Humboldt County 400 Club

468 Kenneth Irwin

When I started college in 1971 Stan Harris and Richard Genelly at HSU inspired a love of birds and Stan continues to be a mentor. All of the members of the Humboldt County 400 Club herein and the birders they mention as well as Billy Clow have been influential and helpful. My most interesting research done was on Red Crossbill behavior, a magnificent obsession.


1. Type 10 Red Crossbill

2. McCown's Longspur in the Arcata Bottoms (V St. Loop)

3. White-eyed Vireo at Elk Head

4. Gyrfalcon at the mouth of Redwood Creek

5. Common Greenshank: I found this bird shortly before Labor Day weekend. I was pleased that it stuck around and that many folks got to see it.

  Ken Irwin
445 Stan "Doc" Harris

Stan retired from the Humboldt State University Wildlife Dept after 33 years of service, authored Northwestern California Birds, compiled the Centerville to King Salmon Christmas Bird Count for 29 years, and continues to be an active contributor to local Humboldt County birding.

Stan's most favorite top five finds include the following first records for Humboldt County:

1st Laughing Gull found with my wife, Lori, Arcata Oxidation Pond September 4, 1973

Brown Thrasher (w/ Paul Springer) in 1974,

Worm-eating Warbler (w/ Billy Clow) in 1975,

Thick-billed Murre in 1977 (w/ Mark Phillips)

and first CA wintering Worm-eating Warbler at his house in 1977-78.

  Stan Harris

443   Gary Lester

Gary started counting Humboldt Co. birds in 1973 with chases of backyard birds of Summer Tanager & Baltimore Oriole found by Dick Erickson, Tom Schulenburg & Ron LeValley. He finally met Dick in Crescent City 7 years later & the first thing Dick asked him was what he had in Del Norte? Gary had no clue what he meant. Look what has happened since! He is currently living in McKinleyville with Lauren and has three daughters Kelsey (currently in Santa Barbara), Amy Rae & Dana (both at home). Gary is a consulting botanist & wildlife biologist with significant field work assistance from Lauren.

Gary's most favorite top six finds include

Yellow-throated Vireo (w/ Strachan at College Cove, Hum #1)

male Scarlet Tanager at Fairhaven (w/ Lauren & Sterling, Hum #2)

Blue-winged Warbler College Cove

Sage Sparrow (w/ Lauren & baby Kelsey at Elk Head, Hum #2)

Kentucky Warbler @ Fairhaven (#2)

Brown Shrike at Clam Beach Hum #1



433   Tom Leskiw

Tom continues his exploration of Humboldt’s avifauna, discovering new breeding sites for Bank Swallow and White-throated Swift in 2013 & 2014, respectively. He is a committee member of and co-sponsors the Humboldt Bird of the Year award (2013: Keith Slauson, Little Bunting in McKinleyville). His writing projects keep him busy and he continues to serve as organizer and judge for the Children's Nature Writing Contest, sponsored by Redwood Region Audubon Society.


Tom's most favorite top five finds include:

Yellow-throated Vireo: 3rd County Record (Scenic Drive, Westhaven)

Williamson’s Sapsucker: 3rd County Record (Groves Prairie)

Brambling (w/ Fred Boerman): 2nd County Record (Eel River Bottoms)

Pygmy Nuthatch: (3rd county record): Centerville. A found 400th for county & got Doc a County tick

Rufous-crowned Sparrow (1st County record) w/ John Hunter, Alderpoint



433   Lauren Lester

When I first arrived in Humboldt County, I was lucky to meet up with Kay Chaffey, Ron LeValley and Linda Dorflinger who shared their birding knowledge and valued friendship. Fate would have it that the next summer I enjoyed sharing fieldwork in Del Norte County with my future husband, Gary Lester.  While pursuing rare plants in the highlands of the Smith River drainage, I appreciated the combination of working and birding with Gary. My  fortune to join the many accomplished birders on this page can be traced directly to my early warm welcome from Kay, Ron and Linda and my continued joy of sharing the chase with Gary.  Lucky for Gary and me our children have embraced our love of  hiking and camping affording me my favorite style of birding- combine it with hiking, camping and family.

Lauren's most favorite top five finds include:

late fall Lucy's Warbler with Gary in Ferndale for 1st county record,

re-finding the Long-billed Murrelet off Trinidad September 2, 2003, with Michael Morris in kayaks,

White-headed Woodpecker & summering Hooded Warbler & Plumbeous Vireo at her McKinleyville house

Camping, sharing with family & friends, Ken Irwin's Long-eared Owl on Horse Mountain,

and 8 months pregnant hiking up to Whitey's Peak & re-finding Common Poorwill.


427 Jude Power

My attainment of "400 Club" status is the result of the friendliness and supportiveness of the Humboldt birding community.  Of the great folks on this list, I am the only one with a career outside ornithology or biology, so the help of others - both in finding birds and helping me re-find them - has been a real bonus.  My best find so far is Canada Warbler, always a great bird to see regardless of who discovered it. The reason I'm in Humboldt County at all is because I was bewitched by her beauty long ago.  The reason I'm still here is because of the quality of people who have also chosen to remain.  What a great place to bird.

Jude's most favorite top find is:

Canada Warbler

425 David Fix

"I moved from Oregon to Humboldt County in 1992. The only bird lists I keep track of are Humboldt and our yard (no state, ABA, or life list). My worst dip in Humboldt has been Field Sparrow. I had to camp out in a remote area to do murrelet surveys inland on two of the mornings the bird was present. It was a double whammy, as on one of those mornings, about an hour and a half before sunrise, I was knocked into the brush by a feral steer while hiking in to our survey points. I came close to being gored--its horn left a garish bruise which, by a week later, had migrated from my sternum to below my navel. Perhaps the animal knew I'm a proponent of grazing reform? I made it to the station in time for the survey and stood there attentively for two hours, listening to the fog-drip in the tanoak forest--knowing a county first was being enjoyed by others, but not feeling too hot, and unsure if I actually might die from internal bleeding. Just another hazard of seabird survey, I suppose. I saw the wily beef a few hours later, down on a road, and hucked some rocks at it until it ran away."

David's most favorite top five finds are:

Blue-winged Warbler (1/2/93, Centerville CBC, along Salt River),

Rustic Bunting (12/23/95, Willow Creek CBC, at Hoopa),

Black-chinned Sparrow (7/3/99, se. of Cape Mendocino, my only county first),

Eastern Yellow Wagtail (8/27/96, Arcata sewage ponds),

and Thick-billed Murre (12/16/92, from the King Salmon overlook).

425 John Hunter

"I think it was in 1989 when I started working on a Humboldt list.  I met John Sterling, and his completely matter-of-fact attitude about how I had no real choice but to work on a Humboldt County list caused me to be instantly committed to such an endeavor.  We promptly went out and netted me 5 county birds that day (Clark's Grebe and others like that).  Little did I know how important to me this would become over the years, and how much satisfaction and fun would be the result.  I love county and world birding, but my life is currently consumed by family (wife Xiaoqing, daughter Libby, and daughter Shuhan who was just born in July 2008) and my job with the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Arcata.   I fully intend to get back to birding as time permits."

John's most favorite top five finds include:

Rufous-crowned Sparrow (1
st County record) w/ Tom Leskiw, Alderpoint and it was also the first breeding record as well!

Black-vented Shearwater just offshore off Humboldt Bay

Williamson's Sapsucker at Blake Mountain

Barred and Spotted Owls together forecasting his future work in his grad school and professional career

Tropical Kingbird--his first vagrant find--how exciting!
425  Chet Ogan

Chet has been birding Humboldt County since 1968. He fondly remembers his first Tufted Duck at the Oxidation Ponds and Bald Eagles at Big Lagoon. "Dick Erickson and John Sterling helped get me hooked on birding. It's been a thrill hosting birders from around the world. What a wonderful place to watch birds." As Stan Harris said, birds have wings and can show up anywhere.

Chet's most favorite top five finds include:

Confirming 2 Brown boobies at Trinidad- an adult female roosting on the rock then seeing a juvenile fly past her. 
         Confirmed nesting of Blue-gray gnatcatcher at Friday Ridge Rd and Madden Creek Rd.
         Seeing a Flammulated owl with 4 or 5 young in a cavity nest in a black oak at Severin Opening, then that evening swatching Flam owls, Burrowing owl, and a Saw-whet owl all feeding nearby along a road after dusk on grasshoppers.
        Clark's nutcracker, White-breasted nuthatch, and Ovenbird at Redwood Sciences Lab over the years.


420 Sean McAllister

"I came into the Humboldt birding scene whole-heartedly in 1992. The first wave of inspiration came from Ben Hawkins, but I didn't know what it meant to be hardcore until I was coaxed by Hewitt to chase my first Humboldt County vagrant (1st Gray Catbird, Redwood Creek).  I started tagging along with Hewitt and Fix, learning the ropes and the hotspots and rapidly wearing out my copy of Doc's first edition. Fix provided volumes of ID tips which I used during daily solo outings from my home in the Eel River Delta. The delta would become my favorite stomping grounds and the the base for most of my favorite discoveries. Everyone on this page, plus Ken Irwin, has contributed much to my success in getting to 400, joining this elite group is an honor. "

Sean's most favorite top five finds are:

1. White Wagtail  at Ocean Ranch - Sep ’94 (1st record)

2. Nuttall's Woodpecker at Yager Camp – Jan ’93 (2nd record)

3. Cassin's Kingbird at Bear River Ridge - Oct ‘95 (2nd record)

4. Bar-tailed with Hudsonian and Marbled Godwits at Ocean Ranch - Sep ‘97

5. Broad-billed Hummingbird at Centerville - Sep ‘97 (2nd record)

5. Yellow-green Vireo at Loleta – Oct ’93 (2nd record)


416 John Sterling

John lived in Humboldt County from 1979 to 1991 with a  few  interruptions while working in New Mexico, Mexico, Peru and Ecuador. Before moving to Arcata to attend HSU, as a high school student, he visited in 1977 and 1978 to start his county list with good birds such as Snowy Owl and Northern Shrike, but missed Black-headed and Little Gulls and Blue Jay on one memorable chase.  He still needs Black-headed Gull!  He has too many upsetting misses to count, but just enough finds to keep trying. A pelagic trip in April 2013 netted him four county birds: Hawaiian Petrel, Murphy's Petrel, Cook's Petrel and Parakeet Auklet!

John's most favorite top five finds include the following first records for Humboldt County:

European subspecies of Whimbrel (first state record),

Oriental Greenfinch (first state record),

Cassin's Sparrow,

Painted Bunting,

and Yellow-green Vireo.



414 Rob Hewitt

information to come

Rob's most favorite top five finds include:

Yellow Wagtail
Brown Booby
Laughing Gull
Northern Waterthrush
California Quail

  photo to come

 411 Ron LeValley

Ron started Birding in Humboldt County when he was stationed there by the Coast Guard for 12 weeks in 1970. His first bird of interest was a Buff-breasted Sandpiper which was the first Northern California record. He went to Humboldt State for his graduate degree and while there taught numerous birding classes and ornithology labs. Living for almost twenty years overlooking the Mad River resulted in a yard list of over 255 species, at one time the largest yard list in the United States.

 Ron's five favorite finds were:

1. Ferruginous Hawk (first record – back when first records were easy – there is an advantage to being old…….)

2. Following Steve Summers to see the Brewster’s Warbler and then taking Steve’s sketch to show Lester Short at the American Museum of Natural History who had written the definitive work on those hybrids back then. He thanked me for showing him a life bird!

3. Hearing and then seeing the Black-backed Wagtail fly over our house when Linda and I were standing outside talking.

4. Seeing the Least Storm-petrel when we were on the old whaling boat off Cape Mendocino in water over a mile deep and in waves that made most of the passengers seasick. We used to have to bring our own life jackets for those trips!

5. Finding the Crested Caracara at the mouth of Jacoby Creek when we were taking Harvey in to a temporary job in Eureka.

  Ron LeValley

411 Gary Friedrichsen

information to come

Gary's most favorite top five finds include:

  photo to come
405 Rob Fowler

information to come

Rob's most favorite top five finds include:
photo to come
400 Gary Bloomfield

information to come

Gary's most favorite top five finds include:
photo to come