F.M. Bailey Lifetime Achievement Award – Dale Zimmerman


Dale Allen Zimmerman, distinguished ornithologist, botanist, lepidopterist, photographer, and bird illustrator moved to Silver City in 1957, with his wife Marian and son Allan. Lifelong bird students, Dale and his wife have been actively studying and maintaining records of birds in New Mexico for over 50 years. They are acknowledged experts in identification of southwestern birds, and they have well over a half-century of field experience throughout North and Middle American. In pursuit of birds they have traveled to all seven continents. Their photographs of birds have appeared in over a dozen books, and several thousand avian images are on file with the Visual Resources of Ornithology at the Academy of Natural Science in Philadelphia. They also have devoted much time to serious recording of avian vocalizations, and many of their recordings are in the Library of Natural Sounds at Cornell University.

Dale has authored over 100 scientific publications, primarily of birds, plus a few on plants and mammals. Some of his major works include the Birds of New Guinea, co-authored with Bruce Beehler and Thane Pratt in 1986, The New Mexico Bird Finding Guide in 1992, and The Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania in 1996. In addition to the above, he has published numerous scientific papers in scholarly journals including many relating to New Mexico ornithology. An accomplished bird artist, who trained under George Miksch Sutton, Dr. Zimmerman is also the primary illustrator of his books, and his paintings have appeared in other works including the 1983 three-volume Audubon Field Guide to North American Birds. Over the years he has regularly furnished drawings for the NMOS to use on their T-shirts and other items.

He is a former Associate Editor of the AOU Monograph series, and of Western Birds. He also served for several years on the Editorial Board of American Birds, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Birding Association.

Although best known to most New Mexican birders as a fellow field student, Dr. Zimmerman is also a museum ornithologist. His museum experience began in 1940s, continuing through 1955, as an undergraduate assistant and graduate research assistant in the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology’s Bird Division. Between 1949 and 1959, he led several ornithological expeditions into Mexico, covering most of that country, selectively collecting for the U.M.M.Z. Upon arrival at WNMU, Zimmerman set about establishing a bird collection at the school along with a herbarium which has been named in his honor.

Dale Zimmerman has been actively involved with the New Mexico Ornithological Society since immediately after its founding. In addition to the use of his many illustrations, mentioned above, he has published articles in the NMOS Bulletin, given scientific talks both in the paper sessions of the annual meetings, and as an invited speaker for the evening presentations. He has been a member of the New Mexico Bird Records Committee for several years, lending his expertise to difficult New Mexico identification problems. He is a Professor Emeritus of Biology at Western New Mexico University having taught biology, ornithology, zoology and systematic botany from 1957 to 1988. Several of his former students and colleagues have played prominent roles in pursuing avian biology in New Mexico and elsewhere. He is member of numerous national and international scientific and conservation societies, and is a Fellow of the American Ornithologists’ Union.

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