My Spark Bird story:
I loved raptors and was hooked on hawks. So, I took a hawk watching course with Paul Roberts, the famous birder, and we went up to Mt. Wachusett, in MA, as a class. At that time some birds were rare that are more common today. I was standing on the mountaintop with Paul and the class and I went off and looked in another direction, all of a sudden I saw this incredible dark form come over my head, and it was a Bald Eagle. Bald Eagles were rare and exciting at that time. I shouted out “Bald Eagle!” The class all came over, everybody was celebrating. And I said to myself, “Oh, this is really cool. I can do this. I want to do this for my life.” So, I said I want to become an ornithologist.
I think the spark bird to me was super exciting. I did a 180 turn from being a psychiatric social worker to want to become an ornithologist. I felt that I discovered my true passion. I could lead people to birds. I think it was a combination of my early interest but also just having a special, magical moment. And this does happen to people. There are literally life-changing moments in time. For me, at that moment, I knew it. I said I want to become an ornithologist. I'm going to go back and get a Ph.D. in ornithology.
At that point, I took one more course on bird behavior at the Massachusetts Audubon Society. My husband to be, Don Stokes, was the teacher. The rest is history.