Bird Observer: The Birding Journal for New England

Bird Observer

The Birding Journal for New England

February 2016

Vol. 44, No. 1

The Lists and the Lister of Wolf Trap Hill Farm

Kathleen "Betty" S. Anderson


Betty Anderson (right) receives Mass Wildlife’s Francis W. Sargent Conservation Award on September 10, 2007. With Mary Griffin (left), Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game. Photograph by Wayne R. Petersen.

The Making of a List-keeping Birder

My parents were country people. My maternal grandparents were pioneer cattle ranchers in Montana, and my mother grew up in a log house along the Big Elk River in the foothills of the Crazy Mountains in south-central Montana. Wolves, coyotes, elk, antelope, and mountain lions, along with deer, jackrabbits, badgers, and smaller critters, all were part of her childhood.

My father grew up near Boston, Massachusetts, but loved the outdoors from childhood; he was an excellent naturalist. One of his vivid memories as a young man was having climbed Mount Katahdin in Maine for the first time and seeing his first caribou standing on the peak. He was homesteading in southwestern Colorado when he became one of the first forest rangers to be appointed to the newly founded United States Forest Service. He spent the next 15 years working for the Forest Service, during which time he met Gifford Pinchot, Ferdinand Silcox, and President Theodore Roosevelt—the three men responsible for its establishment. When I was a child, it seemed to me that my father knew the names of and information about every plant, animal, bird, and reptile we ever saw.

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