Robert S. Mulvihill

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This year’s recipient of the Earl Poole Award is Robert S. Mulvihill, the National Aviary’s Ornithologist.

Bob grew up in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood, where he developed an early interest in bird watching. He has been an active member of the birding and bird conservation community in western Pennsylvania for more than forty years.

Bob began his ornithological career in 1978 as a volunteer helping Robert Leberman at Powdermill Nature Reserve, the biological field station of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. He was subsequently hired as a bird-banding assistant and education specialist there in 1983. During his nearly 30-year tenure at Powdermill, Bob banded several hundred thousand birds and conducted long-term field research on the Dark-eyed Junco, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and Louisiana Waterthrush. Bob has authored more than thirty scientific articles, edited volumes on the conservation of Pennsylvania’s birds, written dozens of popular articles for newspapers and magazines (including the popular”Let’s Talk About Birds” series in the Pittsburgh Post- Gazette), and given hundreds of talks about birds and bird-banding research throughout the United States, as
well as Mexico, the United Kingdom, and Canada.

Bob served as a regional coordinator and species account author for the first Atlas of Breeding Birds in Pennsylvania from 1983-1988. More recently, he was statewide project coordinator and co-editor for the Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in Pennsylvania. Bob joined the staff of the National Aviary in 2011, and in 2013, he brought Neighborhood Nestwatch, a citizen-science project developed by the Smithsonian Institution, to the Greater Pittsburgh area. That year Bob also
established one of very few urban Northern Saw-whet Owl migration banding sites near downtown Pittsburgh for the collaborative “Project Owlnet.” Bob also participates in the collaborative Hummer/Bird Study Group, answering the call to band any and all“winter” hummingbirds reported in western Pennsylvania and surrounding states. He annually takes part in a half dozen area Christmas Bird Counts, and he established and compiles the new Imperial CBC. Bob regularly leads bird walks throughout the Pittsburgh area, and he conducts birding tours for the National Aviary across Pennsylvania. Bob has served on the Ornithological Technical Committee of the PA Biological Survey for more than 20 years.

During his career, Bob has trained and mentored about a hundred students, many of whom have gone on to pursue graduate degrees and to have productive careers in ornithology and related fields. He has received awards in recognition of outstanding efforts on behalf of bird conservation from the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania (W.E. Clyde Todd Award) and the Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology (Golden Pileated Award).