Roger MacDonald in his workshop.
Photo: L. Pickett
Dear Friends, Family, Co-workers, and My
New Bird Banding Friends,
Those of you who know me well, know that I
have been blessed by having many wonderful men
in my life, but there is only one man that I
can honestly call my hero and that is my Dad,
My Dad was a very talented craftsman and he
was the happiest when he used his skills to
make life better for others. He rebuilt a
small camp in Lynnfield, MA and made it into a
home for his children and lived there with my
Mother for over 50 years. He made a countless
number of bookcases, beds, desks,
cabinets, toys and jewelry for his wife,
children and grandchildren.
During his almost 30 years of working at
the Melrose YMCA he made everything from
diving blocks to step dancing steps and
contributed greatly during the renovation of
building which took place in the 1980's.
During his 25 years as a machinist he even
made parts that went to the moon with Apollo.
All my life if anything needed fixing we
just gave it to Dad and he would take it
downstairs to his shop and then, in time, he
would bring it back fixed as good as new.
When my Mother became ill in 1999 he tried as
hard as he could to build things to make her
battle with PSP easier. I believe that
his greatest disappointment was that no matter
how hard he tried he could not make her "as
good as new".
I think one of his many accomplishments was
making tools to be used for banding birds.
When my Mother started banding birds in the
early 1960's he developed tools to make the
job of putting the bands on the birds' legs
easier for the bander and safer for the bird.
He turned this into a business which has
lasted over 40 years and his tools have been
used all over the world. In addition,
during the late 1980's he developed tools used
for banding hummingbirds.
I know that you all are wondering where
this is leading to, well let me tell you.
Sam from Avinet very kindly put a picture of
my Dad and a notice of his passing on the
Internet at www.qty.com/news.html
Although, my Dad was rather humble I know he
would be thrilled. So I ask you to click on
this site in tribute to the man who will
always be my hero.
Excerpt from an unknown source
Soon after starting Avinet in 1987 we
contacted Roger MacDonald to find out if he wanted us to
handle his pliers sales. He declined our offer.
I do most of Avinetís
manufacturing, but for several reasons MB handled making
banding pliers from the beginning. She gave it a good
hard try, for a long time with the first vendor, but the
project turned into a nightmare so we finally stopped pliers
production. Then (I don't remember how many years since
our first contact) Roger called us back and offered to supply
pliers to us, but not all the models. Perhaps the other
models were a too big a headache for him to make? We
agreed but, now that were were selling pliers again, MB had to
find a another machinist to make the missing models.
Meanwhile she developed a warm and close relationship with
Roger, so that part went very well, and while the new (third)
supplier was cooperative they encountered one technical
problem after another. Then Roger died in May 2001.
After a time Roger's daughter enlisted Roger's nephew (our
fourth supplier,) who is a machinist as well, to continue the
MacDonald line of pliers, and hummingbird tools.
Remember, Roger was a retired machinist when he was making
pliers. He had the time and expertise to make small
batches by hand; and he did not make much, if any money doing
it. We too did not make money distributing his pliers,
and we suffered financially from working on the other models
with other machinists. But because she loved Roger, and
as a service to bird banders, MB kept at it.
Rogerís nephew is a different story.
He is very capable machinist with a big machine shop but he
has a business to run, and must at least break even. He
gave it good try, but finally decided that he didn't need the
headaches and financial losses that were mounting up from
making small runs of banding pliers. After many years of
ups and downs, ... mostly very frustrating downs, with
sadness, we finally gave up too, and quit making all the
pliers. We will never recover the costs of tooling up to
Now, ... plain steel pliers, without
band openers would be much easier to make. But, do you
think banders will accept pliers that rust anytime soon?
After what we have been though, we are not keen to suffer
another financial beating by investing money in the tooling
for a line of new products that might sell at the rate of a
few dozen per year.
Now you know the real deal.