LATE FLASH: Purple Martins smk congregating in West
University Village Shopping oWter. Estimated 20 to
25,000 at least. Best viewing: 8:30 to 9:00 pm at
corner of Dunstan and Kelvin. Park on bank parking lot,
northeast corner_;__MaY, §^y until July 15 or 20.
Volume XXV, No.
PUBLISHED BY THE ORNITHOLOGY GROUP, OUTDOOR NATURE CLUB, HOUSTON, TEXAS
NO MORE BIRDING FOR AKM
Arlle McKay, whom everyone knew as THE birder in this area, died June 24, 1975, from
Injuries received In an automobile accident. He was a contributor to the SPOONBILL
from Its inception in 1952, and no Clearing House was complete without his observations. We who knew him have been grieving for Arlle because his diminishing eyesight
was curtailing his enjoyment in birding, but now We grieve for ourselves for the loss
of this wise, warm and witty man.
ARLIE - by T. Ben Feltner
With the death of Arlle McKay the 0G has lost one of the greatest and best loved of
its members. The man was quite possibly the best field birder In the state, but he
was more than that. It Is fashionable these days to place great emphasis on listing.
To see five hundred or six hundred species of birds remains the goal of many of us.
Perhaps we have attached too much of our ego to these alms. It Is Interesting to note
that Arlle never played this game except on a personal basis.
Long ago he realized that he would never travel extensively, so he set about defining
his own birding boundaries and from that time on contented himself with those self-
imposed perimeters. Only Arlle knew Just what those boundaries were, but It was a
small area Which Included part of Chambers County and a bit of Harris County.
Up until recently Arlle birded and recorded every Individual bird that he saw or heard
each day of his life. He started In 1932 and from that time on he was constant with
his records. I am sure that he never saw over 500 birds, but he knew the birds he
saw Intimately, and his expertise in the field In the checklist area Is unsurpassed.
The last time I birded with Arlie he showed several of us the Rock Wren. His hearing
was poor, and cataracts had precluded his seeing even the most common birds that day,
and I realized slowly that he had initially Identified the bird by Its outline only,
and the fact that he knew what it wasn't. It Is a tribute to his skill that he added
a number of birds to the checklist.
He was perhaps the only person whose word was totally reliable. When he reported a
rare bird you could depend on It. Black Swift, Barrow's Goldeneye, Smooth-billed Ani,
Varied Thrush, Sooty Tern—these were a few of the unusual species that he found, and
although there Is no Irrefutable proof that he ever saw them, and many experts will
not accept them, there is no doubt In my mind. If Arlle had reported a Whiskered
Auklet In Old River there would have been one there.
In spite of the fact that he constantly found rare and unusual species, and was an
excellent field birder, he always remained self-effacing and never presumed that he
knew more than anyone else, although he did. No one was ever too much trouble for
Arlle, and everyone was greeted with the same effervescing, pixylsh grin, and barraged
with his anecdotes, which more often than not, centered around his own very few field
Arlle Is not listed in the top ten In the country or even in the state, but In my
opinion there is no better birder among them. I sincerely hope that his daily records will be secured for the OG archives as there Is no more complete set of records
among us. The spot vacated by his death will remain empty forever.
RARE, RARE BIRD REPORTED IN WIMBERLEY
A Green Violet-eared Hummingbird (perhaps only the second record in the U.S., one was
seen In Austin several years ago) Is being seen at Mrs. Henry Dunlap's feeder In Wim-
berley. If you wish to see the bird, she asks that you call her during the day at
847-2570 — after five and week-ends at 847-2520. Barbara Rlbble of Austin reported
this to Margaret Anderson July 8th.