Herman D’Entremont on his 80th birthday (Photograph courtesy of the author).
It was around 1960 when a young man out hunting saw something beautiful at the other end of his sights. Wanting to learn more about the birds he was hunting, Herman almost stumbled upon a group of birdwatchers called the Brookline Bird Club. I think he found them in the Boston Globe, which announced a bird walk at Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Concord led by a teenager named Peter Alden. Herman soon discovered there were more birds than ducks. They made sounds, too. He traded his gun for binoculars and a telescope.
During the 60s he was a quick learner and hobnobbed with the best birders of the times at what became his favorite birding spot—Plum Island and adjacent Newburyport. In a short time, he was leading trips and helping out beginners as the leaders before did with him. Herman became one of the elite, one of those whom beginners, intermediates, and even experts would ask for an opinion and receive an accurate answer.
Herman’s hearing was excellent, still very good into his 80s, and he had a good command of bird song. He could identify most of the birds he heard. This came at a time when one had to learn song the old-fashioned way—by chasing down the sound and seeing its source. During the late ’60s, ’70s, and early ’80s there were none better. He was in company of such notables as Nancy and Alden Clayton, Ruth Emery, Stella Garrett, Ida Giriunas, Dick and Dora Hale, Warren Harrington, Larry Jodrey, Dennis and David Oliver, Evelyn Pyburn, Rod Sommers, Gerry Soucy, and Herman Weissberg, just to name a few.
He volunteered his time not only as a leader but also as a board member of the Brookline Bird Club for over 20 years and of Bird Observer of Eastern Massachusetts (now Bird Observer) for about 20 years. He authored the first "Where to Go Birding" in Bird Observer—“A Good Day at Cape Ann”—in 1973. (Reprinted on page 89). Herman also was program chairman of the now defunct Needham Bird Club for almost 30 years and assisted at the banding station at Manomet.
Herman gave of himself as well. He would take young and new birders to all corners of the state. Once he moved to Somerville, he befriended visiting birders by opening his home for them to stay and then going birding in their free time. Herman traveled extensively to all parts of the continent and the world. He birded in all 50 states, going to Hawaii in his 81st year.
His work with novice birders, young or old, was second to none. His quiet demeanor drew people toward him and he would always help locate birds for those having difficulty or not recognizing bird song. If he knew you had not seen a bird, he tried hard to get you on it. Always the patient birder, he would stay just five more minutes to locate what others had passed by.
Over the years the birding community has not had a better ambassador. A lot of us are probably in it because of Herman or someone like him.
Glenn D’Entremont is the nephew of Herman D’Entremont.
Editor’s Note: Herman D’Entremont was one of the founding members of Bird Observer, which was originally called Bird Observer of Eastern Massachusetts. Herman wrote the .ftrst Bird Observer article about where to find birds, reprinted in this issue, from Volume 1 Issue 1, Jan.–Feb. 1973.