MATTHEW CALBRAITH PERRY

Photo of Matt Perry Photo of Matt Perry

Matt was born on February 8, 1941, and raised in Bristol, Rhode Island, with his five older sisters, including his twin. Two of Matt’s other sisters are also twins, which added to his interesting and adventurous childhood. Matt spent many hours of his early years in the woods and marshes around his home. His early experience at seeing a snowy owl in Bristol, when he was six years old, led him into a life-long interest in birds and their habitats, especially wetlands. He received his BS degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1963 with a major in wildlife management/forestry.

After graduation Matt attended Naval Officer Candidate School in Newport and was commissioned Ensign in 1963. He served as a Naval Officer aboard the USS Mount McKinley for three years during the mid-1960s and spent many hours cruising off the coast of Vietnam. His ship was involved with the first two amphibious landing of troops in Vietnam in 1965. He became a Lieutenant and was qualified for Officer of the Deck (formation steaming).

Leaving the Navy in 1966, Matt began a career in wildlife biology working for the Rhode Island Fish and Game and in October 1966 married Patricia Spangler from California, whom he had met in Hawaii during a ship visit. While in Rhode Island he worked on many wildlife projects, but was especially active with waterfowl, including a major study of the exotic mute swan. After two years, he went to Virginia Polytechnic Institute, where in 1970 he received his MS with a major in wildlife management under Dr. Robert H. Giles. His thesis was entitled Studies of Deer-Related Dog Activity in Virginia. He then worked in Florida for a year at Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge as the assistant refuge manager. In addition to traditional management duties, Matt initiated a research study on apple snails, an important food of the Everglades kite.

Matt has worked at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland since 1971, where he conducted numerous research studies mainly in waterfowl food habits, nutrition, and ecology. During this period he conducted further graduate studies and received his PhD in 1985 at the University of Maryland under Dr. Wayne J. Kuenzel. His dissertation was entitled Seasonal Influence of Nutrients on the Physiology and Behavior of Captive Canvasbacks (Aythya valisineria). Matt spent five years (1987-92) as special assistant to the director and was extensively involved with the planning and construction of the National Wildlife Visitor Center. He was involved with the transfer to Patuxent of 8,100 acres of excess military land from the adjacent Fort Meade.

Matt's research during the 1990s dealt with the management, restoration, enhancement, and creation of wetland and upland habitats. He evaluated forested wetlands created for mitigation of destroyed natural wetlands and management techniques to improve habitat (especially wetland impoundments) for wildlife. He also headed a large study dealing with seaducks, including a satellite telemetry study and a feeding ecology study with surf and black scoters. Matt was chair of two symposia dealing with Chesapeake waterfowl; black ducks (2002) and mute swans (2004). He also chaired the Second North American Sea Duck Conference (2005).

Matt is a special member of the faculty at the University of Maryland and has served on several faculty committees for graduate students. He serves on numerous professional committees including the Maryland Governor’s waterfowl advisory committee. He is a certified wildlife biologist and a certified wetland scientist.

Matt had a second marriage to Georgia Haramis in 1980 and has one step-son, Jason, and two younger sons, Oliver and Christopher. Jason and Christopher are in the U.S. Army and both have served in Iraq during the war. All of his sons have spent many hours as workers on work days at Plummers Island.

He was elected into membership in the Washington Biologists’ Field Club in 1986. He has served as board member for many years and was chair of house and grounds for five years. He served as chair of the books and photographs committee and coordinated the activities to prepare a book dealing with the history of the Club and biographies of the members. He was vice president of the Washington Biologists’ Field Club from 1998 to 2002 and president from 2002 to 2005.