Julian Wood

Position: Point Blue Conservation Science – San Francisco Bay Program Leader
May 2022

After graduating from Earlham College in 1995 with a BA in Biology, Julian Wood became an itinerant field biologist using his skills and love of ornithology to ‘get around’, so to speak. He started as a volunteer at the River Rouge Bird Observatory in Michigan, then went on to participate in bird banding, point counting, and nest monitoring studies throughout California and the West from Montana to Mexico.  He started interning with Point Blue in1996 when it was known as PRBO and was hired on as a full-timer in 2000.

When asked what turned him on to the field, he said it was his professor, Bill Buskirk who had been a big inspiration for him. “Running into an oak tree on campus dripping with dozens of brightly colored migrating warblers” ultimately hooked him.

Julian has been intimately involved with the SFBJV since 2006 when he started on the Bay Program. He serves as an alternate on our management board, has been part of our Implementation Planning Team during the 5 year revision process, has been involved with the Conservation Committee for even more years and now serves as Conservation Committee Chair. He is also a respected expert on the endemic Ridgway’s Rail, formerly California Clapper Rail, which lives in the tidal salt marshes of SF Bay.

His journey with rails started in 2000 when he was a crew leader for Point Blue’s Tidal Marsh Project and the “secretive marsh birds officially snuck into [his] life.”  He is currently working on a Ridgway’s Rail population estimate update for the entire San Francisco Estuary based on data collected by multiple agencies and Point Blue. When he first got involved in surveys, each partner collected data differently and entered it into their own database making it difficult to compile, analyze and share. Now, thanks to a unique agency-NGO partnership a new protocol has been developed with Julian as lead author and Point Blue hosting it on their National Secretive Marsh Bird Database. It involves streamlining data collection and management to ensure timely information gets to managers and other decision-makers who need to know if their dollars are paying off and how the rail is progressing towards recovery.

Another current project Julian is working on is an update to the 2011 State of the Birds SF report with a goal of making it more usable by the JV’s conservation partners and to dovetail with other regional monitoring efforts. The new format will be more easily updatable and more widely accessible in different formats allowing the JV to closely track changes in habitat quality as measured by bird indicators and better understand how conservation actions are helping birds.

When not staring at his computer screen or counting birds, Julian likes to get out on his bike around town and in the hills. He coaches a junior mountain biking team, and organizes a team for Point Blue’s annual birdathon fundraiser, the Ornicycles (Ornis = bird in latin, Ornis-cycles, get it?). The goal is to bike instead of drive to as many different habitats and find as many bird species as possible within a 24-hour period, all to raise money for science.