Craig Gibson is a lifelong amateur photographer and has been an active birder for more than 20 years. His primary interest is in capturing action images of birds in flight. Craig takes most of his images with hand-held intermediate and large telephoto lenses in and around Falmouth, MA as well as other towns on the Cape and Islands.
He is a member of the Cape Cod Bird Club and a contributing photographer for Falmouth’s 300 Committee Land Trust, Salt Pond Areas Bird Sanctuaries, Oyster Pond Environmental Trust, as well as the Buzzards Bay Coalition, Trustees of the Reservations, and The MassAudubon Society. Craig has also been very involved with the Quissett Harbor Preservation Trust, serving as a director and past president. His photos appear weekly in the The Falmouth Enterprise newspaper and in other print and online publications for local conservation and environmental groups.
Craig is a dedicated participant in the annual Christmas Bird Count, sponsored by the National Audubon Society. He has been on teams for both Buzzards Bay and North Andover. He has also been actively involved in sensitive breeding bird census projects, including on Nomans Land Island in Dukes County, Massachusetts. Nomans Land Island National Wildlife Refuge is one of eight national wildlife refuges that comprise the Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Due to the potential safety risks associated with unexploded ordnance and the value of this island as a relatively natural island habitat, the refuge has restricted access and is closed to all public uses. Portions of the island have been managed for bird conservation. Craig’s contributions have helped to document a wide array of species, from seabirds to reptiles. He has also taken part in annual breeding bird surveys on Kettle Island, located in Essex County, contributing to the understanding and preservation of colonial waterbird nesting sites, making a significant impact on bird conservation efforts.
In 2012, The 300 Committee Land Trust, based in Falmouth, published a new book, “A Year of Falmouth Birds,” featuring a collection of Craig’s published photos. The book captures the diverse bird species that inhabit the Falmouth area throughout the year. His photos showcase birds in flight, nesting, and foraging. His work is driven by a passion for action and flight photography and with a deep understanding of bird behavior. These images had been featured in the Falmouth Enterprise and now compiled into a book. Profits from the book sales continue to support the 300 Committee’s conservation efforts. The book project emphasized community collaboration and aims to inspire bird enthusiasts and nature lovers.
The Marine Biological Lab and the 300 Committee hosted the fall kickoff to the annual MBL Friday Forum in Sept 2018. Former Ambassador Day Mount offered welcoming remarks to a record crowd of over 250 attendees. Bill Hough, publisher of the Falmouth Enterprise newspaper provided the crowd with a thoughtful introduction about Craig and his long standing affiliation with the newspaper. Craig took the stage to discuss National Geographic’s “Year of the Bird,” special issue commemorating the centenary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. As an avid bird photographer, his experience and insights added depth to the discussion, highlighting the critical role of these birds in our overall ecosystem. Craig has served as a member of the MBL Council for many years. He always helps to increase awareness and understanding of the MBL’s mission and to provide assistance and counsel to MBL leadership.
Craig is a member of many birding clubs and ornithological groups, including the American Ornithological Society (AOS), Association of Field Ornithologists (AFO), Wilson Ornithological Society (WOS), Raptor Research Foundation (RRF) and the Florida Ornithological Society. He is also a member of the North American Nature Photographers Association (NANPA). He serves as a member of the Ethics Committee for the AFO, and also as the designated Ethics Committee liaison to the WOS, to help collaborate on the development of standardized ethical practices among the WOS, the Association of Field Ornithologists, and the American Ornithological Society. Craig was elected to membership in the Nuttall Ornithological Club in 2018, and then to the governing Council as the new Treasurer in 2020. He is an active member in The Wildlife Society (TWS) and participates in the TWS Drone Working Group to further collaborate on the safe and ethical use of drones for wildlife conservation and avian census research.
Over the years, Craig has been honored with invitations from ornithologists and wildlife biologists to contribute a selection of his bird photographs for their birding books. Here are three noteworthy examples of books with his published images:
1. “Terns” by Ian Nisbet and David Cabot: Published in 2013 by Harper Collins, this New Naturalist volume offers an eagerly awaited overview of the captivating world of British and Irish terns. It’s a groundbreaking work, being the first book on the natural history of these birds since 1934.
2. “Ospreys: The Revival of a Global Raptor” by Alan Poole: Published in 2019, this book offers a captivating glimpse into one of the most remarkable conservation success stories of our time—the Osprey. Poole’s narrative delves into the unique and thrilling world of these raptors.
3. “Peterson Guide to Bird Behavior,” by John Kricher. This book published in 2020, transcends the mere identification of birds, delving into the profound understanding of their behaviors, why they act the way they do, and how it all fits into the grand tapestry of their lives.
In the spring of 2021, Craig, along with a birding friend, Will Bicks, participated in the annual Northeast Natural History Conference, held in conjunction with the annual meeting for the Wilson Ornithological Society, and the Association of Field Ornithologists. Their submission for the 2021 NENHC Video Festival was awarded first place in the observational footage category. In August 2021, Craig and Will presented a talk for one of the Round Table Discussions for the 2021 joint virtual meeting of the American Ornithological Society and the Society of Canadian Ornithologists. In November, Craig and Will presented another talk on using drones for wildlife conservation efforts for the 2021 annual meeting of The Wildlife Society, an international association for wildlife biologists involved in wildlife stewardship through science and education.
Craig is an FAA certified Part 107 remote pilot, with advanced training in night operations through The Regional Training Center in Los Angeles, and aerial cinematography training with LA aerial cinematographer, Skip Fredricks. He is also a member of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems (AUVSI). He has an AUVSI Level One TOP certification through Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and has attended the annual FAA/AUVSI Drone Symposium each of the last two years in Orlando, FL and Baltimore, MD. He served on the organizing committee for the inaugural Wildlife Conservation Drones and Technologies Summit held in Burnet, Texas in October 2023 with over 125 wildlife biologists and graduate student researchers from 30 countries.
Craig is recognized as a passionate wildlife and bird photographer who explores the bird world through a wide range of flight and perched images. In addition to local bird photography, he has also photographed Atlantic Puffins and Northern Gannets along the coast of Southwest Ireland, Laughing Kookaburras while birding in Western Australia, Blue-Footed Boobies while on expedition in the Galapagos Islands, Yellow-throated Toucans at the Las Cruces Biological Station in the Pacific Highlands of southern Costa Rica, Bald Eagles on the Chilkat Reserve in Alaska, Marbled Murrelets in the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve in British Columbia, California Condors at Vermilion Cliffs in Northern Arizona, Long-billed Curlews in San Diego, migrating Peregrine Falcons on South Padre Island in Texas, Florida Scrub Jays at the Archbold Biological Station in Florida, and many Albatross and Penguin species while on expedition in the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and the Antarctica Peninsula.