Hi All: With Jamie’s permission, I’ve copied this here…
TRIBUTE TO KAREN
BRIDGERS – April 17, 2017
Joan Easton Lentz
on a fall morning in 1980 I found myself wandering around the empty Elks Club
parking lot off Kellogg Avenue in Goleta. A Summer Tanager had been reported there,
and I’d never seen one before.
in the corner by the big hedge, I saw another female birder with binoculars who
looked about my age. We introduced
ourselves, then spotted the Summer Tanager perched on a wire overhead catching
bees. The birder I met was Karen
Bridgers, and our walk around the Elks Club parking lot started a friendship
that was to last all our lives.
Karen Bridgers relocated to Utah, she left behind over 25 years of commitment
to the birding community and to Santa Barbara Audubon Society.
was, quite literally, the “voice of Santa Barbara Audubon”: she recorded the weekly Rare Bird Alert
on the local hotline faithfully for many years. Recall that, before the internet and cell phones, one of the
only ways to learn about rare bird sightings in the area was to phone the
Audubon-sponsored Rare Bird Alert.
Karen’s voice would accurately and patiently tell us where to find the
latest birding discovery. Or, if a
local or out-of-town birder had seen an unusual bird, they could call Karen and
she would immediately report the sighting on the hotline. What an amazing job she did, purely for
the fun of spreading the bird news to all of us.
Bridgers was not only the voice of Santa Barbara Audubon, she helped out in
countless other ways. During the
days before the annual Christmas Bird Count, Karen would publicize the fact
that we were looking for rare birds by writing about them in her newspaper column. In this way, even total strangers to
the birding community would call Karen, and we were able to locate the birds
for the Christmas Count.
Bridgers’ column about birds in the Santa Barbara News-Press was an invaluable
contribution to the birding cause.
Her timely remarks on seasonal bird species, many of which could be seen
in our backyards, were spot on, and her readership was vast.
only did Karen know her birds, she was an excellent writer and editor. What’s
more, her writing was sparked by a marvelous sense of humor. She wrote many articles for various
publications, both online and in print, and when they were about birds and
birding, they could be very funny.
once told me that the first bird she ever noticed was a European Starling,
about which she called the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History to get an
identification. Since then, Karen would
go on to find and identify numerous species – many of them much sought-after
rarities that excite birders. She
also had wonderful birds at her backyard feeder in Goleta: Ruddy Ground-Dove, Brown Thrasher, and Harris’s
Sparrow, to name a few. At the same
time, she raised two daughters, and was lucky enough to have a patient and
“tolerant of birding” husband, Bud Bridgers.
a personal note, I will miss Karen Bridgers dreadfully. She was my first real
birding companion. We were
“suburban housewives” together, raising kids and staying home while our
husbands went to work. Back in
those days, the top birders in Santa Barbara didn’t include many middle-aged
we never let that stop us! Every
fall, year after year, would find Karen and me at Carpinteria Creek or Refugio
State Beach looking for Eastern warblers that might have gone astray. Karen –with her incredible eyes –would
always get her binoculars on the bird first. Then, we’d figure out together what we were seeing.
we’d call each other several times a day to commiserate about mistaking a bird
identification or to compare notes about family life.
were both writers, but Karen was a professional journalist. I always told her she could “write her
way out of a paper bag.” And she
was that good that she could, and did, write about whatever project she was
working on. Whether or not the subject was birds, she could edit a manuscript
to make it sound perfect.
Karen. I was so lucky to have had all the great birding adventures with you –
whether it was Texas or Arizona, or just a park around the corner from your
house – you were a fabulous birder and an even better friend.