Guy Baldassarre: the man, the book, and the marsh

Guest post by Dr. Michael Schummer

Guy Baldassarre (1953–2012) was one of those people who transferred his passion for birds to all who met him. Even though he’s gone, that trait seems to linger, evidenced by the impact his book, Ducks, Geese, and Swans of North America, is about to have on generations of readers. For those not lucky enough to have known Guy, let me recap an amazing career. He was a  Distinguished Teaching Professor at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry for 25 years, where he specialized in ornithology and wildlife management. Among his many honors, he was the recipient of the Wetlands Conservation Achievement Award from Ducks Unlimited. He was an eloquent speaker with a fantastic Boston accent that boomed like friendly thunder.

Passionate about waterfowl and wetland conservation, Guy’s capacity to synthesize an immense body of literature into a digestible form made him successful educator and writer. Guy truly poured all this talent into Ducks, Geese, and Swans. This classic work was last produced in 1980 by renowned waterfowl ecologist Frank Bellrose and desperately needed an update. With over thirty years of novel and abundant research to include in this new addition of DGS, Guy produced a work that will leave a legacy of well-informed readers. Part of the beauty of the book lies in the stunning color photos, which Guy was given by waterfowl photographers from across the continent. Add to that Bob Hines’s art and carefully documented range maps, and you have a book that is both a pleasure to read and work of art.

In memory of Guy, a marsh restoration project was undertaken at the Montezuma Wetlands Complex in central New York. “Guy’s Marsh” lies in the heart of those wetlands, where Guy often brought students to learn about waterfowl and wetlands ecology, conservation, and management. Indeed, the project includes plans for an outdoor classroom, a place for future educators and outdoor enthusiasts to come see the wonders of waterfowl that Guy wrote about in the new edition of Ducks, Geese, and Swans.  I can think of no better way to memorialize Guy than with a place for birds, where the sun will rise over a duck-filled marsh on an autumn morning while people view the waterfowl that Guy revealed to us in Ducks, Geese, and Swans of North America

(Editor’s note: to preview an excerpt of the this set, click here.)

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