The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

August 4, 2013

Extreme birder coming to Mankato


Clearly, it’s a love that began a long time ago.

Barber recalls her love of birds starting years ago as a child. She grew up on a 160-acre farm in Wisconsin, an upbringing she says fostered a love of exploring the outdoors and discovering new things.

As long as she can remember, she said, she’s loved birds.

She said she was 12 when she first realized her love for birds was more than just a fad and that she might be doing this for the rest of her life.

“I kept notes on birds I saw since age 7,” she said. “But when I was 12, I made a list of 12 things I wanted to do before I was done with my life and one of them was become an ornithologist.”

She went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison and studied zoology but eventually decided that if she pursued a love a birds as a science career, she’d wind up considering it work, and she never wanted this love of birds that she had to be considered work.

So she switched over to bacteriology. Eventually, however, she went to law school and continues a successful patent law practice. But her passion remains in the skies.

“Years ago, when I lived in North Carolina, a woman asked me why I liked to bird so much,” she said. “I couldn’t answer her satisfactorily and I’ve been searching for a way I should have answered that question and haven’t found it.”

She’s been a birder her whole life, but it was the big year that brought her notoriety in the birding world. She published a book that was written in diary form that describes everything that was on her mind — including those times when she wondered why she agreed to do such an ambitious, large-scope project.

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