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DVOC Main Page > Our Members > Steve Kacir

Steve Kacir -

Deceased 3/22/16


Ornithological Studies Presentations

Other Presentations



Steve Kacir spent most of his life in Ohio, where he became fascinated by the natural world at an early age. At the age when most children wanted to grow up to be police officers, doctors, firefighters or President; Steve wanted to be a marine biologist. Later, this was revised to cetacean biologist, when he learned there were biologists who specialized in studying whales. Steve came to birds by way of fish. Days of fishing at the Mentor Lagoons or Pinegate Pond in northern Ohio were times of communing with nature, when birds could compete with turtles, dragonflies, muskrats and fish for attention. Eventually, Steve had the epiphany that one could enjoy nature without a rod and reel, but it wasn’t until his undergraduate studies that the idea of birding fully matured. While attending Ohio Wesleyan University, Dr. E.H. Burtt, Jr introduced Steve to the concept of birding, and the idea of going to a place specifically to see birds. Acting as field assistant for the ornithology labs, Steve’s day lists still betrayed a wider enthusiasm for the natural world. Sometimes, these lists would vex Dr. Burtt, as Steve included lists of domestic animal breeds and various species of snails found in the field as well as the birds. Steve’s ornithological interests were further enhanced by undergraduate research on the European Starling and the interplay of anting and antibiotic acquisition in birds. Nevertheless, the birding bug hadn’t truly hit home until his senior year, when a Merlin swept past him on Ohio Wesleyan’s campus. The falcon had come within feet of him and allowed a very close approach as it perched in a small tree. The realization that one could get so close to such a majestic and powerful bird was the spark that set off all future birding obsessions.

Graduating from Ohio Wesleyan with a B.A. in Zoology, Steve studied Diamondback Terrapin population genetics at Ohio University, then relocated to the Midatlantic region. There, Steve met Nikolas Haass and joined the Delaware Valley Ornithological Club (DVOC), which both became pivotal events in his development as a birder, naturalist and wildlife enthusiast. Today, Steve works at the University of Pennsylvania, using molecular biology techniques to study the pathology of human autoimmune disorders. He leads field trips for the DVOC, often focusing on photography and nightbirding. As Chairperson of the DVOC Rare Bird Alert Committee, he oversaw the organization and development of the Delaware Valley Rare Bird Alert, and he still compiles this weekly summary of birding news in the Delaware Valley. His other volunteer work has involved both the Delaware and Pennsylvania Breeding Bird Atlases and monthly bird census work at Riverbend Environmental Education Center for the Lower Merion Conservancy. In 2008, Steve undertook a big year in Montgomery County, PA during which he saw a record 194 bird species in the county. Steve’s enthusiasm for birds is complimented by his lifelong fascination with paleontology, and many of Steve’s intellectual pursuits in ornithology are guided by his desire to understand birds’ taxonomy, biogeography, evolution, morphology and behavior in the greater context of their ancestral archosaurs, both avian and non-avian. Nevertheless, it is the boundless diversity of life and the vast array of adaptations that have evolved in living organisms that continue to hold his fascination, whether it is expressed in writing, presentations, photography or a day’s birding.