DONORS:
California Hawking Club, Frank Ely, North American
Falconers Association, Carl Thelander, Wade Eakle, Valerie
Quate, Monk and Associates, John Wolfe, Kim Mauch
Monte Neil Kirven, born August 5, 1936, perished in the wildfires that
consumed the forested hills near Santa Rosa, CA, in October of 2017.
Montes love of nature and the outdoors was an integral part of his
life. In time, his interest in fishing and hunting were nurtured into
consuming passions that became lifelong pursuits. He graduated
from Coronado High School in Coronado, CA, in 1955, and attended
the University of Mississippi where he earned a Bachelor of Arts
degree in Biology in 1960. He was in the Army ROTC program and
commissioned as an officer after graduation. In 1964, he was trained
in Military Intelligence at Fort Ord, CA.
Returning to California, he worked at Scripts Institute of
Oceanography before becoming Chair of the Environmental
Education Department at the San Diego Museum of Natural History.
During his tenure there, he earned a Master of Science degree at San
Diego State University studying Caspian and elegant terns.
Between 1966 and 1971, Monte studied the health and productivity
of peregrine falcons nesting in Baja, California and the Gulf of
California, Mexico. Fluency in Spanish aided his research endeavors.
In 1977, Monte earned a Ph.D. in Biology at University of Colorado
studying bat falcons in Venezuela. Returning to California, he taught
courses in biology and ecology at both Sonoma State University
and Santa Rosa Junior College. During this period, he collaborated
with Robert Riseborough, Geoff Monk, D.A. “Sandy” Boyce, Brian
Walton, and others to determine the pesticide contamination levels
in peregrine prey species; studied the foraging behavior of nesting
peregrines in a geothermal development area via radio-telemetry
with Dr. James Enderson; and was employed by the Ukiah District of
the Bureau of Land Management to conduct a decade-long survey of
nesting peregrines in northern California. He is credited with helping
to show eggshell thinning in endangered peregrine falcons that led to
the banning of DDT for agricultural use in 1972.
Monte was introduced to falconry in San Diego by Steve Baptiste,
and was later mentored by Bob Winslow of Dana Point. He flew a
Cooper’s hawk and a prairie falcon early on, but became infatuated
with tundra peregrines. He flew several passage tundras during the
1960s and was seldom without a peregrine for the rest of his life. The
mid-1960s was a golden age for San Diego hawking as Mike Connolly,
Mike Gordeau, Monte, and others were practicing duck hawking at a
very high level.
In the late 1960s, Monte had a passage tiercel anatum peregrine
named Vegus (Gus for short) that he flew for many seasons. Steve
Herman loaned him an eyas female anatum, also in mature plumage,
for an attempt at captive breeding. I helped Monte build a small
chamber next to his garage in La Jolla, CA, and, to my knowledge,
Monte was the first person in California to produce fertile peregrine
eggs. Gus would later become part of the foundation stock for Dick
Grahams captive breeding program in Colorado.
As an educator, raptor researcher, master falconer, and advocate for
wildlife conservation, Monte left his mark for others to follow.
Remembering Monte
by Bruce Haak
Montes love of nature and the outdoors was an integral part of his life.
As an educator, raptor
researcher, master
falconer, and advocate
for wildlife conservation,
Monte left his mark
for others to follow.