Staff Spotlight: Retirement of Bird Banding Lab Biologist Danny Bystrak
With bittersweet feelings, the USGS Bird Banding Laboratory announces the retirement of Danny Bystrak on April 1st, 2022 (unfortunately, not a joke!). Danny Bystrak started at the lab in 1968 and this is his second retirement from the lab. Danny originally retired in 1994 before returning in 2006, a total of 42 years at the Bird Banding Laboratory.
Danny's extensive knowledge was foundational to the development of the Bird Banding Lab’s electronic database. He had a pivotal role in creating new data fields and implementing filters that find and correct potentially inaccurate data. Under his careful eye, those filters have been continually updated to reflect the current scientific knowledge. Danny's highest priority has always been to the integrity of the data, and represents a lasting legacy for our global community of banders that will be appreciated for generations to come.
Danny has also applied his passion for birds and banding in ways that directly contributed to the Lab’s impact on our local community. Thanks to his vision and leadership, the lab, not only supplies bands and manages banding data on a national level, but also has a bird banding station of its very own!
In 1979, Danny recognized the potential in a section of unique shrub canopy under the power lines that transect the Patuxent Wildlife Refuge. This migration station is still being run today and continues to add to the station’s long-term banding dataset, now totaling almost 99,000 birds banded to date! It also remains an outstanding tool for our engagement with our own local communities of students, educators, and researchers.
Danny’s evident knowledge and experience allowed him to help and support not only the Bird Banding Lab, but the birding community as a whole. His kindness and generosity to the banding community made him a friend and mentor to many both young and old. We are honored to have had this outstanding and genuine professionalism represent our group’s passion for our work. Danny, you will be dearly missed.
Here at the Bird Banding Laboratory and across the Eastern Ecological Science Center, we wish Danny Bystrak the very best in his retirement and, look forward to continuing working with him in his new role as Emeritus Scientist.