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Gale Monson Research Grants

Arizona Field Ornithologists offers financial support to individuals for the purpose of conducting field research that will enhance our knowledge of the status, distribution, identification, and other aspects of Arizona birdlife.

Award Details:

Each year, AZFO provides up to two $1,000 awards to qualified applicants seeking to conduct field research focused on Arizona's birds. Named in honor of Arizona's father of ornithology, Gale Monson, these grants are key to our mission of increasing the knowledge of the changing status, identification, and distribution of Arizona's birdlife.

Application Details:

Grants will be awarded based on scientific merit, level of preparation, and financial need. Grant recipients are required to make an oral presentation on their findings at an annual AZFO statewide meeting. Recipients are also strongly encouraged to prepare a manuscript reporting their results and to submit this manuscript for publication, preferentially to the Arizona Birds online journal.


Students and nonstudents are welcome to apply.

  • To apply, submit the following to

    • A maximum two-page description of the project including:

      • the amount of grant money being requested

      • how the project will enhance our knowledge of avian life in Arizona

      • information on how the award money will be expended and whether other sources of funding for the proposed work are available

    • A letter of recommendation describing the applicant's qualifications and commitment to Arizona ornithology

Application Deadline: September 15, 2024

Announcement of Awardees: October 15, 2024

Other Details and Requirements:
A maximum of $2,000 is available for grants in 2024. Two-thirds of the funds will be awarded immediately after approval of the project, and the remainder will be provided after confirmation that a presentation will be made at an annual statewide meeting. Grant recipients are required to provide a progress report on their research project within six months of receiving an award


Gale Monson
Arizona's Father of Ornithology

Gale Monson was best known as one of the authors of Birds of Arizona (1964) and the Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Arizona (1981), as well as editor of the Southwest Region for American Birds from 1948 until 1963 and again from 1971 to 1973. His interest in birds began when he was a boy in Red River Valley, North Dakota. He moved to Arizona in 1934 where he worked until 1940 as a biologist on Papago (now Tohono O’Odham) and Navajo tribal lands, as well as for the Soil Conservation Service in Arizona and New Mexico. In 1940 until 1969 (except for two and a half years in the army stationed in China, Burma, and India from 1942 to 1945) he worked for the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service at refuges in New Mexico, at Havasu and Imperial National Wildlife Refuges on the Colorado River, and on the Kofa and Cabeza Prieta Game Ranges. During this time he authored several articles on the status of birds along the lower Colorado River and elsewhere in Arizona which were published in the Auk and Condor. In 1971 he became one of the supervisors of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson. Along with Dr. Stephen Russell, Monson conducted the field research for and wrote The Birds of Sonora (1998).

Always the consummate field man and a meticulous documenter of birds, plants, and other wildlife, Gale was dedicated to the betterment of Arizona and Sonora’s many biological treasures. During the 1970s and '80s, Gale was persistent in contacting birders to solicit photos of rare birds and he maintained the photo file in the University of Arizona Bird Collection. Thanks to him, many rare species were documented during that time.

In the late 1990s Gale moved from Tucson to Albuquerque to be closer to his family, where he continued to enjoy birding and reading the journals he kept for more than 80 years. Gale W. Monson, born August 1, 1912, passed away peacefully at his Albuquerque home on February 19, 2012.

Tributes to Gale Monson can be found here.

Past Grant Awards:

(View all available project abstracts here)

  • 2021

    • Adam Stein: Development and operation of a MAPS banding station at the Hassayampa River Preserve for research, education, and outreach activities.

  • 2020

    • Peter Motyka: Birds as hosts for the agents of tick-borne relapsing fever in Arizona.

    • Sarah Polekoff: Adapting to city life: Physiology and behavior of urban and desert House Finches.

  • 2019

    • Tom Hudson: Northern Arizona Raptor Project.

    • Maya Rappaport: Flagstaff Kestrel Project - Understanding Community-based Conservation.

    • Jenohn Wrieden: Burrowing Owl Monitoring to Determine Effectiveness of Enhanced Translocation Methods.

  • 2018

    • Nick Beauregard: Investigating Yellow-billed Cuckoo Breeding and Distribution in Southeastern Arizona.

    • Ruby Hammond: Characteristics of Live Ponderosa Pines and Use by Woodpeckers and Wood Boring Insects.

  • 2017

    • Eamon Harrity: Juvenile Dispersal of the Yuma Ridgway’s Rail.

    • Kerrie Anne Loyd: Movement, Behavior and Conservation of Western Burrowing Owls in a Suburban Desert Landscape.

    • Tuul Sepp: Urbanization Effects on Life History of Arizona House Finches.

  • 2015

    • Ariana La Porte: Gray Hawk Expansion on the San Pedro River: Density Dependence, Habitat, and Diet.

    • Richard Simpson: The evolution of Hummingbird Coloration and Courtship Displays

  • 2014

    • Ariana La Porte: “Water, Land Use, and Gray Hawk Ecology along the San Pedro River.” Full abstract here.

  • 2013

    • Zachary Smith: "Spring raptor migration monitoring from the Sierra Prieta Overlook, Prescott National Forest: A pilot study". Full abstract here.

    • David Vander Pluym: "Bird migration at Lake Havasu". Full abstract here.

    • Chris McCreedy: "Plumage differences and wintering distributions of Sagebrush and Bell’s Sparrows in California and Arizona". Full abstract here.

  • 2012

    • John Arnett: “Non-breeding season occupancy of Gray Vireos at Kofa NWR, Arizona”. Full abstract here.

    • Michael Lester: “The effects of chronic contaminant exposure on the immune system and body condition of birds in the upper Santa Cruz watershed, Arizona”. Full abstract here.

  • 2011

    • Kristen Dillon (University of Arizona): “Ecological Causes of Elevational Gradients in Clutch Size of Red-faced Warblers”. Full abstract here.

    • Carl Lundblad (University of Arizona): “Ecological Correlates of Altitudinal Migratory Tendency in Yellow-eyed Juncos”. Full abstract here.

Interested in donating to the Gale Monson Grant fund? Visit our donation page here or send a check to

AZFO, c/o Diana Herron Treasurer

10378 N. 101st Place

Scottsdale, AZ 85258

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