Kenn Kaufman of Oak Harbor, recently was honored for his contributions to the scientific study of birds.
The recognition came from the American Ornithologists’ Union (AOU), one of the world’s leading professional societies for bird study. For 130 years, the AOU has been promoting science and publishing the results of original research, and virtually all the professional ornithologists in the U.S. and Canada belong to the group. Basic membership is open to anyone with a serious interest in bird study, but there are two honorary levels of membership. Individuals may be chosen as Elective Members for “significant contributions to ornithology.” From among the Elective Members, a few are chosen as Fellows for “exceptional and sustained contributions to ornithology.”
On Aug. 17, at the group’s annual meeting in Chicago, Kenn Kaufman was one of 16 individuals added to the ranks of Fellows of the American Ornithologists’ Union.
Kaufman reports that he was surprised and pleased. “Most AOU Fellows are doing full-time research or teaching at the university level, or both,” he says. “My role has been different, since I mostly write about birds for the general public. But I always strive for accuracy and I have always promoted the idea of good research and good science, and I assume they took that into account.”
There are currently about 400 Fellows, Kaufman said, out of several thousand members of the American Ornithologists’ Union.
Kaufman writes regularly for several popular magazines, including Audubon, Birds & Blooms, BirdWatching, and Bird Watcher’s Digest. He is the author or coauthor of a dozen books, including the Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America, the Kaufman Field Guide to Advanced Birding, Lives of North American Birds, and a memoir, Kingbird Highway.
Dr. Andy Jones, Director of Science and Curator of Ornithology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, sent Kaufman a congratulatory note after the AOU’s announcement: “How could we ever try to quantify your impact on the study of birds? From your contributions to bird identification, to our understanding of bird distributions in North America, to popular literature on the science/sport/hobby/passion of birding, to inspiring the next generation of birders and ornithologists, you have had an outsized impact on the entire field of bird study.”
Since 2005, Mr. Kaufman has lived in Ottawa County, where he has been very active with the Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO). His wife, Kimberly Kaufman, is BSBO’s executive director. The Kaufmans have been instrumental in the annual festival known as The Biggest Week In American Birding, which brings thousands of birders to northwestern Ohio every May.