Remembering James “Buzz” Peavy, 1944–2017

Birmingham Audubon is sad to report the passing of influential member and former president, James V. “Buzz” Peavy, Jr.

Buzz Peavy, spectacled caiman in hand, leading a tour of Peru’s Reserva Nacional Pacaya-Samiria in 2001.

A regular member of the Birmingham Audubon Mountain Workshop faculty and a dedicated compiler of our Christmas Bird Counts, Buzz was a consummate naturalist, an expert on butterflies, and a beloved teacher to generations of Alabama nature lovers. As an early protege of the renowned herpetologist Dr. Robert H. Mount (author of The Reptiles and Amphibians of Alabama), he completed his undergraduate work in biology at the University of Montevallo and served as a key member of that school’s undefeated 1966 Men’s Tennis Team. In addition to Buzz’s work with Birmingham Audubon, he also served as president of the Alabama Ornithological Society (AOS) in 1974; co-edited the Yellowhammer, AOS’s newsletter, with Thomas A. Imhoff and Robert R. Reid in 1975, and became its full editor from 1976 to 1978; organized and led naturalist trips to the Amazon and beyond through his work with International Expeditions; and participated for more than forty years in the United States Geological Survey’s Breeding Bird Survey program.

From Dr. Ken Marion, Professor Emeritus in the UAB Biology Department:

When I first came to Birmingham as a young biology professor in 1971, Buzz was instrumental in my work and teaching, as he and I and others sometimes went out looking for critters. Through these trips—and through Buzz’s intimate knowledge of the animals of Alabama and their natural history—I quickly learned a great deal. Further, he took me to some wonderful out-of- the-way habitats that I have sometimes used for teaching through the years. While he was here in Alabama, I considered him the best non-academic naturalist in the state, rivaling the legendary George Folkerts of Auburn University. Buzz had a vast knowledge of our area’s birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, butterflies and most plants. He was truly a great naturalist.

He is survived by his wife, Lee, a sister, a daughter, and two grandchildren.