From Erna Comby to Howard Cogswell
Early California Bird Watcher Environmentalists:

History Through Biography in the Los Angeles Audubon Society and the Pacific Ocean

Robert Jan 'Roy' van de Hoek
Conservation Biologist & Geographer
Ballona Institute

11 September 2008

California State Bear Flag Brown Bear, aka Grizzly, on Green Prairie Meadow Amongst Gopher Mounds California State Bear Flag


Erna Comby, together with her husband, Julius Comby, began to become acquainted with Howard Cogswell during the late 1930s through a common interest in birds. Soon, their mutual interest in birds would lead to friendship and appreciation. But World War II came to the forefront of American society affecting recreational pursuits and wildlife conservation by citizen scientists and conservationists including the Combys and Howard Cogswell.

In 1944, Howard Cogswell entered the U.S. Navy. This change of life affected the Los Angeles Audubon Society. For example, the president, Erna Comby would have to find a gift to give to Howard Cogswell for his enthusiastic birding skills as well as generosity in leading field trips for bird watchers in the Los Angeles County region.

In December 1944, the Los Angeles Audubon Society gave a gift to Howard Cogswell that he would be able to use while at sea in the U.S. Navy. As president of Los Angeles Audubon Society, Erna Comby gave Howard "Oceanic Sea Birds of the Pacific. It was a simple way in which bird watchers of the Los Angeles Audubon Society were saying that Howard Cogswell would not be forgotten in southern California. In addition, this web page reinforces the fact that Howard Cogswell and Erna Comby will not be forgotten and that there is a need for continual acknowledgment of past birders and attention attached to the importance of history and biography in ornithology and avian ecology in Los Angeles County and the great state of California.

Selected Writings by Howard Cogswell on Los Angeles County Birds
1944. Sharp-tailed Sparrow in Southern California.Condor

Bird Observations in Los Angeles County from 1940 to 1950
1950. Harlequin Duck at Santa Monica Pier.

1950. American White Pelican in San Gabriel Mountains