Winter Newsletter

Tribute to Tom Lovejoy 

By: Rosemary Ripley 

“If you take care of the birds, you take care of most of the environmental problems in the world”—Tom Lovejoy 

Known globally as the “godfather of biodiversity” and a pioneer in forecasting the impact of climate change on biodiversity, Tom Lovejoy was a guiding light and influence on our organization, serving as Board President since 1996. Tom was also a close friend, mentor and advisor to me and to my family. 

Tom and I first met sometime in the late 1950s when, according to Tom, I was crawling under my father’s desk at the Peabody Museum at Yale. Tom entered our lives as a freshman at Yale when he took one of my father’s classes either in zoology or biology, and to all of our good fortune, he remained part of our lives. Over the years, Tom visited us at home, travelled with us, and befriended many of the same scientists as my father. Tom used to tell a story that while consulting my father about career direction, my father told him that “any biologist with a heart should be a conservationist”. Tom later played a central role in the development of the field that became known as conservation biology. 

When Tom joined the RWC Board after my mother died, we were a nascent organization, searching to define ourselves after the loss of our founders. My sisters and I were not scientists and worked closely with several of our early directors including Tom, George Archibald and Bruce Beehler to provide the scientific underpinning for our future. In the ensuing quarter of a century, our organization has grown from an entity with a single fulltime employee, property and equipment in disrepair and no programming, to a small but mighty enterprise. Today, we have one of the 2 largest collections of rare and endangered birds in North America and are actively engaged in the conservation of birds and their habitats and in increasing knowledge and awareness of biodiversity. 

Several years ago, Tom led our members to a camp in the Amazon where he ran a multi-decade study on the minimum size of a forest fragment to maintain biodiversity of species (the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project). Our members were thrilled by the chance to experience Tom’s seminal work and a significant part of his legacy all through the lens of his intelligence and humor. 

Tom Lovejoy was a role model for the Conservancy: he was always upbeat, articulating that “hope is the only option” thus when it comes to conserving biodiversity, the planet and mankind. Tom leaves us with a huge legacy. We are hopeful for the future, and if the Conservancy can live up to Tom’s vision, we will help to seed the world with future Tom Lovejoys. 

You can read more about Tom’s many contributions here: 

New Year’s Reflections from the Ripley Team 

By: Nora Hulton, Director 

Historically, the new year is approached with optimism for the future, a nostalgic look to the past, and a mindful reflection on the present. These three key elements are necessary to devise a healthy formula for opportunity and growth. When addressing sustainability, whether it be referring to the longevity of our organization or its impact upon the natural world, the same three tenets can easily be applied:  

  • What are our accomplishments?  
  • What are we doing to ensure we continue this trajectory of success? 
  • What are our obtainable goals for the future?  

When reflecting on S. Dillon Ripley and his legacy, it is glaringly apparent that the man had a vision that encompassed not just his penchant for waterfowl, but a holistic view of the environment and an execution of sustainable practice that was well ahead of his time. The fledgling stages of what would eventually become the Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy were the product of a young man’s deep fascination and passion for the natural world and all of its inhabitants.  

Although I’ve served a scant five months as Director of the Conservancy, my short experience has afforded me a fairly accurate depiction of the organization’s past and present, and a reasonably good image of our

future direction. With every new decision, RWC works diligently to uphold the vision and perception of our 

founder. By continually expanding and innovating, we are working to attract and engage followers on as many levels as possible. This year, we will carry the theme of “past, present, and future” into our newsletters and email correspondence, to give our valued friends and supporters a fun and informative illustration of our prior history, current happenings, and future aspirations. 

I want to take this opportunity to extend our gratitude to those of you who have contributed throughout the year and to our 2021 Annual Appeal. For those of you who have not yet made your yearly gift, I encourage you

to click the link below. On behalf of the Board and Staff of RWC, I would like to thank ALL of our supporters, 

whether your assistance has come in the form of a voluntary gesture or a monetary gift, it is because of YOU 

that we are able to continue our noble work in research, conservation, and education.  

As the Conservancy has been dealt a profound blow with the recent passing of our beloved Tom Lovejoy, I feel that now, more than ever, it is essential to carry on his optimistic philosophy of “hope is the only option,” thus honoring the man who dedicated his life’s work to the betterment of our planet. With warmest New Year's wishes to all of you.

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Winter Offerings 

This winter, the Conservancy is going to dot the 2022 calendar with several of our past popular activities, as well as new hands-on workshops and lectures:  

Returning Programs:

"Ducks in Love":  

Do you have a unique “Valentine”? Well, we’ve got a unique program for you! 

Guided Tours: 

A fascinating tour of our aviary for those who want to introduce the Conservancy and our amazing collection of waterfowl to friends and family. 

Photography Mini-Pass: 

Book a 2-hour slot to photograph our collection while in their breeding plumage when we are normally closed to the public. 

New This Year:

Beginner’s Guide to Raising Chickens”

Learn all you need to know about raising chickens in your own backyard.  

"Build-it-Yourself" Birdhouse Class: 

Construct your own nesting box and grasp why it’s important 

to attract native birds to your backyard. 

"Focus on Waterfowl" Photography Workshop:

Professional photographer, Richard Provost, will help you get the most out of your camera when shooting pictures of waterfowl and other “moving” wildlife.  

Family Activities: 

Children’s Owl Prowl: 

Join us for a magical winter evening complete with a campfire story, hot drinks, and a brisk hike in search of owls.  

Fire & Ice Family Funfest: 

Visit our booth at this family-fun event at the Litchfield Community Center. 

Fire & Ice Funfest
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I.W.W.A. Recognizes Logan Connor with McQuade Memorial Award

By Andrew Ocampo, Director of Aviculture

This year the International Wild Waterfowl Association presented Logan Connor with the McQuade Memorial award for outstanding breeding success over the last few years. I was eager to nominate Logan for the award as I felt he was truly deserving of the recognition. Logan first started volunteering for the Conservancy when he was still in high school, and throughout college he continued to dedicate his breaks to the flock. After graduating from Unity College in 2019, with a degree in wildlife management, he became a full-time aviculturist at Ripley. Since then, we have seen significant improvements in breeding success with mission focused species. Logan is very passionate about his work in aviculture and it shows in our recent breeding accomplishments, with challenging species such as the Emperor goose, Spectacled and Common eider, Scaly-sided and Common merganser, White-headed duck and several swan species. Logan’s ability to forecast opportunities and issues throughout the last few years has helped improve aviculture work at Ripley. He has also taken a keen interest in educating himself and researching improvements in our veterinary care. On behalf of the Ripley team, congratulations Logan and thank you for your hard work.

Introducing our 2022 Bird of the Year 

In 2020, the Livingston-Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy went through an intensive rebranding process, and officially became known as the Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy. Although our name was shortened, we did acquire several new variations of our Ripley logo, each featuring a vulnerable, threatened, or endangered waterfowl species. Beginning in 2022, we are going to annually highlight a different bird from this series in an effort to familiarize our community with their individual characteristics and plights.  

We would like to announce the Red-breasted Goose (Branta ruficollis) as our 2022 Bird of Distinction. This smallest member of the goose family plays a significant role in Ripley’s history of breeding rare and endangered waterfowl, as S. Dillon Ripley was the first to successfully breed this species in captivity in North America. Native to Eurasia, this species is well-adapted to cold weather, but is listed as vulnerable, with an estimated worldwide population of less than 50,000. While protected in the wild, the Red-breasted Goose's population is declining as they are threatened by oil and gas drilling, human disturbance, climate change, and hunting. In-place conservation efforts include an Action Recovery Plan, identification of critical habitat area, population monitoring, conservation education, and protection by international legislation. For obvious reasons, we have a soft spot for them here at the Conservancy, and we are proud to play an important role in the conservation of this vulnerable species.   

This year, to commemorate our spotlighted species for 2022, all of our Ripley merchandise will feature the image of the Red-breasted Goose. Look for our online store in late-January, but in the meantime call our office

(860-567-2062) to purchase a cozy winter hat, t-shirt, baseball cap, or canvas tote and more, all bearing the artist, James Prosek’s rendering of this magnificent creature. 

Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy | P.O. Box 210 | 55 Duck Pond Road | Litchfield, CT 06759 |

Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. We rely on the support of donors like you. Each contribution directly supports Ripley's mission.

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