Short, Lester L., Jr. (Former Member)
Lester was born in Port Chester, New York, on May 29, 1933. He received a BS degree at Cornell University in 1955, and was a student of Charles Sibley at Cornell University, where he received his PhDdegree in vertebrate zoology in 1959. He served as a scientific assistant at Cornell in vertebrate zoology from 1954 to 1959. Lester then became an instructor and assistant professor of biology at Adelphi University from 1960 to 1962. Lester was a Chapman fellow at the American Museum of Natural History from 1962 to 1963 and then became chief of the bird section of what was then the Bird and Mammal Laboratories of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1963, remaining in that position until 1966 when he moved back to the American Museum of Natural History. At that institution he did some field work in South America, Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Pacific, and became Lamont Curator for Birds from 1966 to 1997. During the period 1970 to 1997, he also served as adjunct professor of biology for Cornell University. He became a student of avian hybridization, concentrating on the flickers (genus Colaptes) of North America. This led to an extensive interest in woodpeckers of the world. It also led him to study and do field work in the contact zone between eastern and western congeners across riparian corridors in the Great Plains. Lester authored the books Woodpeckers of the World, The Lives of Birds, and Toucans, Barbets, and Honeyguides (with J. Horne). He also has authored over 250 scientific and scholarly articles and reports. Lester was named to the American Ornithologists' Union Check-list Committee and appointed its secretary in 1975. He resigned in 1984 after the sixth edition was published. His publications are based on bird research on six continents, many in conjunction with Jennifer Horne, his Kenya-based ornithologist spouse. Eventually he concentrated his work in Kenya, Africa, and studied various aspects of the biology of piciform birds--honeyguides and later barbets and toucans. He essentially became a resident of Africa in his later working and early retirement years. Lester was elected a member of the Washington Biologists’ Field Club in 1964 and terminated his membership in 1972.