The fifth in a series of occasional profiles of birdwatchers who are from or spend a lot of time in northwestern Pennsylvania.
Family: Husband and three grown sons; three grandchildren
Lives in: Franklin Township
Profession: Reference assistant at the Edinboro University of Pennsylvania library
Originally from: Erie
I got into birding ..: We moved to the country 34 years ago and there were birds here that I had never seen before. I was curious as to their names, so I bought a bird guide and resurrected an old set of binoculars. It grew from there to buying better binocs … putting up bluebird houses … feeding 600 pounds of seed all winter … taking the binocs when we would travel … taking trips JUST to bird … paying for birding classes … joining Audubon, etc. My latest venture is becoming a Purple Martin “landlord” this spring.
Spark bird: Bluebird
Favorite bird: Snowy Owl
Favorite place to bird in northwestern Pennsylvania: Presque Isle State Park
Strangest place I’ve gone birding: In Germany, while hiking up a hillside to view a historic grave site. I was not even thinking about “birding” but saw a “water dipper” working a stream. I had never seen this type of bird and was amazed. I had no idea what it was and tried to get an idea from a German couple. Needless to say, because I didn’t speak German and they didn’t speak English it was not too successful. We all had fun trying. They seemed pleased that I was excited about “their” bird.
Birding gear and equipment I take everywhere: Binocs, spotting scope, birding guide (book and most recently birding app with calls). Insect repellent.
Favorite birding field guide or app: Peterson field guide. Got a mini iPad for Christmas and am looking forward to using the Sibley birding book I downloaded for it this spring. It has the bird calls on it so you can check them when you are in the field!
What I like most about birding: The beauty of the birds! Time spent outdoors. Meeting people that love the birds as much as I do.
The best bird watching day I’ve ever had: I went to Arizona expressly to see hummingbirds. Southeastern Arizona is the “hummingbird flyway” for almost all species of hummingbirds found in the United States. I planned a trip with my sister-in-law, who lives in Scottsdale, to drive to Miller Canyon. We stayed at Beatty’s Miller Canyon Guest Ranch and had an amazing time! Hummingbirds like fairies in the trees, everywhere! So many different species at one time that people were calling out the ones they saw and it was hard to keep track or now where to look first! In one day I saw 12 different species of hummingbirds !
The worst birding day I’ve ever had: No such thing.
Dream birding destination: The Monterey California Audubon birding festival. Four days of guided hikes and boat tours!
Best birding advice you ever got: Don’t always reach for the binocs first. Watch the behavior, flight pattern, body shape. Sometimes the bird is gone before you can get the binocs to your eyes!
Your advice to beginning birders: Get out there! Meet other people who are birding too! You will meet some great people and learn a lot. Take a field class if you can. There is nothing better than having someone who knows for sure what bird you are seeing.
Should a sighting be counted if you’ve only heard an identifiable bird call but not seen the bird itself?: That is an individual thing. Personally I won’t count a life bird for myself unless I see it. If you were participating a “big year” competition I would think that it would depend on the rules for that competition.
Do you keep a life list? Yes, I keep a life list … sort of. I am not obsessive about it, and probably have not recorded everything. Best count is 276.
Do you approve of the idea of competitions such as a Big Year or Big Day? Sure … people can bird and have fun any way they want!
Previous entries in the NWPA Outdoors Birder Bio series:
No. 1: Shawn Collins
No. 2: Bonnie Ginader
No. 3: Michele Rundquist-Franz
No. 4: Lee Ann Reiners
Interested in participating in the Birder Bio profiles series? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for details.