I guess you could say that a love of birds is in my genes.
More than half a century ago my grandmother worked diligently to bring absent bluebirds back to her Ohio lane. Her efforts were successful and not long after she became president of her local Audubon chapter. Inspired by my grandmothers attraction to birds, I soon learned to identify all the local birds in the canyons of La Jolla Shores.
Tom Stephan Master FalconerMy knowledge caught the recognition of a local reported who approached me with the proposition to guide a group of nature enthusiasts into the canyons. To this day, I still enjoy guiding naturalists into the wild sharing with them my passion and knowledge of nature.
My interest in birds of prey began in 1962 while doing research for a my second grade wild animal report. I came across a 1940 National Geographic article written by falconer/biologists John and Jean Craighead. Their story of trapping, training and hunting with falcons captivated me and began a life long enthusiasm for raptors. My new found obsession influenced me to become a regular at a local pet shop.
During one of my daily visits I discovered that a male kestrel had been turned into the shop. To my delight, the owners gave me the bird to take home. This new friendship inspired me to search high and low to observe birds of prey. By my teen years I was an agile tree climber, climbing every eagle, hawk and owl nest tree I could find. My knowledge and skills in maneuvering up and down trees gave me an easy in to becoming a tree trimmer, and later a certified arborist.
While bidding a trimming job for an elderly lady, I noticed that she had an owl nest box hanging low in her large Sycamore rather close to her kitchen window. She mentioned that her late husband had installed the box and was disheartened that it was never occupied. I offered to properly install the box for her.
Three days later I got a call from the elderly lady. She was delighted to share with me that a pair of barn owls had began nesting in her owl box. She repeatedly thanked me, mentioning that her late husband would have been so happy. The feelings of bringing joy to this woman gave me great pleasure. This was the first owl nest box I installed.
Now, over 23 years later I have over 30,000 under my belt! I am so grateful that my passionate hobby has led me to such a fulfilling career. I spend my days sharing my enthusiasm and knowledge of nature and it’s inhabitants with people around the world.
This is my definition of success.