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My father was a naturalist, appreciating and enjoying all aspects of the natural world, but his first love was for the birds in his backyard.

Peggy with Paul Stoutenburgh

Bird watching is something I learned at a very young age. My father loved identifying birds, not only by their colored feathers but by their songs, their characteristics (flight patterns, feeding habits, etc.) and even by their dark silhouettes in the sky.

For many years, he adventured out in the cold of winter to lead birders during local bird counts. Yup, they counted birds, scientifically. They counted many bird species and their numbers on long December days. This valuable scientific data was collected by a variety of environmental organizations and recorded in order to learn what bird species were doing well and which were in danger!

He loved photographing birds. I remember when he would ask me (or my Mom or one of my brothers) to “walk out to a blind” with him. He explained that birds can’t count so if a bird he was photographing was a bit shy and hiding, but then saw me walk away, it would think the “threat” had gone away. Then my Dad, who was now hidden in his blind, could get the perfect photo. He was so patient! He would wait for hours to get the perfect bird picture!

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