Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
:

DAA: John S. Castrale

John S. Castrale


Mitchell, IN


Living next door to Indiana’s Spring Mill State Park and enjoying birds as a pastime as well as profession blur the lines between work and play for John Castrale, a nongame biologist for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Fish and Wildlife. And while he enjoys reading a fast-paced thriller for pleasure, that, too, can reflect a typical day. That’s because two species that fall under his care are peregrine falcons and bald eagles, which offer Castrale quite an adventure when he’s tagging the birds or checking nests as part of his restoration projects. A workday might find him flying in a helicopter surveying riverbanks or donning a hard hat and safety glasses to protect himself from the birds, which can be fierce about protecting their young. “It’s an adrenaline rush,” he admits. His banding work has taken him to the 31st story of an Indianapolis building and high on power plant smokestacks along Lake Michigan. The falcons and eagles are just two of 300 species of Indiana birds he looks out for and takes calls about. “Most questions about birds get referred to me,” he says. His passion carries through on vacation, when he often discovers how small the world is. On a recent family trip to his grandparents, birthplace in Usseglio, Italy, he was touched by a special connection when he spotted his first red-backed shrike, a member of the same family as Indiana’s logger-head shrike. “I like seeing different cultures and birds, habitats when I travel,” he says. While he’s not meticulous about keeping his life list of bird sightings, which ranges from 400 to 500 species, “on trips I like to tick off birds I spot,” he says. And he often helps other birders add to their own list by hosting them on his backyard deck, where they might hear the song of a visiting chuck-will’s widow.projects. A workday might find him flying in a helicopter surveying riverbanks or donning a hard hat and safety glasses to protect himself from the birds, which can be fierce about protecting their young. "It's an adrenaline rush," he admits. His banding work has taken him to the 31st story of an Indianapolis building and high on power plant smokestacks along Lake Michigan. The falcons and eagles are just two of 300 species of Indiana birds he looks out for and takes calls about. "Most questions about birds get referred to me," he says. His passion carries through on vacatiorn'i, when he often discovers how small the world is. On a recent family trip to his grandparents' birthplace in Usseglio, Italy, he was touched by a special connection when he spotted his first red-backed shrike, a member of the same family as Indiana's logger-head shrike. "I like seeing different cultures and birds' habitats when I travel," he says. While he's not meticulous about keeping his life list of bird sightings, which ranges from 400 to 500 species, "on trips I like to tick off birds I spot," he says. And he often helps other birders add to their own list by hosting them on his backyard deck, where they might hear the song of a visiting chuck-will's widow.