A Tribute to Fern from the Pacific Birds Staff and International Management Board
The conservation community in Hawai’i and beyond recently lost a cherished friend and accomplished colleague. Dr. Fern P. Duvall II was a lifelong naturalist, dedicated conservationist, and mentor. Fern’s deep knowledge of the natural world in Hawaiʻi was unparalleled, and his curiosity never ceased.
Pacific Birds Habitat Joint Venture was honored with Fern’s leadership and service for nearly a decade. His contributions to Pacific Birds were numerous–as an International Management Board member, a Co-chair, Executive Committee member, and Hawai’i Wetlands Committee member. Fern helped shape Pacific Birds’ conservation efforts in Hawaiʻi with infectious enthusiasm and calm dedication. But Fern was also so much more–he was a generous mentor, a gentle leader, a trusted guide, and a delightful friend.
Fern was who we turned to when we needed expert knowledge about a wetland site in Hawaiʻi or guidance about the best strategy to improve an area for birds. He thought deeply about how to approach difficult conservation challenges and often came up with innovative and successful paths forward. He was a unifying presence, bringing people together to get work done on the ground.
Fern retired from Hawaiʻi Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) in 2021, after 38 years of service, but we felt honored that he chose to stay actively involved with Pacific Birds. Just earlier this year, Fern was celebrated as a Hawaiʻi Division of Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Leader in a beautiful article and video that describes some of his conservation contributions and his philosophy about getting out in the field and nature. In the video, Fern tells us, "You've got to get out into the environment. You cannot manage well if you do not understand the resources," and that we should "study lots and talk less!". We will keep his guidance in our hearts as we continue the work to conserve and protect natural places.
Fern ended his emails to the Pacific Birds team with: Mahalo a me ke aloha mai Pacific Birds, which means ‘With heartfelt thanks from Pacific Birds.’ Now it is our turn. From all of us at Pacific Birds, our heartfelt condolences go out to his family, friends, and the Hawaiʻi community. Fern will be deeply missed.
"I will miss Fern's gentle heart and strong passion for conservation. I've known Fern since I entered the world of bird conservation while still in college, seeing first hand his contributions to ʻAlalā recovery. It's hard for me to imagine bird conservation in Hawai’i without Fern." - Nanette Seto
“I will miss Fern terribly in Hawai’i, he really did know a vast amount about everything from plants to insects to birds to wetlands and he had the passion to go with it as well as being a delightful person to work with. There's just no one to take his place.” - Helen Raine