Julia Girden, Marcia Lincoln, John & Vicki Swift
The Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Tuesday, May 24, 1994
W.M. Girden dies; photographer of birds of prey
William Murray Girden, an award-winning photographer of birds of prey, died yesterday af ter a
brief illness. Girden, 37, who worked with Arizona Game and Fish as a care taker and rehabilita-
tion expert for hawks, once told Arizona Dai ly Star outdoor writer Tom Foust: “There’s one thing
I would like to make very clear, people who are looking for a pet can forget falconry. Hawks de
nitely are not pets and we are not pet keepers.”
A member of the North Ameri can Falconers Association, Girden was a regular contributor to
that organization’s journal, “Hawk Chalk.” His interest in raptors began when he was in high
school at Canyon del Oro. His specialty was Harris and Cooper hawks.
As a photographer of birds of prey, Girden taught classes on the subject, and his photographs
have been reproduced in the pub lications of the Sierra Club and the Smithsonian Institution.
He was born Feb. 28, 1957, in New York City and came to Ari zona with his family in 1964.
Girden is preceded in death by his mother and father, Julia A. and William Morris Girden. He is
survived by his sister, Julia, and his companion, Marcia Lincoln.
Funeral services will be pri vate, and his ashes will be scat tered “in some place that would be
signicant to him,” according to his family.
1957 - May 24, 1994
— By Meg Robinson, DVM
It is with sadness that I report the passing of Bill Girden. Bill died on May
24th, a week after undergoing emergency surgery for an aneurysm. Bill was
a long-time NAFA member and a perfectionist in our sport. He was a con-
tributing author to NAFAs A Bond With The Wild. You could say that he was
also a purist. He ew Cooper’s hawks with perfect manners and plumage.
He always said that falcons don’t break feathers, falconers do.
Bill was a person who approached life with humor. He was so good at one-
liners that we would call his quips “Billism’s”. His humor was a real weapon
and spontaneous. He always said that people can’t hit you if they are laugh-
ing at you.
Bill had a talent for thinking like his Cooper’s. In fact we often told him that
he was an accipiter. His birds never mantled, grabbed, screamed or went for
his face. The most natural place for them to eat was on his st, so after the
excitement of the hunt was over, they came to the glove with the kill.
I knew Bill for the last 20 years. I met him in 1974 in Yankton, South Dakota.
I was ying “Tess”, my rst redtail, and he was ying a female Harris’. We
will miss his genuine love and warmth. So as Bill would say, “Duck, smile,
and keep on dancing.”
July 13, 1990
Dear Mr. Girden:
Congratulations! Your photograph of Red-tailed Hawks was awarded
First Place in the FLIGHT category in WildBird’s second annual
photo contest. The photo contest winners will be announced and
your photo published in the October 1990 issue.
We thank you for participating.
Eye on the eagle
In mythology, a hero is someone who ghts a
multiple headed serpent, alters the course of
a raging river with his bare hands, or plucks a
magical broadsword out of a rock. In real life, he-
roes are considerably less conspicuous. Some,
for example, do things like stare face to face at a
rattle snake, trek for miles through the woods in
search of a rare owl, or stand up to their hips in
a frozen stream. All for the sake of a photograph,
so that others can
witness the beauty of a Harris’
Hawk in ight.
Bill Girden is one such modern-day adventurer.
“I’ve been around photography all my life,” hell
tell you in his casual, yet earnest manner. My un-
cle on my father’s side of the family helped Eddie
Land invent the rst Polaroid camera.”
Bill is one of those individuals who was steeped
in a photographic tradition, and one day real-
ized that it was not to be just
his heritage, but
his future career as well. While attending Pima
Community College in 1975, he happened to visit
itslm labs and decided that this was a subject
in which he had a major interest. In a short while
he was incurably hooked on the lure of the lens. “It
was almost as if the cleaning staff would have to
come in and dust me with the rest of the appli-
ances, I was in there so often,” he remembers
with a smile.
Having graduated from the photogra phic depart-
ment at Pima ve years ago, and having been
out in the eld in search of nature’s greatest mo-
ments for a long stretch, success is beginning to
knock on his door. He’s had a photo published
in the Smithsonian magazine, will be teach ing a
class through the University of Arizona in wild-
life photography, has a highly dramatic photo in
the Sierra Club’s 1985 calendar, has the Game
and Fish Department requesting stock photos
from him, and has reached a point where he
feels that, “I pretty much know that I will make a
sale, or at least get an award, from any contest I
enter... slowly, it’s coming together.”
Of all the myriad subjects that one can photo-
graph—from tomatoes on a kitchen counter to
a child dripping ice cream on the leather uphol-
stery of a Cadillac—why is Bill chasing hawks,
snakes, and caterpillars?
“I had been doing a lot of wildlife rehabilitation
with the Game and Fish Department for years.
I’ve done a lot of volunteer work with the birds
of prey at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.
I’ve always been taking pictures. Once I got
some better equipment, and better educa-
tion, it began to merge more closely.
There are few among us who’ve not thrilled
to an image, captured on lm in a fraction
of a second, of a gargantuan dragony who
has settled on a ower, or been awed by the
cool gaze of a mountain lion as seen through a
1600mm lens. Those of us with a certain artistic
bent, and a shutter for an eye, have seen the
work of men like Bill and felt the urge to chase
nature with our own cameras.
Many times we’ve had to settle for a snap-
shot of Rover catching a battered football. It
doesn’t have to be that way, though. Anyone
with a modicum of camera talent can easily
begin to enjoy the thrill of photographing na-
ture, Bill believes. Recommendations? “You
can set up a bird feeder in front of your house,”
Bill suggests from personal knowledge, “shoot
through a window, and get some marvelous
photos. In this manner you can learn very quick-
ly and easily.”
—Scott Barker
Award-winning photo by Bill Girden