Serving The Communities Of Portal and Rodeo (www.portalrodeo.com)

Portal, AZ - Rodeo, NM


Rod Drewien



July 30, 1939 – July 28, 2021

Rod passed away at home this week, two days before his 82nd birthday. He succumbed to complications from a medical incident in 2018.

As a boy in California, Rod roamed the hills and wetlands in search of wildlife and adventure. That would become the theme of his life. High school was a cage for his boundless energy, love of wildness and hunting. Though a good student when not cutting classes, Rod quit school at 17 to join the Air Force and test his own wings. He emerged with discipline, a burning desire to learn all he could about the wildlife and wildlands he loved, and he tried hard to share that knowledge with others.

After he completed his PhD on sandhill cranes in 1973, Rod worked with many agencies and conservation groups, studying cranes, swans and geese and following them through their annual life cycles. His research extended from the Arctic tundra to southern Mexico, with jaunts to India and China to share his knowledge. As a contractor with the Hornocker Wildlife Institute, Rod maneuvered to avoid having a boss who might dampen his adventures as he worked across administrative and geographic boundaries and followed the birds year-round. Although he was a widely recognized authority on cranes, Rod’s expertise extended to many other species and aspects of nature as well. He published over 50 papers on migratory birds and was a mentor to many younger researchers and wildlife managers.

Rod will be deeply missed by family and friends. But as many of you experienced first-hand, Rod was also a story teller and trickster. His laughter was almost constant. So our sadness is also mixed with laughter as we remember stories of his escapades. Rod wanted his ashes to be scattered at Grays Lake, Idaho, his beloved home and center of his research and hunting for much of the past 50 years. Plans are not definite yet, but we’ll likely gather to fulfill his wishes this fall as the aspen are turning golden and the cranes are beginning to spiral high to soar south once again. If you’d like to join us, let Ruth know and we’ll keep you informed of plans.

If you would like to help continue Rod’s work, contributions to the Rod Drewien Crane Conservation Fund are welcomed 

Greater Yellowstone Sandhill Crane Initiative | Teton Regional Land Trust (tetonlandtrust.org)

© Howard Topoff 2011