The Ptarmigan Award

The following individuals are recipients of The Ptarmigan Award. 

Year Name Accomplishments
2023 Ann Johnson Ann Johnson has been DFO’s longtime website designer, administrator, online troubleshooter and all-around web wizard for the past decade. Ann provides web consulting and technical services to DFO and numerous other bird-related organizations remotely from her native Iowa. Her gig to upgrade DFO’s website was struck in late 2013. The assignment: Upgrade the website’s look and functionality, but also automate membership management and field trip signups. Until then, membership was a spreadsheet and index cards. She helped develop into a premier interactive website. Johnson was honored in a surprise ceremony on Sept. 23 at the fall meeting of the Iowa Ornithologists’ Union. Susan Blansett, DFO past president, attended via the internet to present the award remotely from Colorado. Blansett praised Ann for her “incredible responsiveness,” ready to troubleshoot DFO web problems at almost any hour “with a can-do attitude . . . What Ann has done for us . . . has enabled the growth of DFO, especially in the sophistication of our public-facing online presence.”
2018 Karen von Saltza A 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.
2018 Kayleen Niyo On 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.
2017 Mary Cay Burger Most 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.
2016 Edmund 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.
2015 Chuck Hundertmark Chuck 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.
2014 Jackie King Jackie 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.
2013 Joe Roller Roller 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.
2012 Joey Kellner Joey 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.
2009 Ann Bonnell Ann 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.
2007 Tina Jones Tina 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.
2005 Dick Schottler Dick Schottler has been a member since 1979, served on the Board from 1984-1988, and Vice President from 1996-1998. He chaired the Denver Christmas Bird Count for many years. Dick was one of the three RBA coordinators, an active field trip leader, member of the Colorado Field Ornithologists, and served on the CFO Bird Records Committee from 1991-1997. He served as Regional Coordinator of the CO Breeding Bird Atlas from 1987-1994 and discovered CO's first Red-faced Warbler in the Wheat Ridge Greenbelt in 1993.
2004 Norm Erthal Norm Erthal served as DFO vice president in 1991 and as president from 1992-1993. In March of 1995, he took over the Rare Bird Alert. During his tenure as the voice of the RBA, he began fusing information from the recording with information from the Internet. He has led specialized field trips for DFO and coordinated, planned, and led trips outside Colorado. He has taken DFO members to Texas, Arizona, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and many other birding destinations.
2002 Karleen Schofield Karleen has led and scheduled many DFO field trips and wrote the trip leader instructions that were used for many years. Yearly she published a summary report of the DFO field trips. She served on the DFO Board. Karleen led Christmas Bird Counts for 14 years. She served on the CFO Bird Records Committee. In 1993, Karleen birded 265 days and set the ABA record for a woman's one-year count of 342 bird species in Colorado. Along with Warren Finch, she wrote an article on Belmar Park for the CFO journal in 2002 and compiled the Belmar bird list.
2001 Warren Finch Warren Finch served as DFO President from 1982-1983. He became DFO Historian in 1994 and served in that position until his retirement in 2011. He authored several DFO/CFO historical publications. He received the DFO Ptarmigan Award in 2001 and was honored in 2009 with the CFO Lifetime Achievement Award.
2001 Glenn Hageman Glenn Hageman served DFO as treasurer and membership chair from 1992-2005. He was awarded a Life Membership by the Board in the fall of 2005.
1997 Lynn Willcockson Lynn Willcockson joined the Colorado Bird Club (now DFO) in 1960. He helped start the Colorado Field Ornithologists (CFO) in the mid-1960s. Lynn started the DFO monthly newsletter, The Lark Bunting, in September 1965 and was editor and publisher for four years. He also began the telephone Rare Bird Alert in 1979. Lynn served as treasurer, vice president (twice), and president of DFO. He has served on the Board for many years. He has led field trips since the mid-1960s and was Field Trip Coordinator for several years.
1996 Duane Nelson In 1990, Nelson was instrumental in finding and developing the Hawkwatch location on the Dakota Hogback where he served as leader for four years. He encouraged visitors and voLunteers alike in identification and understanding of Spring hawk migration. Beginning in May 1990, Nelson became the voice of lhe Colorado Rare Bird Alert and updated the tape faithfully for nearly two years. For several years Duane has served as Chairperson for the Colorado Bird Records Committee. He has written articles for the Colorado Field Ornithologists journal. For the last five years he has done field work concentrating on the endangered Piping Plover and Least Tern, including censuses and observing and recording nesting activity as well as protection and habitat development. He spent several years observing birds in the Wheat Ridge Greenbelt enabling him to design a checklist for this area. Along with Dick Schottler, he helped the Wheat Ridge naturalist develop a wildlife plan for the greenbelt.
1996 Catherine A. "Birdie" Hurlbutt Hurlbutt joined the Colorado Bird Club which met in the "bird room" on the third floor of the Denver Museum of Natural History. She served the club for many years as Corresponding Secretary. Her great passion to birds led her to devote her life to rescuing injured and abandoned birds. Every bird, no matter how common, was taken in, fed, and treated. "Birdie" was licensed to do rehabilitation work and among the: species she treated were Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Cordilleran Flycatcher, Cattle Egret, Black-crowned Night-Heron, and she even kept an Ancient Murrelet in her bathtub overnight. Often sought after as a speaker, she shared her knowledge and enthusiasm about birds with many schools, clubs, retirement homes, as well as with religious and social groups. She died on December 22, 2012.
1995 Patty Echelmeyer Echelmeyer served four terms as Vice President and two terms as President. She has been a Director on the Board for four years. She served DFO as a Field Trip Coordinator for over two years and has led field trips regularly. As early as 1970 Echelmeyer was helping to coordinate the Rare Bird Alert. Patty's commitment and hardwork are an example for all.
1995 Bob Spencer Spencer served the DFO as Vice President for two terms and President for two terms. He was a Director for another two years, and a Field Trip Coordinator for over ten years. As a frequent trip leader and participant in Spring, Fall, and Christmas Counts, Spencer's contributions are exemplary.
1994 Robert Andrews Bob Andrews served as vice president of DFO for two terms and president for one term. He led DFO field trips as well as Spring, Fall, and Christmas Bird Counts. A professor of biology at the University of Colorado, he taught biology and geography to African high school students on a grant from Harvard. Along with Bob Righter, he authored Colorado Birds: A Reference to Their Distribution and Habitat.
1994 Bob Righter Bob was DFO Treasurer for many years. He has served on the DFO and the Colorado Field Ornithologists Boards. He led DFO field trips in Colorado and out-of-state trips for DFO members. Bob led several DFO trips to Maine for fall bird migration and spring bird migration trips to Texas. He and Robert Andrews co-authored Colorado Birds: Their Distribution, Status, and Habitat. Bob and Geoffrey A. Keller produced the CD, Bird Songs of the Rocky Mountain States and Provinces. He co-authored Birds of Western Colorado Plateau and Mesa Country with Rich Levad, Coen Dexter, and Kim Potter. Bob has birded North America extensively. He loves to share his birding knowledge with other birders.
1990 Hugh and Urling Kingery Hugh Kingery served as DFO president from 1987-1989. He and Urling have led many DFO field trips. Hugh edited the first Colorado Breeding Bird Atlas published in 1998. He is the state coordinator for the USFWS North American Breeding Bird Survey routes and he and Urling conduct several routes. Hugh authored the Falcon Guide publication, Birding Colorado, in 2007. Hugh and Urling designed a master birding class for the Audubon Society of Greater Denver and he is the compiler for the ASGD spring and fall counts. The Kingerys have led many DFO field trips. And they often open their home and yard to DFO members on DFO field trips.
1989 Jack Reddall Jack Reddall was the founder of the Official Records Committee, now the CFO Colorado Bird Records Committee in 1972. He served as DFO President from 1973-1975.
1989 Harold Holt Harold Holt served as DFO President from 1962-1963. He appointed Lois Webster to chair a committee to organize the first state convention in 1963. It was hosted by the Colorado Bird Club/DFO in Denver. At the 1964 convention, action was taken to create the Colorado Field Ornithologists, which was accomplished in 1965. Holt also authored several of the Lane/Holt birdfinding guides published by the American Birding Association, including A Birder's Guide to Colorado.
1988 Thompson Marsh Thompson Marsh was a prominent Denver birder and leader of DFO field trips and served as DFO President from 1959-1960. He was presented the Ptarmigan Award in 1988 along with Ruth Wheeler, the only living 1935 Charter Member of the Colorado Bird Club (later named DFO). Marsh served as Treasurer in 1965 and drew up the Articles of Incorporation of the Colorado Field Ornithologists in 1965, which were not filed until April 20, 1966. He was the first president of CFO.
1988 Ruth Wheeler Ruth Wheeler was the first recipient of the Ptarmigan Award in 1988. The award was initiated that year to recognize Wheeler, the only living 1935 Charter member of the Colorado Bird Club (later named DFO). She along with Thompson Marsh were presented with a framed certificate and a framed photo taken by Duane Nelson of a pair of White-tailed Ptarmigan in a winter scene on Guanella Pass.