April 2022

Vol. 50, No. 2

The History of Bird Observer - Chapter 1: The First Five Years

William E. Davis, Jr.

In 1968, Massachusetts Audubon Society ceased its publication of bird sighting records, Records of New England Birds, which, according to many of the more ardent birders of Massachusetts, left a vaccuum. To fill this troublesome void, Bob Stymeist asked Steve Grinley of the Brookline Bird Club whether it would be interested in expanding its publication, Brookline Bird Club Blue Book, to include Where to Go birding articles and other birding-related material. This led to a meeting in the summer of 1972 at Paula Butler’s house in Belmont, attended by Massachusetts Audubon’s Jim Baird, Leif Robinson, Bob Stymeist, Wayne Petersen, Steve Grinley, Philip Martin, and perhaps several others. They initiated the idea of a bimonthly newsletter that would fill the void left by the absence of Records of New England Birds by providing an opportunity for the birders of eastern Massachusetts to report and preserve in print their sightings along with Where to Go and other bird-related articles. Bob circulated the idea and in February 1973, the first issue of Bird Observer of Eastern Massachusetts (Bird Observer, BO), a bimonthly publication, went to press with Paula Butler designated as the editor-in-chief. The first page of the first issue offered clues about what was eventually to become of this “newsletter”:

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