American Birding Podcast



Announcing the 2018 ABA Awards Recipients

In 2018, the ABA Board of Directors selected four individuals to receive ABA Awards. You can read more about each of the recipients in the October 2018 issue of Birding magazine, but we would like to share them here as well, as these exceptional members of the birding community deserve the admiration and thanks of ABA members and birders everywhere.

(l-r) Debi Shearwater, Al Smith, Daphne Gemmill, Denver Holt

Debra Love (“Debi”) Shearwater of Hollister, California, is the recipient of the Ludlow Griscom Award for Contributions to Regional Ornithology. For 40 years the name Debi Shearwater has been synonymous with pelagic birding on the West Coast and she is often credited for putting California pelagic birding on the map. In addition to introducing thousands of birders to the wonders of seabirding, she is also an active birder on land, an in-demand speaker at birding events, and the author of a great many publications in the birding literature. Her name and reputation are justifiably well-known worldwide and though she speaks of retirement, her plans contain other ideas for promoting birding and conservation.


Alan R. (“Al”) Smith of Avonlea, Saskatchewan, is the recipient of the Ludlow Griscom Award for Contributions to Regional Ornithology. During his 50 year career with the Canadian Wildlife Service, Alan Smith has studied waterfowl in Alberta, seabirds in Nunavut, shorebirds in the Northwest Territory, and raptors in the prairie provinces, but his passion has always been the grassland birds of the northern Great Plains. Alan is the author of two books, Atlas of Saskatchewan Birds and Saskatchewan Birds, and is the co-author of The Compact Guide to Saskatchewan and Manitoba Birds. Although he’s “retired”, he continues to be involved with the Last Mountain Bird Observatory, and to coordinate Christmas Bird Counts and Breeding Bird Surveys across the province.


Daphne Gemmill of Washington, DC, is the recipient of the Ludlow Griscom Award for Contributions to Regional Ornithology. Daphne Gemmill’s contributions to regional ornithology and conservation on the island of Puerto Rico over more than 30 years are significant. Her survey work, which has appeared in North American Birds and the Journal of Caribbean Ornithology, has been complemented by outreach to island residents through bird walks, workshops, and seminars. This works has contributed greatly to the ornithological knowledge in that part of the Greater Antilles. Additionally, Daphne has served the ABA as a member of the Board of Directors and worked to ensure that conservation was an important part of the organization’s mission.


Denver Holt of Charlo, Montana, is the recipient of the Chandler S. Robbins Award for Conservation and Education. A leader in owl research, education, and conservation for 30 years, Denver Holt has been unwavering in his commitment to on-the-ground data collection. he has spent a lifetime i the field with owls, and the body of work and its resulting conservation implications, is an incredible legacy. A belief that science should be shared with everyone drives him to speak about conservation in an approachable, impactful manner. His Snowy Owl research has been featured in National Geographic and Smithsonian magazines, and he is the author of over 100 scientific papers. He continues to be an impactful speaker, a guide with a passion about sharing the natural world with others, and lifelong learner.


ABA congratulates these fine members of the birding community on their achievements and invites all members to join us in doing so. We encourage ABA members to nominate impactful individuals in their community for ABA Awards. You can learn more about the ABA Awards and the awards process at the ABA website.