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DVOC Main Page > Our Members > Bill Stocku

Bill Stocku
(Bill passed away on September 21, 2011)

World Series of Birding Team Member 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003
Fellow of the DVOC
Life Member

Bill Stocku
The "20 Questions" below,
originally appeared in Larus
20 QUESTIONS and then some with………Bill Stocku

You love to chase. What are your current life, NJ, PA, and AZ lists now?
AZ list: 478
NJ list: 378
PA list: 337

Your ABA list?
791

Describe some of the more memorable chases you've made?
In 1979 to Amherst Island, Ontario Canada with Brian Moscatello, Harry Franzen and friends of Harry where we saw all the species of Northeastern Owls.
In the eighties, Brian Moscatello, Paul Guris, the late Serge LaFrance and I went on some of the craziest chases. We took weekends to Florida, Nova Scotia and St Louis chasing the hottest birds.
Even today, if something shows up in the Rio Grande valley of Texas (18 hour drive) I am ready. I have been about 8 times since I retired, driving every time. The last time was for the Roadside Hawk in Feb 2005. I missed the Social Flycatcher in January, but did get the Black-headed Nightingale Thrush in August of last year!

You did the World Series of Birding for years. How did the team you were with change over the years?
Started the World Series with Rancocas Nature Center in 1983 with Brian, Paul, and Serge. In 1988 Paul and I became part of the DVOC team with Rick Mellon as the leader. Over the years some of the participants have included Johnny Miller, Chris Dooley, Bob Mercer, Bill Murphy, Megan Edwards, Adrian Binns and Mike Fritz.

Before 1999, did you ever think you'd win the WSB?
The team was always competitive, but how do you compete with teams that live in NJ? The big goal that I had was to break two hundred species. But until we established a route and perfected it, winning seemed far away. But with Paul's planning and the addition of NJ native Mike (MVP) and our token Brit (Adrian) winning became possible.

What are your favorite groups of birds (i.e., hawks, shorebirds, warblers, sparrows, etc.)? And why?
Shore birds, and I now live in AZ, go figure. As a beginning birder shore birds are one of the hardest groups to identify, and living in an area where you had great locations for shore bird migration, the more time I spent in the field the more fascinated I became with the entire group.

How did you get started in birding?

In 1972 on a family trip to Chincoteague Island VA we took a boat trip around the island and I became intrigued by the identification skills of the people pointing out the different birds. I purchased my first field guide and a twenty-five dollar pair of Bushnell binoculars and the rest is history.

How were you introduced to DVOC?
I read a newspaper article about something new called "Rare Bird Alert" which was sponsored by the DVOC. I would run in DVOCers when chasing the birds mentioned on the RBA. I also found out that one of the teachers at my daughter Carol’s school was a DVOC member.

Who were your birding mentors?

In the beginning I went birding on my own, and the reason I joined the DVOC was to come in contact with other birders. I walked into the club in 1978 on my own, introduced myself to the President Charlie Wonderly, and along with the other person sitting at the desk, whose name I can not remember, they signed my letter. My mentors were the group that I went birding with, Brian, Paul and Serge.

How was the club different in the days before they allowed women into DVOC?
When I first went to the DVOC I had no idea it was "men only." It felt like I was stepping back in time, where it was a male dominated society.

Where do you see DVOC headed in the future?

As a local spokesperson for birding and environmental awareness.

What advise would you give someone first starting out in Birding?

Get a good pair of binoculars. Get involved in your local bird club and participate in field trips.

What's your favorite sandwich?
Lebanon Bologna and Havarti Cheese on rye bread with pickle.......sorry Paul. (Ed’s note - Nasty)

You chose to retire in Arizona. Why?
Blame in all on Rick Mellon. In 1979 I came to AZ on a DVOC trip with Rick and fell in love with the area. I visited every year until I retired in June 1995 moving here in September of that year. I wanted to move to the Chiricahuas, but my wife Joyce chose Hereford because Portal was in the boonies! If you stay here a week, you’ll know why I retired here. I never get tired of looking at trogons. Where else can you take the dogs for a walk and see Spotted Owls?

What are your common backyard birds?

Year round…..Gambels and Scaled Quail, Curved-billed Thrasher, Cactus Wren, Verdin, Canyon Towhee, Zone-tailed Hawk, Lesser Goldfinch, Pyrrhuloxia, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Gila Woodpecker, White-winged Dove, Inca Dove, Bullocks Oriole, Roadrunner, Anna's and Black-chinned Hummingbirds. On my yard list I have ten species of hummingbirds.

How big is your yard list? What’s the rarest bird you have had in your yard?

Olive-sided Flycatcher was #119. I’ve had Gray Catbird once. It stayed for 3 weeks and was on the 2003 CBC and that would be the rarest.

What are you doing now that you're retired, other than chasing birds?
Starting in April of 1998, I started working for Geronimo Educational Foundation as coordinator and field trip leader for their elderhostel birding programs. I average about fourteen weekly birding trips a year. I just finished my 97th trip for them! I am also involved in the Southwest Wings Birding Festival held in Bisbee in August. I also take visiting DVOCers birding. Amongst those that have been out here are Paul, Rick, Adrian, Colin Campbell, Bruce Lantz, Ellen Short, John Harding, Frank and Barbara Haas, Chris Walters, Ward Dasey, Harry Todd, Bill and Naomi Murphy, Bert Filemyr, Al Driscoll, Tom Bailey, Don Jones and Jim Merritt.

What do you miss the most and the least about birding back in the East?

That is simple, I miss DVOC meetings and birding in Cape May and I don't miss the congestion and the traffic.

Given the time and money, what birding location would you go back to in a heartbeat?
ALASKA. I still need to get to Nome and Gambel.

What new birding locations are top on your list to get to?

United Kingdom, because I have had contact with numerous Brits, so there is a good chance I could free-load. Believe it or not I do not have a passion to go to the tropics.

What is your most wanted bird in North America or Arizona?

Spectacled Eider, which would clean up all the eiders for me. When I first moved to Arizona I had 3 target species - Slate-throated Redstart, Aztec Thrush and Yellow Grosbeak. Now that I have those I still need to make an effort to get Chukar, which is found in the northern part of the state. There have been a few Sharp-tailed Sandpiper records and I seem to be away when one shows up. There has been one record of Yellow-footed Gull so that is another AZ bird I need.

What’s next?
My next goal is to reach 800 ABA……. have a Lebanon Bologna and Havarti Cheese on rye bread with pickle (nasty) ……

Note:

On Sunday 11/13/05, Bill drove to Phoenix airport and boarded a flight to Seattle Washington. He arrived early in the morning and drove to Ocean Shores where he got the Temminck's Stint for number 792.

 



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