Papers in the Biological Sciences


Date of this Version

November 1974


Published in NEBRASKAland, November 1974, pp. 14-21. Used by permission.


SINCE HIS days as a boy on the North Dakota prairies, Paul A. Johnsgard has "measured his winters, not by conventional time units, but in the days it took for the snow geese to return from their wintering grounds...." The author of five books: Song of the North Wind-A Story of the Snow Goose; Grouse and Quails of North America; Waterfowl- Their Biology and Natural History; Animal Behavior; and Handbook of Waterfowl Behavior, and of numerous articles in national magazines and over 40 technical papers, he is eminently qualified to capture in pen and ink the very essence of Nebraska's wildfowl. The line art on the following pages are but a few of the illustrations to be found in his forthcoming book, Waterfowl of North America. Dr. Johnsgard received his Ph.D from Cornell University, Ithaca, N. Y., and a postdoctoral fellowship with Bristol University and the Wildfowl Trust, England. Currently he is Professor of Zoology in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, a position he has held since 1961. His teaching responsibilities include ecology, animal behavior and ornithology.

His life-long love for wildfowl is best described in his own words when speaking of his early years on the prairie-pothole country of North Dakota: "The annual spring ritual of meeting the geese on their return from the south was more important to me than the opening day of hunting season, the beginning of summer vacation or even the arrival of Christmas. The spring return of the geese represented my epiphany-a manifestation of gods I could see, hear, and nearly touch as they streamed into the marsh a few feet above the tips of the cattails and phragmites.. . . During the drive home my ears would resound with the cries of the wild geese and, when I closed my eyes that night, I saw them still, their strong wings flashing in the sunlight, their immaculate bodies projected against the azure sky."

Portraits include: snow goose, pintail, Ross goose, canvasback, American widgeon, common goldeneye, green-winged teal, wood duck

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