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RSPB scientist honoured for dedication to wildlife

Last modified: 02 November 2012

Jerry Wilson at the Scottish Birdfair

Jerry Wilson at Scottish BirdFair

Image: Ed Mackey

RSPB scientist Jerry Wilson has been presented with a prestigious award for his tireless work for conservation.

The charity’s Head of Research in Scotland was given the 2012 Marsh Award for Ornithology at an event held at the Society of Wildlife Artists' exhibition in the Mall Galleries, London this week. The award, which was presented by the British Trust for Ornithology, honours those whose scientific work has helped shaped bird conservation in the UK and further afield.

David Gibbons, the RSPB’s head of Conservation Science, said: “There can be little doubt that an exceptionally worthy winner has been chosen this year, and we are deeply proud to count Jerry among our staff.

“Those who know Jerry will not be surprised to hear this news — even though Jerry's characteristic modesty meant that he most certainly was. From the early days of his PhD in ornithology studying great tit social behaviour, Jerry has risen to become one of the UK's leading lights in ornithology, and conservation science more broadly.

“One of Jerry's most striking abilities is the clarity that he can bring to any subject. While most of us may be a bit muddled at times, unable to see a way through a problem, Jerry never fails to find a clear and simple solution which just leaves everyone else thinking 'why didn't I say that?'.”

Chris Wernham, Head of BTO Scotland, said: “As well as developing and leading RSPB's science in Scotland, Jerry is a long-term dedicated volunteer BTO bird recorder and  an unwavering ambassador for the long-term monitoring of birds.”

Jerry joined the RSPB in 1996. His fascination for, and knowledge of, farmland birds — be they skylarks in East Anglia or corn buntings on the machair of the Western Isles — was distilled into a book Bird Conservation and Agriculture (2009).

In 2001, Jerry started overseeing the RSPB’s research programme in Scotland. His research has covered a farmland birds, hen harriers, Slavonian grebes and white-tailed eagles. While managing a team of a dozen or more conservation scientists he also still finds time to undertake his own research and his career has seen him involved in around 120 scientific publications.

In 2009, Jerry was appointed to an Honorary Chair in Biological and Environmental Sciences at the University of Stirling. He is also an editor of the scientific journal Ibis, and an associate editor of the Journal of Applied Ecology. Jerry has also done much to support the development of the next generation of ornithologists and conservation scientists. He has supervised more than a dozen PhD students, and has been a bird ringer and trainer for more than twenty years.

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