American Birding Podcast



Open Mic: Rich Stallcup’s Legacy Lives on at Point Reyes

At the Mic: Carolyn Longstreth

As many ABA members know, Rich Stallcup, of Marin County, California, was an outstanding naturalist, teacher and “extraordinary human,” who touched the lives of countless people. He played a pivotal role in the rise of birding as a national pastime—and especially the love of birds as a motive for conservation. Rich was one of the founding biologists of the Point Reyes Bird Observatory in the 1960s – the organization that has now grown to become Point Blue Conservation Science.

stallcupRich inspired thousands of people to dedicate their lives to conservation, participated in some of the landmark battles to save wild places in California, and was a source of endless wisdom about the living world.

The birding community lost a great friend when Rich passed away in December 2012. But Rich’s friends and birding companions are determined to carry on his legacy of devotion to “all things wild.” Gordon Bennett and Kate Carolan, founders of the Watershed Foundation, decided to honor Rich’s memory by creating and funding the Rich Stallcup Memorial Nature Hike for Young Birders. Collaborating with another local non-profit, the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin, the walk is now offered free to young birders as part of the Point Reyes Birding and Nature Festival. The event has also drawn financial support from many local birders who were mentored by Rich.


Photo Courtesy of the Watershed Foundation

Last year, over a dozen kids spent a morning birding with David Sibley.  The kids were thrilled and David was also. This year the hike will be lead by Steve Howell, one of North America’s premier birders and bird scientists, a bird tour leader for WINGS, and author of several books, including most recently, Rare Birds of North America. Gordon and Kate, along with EAC and other supporters, hope that these unique experiences will inspire these young birders to keep birding and “to love and take care of birds” as Rich so often said.

To be eligible for the hike, birders aged 11 to 17 are invited to submit an essay electronically to events AT no later than April 1st with the subject line “Stallcup Memorial Hike Essay.” A panel of 3 judges will review and evaluate the essays and select the lucky winners to participate in the hike.

For more information about the Point Reyes Birding Festival visit our website and check out a tribute to Rich’s legacy, published in 2012 on The ABA Blog, here.


Carolyn Longstreth is a birder, activist, outdoor enthusiast, freelance journalist, and Inverness resident who returned to the Bay Area in 2006 after many years in New England.