[Tweeters] Re: Ruth Sullivan's passing

Evan Houston evanghouston at gmail.com
Mon Jul 11 20:34:07 PDT 2016

Hello Tweeters,

I would also like to thank Shep for sharing this sad news about Ruth's

Ruth was a great part of what, to me, makes the Washington birding
community unique and rich. I became hooked on birding in WA in 2006 and my
birding path only crossed with Ruth a few times. But just about everyone I
have ever birded with has a "Ruth story" to share.

My most memorable "Ruth story" is from a Seattle Audubon trip to the
Pacific County area that we both attended back in September 2008. At that
point, I was still a newer birder, but I was enthusiastic and knew a lot of
the regular birds. At our Tokeland marina stop I was one of the ones
scoping the waters. To the pleasant surprise of all participants, an
unexpected bird flew in and landed a few feet from us, yielding
jaw-dropping views. As several people including Ruth called out, it was a
juvenile Parasitic Jaeger, a lifer for me and several others!

In front of the whole group, Ruth loudly announced something along the
lines of "Hey Evan, you were scoping right where the bird flew in from.
You should've let us know there was a Parasitic Jaeger there!!" Even
though I already knew about and was taking into account Ruth's outsized
personality, her call-out was still fairly mortifying and obviously has
been burned into my memory to this day!

At that time in my birding development, I would have had a hard time
identifying a juvenile Parasitic Jaeger on my own, and I definitely wasn't
thinking about looking for an unexpected bird such as that while scanning
on the field trip!

But, after reflecting on the experience in the days after the field trip, I
realized her call-out was her unique way of giving me some respect and
suggesting that that was the kind of bird I should know about identifying
and should be looking for. Thus, I eventually took the event as a learning
experience for me to take the next step in advancing my birding skills.

By the way, it turns out Ruth's photo of this juvenile Parasitic Jaeger is
featured in Kaufman's 2011 "Field Guide to Advanced Birding" - it is the
lower left Parasitic Jaeger on pg. 310. So maybe I shouldn't've felt so
mortified about not recognizing the bird after all! My similar photo,
taken a minute or so before when the bird was on the water, is here:

Evan Houston
Seattle, WA
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