I am reading a book titled “Life List – a woman’s quest for the world’s most amazing birds.” It is about Phoebe Snetsinger, a Missouri housewife who became interested in bird watching at age 49 when she was diagnosed with cancer and was told she probably had a year to live.
That diagnosis set her off on a quest to see all the birds she could in the time she had left on earth.
As it turned out, the doctor was wrong and she had many years devoted to crisscrossing the globe finding rare and spectacular birds.
She became the first person to record eight thousand species and she finally died in a traffic accident in Madagascar. Her final life total was a staggering 8,398 individual birds. A number of these, including the Hawaiian crow and the poo-uli, have since gone extinct.
According to the book, “When the bus crashed, Phoebe, binoculars in hand, was killed instantly. Undoubtedly, she was dreaming of the red-shouldered vanga or the hoped-for Appert’s greenbul. She went out, as she had always hoped for, at the top of her game, in the middle of doing what she most loved to do.”
I am a big fan of Phoebe Snetsinger. I, too, have traveled the globe looking at birds, and while I am not a serious “lister”, I have enjoyed every single bird, from the tiny house sparrow on my back deck, to the long-tailed resplendent quetzal in Peru. I am sure Phoebe would agree – watching birds is both fun and fascinating.