Dr. David Wingate was born in Bermuda in 1935, where he received his primary education. He was invited to join the 1951 expedition by Dr. Robert Cushman Murphy and Louis Mowbray which resulted in the rediscovery of the Bermuda petral or cahow, an endemic Bermuda seabird presumed extinct for over 300 years. He graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University before returning to the Island in 1957, when he took charge of the cahow conservation programme on grants from the New York Zoological Society and the Bermuda Government. From 1966-2000 Dr. Wingate was the Government Conservation Officer.
He was a founding member of the Bermuda Audubon Society, and a founding and continuing member of the Bermuda National Trust. He also served on the board of the Bermuda Biological Station for Research, and is currently a research associate of the Bermuda Zoological Society.
Dr. Wingate has led several research expeditions to the West Indies. In 1963 and on subsequent expeditions up to 1984, he rediscovered the supposedly extinct Black-capped petral in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
During the course of his career, Dr. Wingate has been honoured many times. These include the Queen's Honours (UK), the MBE and OBE; King's Honours (Netherlands), Ridder, Order of the Golden Ark; the Global 500 Award (UN) and Dr.of Sci. Honoris causa, Clark University, Massachusetts. He is also one of 100 Bermudians in The Royal Gazette's Millenium List who were recognised for making significant contributions to Bermuda's history. Most recently he was the subject of a television programme in the Panatel series, 'Treasures'.