Remembering Bill McAllister

Message from Ken Ward:  Just got the sad news that Bill McAllister had died of a heart attack, while vacationing in FL with his wife, Linda.  I’ve known Bill about 40 years, mainly as a friend and fellow birder, but also as a colleague at Alabama A&M University, where he was a faculty member with the Urban Planning Program.  He was a regular trip leader for Nabs (North Alabama Birdwatcher’s Society).  Lord knows how many birding trips, counts, meetings etc. we’ve done together.  I first met Bill during a Wheeler CBC, a memorable one, for how cold it was.  You folks here who are AOS members of course have known him well, as a regular meeting attendee, noted especially for the beautiful photos he regularly shared at our Friday night potlucks.  He was a great guy and we’ll miss him a lot.


Biographical reminiscences from Bill McAllister: I began birding at an early age in Worcester, Massachusetts, under the watchful eyes of the Forbush Bird Club members. Before I was of driving age I designed and led an official walk of the club and my mother agreed to drive. Family vacations to Ogunquit, Maine, exposed me to shorebirds and bird habitats on the beach and rocky shores. I maintained an active status in the Forbush Bird Club until I moved to Rhode Island to pursue a graduate degree. In Rhode Island I found time to do further exploring of the shoreline ecosystem.


Graduate school in community planning led me to a Planning Director position in Sumter, S.C., during the 1970s. Birding there was enhanced by Carolina Bird Club events.


The final 25 years of my career was spent teaching community planning and doing environmental and social impact research at Alabama A&M University in Huntsville. Active participation in the North Alabama Birdwatchers Society and AOS pushed me to be a better birder. Some of my favorite places to bird are St. Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge in Florida, Dauphin Island, Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Decatur, Monte Sano State Park in Huntsville, Alabama A&M University Research Station in Hazel Green, Guntersville, and my own backyard.


Throughout my life outdoor photography was always a hobby when time and resources allowed. In addition to the intrinsic joy of seeing my own pictures, photographing birds has enhanced my knowledge of the finer aspects of bird identification and behavior. I am always trying to improve my photographic images so that I can best share the beauty of the life of birds. Enjoying birding as a hobby has made me more sensitive to other aspects of nature in general.

For the past decade I have taught numerous birding courses through the auspices of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). Besides academic courses taught in the classroom, a favorite spring course, Birding in Your Own Backyard, is taught at my home.