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Patuxent Wildlife Research Center


Gale Wendell Monson

Gale Wendell Monson was born in Munich, North Dakota, on August 1, 1912 and was raised on a wheat farm near Argusville, just north of Fargo. It was on the farm that Gale's interest in the natural world began. Around the age of 12 he began a journal to record his bird sightings which he continued with few interruptions over the next eighty years. This passion followed him to North Dakota State University in Fargo where he attended college. Gale was awe inspired by the Sonoran Desert and spent the bulk of his life's work there. He contributed greatly to the area's study. His interest was primarily in ornithology though he had an immense appreciation for the natural world in its entirety.

In 1934, Gale moved to Arizona where he worked as a biologist Papago (now Tohono O'Odham) and Navajo tribal lands, as well as for the Soil Conservation Service in Arizona and New Mexico. In 1940 until 1969 (except from 1942 to 1945 spent stationed in China, Burma and India in the Army during WWII) he worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at refuges in New Mexico and Havasu and Imperial National Wildlife Refuges on the Colorado River, and on the Kofa and Cabeza Prieta Game Ranges in Arizona. During this time he authored a number of articles on the status of birds along the lower Colorado River and other areas in Arizona which were published in the The Auk and The Condor. From 1971 to 1977, Gale served the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum as the supervisor in charge of weekends, holidays and as acting director in the absence of the director.

Gale is best known as one of the authors of The Birds of Arizona (1964), The Desert Bighorn (1980), The Annotated Checklist of Arizona Birds (1981), The Birds of Sonora (1998), as well as the editor of the Southwest Region for American Birds from 1948 until 1963. During the 1970s and '80s, Gale tirelessly collected rare bird photos by soliciting birders and maintained the photo file in the University of Arizona Bird Collection. Thanks to his effort, many rare species were documented during that time. In the late 90's Gale moved to Albuquerque to be closer to family and passed away there, on February 19, 2012.

Resources for this biography include:
Hubbard, J. P., Johnson, R. R. 2013. In Memoriam: Gale Wendell Monson, 1912-2012. The Auk, 130(4), 810-811.
Larson, Mark W. "Gale W. Monson." Arizona Field Ornithologists, 21 Mar. 2012. Web. 28 Nov. 2014.
Larson, Mark W. "Tributes to Gale W. Monson." Arizona Field Ornithologists, 21 Mar. 2012. Web. 28 Nov. 2014.
"Gale Wendell Monson Obituary." Arizona Daily Star, 4 Mar. 2012. Web. 28 Nov. 2014.

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