We received a rather interesting question from a reader recently that frankly left us at a loss. This one isn’t about birds but rather birders, one in particular. Whenever we’re stumped by a worthy query, we rely on your wisdom so here’s a significantly redacted version of the initial inquiry, edited to obscure sensitive information:
Hello! I have just finished reading “To See Every Bird on Earth”…I really enjoyed it and am beginning to amass my own Life List and can only hope one day I can begin to approach the status of “Big Lister”.
As I was reading, I thought I recognized the name of XXX, another “Big Lister” who accompanied Dan & Richard Koeppel on a trip. The reason this name rang a bell with me was from a phone call I had received from a man identified himself as the neighbor of XXX and informed me that he had died recently.
So I am presented with this “mystery”. XXX had died somewhere around 90 years old. He had never married or had children according to his neighbor. XXX was an avid birder who had traveled the world and had quite a collection of bird-related stuff. All of the records and photos of a “Big Lister” remain locked up without anyone to claim them.
My question to you is…do you know of any organization that would be interested in his bird stuff? Is there a “Birding Hall of Fame”? Is there somewhere we can look up Big Listers of the past?
To reiterate, does any organized body collect, curate, or utilize the amassed artifacts of a life of big listing? Apparently, the individual in question here had an enormous life list. Is the ABA, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, or any other organization remotely interested in the effects and records of an accomplished international birder?