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  Home > News and Events > Article Archive > In memory: Bud Tordoff

In memory: Bud Tordoff

Harrison (Bud) Tordoff, ornithologist, former head of the Bell Museum of Natural History, and the patriarch of the peregrine falcon recovery effort in the Midwest, died on July 23, 2008, at age 85.

"He was the heart and soul" of the peregrine recovery project, said Dr. Pat Redig, founder and former director of The Raptor Center. "He had the vision, and made the community connections to make it go. That, with his unbounded love for the peregrine itself, is what really carried the project."

Bud got the idea for the recovery program in the 1970s after one was established in the eastern United States by biologists from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. By 1982, the project was firmly established by Bud, Pat, and others when funds became available from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' Nongame Program. In an all-volunteer effort, Bud raised funds, convinced building owners to install nest boxes, and continued to learn as much as he could about the birds. Over time, the Midwest Peregrine Falcon Restoration Project would work on recovery in nine states. After the peregrine was removed from the endangered species list in 1999, Bud continued to help in the regular monitoring of  their condition.

He gave credit for the success of the program to falconers and those who worked in the recovery effort, said Jackie Fallon, who now is responsible for monitoring the birds in Minnesota and North Dakota.

"Bud was such a mentor to me," Jackie said. "He taught me more about peregrines than I could have ever learned from a book. He felt he had a good day if he got to see a peregrine falcon."

Bud grew up in Mechanicville, N.Y. During World War II, he flew a P-51 Mustang in support of ground forces, and shot down five enemy aircraft. He earned a bachelor's degree from Cornell in 1946 and, in 1950, a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. After teaching in Kansas and Michigan, he joined the University of Minnesota faculty, where he directed the James Ford Bell Museum from 1970 to 1983. He retired from the university in 1991, but continued his work for the peregrine falcon.

He is survived by his wife, Jean; sons Jeff and Jim; sisters, Caryl Doe and Dona Maddern; and three grandchildren.

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