Jump to content
Ornithology Exchange (brought to you by the Ornithological Council)

Wesley E. (Bud) Lanyon, 1926 - 2017

Fern Davies

Recommended Posts

George Barrowclough, and Joel Cracraft pass on this message:


The Museum and the Department of Ornithology is saddened to announce that Curator Emeritus, Wesley E. (Bud) Lanyon, passed away 7 June 2017 at the age of 90. Bud was born on 10 June 1926 in Norwalk CT, but grew up in Hanover, NH.


Bud received his A.B. degree from Cornell University in 1950, where he studied under the acclaimed animal behaviorist Donald Griffin.  He then received his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin in 1955, where his thesis advisor was John T. Emlen.  For his thesis Bud studied speciation in meadowlarks using the then-novel technique of tape recording their calls. He later received the American Ornithologists' Union's highest honor, the Brewster Award for that research.


Bud was an Assistant Professor at the University of Arizona in 1955/56, and at that time performed research at the Museum's Southwestern Research Station. He moved to Miami University in Ohio for a year, but in 1957 he joined the Museum's Department of Ornithology, where he remained until retirement in 1988.  Bud was soon appointed as the first, and only, director of the Museum's Kalbfleisch Research Station on Long Island, and he was in residence there from 1958 until 1973. In 1973, he became Chair of the Department of Ornithology when Dean Amadon rotated out of that position. Bud remained Chair until 1980 and continued as a Curator until his retirement.


Bud was a very active field biologist.  At Kalbfleisch he studied successional transitions of avian communities as farmland grew up into woodland. Over many years he undertook many field trips to Central and South America to investigate the comparative behavior and systematics of New World flycatchers (Tyrannidae), which were a major focus of his research through the years. Bud was widely acknowledged for his in-depth studies of the geographic variation and behavior (most through song) of this highly diverse group.  Less well-known, perhaps, is that he was the first member of the Department to adopt phylogenetic methods in his studies of tyrannid relationships and he wrote early papers using data from skeletal and syringeal morphology as well as behavior.  In addition to his Ph.D. thesis, he also authored two other books, including Animal Sounds and Communication (American Institute of Biological Sciences, 1960) and Biology of Birds (AMNH Natural History Press, 1963).


Bud was active in the Museum's joint graduate program with CUNY and mentored several PhD students, including Dave Ewert, Jim Gulledge, Peter Cannell, and Jay Pitocchelli, and he was a member of Joel Cracraft's Ph.D. committee at Columbia University.  Informally, Bud also influenced a large number of young ornithologists who latter became leaders in the field.  He was active in national and international ornithology and served as President of the AOU from 1976 to 1978.


Upon retirement, Bud moved to his ridge-top cabin high in the Adirondacks that he had constructed with his son, Scott, during one summer's vacation.  Bud's wife Vicki passed away several years ago. He leaves a daughter, Cindy, and a son, Scott, a distinguished ornithologist himself and Vice-Provost and Dean of Graduate Education at the University of Minnesota.


George F. Barrowclough and Joel Cracraft


Please join us in wishing his family our very best wishes.





Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...