My science is inspired by observations that appear to be a challenge to explain by natural selection. My early work here focused on field experimental investigations of the evolution of badge signaling systems and how they resist invasion by cheaters, on parent cannibalism of offspring, and on the evolution of adoption of unrelated offspring by replacement mates. Later, as we developed a premier bird collection for the Northwest at the Burke Museum, my interests expanded to include a diversity of projects that are well suited to investigations using museum collections, including hybrid zones, life history implications of molt strategies in large birds, and molt migrations to coastal NW Mexico.
I grew up in the deep south where I spent most of my childhood in the woods wishing, observing and catching snakes. Glen Woolfenden was my undergraduate mentor and the only field biologist at the University of South Florida in the 60s. He studied birds in the field, so I became an Ornithologist, and went to the University of Kansas or my graduate studies at the KU Natural History Museum. During that time I met Stephen Fretwell who introduced me and other museum students to hypothetico-deductive science. I was hooked, and spent two years studying with Fretwell at Kansas State University, where I initiated my studies of status signaling in Harris' Sparrows.