[CT Birds] Dennis Varza

Schlesinger, Lee Lee.Schlesinger at purchase.edu
Fri Jan 3 14:02:43 EST 2014

Hi All

I posted this on the funeral-home-memorial site for Dennis...

In my 40 years of participation in the Birding Activity of Connecticut, I have seen that no two birders are much alike in anything but their love of birds. So it is obviously true in a basic sense that DENNIS VARZA was unique; but he was unique in deep and remarkable ways as well. Actually I knew Dennis personally pretty much only from counts and compilations and his on-line and in-print presence, but this much is clear: he THOUGHT about birds (as well as being gifted and responsible in the field), he KNEW stuff (and knew where to find out about stuff, the research lessons of his graduate work apparently staying with him in the best ways), and he never felt obliged to conform his thought to the conventions. He worked hard at the task at hand, covering part of Bridgeport on the Stratford/Milford Christmas Count, scouring the archives for interesting records, helping establish the infrastructure of an organized Connecticut Birding community... Thank you, Dennis. No one will do what you have done, as you have done it...

Lee Schlesinger
Port Chester, NY
From: CTBirds <ctbirds-bounces at lists.ctbirding.org> on behalf of jaybrd49 at aol.com <jaybrd49 at aol.com>
Sent: Friday, January 3, 2014 1:44 PM
To: ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org
Subject: [CT Birds] Dennis Varza

To the Connecticut Birding Community:

I cannot let the passing of Dennis Varza go without letting newer birders know what a legacy Dennis leaves us with respect to the ornithological record here in Connecticut.  I first encountered Dennis when he was field notes editor for the "Warbler" in the1980s.  Betty Kleiner, who served as editor of the Warbler for many years, asked me to serve as an editor at large.  The primary reason I was chosen was to try to convince Dennis he needed to shorten the field notes column so that it would not take up an entire issue, leaving room for nothing else.  Oh what battles we would have about how much detail needed to be included about wintering green-winged teal along the shore or the daily numbers of Bonaparte's gulls at Oyster River.  Dennis had an amazing eye for detail and he was quick to spot trends in bird populations.  Dennis was also a master bird bander and inspired heated debates over the value of banding rare specimens over the desire of birders to add these birds to the
 ir life or state lists. The list of birds he banded in Connecticut was impressive and included sharp-tailed sandpiper and northern wheatear to name but a couple.  Dennis kept copious records, especially of the birds of Southport, which he often forwarded to this list.  If his data should become available to the COA, it might make for an important and worthwhile research project going forward.  I attended last spring's COA Conference when Dennis received the Mabel Osgood Wright Award.  Dennis was quite ill at the time, and this was an award long overdue. He was the right choice and I think he did appreciate the recognition.  In closing, the Connecticut Birding Community has lost an important and valuable member.  I appreciate having had an opportunity to know and work with him and he will be missed

Jay Kaplan
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