[mou] Festival of Owls
Houston Nature Center
nature at acegroup.cc
Sat Jan 26 11:29:35 CST 2008
Who Is Dr. C. Stuart Houston?
So who is this doctor from Saskatchewan with the same name as the
town in Minnesota where he’ll be the keynote speaker at the 2008
International Festival of Owls?
Dr. C. Stuart Houston is actually a retired medical doctor, son of
doctors, and father to three more doctors. (Lucky for us his
daughter and son-in-law are doctors at Mayo Clinic!) Dr. Houston
started in general practice in 1951 and joined the Department of
Diagnostic Radiology at the University of Saskatchewan in 1964 where
he stayed (with various and sundry honors and accomplishments) until
his retirement in 1996.
But Dr. Houston is also an avid ornithologist and natural historian
in his spare time. He has been an active bird bander since he was a
boy. Together with his wife Mary and banding subpermittees, the
Houstons have banded over 130,000 birds of over 200 species, which
includes over 7,000 Great Horned Owls. This is staggering when you
realize the work was all done on evenings, weekends, and holidays!
Inspiring others has been a Houston trademark. He encouraged an
innumerable cadre of both young and old farmers to find and observe
owl nests, assist in banding, and even become banders themselves. (I
personally know two folks who went on to become banders.) Many of
his protégées have gone on to distinguished careers in ornithology
and natural history, and they include some of the officers of the
American Ornithologists’ Union.
Dr. Houston is no stranger to the world of writing either. He has
authored 282 books, chapters, scientific articles, book reviews,
abstracts, editorials and letters in the realm of medicine along with
a whopping 599 natural history books, chapters, original papers, book
reviews, abstracts, editorials and letters. This mountain of work
includes several books on early Canadian explorers.
Needless to say Dr. Houston has won more than a few awards in his
lifetime. They have come from such organizations as the Canadian
Wildlife Federation, Canadian Nature Federation, Society of Canadian
Ornithologists, New York Linnaean Society, Raptor Research
Foundation, American Ornithologists’ Union, universities and
elsewhere. He was awarded the Saskatchewan Order of Merit in 1992
and was made an officer of the Order of Canada the following year,
the highest civilian honor possible. He’s also been nominated for the
World Owl Hall of Fame’s Champion of Owls award.
Dr. Houston can also explain the mystery of the many pronunciations
of the name “Houston.” In Canada it is generally pronounced “HOO-
ston,” some places in the U.S. it’s “HYOO-ston” and out east it’s
“HOW-ston.” If you want to know why, just ask him when he’s here.
I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Houston and his wife Mary in
Rochester at his daughter’s home over Christmas 2006. I do have to
admit I was a bit intimidated being invited to tea at the home of two
Mayo doctors with another highly respected doctor, but I wasn’t going
to let that get in the way of meeting a man who’s banded over 7,000
Great Horned Owls and is one of the authors of the authoritative
Birds of North America account on the species!
The few hours we had together flew by. We didn’t even begin to cover
everything I would have liked to talk about, but then that could take
a week of non-stop talking! Both Dr. and Mary Houston are simply
wonderful, wonderful people.
The City of Houston will be graced not only with the presence of Dr.
C. Stuart and his wife Mary Houston, but also his daughter, Dr.
Margaret Houston from Rochester, and his son, David Houston, and his
family from New York.
If you’d like to come to the International Festival of Owls banquet
and keynote address by Dr. Houston, don’t wait to get your ticket.
There are only about 50 left, and the event will likely sell out.
Details about the festival and registration forms are available at
www.festivalofowls.com or by contacting the Houston Nature Center at
507-896-4668 or nature at acegroup.cc.
Houston Nature Center
PO Box 667
215 W Plum St
Houston, MN 55943
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