Allen Hirsch meant a lot to the birding community, and especially to Golden Gate Bird Alliance. He was a valued Board Member excited to join the Board as the organization approaches its 100-year anniversary of conservation engagement here in the Bay Area. Allen’s professional expertise and intellectual capacity merited serious respect. His ability to capture the marvel of birdlife with a camera endeared him to thousands who never had the pleasure to meet him in person.
Allen’s photographic talents and fascination with birds made him an important contributor to Golden Gate Bird Alliance’s conservation and education endeavors. Our popular Birds of the Bay Area calendars included artful imagery from Allen’s lens in recent years. Allen’s photos helped us bring awareness to the plight of birds at risk in local urban settings, including an extensive rookery of Black Crowned Night Herons and Snowy Egrets nesting in street trees in downtown Oakland. People were moved to support Snowy Plovers on Bay Area beaches by seeing Allen’s images of these threatened tiny shorebirds.
Ordinary citizens are now getting involved in caring for shoreline habitats so that dramatic Ospreys — including the very same birds shown in Allen’s pictures — will thrive on SF Bay. His series of Western Bluebirds thrilled the under-served schoolchildren in our award-winning Eco-Education program, who built and installed nest boxes with us for their own schoolyards and local parklands. Still more photos of waterfowl, shorebirds, and songbirds by Allen galvanized people to join and support our efforts to protect the myriad species and habitats that grace our shared world.
Allen will be dearly missed by all of us at Golden Gate Bird Alliance. Our only consolation in losing this remarkable gentleman much too early is that he departed while doing something that he loved: birding with a camera in hand. In fact, Allen was helping conduct our 75th annual winter census of local birdlife and documenting the presence of beautiful native birds on a world-record-setting Christmas Bird Count, when he suddenly passed away on December 20, 2015.
Allen Hirsch left a trail of inspiration, though, and here are a few photo souvenirs that remind us of his vision…