People passionate about nature

Rudolf Koes

Ernest Thompson Seton Medal recipient 1993

Rudolf Koes came to Winnipeg from the Netherlands in 1968, when he began a teaching career at Gordon Bell High School. He developed a keen interest in birds at the age of 11 in Europe and was already an accomplished birder when he joined the Manitoba Naturalists Society in 1969. Wishing to share his love of birds, he was soon leading outings for the Society. Since 1975, he has guided numerous field trips to Oak Hammock, St. Adolph, Hecla, Delta, St. Ambroise, Grand Beach, Victoria Beach and Assiniboine Park.

Rudolf became a founding member of the Manitoba Rare Bird Alert in 1975, and since then has contributed many bird records of note to our archives in the Museum of Man and Nature and has expanded our knowledge of birds in the province immensely. He was a mainstay in the preparation of the first meaningful checklist of birds in Manitoba, the Field Checklist of the Birds of Southeastern Manitoba, which was sold out in less than 2 years. Subsequent more enterprising ventures were the Checklist of Birds of Manitoba, published in 1987, and the complete revision of the Birder’s Guide to Southeastern Manitoba, consisting of over 100 pages, in 1988. In concert with others, Rudolf spent many hours writing and editing the texts of each of these publications – poring over the data to ensure accuracy, and offering many constructive ideas as well as illustrating each publication with his excellent coloured and black and white sketches. Moreover, many of his bird records were incorporated into the field checklists of birds of Assiniboine Park, Birds Hill Provincial Park and Delta, as well as for Gardner’s “Birds of Oak Hammock” and Taylor’s “Wings Along the Winnipeg”.

Rudolf was a founding member of the Manitoba Avian Research Committee (MARC) on which he often serves as secretary. He became chairperson for the Manitoba Ornithological Records Committee (MORC), a committee whose responsibility was to pursue submissions of bird sightings in the province to determine their validity for inclusion in Manitoba’s bird inventory. For several years he has served as area captain for the Winnipeg Christmas Bird Count.

As co-editor with Peter Taylor for the past several years, Rudolf has been compiling and highlighting seasonal bird sightings from the 3 Canadian provinces for publication in the American Audubon Society’s prestigious “American Birds”. This is an onerous task involving many hours of his time and for which there are very few suitable volunteers. He is also a regular contributor of articles on Manitoba birds in the Blue Jay, the official organ of the Saskatchewan Natural History Society. Rudolf also submits a summary of bird sightings for Manitoba to “Birders Journal”, a periodical on Canadian Birds. He has often filled in, as the occasion required, as a columnist for “Bird News” in the Bulletin. And the litany goes on! Rudolf is in the process of drawing the colour illustrations for the forthcoming manual, “Birds of Manitoba”, and to date has completed almost 100 watercolours of Manitoba birds, all excellent productions and faithful in detail.

The Manitoba Naturalists Society wishes to acknowledge his efforts in the field of ornithology in Manitoba and believe that this recognition is long overdue. Accordingly, it is indeed our pleasure to announce Rudolf Koes as this year’s recipient of the Ernest Thompson Seton Medal.