Dr. Russ Greenberg (1953-2013)

Jordan Rutter is the newest regular contributor to Nemesis Bird. Jordan works at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and is passionate about birds and communicating about research to the general public. Let’s welcome her to Nemesis Bird!


The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (SMBC), and the birding world at large, lost a wonderful man when Dr. Russ Greenberg, lost his battle with pancreatic cancer on October 24. It is difficult to capture just how great an ornithologist Russ was. He was head of SMBC and incredibly innovative, making several significant contributions in the areas of bird ecology, behavior, conservation, and evolution. His research and work led to revolutionary ideas that are now being put into practice and making the world a better place.

For example, Russ was the leader on the concept of bird-friendly coffee. His research brought the farming practices of coffee to people’s attention. He advocated that shade-grown coffee is not only better for people (working conditions and environmental impact) but for the birds and wildlife (no loss of habitat). As a result of his work, SMBC developed a bird-friendly coffee certification. The logo indicating bird-friendly certification can be found on several commonly sold coffees. This work has also led to the development of bird-friendly chocolate and wine projects as well.

Russ was continually motivated by his curiosity and doing everything in the name of conservation. These two traits are part of the legacy he leaves behind. Russ’s spirit will live on in the people that continue the projects he began and the inspiration he has given to bird research and conservation. I currently work at SMBC. I feel privileged to have worked under Russ’s leadership of this lab and to have known him as a friend for over seven years.

You can read more about Russ on the Smithsonian website: http://nationalzoo.si.edu/scbi/migratorybirds/research/

For more info on bird friendly coffee: http://nationalzoo.si.edu/scbi/migratorybirds/coffee/

To find out where to buy bird friendly coffee or to purchase online: http://nationalzoo.si.edu/scbi/migratorybirds/coffee/online.cfm