The Ptarmigan Award

Karen von Saltza receives Ptarmigan Award from Chuck HundertmarkThe Denver Field Ornithologists Ptarmigan Award is presented annually to a DFO Member who has voluntarily provided time and extra service for the benefit of DFO, its members, and the birding community. A Ptarmigan Award Nominating Committee is selected by the DFO Board. Potential awardees are suggested by board members. Following a review, the Committee then recommends an individual to the DFO Board and that individual is presented the Ptarmigan Award at a regularly scheduled monthly meeting.

The award was initiated in 1988 to recognize Ruth Wheeler, the only living 1935 Charter member of the Colorado Bird Club (later known as DFO), and Thompson Marsh, prominent Denver birder and leader of DFO field trips.

2018Karen von SaltzaA DFO member since 1999, Karen became Field Trip Leader Development chair in 2012. Working with a committee of four she lead creation of what became our current Field Trip Leader Manual and trip leader certification program. Concurrently, she and her committee worked with Kay Niyo and Ann Johnson to incorporate field trip management tools into a new DFO web site. When the Leader Development Committee's mission was completed, she took on leadership of the new Field Trip Committee. Karen and that committee have guided continuous growth and improvement of our field trip program. Karen is an active field trip leader. She previously advanced bird study in Colorado through active involvement in Audubon Society of Greater Denver's Master Birder Program.
2018Kayleen NiyoOn January 29, 2018, President Chuck Hundertmark presented the Ptarmigan Award to board member Kay Niyo in recognition of her major contributions to DFO. Niyo joined the board as secretary in 2011 and implemented significant changes to that position. Using her experience with Evergreen Audubon and Iowa Ornithologists’ Union to recruit graphic designer Debbie Marshall and other skilled professionals, Niyo redesigned The Lark Bunting and served as editor from 2013-2017. In 2014, Niyo introduced Ann Johnson, Iowa birding website designer, to DFO. Johnson, Niyo, and other key board members developed a premier, interactive birding website. The result was an online field trip listing, registration, and reporting system that may be the best among bird clubs in the country. Niyo then served as lead web manager for the site and as DFO’s interface with Johnson to deliver a steady stream of improvements to the website. Niyo also created a series of board manuals to streamline board functions and uploaded them to the website. She is ensuring a smooth transition to successors in each of these positions.
2017Mary Cay BurgerMost of us know Mary Cay in her current role as Membership Chair, but before that she had already served on the DFO board since 2001 as a director, vice president, and then president. Mary Cay is a skilled birder and leads popular field trips to many of our favorite destinations: the Pawnee Grasslands, Rocky Mountain National Park, Cherry Creek State Park, and repeatedly to Rueter-Hess Reservoir. Admiring DFO members say, “When there is a job to be done, Mary Cay raises her hand.” Born in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, she and her husband moved to Englewood in 1980, where they raised three children. Mary Cay is retired registered pharmacist.
2016Edmund J. Holub, Jr.Ed Holub has served DFO tirelessly in many ways since 1984. For years, he toted bird books and magazines to every DFO meeting for members. He continues to serve as a frequent and popular DFO field trip leader and as a Christmas Bird Count leader every year. He also leads groups for the Denver spring and fall bird counts and continues to inspire new birders on every trip.
2015Chuck HundertmarkChuck Hundertmark served DFO tirelessly for the past four years as president, more years than any other president. During that time Chuck enabled DFO to accomplish the following new organizational improvements: Bylaws; Lark Bunting design, editor, and graphic designer; set up an Investigative Committee and Finance Committee; field trip program, director, and Field Trip Leader Manual and Standards and Best Practices; liability waiver; newly designed DFO interactive website; historian; and reorganization of the board structure and a Policy Manual, which will assist the Nominating Committee in recruiting new officers and directors. In addition, Chuck regularly leads DFO field trips and assists in Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory's Colony Watch. He has served on the RMBO Board.
2014Jackie KingJackie has been associated with DFO for many years and has been a DFO field trip scheduler for 25 years. She has served on the DFO Board of Directors. Jackie has led many field trips, including weekend trips to the Nebraska Sandhills, southeast Colorado to see Lesser Prairie Chickens, Northeast Colorado to see Greater Prairie Chickens, Bonny Reservoir (at which time she saw a tornado), southern Wyoming, and Delta, Colorado. Additionally, she has led many regular DFO day trips. Jackie has been a leader for many Christmas Denver and Urban Bird Counts, including the areas of Barr Lake, Perry Park in Douglas County, Willowbrook, Commerce City, plus Spring and Fall Bird Counts. Jackie continues to lead DFO trips and also schedules DFO field trips.
2013Joe RollerRoller is a past member of the DFO board of directors, and currently serves on the boards of Colorado Field Ornithologists and Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory. A consummate networker, he brings people together both within each organization and between the groups. This relationship-building instinct was most recently seen after a fire in 2012 swept through the Last Chance oasis east of Denver. This crossroads on the eastern plains has long been a hot spot for birders during migration. After the fire, Joe talked with members of the Woodlin Lions Club, which maintains a rest stop at the oasis, and was instrumental in bringing members of the local community and the birding community together to clean up and restore this way station for birds and people. A birder since age 10, Roller has travelled on seven continents in the pursuit of new birds. He was one of the first DFO members to join Duane Nelson on Dinosaur Ridge when the HawkWatch site was established there in 1990.
2012Joey KellnerJoey served as Vice President and then President from 1994-1996. He leads many DFO field trips (including combined bird, reptile, amphibian trips) in Colorado, the U.S., and some outside the U.S. Joey is the current compiler of the annual Denver Christmas Bird Count and is involved with the Spring and Fall Bird counts. He has been a member of the CFO Rare Bird Records Committee. Joey leads monthly bird walks at Chatfield State Park and updated the bird list for Chatfield SP and Waterton Canyon, Colorado in 2009. He also organized the Big Sit at Chatfield SP.
2009Ann BonnellAnn was raised on Wildlife Refuges and became a biology teacher. For the past 30 years in the Denver area she has been teacher, trainer, Board member, and Birder Expert. For DFO she has led the Tuesday Birders on about 50 hikes a year for the past 25 years. Ann has educated countless people about birds and environmental issues through her work at Roxborough State Park, South Platte Park, Denver Botanic Gardens, Audubon Society of Greater Denver, and DFO.
2007Tina JonesTina Jones has taught Colorado natural history classes for years and is known for her holistic approach. She has served on the DFO Board and led DFO field trips. Jones has served two terms on the Research, Education, and Conservation Grants Committee. She also served as a board member for Colorado Field Ornithologists. Tina’s botanical background led to her love of bird/plant relationships, particularly of hummingbird/plant relations. Her yard is open to the public from mid-July on, so individuals can observe hummingbirds feeding on specific flowers. Tina’s yard is featured in several books as an example of songbird and hummingbird habitats. Her yard has also been featured as a hummingbird haven in the Rocky Mountain News. Jones has birded extensively through the United States and Canada, with a special love for birding in the Arctic.