By Alan Gubanich
In August, Lahontan Audubon lost one of its long-time members and ardent supporters. James (Jim) Eidel passed away on August 26th after a long battle with liver cancer. After retiring from a career as an exploration geologist, Jim moved to Reno with his wife Alicia sometime in the 1990’s. He quickly got involved with LAS and became a member of the Board of Trustees from 1995-1997, was Vice-President from 1997-1998, and then President from 1998-2000. Many LAS members will remember Jim’s popular “Dipper Trips.” He would lead people along the Truckee River from the valley floor to higher elevations to look for, and often find, the American Dipper at various locations. And for many years, Jim was one of the presenters in LAS’s Birds of the Truckee Meadows workshops; his topic was Mountain Birds. Jim was well known in the birding community. His love of birds and his determination to conserve and study them led him to become a co-founder, along with Graham Chisholm and Larry Neel, of the Great Basin Bird Observatory (GBBO) in 1997. Jim served on the GBBO Board until 2018 (21 years) and received a Lifetime Achievement Award when he left.
In 1995, Jim partnered with Alan Gubanich from the Biology Department at the University of Nevada, Reno to start a MAPS bird banding station. The MAPS program (Monitoring Avian Populations and Survivorship), administered by the Institute for Bird Populations in Pt. Reyes, California, is a nation-wide effort to assess the long-term status of bird populations. Jim and Alan banded birds for 11 years on University-owned property called Little Valley, just west of Washoe Valley. With the help of numerous volunteers over the years, they banded from mid-May to mid-August and even conducted Fall banding from October to late November. Jim later went on to manage a MAPS station of his own on the Carson River. Jim’s memory is eternalized by his wife, Alicia, son Marc, daughter Eve, and six grandchildren.