BIRD WATCH: After 50 years Joan Carson bids farewell to column, readers

THIS IS A difficult column to write.

Traditionally, one’s retirement is a reason to celebrate.

I don’t really feel like celebrating, but maybe that will come, little by little.

This will be my last column concerning birds and birdwatchers.

After 50 years (Dec. 6, 1967), I have decided to meet my last weekly deadline.

That is a reason for celebration, especially when I am traveling.

Writing several columns to cover the time I am away from the desk won’t be missed.

I will miss my readers.

If — when this column first ran — I had had any idea of all the letters and later, emails, it would generate, I would have saved them.

It’s the readers who are responsible for the column’s long life. Your questions and the friendly letters that crossed my desk helped me make all those deadlines.

Your thoughts and input were often responsible for the column’s subject that week.

Many of your questions meant some serious research on my part.

We both learned new things as a result of that research.

I won’t miss the birds. They will always be part of my life.

The feeders and bird bath will still be in place near the kitchen windows.

I expect there will be those days when something happens in the yard and I realize I can’t share it with you.

That will be difficult.

There have been many times when a column’s subject brought reports from readers experiencing the same thing.

Now, I won’t know who sees the first rufous hummingbird this spring.

There won’t be questions about “crazy birds” attacking windows.

When this column first appeared, I had no idea of how it would affect our family.

It took us throughout this country and around the world.

There were friends we met along the way and some very interesting people.

Back in the 1980s, I was asked to serve on the Department of Wildlife’s Nongame Advisory Council.

That was just plain fun.

Yes, we had our council meetings to discuss the agency’s day-to-day activities, but we also became involved with their future plans.

We journeyed all over this state and were introduced to the department’s work concerning this state’s wildlife, primarily nongame or non-hunted wildlife.

Yes, I found life birds on those field trips.

The first to come to mind is the mountain quail. One of the other members on the council had to fill me in on how he once hunted this elusive bird.

I still keep in touch with birders from England who can only be classed as “world birders.” Tom and Julia and their family are close friends.

Maybe I will visit them once more in retirement.

Other birders came into our lives and we visited back and forth while enjoying birding in each other’s back yards.

From Maine to Maryland and from Alaska’s Pribilof Islands to Ecuador’s Galapagos, we shared some exciting birding.

This love of travel and making new friends has become imbedded in the lives of our children and grandchildren as well.

I have no answer for the grandson who recently asked, “Grandma, didn’t your parents ever worry about places you traveled to?”

I had just warned him about being “very careful” on his next trip and he turned the tables on me.

This final column could ramble on and on.

Perusing my files and reading old journals brought on a flood of memories.

They made it crystal clear that all those deadlines were worth it.


Joan Carson’s column appears every Sunday. Contact her at P.O. Box 532, Poulsbo, WA 98370, with a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a reply. Email:

More in Life

CutlIne: What beautiful long ears and adorable eyes he has! Meet Rio,  a mammoth donkey who grew to 16’2 hands tall.
HORSEPLAY: Want a donkey? A beginners guide to donkey care

GOT THE URGE to bring home a cute, adorable miniature donkey? I’ve… Continue reading

The Rev. Pam Douglas-Smith.
Unity in Port Townsend planning for Sunday services

The Rev. Pam Douglas-Smith will present “Heart Centeredness” at… Continue reading

A GROWING CONCERN: Good habits build character for your garden

LET’S RECAP WHERE we are so far this year. I am back… Continue reading

“Against all Odds: Abandonment to Olympian, A Tribute to Joe Rantz” by Catherine Bilyard is one of 41 quilts on display in Sequim Museum & Arts through the end of March as part of the “Inspiration/Exploration” exhibit. (Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group)
Joe Rantz quilt highlighted at Sequim museum

Tribute among 41 pieces in show

Sunday program set for OUUF

Joseph Bednarik will present “Sex and the Dictionary” at… Continue reading

ISSUES OF FAITH: Cut away what holds growth back

IT’S FEBRUARY AND time to begin pruning the vineyards in Eastern Washington… Continue reading

Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News

A perch on the bowsprit affords these spectators a wide open view of competing boats in a previous year's regatta on Port Townsend Bay.
Shipwrights’ Regatta set for Saturday

The sailboat racing season opens Saturday with the Port… Continue reading

Mason bee lecture scheduled

Carrie Morlag will discuss raising mason bees at 10 a.m.… Continue reading

Work to learn in Sequim Saturday

John Hassel will demonstrate how to prune roses at 1… Continue reading

Geology lecture set Saturday

Brian Sherrod will present “High-resolution dating of a multi-fault… Continue reading

Wool spinning demonstration set

Dean Hyden will demonstrate the use of a spinning… Continue reading

Red, Set, Go! Heart Luncheon set for Friday

The Olympic Medical Center Foundation will host the 16th-annual… Continue reading