt Lake City, Utah

Arguably, no birder or author has had a greater influence on the study and field identification of birds of prey than Jerry Liguori. His two best-known books, Hawks From Every Angle (2005) and Hawks At A Distance (2011), are widely read, appreciated, and successful books aimed at the identification of hawks in flight, helping countless birders identify hawks in the field. In addition, Jerry has been the author of more than 25 papers, many of which have been published in the ABA’s Birding magazine and North American Birds journal, that have shed new light on topics of geographic variation, age-related plumage progression, and molt in raptors. He continues to engage with the public on a variety of platforms, and freely shares his insight into raptor identification and field study.


The 2017 Roger Tory Peterson Award for Promoting the Cause of Birding goes to Scott Weidensaul of Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania

Scott Weidensaul is well-known and respected for his involvement in practically every aspect of bird community and culture in North America. The author of two dozen books, including Living on the Wind, which was the finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in 2000, Weidensaul is also an acclaimed speaker, a mentor to a host of young birders in Pennsylvania and beyond, and an active field researcher with a special interest in owls and bird migration. He is the co-founder of both Project Owlnet, a collaboration of more than 200 research stations across the North America focusing on owl migration, and Project SNOWstorm, the fascinating project that uses GPS technology to monitor Snowy Owl movements. He continues to be an inspiration to those who he works with, and to those who admire his efforts and insight from afar.


ABA congratulates these fine members of the birding community on their achievements and invites all members to join us in doing so.

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Nate Swick

Nate Swick

Editor, Social Media Manager at American Birding Association
Nate Swick is the editor of the American Birding Association Blog, social media manager for the ABA, and the host of the American Birding Podcast. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Danielle, and two young children. He is the author of Birding for the Curious and The ABA Field Guide to Birds of the Carolinas.
Nate Swick

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  • Gregg Gorton

    These are deserving awardees, indeed! –But I am disappointed that there will be no Griscom Award this year. –Apparently , only 3 of 6 possible awards are being given. Is that correct, or are there others still to be announced? If not, I would suggest that the official announcement of a more limited number of awards for any given year make it clear that no award(s) are being given in the other categories (eg, regional ornithology, distinguised service, education/conservation– if, in fact, no awards are being given this year in these areas, for example). That will be helpful to all involved in this process, including all nominators, some of whom may well not be in the inner circle of ABA. Thanks for listening, and kudos to this year’s terrific “class” of winners!

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Gregg. You are correct that there are only three recipients this year, as there were last year.

      • Ann Nightingale

        Nate, I am with Gregg on a request for clarification. Are only three of the six given by policy? If so, could the ABA indicate which three are under consideration in any given year? I nominated a deserving (IMHO) recipient in a category that was not awarded this year. Does that mean that the awards committee did not think my nominee was deserving (or that my nomination was unconvincing), or was that award not open for consideration this year?

        • Ann, thanks for your questions and your nominations, and congratulations again on your ABA Betty Petersen Award last year!

          The short answer to your question is that the Awards Committee isn’t entirely finished reviewing all this year’s nominations and several are still under consideration. They are also looking at the “once per year” system and considering possibly changing that so that more announcements per year may be made.

          I know the all-volunteer Awards Committee has been working on meeting again and anticipate that they will in the near future. I’ll make sure that they follow up with you.

    • Hi Greg,

      Not all awards are given every year. In fact, I can’t think of a year when “the full set” of awards was made. On the other hand, multiples of a specific award may be given in one year. That has happened recently. You’re right that some of these things should be clarified on the awards pages.

      Thanks for chiming in on this. Also see my reply to Ann, below.

      • Gregg Gorton

        Thanks for your clarifying reply, Jeff– much appreciated. Hopefully, the whole awards process can be made more transparent. It really is an important and exciting aspect of what ABA does, along with its sponsors. And, it is something that draws, potentially, from one and all among the members, and–in turn–honors any deserving person(s), no matter what their station–as long as their achievement(s) are true to the awards’ intent. In this sense, there is a “democratic” aspect to these awards that is cause for celebration in itself. So, keep it goin’!

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