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George West

George West
photo by Tom Vezo

Note: George West passed away earlier this year (2016), but the family has decided to leave his illustrations, books, etc. online for others to enjoy.

About the Artist: George C. West started drawing and painting birds in the fourth grade in Newton, Massachusetts, and made birds both his lifetime vocation and avocation. He graduated from Middlebury College, Vermont and completed his M.S. and Ph.D. at the University of Illinois – Champaign – Urbana. His early research was on metabolism and food habits of Tree Sparrows in the subarctic at Churchill, Manitoba and in central Illinois.

He received his degree in Physiological Ecology in 1958. After postdoctoral studies at Illinois and the National Research Council of Canada and three years of teaching ornithology, ecology, general biology, and comparative anatomy at the University of Rhode Island, he was asked to help form the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1963.

After 21 years of research and publication of over 80 articles on arctic and subarctic ornithology and ecology, training graduate students, and institute and statewide University administration, he retired to Homer, Alaska on the shores of Kachemak Bay in 1984. He established the birding hot line in Homer, and founded and edited the newsletter, Kachemak Bay Bird Watch for 10 years. He was president of the Board of the Pratt Museum, one of the best small museums in the country.

George and his wife, Ellen, moved to Green Valley, Arizona in 1996 but he continued his contacts with Alaska by providing many illustrations for State and Federal agencies as well as private organizations and writing the Birders’ Guide to Alaska published by the American Birding Association. This volume of over 600 pages describes where and when to find birds throughout the state of Alaska with detailed information provided through the cooperative efforts of over 40 local birding experts.

The book was originally published in 2002, and is now in its second updated and revised edition published in 2008. Over 50 of his black-and-white illustrations grace this book. He has also published many local birding guides, a book with Priscilla Russell Bird Traditions of the Lime Village Area Dena’ina, Upper Stony River Ornithology from the University of Alaska in 2003, with Carol Butler, a question and answer book Do Hummingbirds Hum? published by Rutgers University Press in 2010, and North American Hummingbirds; An Identification Guide published by the University of New Mexico Press in 2015. See publications on this web site.

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