I Am Conservation
Jack Hilsabeck removes a blue-headed vireo from a mist net near his home in St. Joseph. Hilsabeck has been federally licensed to band birds since 1971. He became interested in birding in the summer of 1967 while he was in college. Soon after, he pursued his federal bird-banding permit from the U.S. Geological Survey. Hilsabeck taught high school biology at North Andrew High School in Rosendale for 35 years before retiring in 1998. “North Andrew was a good fit for me because the school building was within 200 yards of the One Hundred and Two River,” said Hilsabeck. “The One Hundred and Two periodically was out of its banks and left some very interesting habitats for my students to study.” There was also an out-of-commission railroad track nearby that provided an ideal place for his students to set bird nets. After retiring from North Andrew, Hilsabeck taught ornithology and bird identification courses at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph. Hilsabeck has continued banding birds with his college students. “Since 2001, we have banded over 6,000 birds on the college campus,” said Hilsabeck. “We are studying the mass gain of Neotropical birds at stopover sites on or near our campus as they migrate through Missouri in the fall.” Hilsabeck will soon be 73, and he has enjoyed fishing, hunting, and trapping in Missouri for most of his life. “One of the greatest enjoyments in my life has been teaching others about birds and the enjoyment of birding,” he said.
—photograph by Noppadol Paothong