Fellow birders, I am asking you to participate in a very special event this week. As many of you may already know, Bruce Barker has been fighting a tough battle against a rare and very aggressive cancer. Sadly, treatments have been unsuccessful and he is currently in home hospice and not able to have visitors. However, a plan has been hatched for the Maine birding community to let Bruce know we are all thinking of him and show our appreciation for all he has done by taking him birding vicariously with us over the next week. With the blessing of Bruce’s family, we have set up an eBird account named “Birding For Bruce” (username: BirdingForBruce) that we hope you will all share any birding you do from 10-15 July. Our goal is to collectively make a big contribution of checklists and breeding records during this time period, and at the end of the week summarize our observations in a final write up to share with Bruce so he can see the places, species, and breeding codes we were able to document in his honor.
Bruce has been a tremendously helpful member of our community. From birding with him on Monhegan, co-leading walks for the Acadia Birding Festival, or chasing rare birds in Penobscot County, I’ll absolutely miss his company. He has always been the kind of birder to go beyond his own pursuits in helping others see their targets – I can vividly remember him assisting unstable festival participants aboard the Friendship V trying to spot their lifer Common Murres among the hundred-plus Razorbills on Petit Manan. Bruce wouldn’t give up on pointing out those birds until everyone was happy and I hope we can raise his spirits a bit by helping him bird this week.
I’ve been amazed to learn his reach beyond the birding community and what an impact he had as a pioneer of Karate in Maine. Those peers started a Facebook page where his students, friends and colleagues have shared thoughts and images (facebook.com/groups/174990016481077/) and also a GoFundMe page set up to raise money to help Bruce and his family with medical expenses and support: gofundme.com/bruce-barkersfight-against-cancer
Bruce has also been an avid eBirder, having submitted over 2000 checklists in the last few years, and was planning on being a big part of the Maine Bird Atlas. He had volunteered to be a regional coordinator but had to step back when his health began deteriorating. Again, please consider sharing any eBird and Maine Bird Atlas checklists from now until July 15th with the username: BirdingForBruce.
Here are instructions on sharing lists if this is new to you: https://help.ebird.org/customer/portal/articles/1010555-understanding-the-ebird-checklist-sharing-process
Thank you and may your positive thoughts be with Bruce, his wife Sharon, and his family.