By Steven Price, President, Bird Studies Canada
I always looked forward so much to spending time with Graeme, since I first met him in the 1980s to work together on bird science and conservation in Cuba. In addition to being a renowned author, Graeme was a bird enthusiast and supporter of Bird Studies Canada and our global BirdLife International network. I appreciated his gentle manner, sparkling spirit, and razor-sharp wit.
Though he was by then having some health struggles, he – along with partner Margaret Atwood – jumped at my invitation to be special guests at the International Ornithological Congress in Vancouver in August 2018, which Bird Studies Canada co-hosted. There, Margaret spoke eloquently about Graeme’s charming and bestselling compendium The Bedside Book of Birds. It was the perfect centrepiece to an evening event for the assembled researchers and bird lovers.
A donation from Graeme in the mid-1980s paired Bird Studies Canada (then the Long Point Bird Observatory) and WWF-Canada with Cuban ornithologists to exchange expertise in bird banding and monitoring. That fruitful effort led to continuing ties and collaboration between both Canadian groups and Cuba, which is home to vital stop-over and wintering habitat for many migratory birds that breed in Canada. In addition, Graeme’s role in founding and supporting the Pelee Island Bird Observatory added Canada’s most southerly bird research station to the Canadian Migration Monitoring Network, which Birds Studies Canada coordinates nationally.
Adieu, Graeme – your spirit soars with the birds you so loved and nurtured.
You can learn more about Graeme Gibson, his career, and his work for birds in this obituary by BirdLife International’s Dr. John Fanshawe.
Graeme Gibson and Margaret Atwood with Steven Price and other Bird Studies Canada staff at the 2018 International Ornithological Congress. From left to right: Steven Price, Ellen Jakubowski, Graeme Gibson, David Bradley, Margaret Atwood, Kyla Makela, and James Casey.
Photo: Christian Artuso