Adapted from an article by Jorjanna Price
We would like to extend our greatest thanks to long time member and volunteer Mary Parker for her donation of roughly 300 books on birding, ornithology, biology, prairies and nature.
Mary Parker joined Travis Audubon in 1963 while attending the University of Texas. She recalls the main event at meetings in the ‘60s was watching nature films. “They’d bring out these large film reels, and show birdlife and nature from someone’s travels. The filmmaker would do the narration.”
As a UT student, she and a small group of birders would find marvelous sightings in the wooded neighborhoods just a few blocks from campus. “That was before so much was paved over,” she says. The one student in the group who owned a car would take everyone out to Platt Ponds, now part of the Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory.
Parker pursued her love of plants and animals by obtaining undergraduate and graduate degrees in zoology. With a Ph.D., she became one of the first female instructors in UT’s zoology department. She would go on to work at several state agencies conducting environmental assessments.
The Eldorado native says her interest in plants took bloom at age 7 or 8, thanks to her mother’s love of gardening and to periodic forays into San Angelo, where she would be allowed to buy one book per trip. At age 10, she discovered one of Roger Tory Peterson’s field guides and set to identifying as many bird species as she could.
While maintaining her TAS membership for over five decades, Parker has enjoyed birding in Mexico, the Gulf Coast area, Big Bend National Park, as well as in other states where she attended professional conferences. Among her favorite birds are the Black-throated Sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata), Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris), and Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis). Much of her birding is by sound because she knows most of the calls and songs by heart. Thanks to an acute sense of hearing, she can even hear the cranes fly over her head when they migrate.
As Parker well knows, birders never lose their love of the discoveries awaiting them in nature. We are so grateful to her continuous support of Travis Audubon throughout the years.