Bird Observer: The Birding Journal for New England

Bird Observer

The Birding Journal for New England

June 2017

Vol. 45, No. 3

Marj the Magnificent: A Tribute and Thank You to Marj Rines

Wayne R. Petersen


Marj Rines. Photograph courtesy of Mass Audubon.

Many readers are probably unaware that Marj Rines, much-valued and long-time Bird Sightings Editor for Bird Observer, has decided to step down in this capacity following more than 25 years of skillful and valued service to the journal. Birders in Massachusetts and beyond know Marj as a discerning and dedicated field observer, especially in her favorite birding patches in Arlington, Lexington, and Woburn. Others no doubt think of her as the long-standing webmaster of her former website, Massbird.org. Then there are the local birders who acknowledge her as the founder of the popular Menotomy Bird Club, or as the helpful voice on the other end of Mass Audubon’s wildlife information line. And there will be some of us who will forever respectfully recall her ever-meticulous role as Secretary of the Massachusetts Avian Record Committee (MARC) from 2000–2009. Ultimately, however, Marj’s greatest achievement, and arguably among her most valued accomplishments, has been in the arena of bird recordkeeping.

Since its inception, Bird Observer has been committed to publishing significant bird records for Massachusetts. Before this, however, and going back to the 1930s, significant bird records in the Commonwealth were archived in a modest, stapled publication called the Bulletin of New England Bird Life and produced by the New England Museum of Natural History. By 1945, the publication was expanded and called the Records of New England Birds, which the Massachusetts Audubon Society hosted from 1945 to 1968 until financial challenges made it no longer feasible to publish the Records of New England Birds. In 1973, the newly created magazine Bird Observer of Eastern Massachusetts took on this responsibility.

Through the years, a number of Bird Observer field records editors assisted Mass Audubon’s Ruth P. Emery with the task of compiling bird records until 1989, when failing health made it impossible for Ruth to continue. In 1990, Marj Rines assumed an active role as bird record arbitrator and archivist for Bird Observer (as it was called by then). Shortly after taking on the responsibility of compiling and overseeing the validity of the journal’s printed field reports, Marj, who was considerably computer savvy, created a searchable, digital database for Massachusetts bird records that ultimately was to prove of immense value to editors, authors, and anyone quickly needing a local compendium of bird reports by date, locality, or observer. This contribution alone, to say nothing of her continual monthly sifting and sorting of statewide bird reports, made Marj Rines a practically indispensable resource for nearly three decades of bird recordkeeping for Massachusetts.

With this historical glimpse of bird recordkeeping in Massachusetts in mind, the Board of Directors and staff of Bird Observer, as well as the entire New England birding community, wish to salute Marj’s many contributions to Massachusetts ornithology, which include popularizing and helping raise birding in the Commonwealth to a new level. Good luck in whatever comes next Marj, but whatever you do, don’t stop birding!


Bird Observer would like to thank recently-retired members of the Board of Directors Elizabeth (Liz) Clark, Paul Fitzgerald, Carolyn Marsh, John Marsh, and Fay Vale for their support and many contributions to the journal and the organization.

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