Saturday, March 24, 2012

Charles Leck of New Jersey

There’s this guy masquerading as Charles Leck and I’m embarrassed about it.
by Charlie Leck

Though I left the state almost immediately after graduating from high school, I hail from New Jersey, so I’ve written some blogs here about growing up in that misunderstood state. I’ve received some comments and emails from New Jersey folk as a result of that.

From time to time, I’m confused with the author of the book, Birds of New Jersey, Their Habits and Habitats (first published by Rutgers University in 1975). I have a copy of it in my library, given to me by someone who thought it would be cute if I owned a copy. Dr. Leck, the author, was a professor of ecological studies at Rutgers. He also served as the State Ornithologist in New Jersey. He received his bachelor’s degree from Muhlenberg College and his PhD from Cornell. He also co-authored a highly respected abstract titled: Long-term changes in the breeding bird populations of a New Jersey forest (1988). You can certainly see why I’d be embarrassed to be confused with this fellow.

I can’t tell you how many times people have written to tell me they came to my blog expecting it would be about birds – probably they found it “for the birds” but never about birds.

Well, to tell you the truth, he’s been bothered a few times by people looking for me too. As 2008 and my 50th high school graduation reunion approached and classmates of mine (Roxbury High School, class of 1958) began looking for me, they naturally began in New Jersey. I guess Dr. Leck is the only Charles Leck in the state and, I hear, he had to protest a few times that he was not I.

Motivation for this blog came yesterday, when a very excited young woman called because she wanted to tell me she’d thought she’d spotted a species of bird in New Jersey that didn’t belong there and, as far as she knew, had never been seen there. She wanted to talk to Dr. Leck about it. We had a delightful little conversation and a few laughs. I told her I’d seen a lot of “strange birds” in New Jersey in my life time but nothing nearly like she was talking about.

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