Banko, Winston E. (Deceased)
Winston was born on May 22, 1920, in Spokane, Washington, and was blessed with an inherent love of all wild creatures. By 12 years of age he was signing notes to family members as “The Naturalist.” Many happy hours were spent afield in foothills and river bottoms of the Cascade Mountains near his boyhood home in Yakima. Reading such books as Lives of The Hunted by Ernest Thompson Seton and Game Management by Aldo Leopold provided intellectual enrichment at critical junctures. His wildlife writing skills developed spontaneously in Yakima High School, where he graduated in 1938. Winston, known by friends as Win, enrolled in the Fish and Game curriculum at Oregon State College in 1939. Following election in 1941 to Phi Sigma, the national biological science honorary society, Win graduated from OSC in 1943. After three years in the U.S. Navy during World War II he was employed as a game biologist by the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks in 1946 and as Refuge Manager of the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Montana by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1948. After nine years of field and literature research, Win authored The Trumpeter Swan: Its History, Habits and Population in the United States. This monograph was first published by the Department of Interior in 1960 as No. 63 in the North America Fauna Series. It subsequently was reprinted, and following the depletion of the supply, republished by the University of Nebraska Press, thereby extending its availability to more than 30 years. Following Dr. Frank Craighead as manager of the over two million acre Desert Game Range in southern Nevada in 1957, Win moved in the following year to occupy the position of chief, Section of Wildlife Management, Branch of Wildlife Refuges, in the Washington, D.C., office of the Fish and Wildlife Service. In 1963, the Department of Interior detailed Win to assist Dr. Philip Humphrey, Director, Pacific Ocean Biological Survey Program, Division of Birds, Smithsonian Institution. Win’s principal duty at the Smithsonian was to develop and implement a biological information search and retrieval system for use by some 25 resident scientists reporting results of field work on various oceanic islands. In returning to duty with the Fish and Wildlife Service following his two-year exposure to the ornithology of Central Pacific islands, Win requested transfer to the Branch of Wildlife Research and reassignment to Hawaii. Arriving in Honolulu in 1965, Win thus became the first federal field biologist assigned to work exclusively on the preservation of endangered species. Rediscovery in 1967 of the Nukupuu (Hemignathus lucidus affinis), unreported since 1896, subsequently received national attention (Time magazine, March 28, 1969). A major manuscript correlating extinction of Hawaiian forest birds with depletion of food supply by alien insectivores, coauthored by undergraduate son Paul (PhD, Wildlife Science, University of Washington, 1988), was completed and submitted to the Fish and Wildlife Service for publication. After retirement from the Fish and Wildlife Service in 1977, Win was successful in obtaining a grant from the National Park Service to bring his work to a successful conclusion. Bolstered by the typing skills of his wife Connie, Win wrote extensive works over the next 15 years dealing with Hawaiian bird bibliography and 7,261 specimens in museum collections. More than 9,800 records of endemic bird sightings from 1778 to 1975 were extracted from the literature and other eclectic sources and issued from 1980 to 1990. When contacted in 2006, Win was in the process of completing a major work on the historical ecology of native Hawaiian birds from 1778 to 1983. Win was elected to membership in the Washington Biologists’ Field Club in 1959 and was an active member until 1977. He has been a non-resident since moving from the area. Fellowship at Club meetings on Plummers Island remain among Win’s fondest recollections of his Washington experience. Win died on March 16, 2016.