Fay Vale. Photograph by the author.
Fay Vale started birding in the 1970s, an offshoot of another hobby that took her to the outdoors. She and her husband Peter saw a bird, then more, and the addiction struck. She and Peter birded alone for several years, unaware of the birding community until they met Herman Weissberg who introduced them to the Brookline Bird Club. Fay was very active in the club, co-leading trips with Peter and eventually serving on their Board of Directors.
Fay and Peter were early important contributors to the records of bird sightings in Bird Observer. In the early 1990s, as the email listserv MassBird became a more and more important source for these records, she was conscripted to compile these MassBird records, which she continued to do for nearly 30 years until she fell ill.
For Fay, it was important to give back to the birding community she loved. In addition to her work for Bird Observer, she led trips for the Brookline Bird Club and the Menotomy Bird Club, was a sector leader for the Boston Christmas Bird Count, assisted at the Joppa Flats banding station, and spearheaded several blocks for the Breeding Bird Atlas.
Fay was ruthlessly optimistic. When someone complained about the problems of getting old she would always respond, "Well it's better than the alternative." Later in life numerous physical setbacks forced her more and more to scale back her movement until, before her death, she was limited to a walker. This never stopped her birding, and she developed car birding to an art form. She appreciated what she could do instead of complaining about what she could not.
Fay Vale died on February 1, 2020, one day shy of her 74th birthday.