Our community has lost a great friend and mentor, Jerry Liguori. There are no words to express how much he will be missed.
“I will admit the first time I met Jerry, I was a bit starstruck. In the world of hawk watching, he might be one of the (if not the) most beloved and well-known experts. I was new to HawkWatch International, and interviewed him for our newsletter ahead of migration season. The joy he exuded when he spoke about the techniques he had perfected over the years was contagious. Now more than a decade later, I look back on that meeting and laugh thinking about how nervous I was. Jerry is incredibly important to me. He taught me so much, not only about raptor ID, but about being gracious and generous with your knowledge.” - Nikki Wayment, Executive Director
“Though I don’t remember meeting Jerry for the first time, even my earliest memories of hearing his name invoke the recollection of admiration, kindness, and humor. Jerry worked several temporary raptor-related field jobs for my dad (a research biologist in Washington) in the late 1990’s. At the time, I was just a ‘snot-nosed, punk kid’ (Jerry’s words), but my dad and others who worked with Jerry knew he was a special person. Already an accomplished field biologist, hawkwatcher, and photographer, my dad jokes that the only reason that ‘Liggy’ joined his projects was for the opportunity to photograph Bald Eagles and Ferruginous Hawks. Fast forward 15 years to when I landed my current job with HWI in Salt Lake City, and Jerry was the first to offer his help finding me an apartment and welcoming me to a new chapter in my life. Over the past 6 years, I’ve learned so much from him, the least of which has been about raptors. He’s taught me to question things in life and not just take someone’s word or opinion for granted, to do ‘good’ work, to laugh and have fun, and how to be a good friend.” - Jesse Watson, Research Biologist and Banding Coordinator
Anyone who had the opportunity to engage with Jerry, whether in person or online knows that his willingness and enthusiasm to share knowledge about raptors was unparalleled. One of Jerry’s greatest gifts was his ability to make everyone feel comfortable learning from him. If you were a beginner, Jerry took the time to point out the features that could help you improve your skills, and if more advanced, he would take the time to discuss (or lovingly argue) the nuances of raptor ID.
There are so many reasons Jerry was awesome—his sense of humor, his love of the Simpsons and Marvel Comics, his passion for raptors, and his love of cats. However, none was greater than his love of his family, his friends, his cats, and his wife Sherry.
We all wish we had more time with Jerry, but we feel honored and privileged to have learned from him and grateful to have called him a friend. There is something to be learned from each person we meet in life, and this sentiment certainly rings true with our friend, Jerry Liguori. His friendship is one of our greatest treasures, and we will continue to share the lessons he taught us with others, keeping his memory and legacy alive for future generations of raptor lovers!
We are honored that Jerry and his wife Sherry worked with us to create this post so that we could share this sad news with you. However, Jerry requested that he not be publicly memorialized, so we ask that out of respect for his wishes that you refrain from sharing stories or photos here, on HWI social media, or elsewhere. Instead, his wife Sherry has asked that those who wish to honor Jerry's legacy consider a gift to the Jerry Liguori Scholarship Fund: https://hawkwatch.org/jerry