Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

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Phil Shultz

Dr. Phil Shultz


Honored November, 1989

Dr. Phil Shultz

Known as "The Bird Man of Tesuque," Phil Shultz, a surgeon now retired, expanded his practice to include wild birds. Assisted by his wife Joanne, a surgical nurse, he performed many, many "bird operations." At least half the creatures orphaned, poisoned, wounded by gunshot or traps brought to him, recovered sufficiently to be released back into the wild.

Phil's interest in birds, particularly birds of prey, began in his youth. Born in Stanton, Virginia, in 1917, educated at the University of Virginia, he served as a surgeon for the army in the European theater during World War II. In college, a friend brought two young peregrine falcons to school, and Phil worked with him, helping him fly his birds.

After the war, Phil held an appointment at the American University in Beirut, and had the opportunity to observe falconry in the Middle East. Upon returning to the States, he went to practice on the Navajo Reservation at Ft. Defiance, Arizona, and there took care of injured birds with the help of some Hopis who were accustomed to caring for eagles.

While in Los Alamos, where he practiced from 1952 to 1975, Phil began rehabilitating wounded birds with the help of his sons, Albert and Eric. During the 1960s, he became active in the movement to protect and restore endangered species of birds. He was the second successful breeder of prairie falcons in captivity.

His interest in wild birds, as well as his wide travels and rugged adventures backpacking in places like the Galapagos Islands, East Africa, and the Alaskan outback led Phil to positions on the boards of the Sierra Club and the Nature Conservancy. A firm believer in "the active physical life," for many years he took twenty mile hikes in the Santa Fe area every Wednesday with a group of friends known as the "Santa Fe Chile and Marching Society."

Please see Volume 1 for complete text.
Photo ©1997 by Joanne Rijmes