Dr. Richard Williams, AKA Mouser is the recipient of the 2023 Dorothy Hoard Stewardship Award. Photo Courtesy Friends of Bandelier
FRIENDS OF BANDELIER NEWS RELEASE
The Friends of Bandelier have selected Dr. Richard Williams, a.k.a. Mouser, as the recipient of the 2023 Dorothy Hoard Stewardship Award. Dr. Williams was chosen for his contributions to bird science, conservation, and education.
Mouser arrived in Los Alamos over 23 years ago as a summer intern at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). The self-described “big city, flat land kid” from St. Paul Minnesota, once exposed to the mountains, canyons, caves, and good weather of the Pajarito plateau, soon became a devoted outdoors enthusiast. He was inspired to return to Los Alamos to work on his graduate degree and joined LANL staff as an electrical engineer in 2005.
Mouser, a list-motivated person, combined this trait with his love of photography to form a new hobby, birding. While showing his wife a collection of his bird photographs, she suggested he apply his penchant for lists into organizing the photos, and a birder was born. Over the years his birding has grown from photography and classification to the observation of relationships between different bird species. The interplay between the Raven and the Red-Tailed Hawk is one example, where Mouser notes the scavenger has time to play but the meal focused Hawk needs to hunt and rebuffs the Raven’s overtures.
Mouser’s interests further evolved from photographing birds to establishing bird focused citizen science efforts and introducing people to the joys of birding. These efforts include re-establishing the Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count (CBC) in Los Alamos County in 2015 after a more than 60-year hiatus. Los Alamos County CBC reporting numbers now rank 2nd highest among New Mexico counties, with only Bernalillo County having larger counts. These results are captured by residents in the international database website eBird.com, and then summarized in a report by Mouser to the Audubon Society. These data are available to anyone free of charge and are often used to support the study of bird populations and environmental health. Data from eBird have been used in hundreds of conservation decisions and peer-reviewed papers, thousands of student projects, and continue to inform bird research worldwide. Besides the CBC, eBird is used by local birders year-round to update the database.
In addition to running the CBC bird count, Mouser is involved in several other birding education endeavors. He is currently working on the Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Los Alamos County, Volume 2, with co-editor Michael Smith. The first edition was edited by LANL and published in hard copy in the 1990’s, but only a few copies remain. The second edition will appear on-line within the next year, and will be a valuable, updated resource for birders and nature conservationists. The Atlas will contain over 100 species from County, LANL, and Bandelier lands. Additionally, as an official eBird reviewer, he helps ensure data from Los Alamos County is of the highest quality. Mouser also manages the Los Alamos Rare Bird Alert, which logs and notifies birders of rare species sightings.
In addition to his extensive contributions to birding activities, he also serves on the Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC) Board of Directors. Mouser lives in Los Alamos with his wife Nina, a LANL space scientist, and their five-year-old son Tycho.