Date: 9/11/17 1:30 pm From: Don Gorney <in-bird-l...> Subject: [IN-BIRD-L] Tribute to Rodger Rang
Indiana lost another superb birder on September 9, when Rodger Rang passed away due to cancer. Despite Rodger's prowess as a birder, even some long-time Hoosier birders were not very familiar with him. Rodger did not bird away from northeast Indiana very often and typically did not even leave Allen County. He was very content to bird locally as that allowed him more time to spend with his family. Occasionally, he did bird elsewhere in the state and he birded a number of times out of state with his mentor, Jim Haw, and others from the Fort Wayne area.
Rodger was one of the best birding by ear people I have known. As a new birder in Fort Wayne in the 1990's, I was impressed that Rodger could identify every song and call note. It was a pleasure birding with him at Fox Island County Park in my early days as a birder. Just by birding with him, Rodger taught me about bird vocalizations and migration timing. After I moved to Indianapolis in 1998, I did not see Rodger nearly as often but we kept in touch through occasional emails. I did see him at the annual Fort Wayne Christmas Bird Count that I attended for several yeas after I moved. In 2014, I oversaw the bird taxon for a biodiversity survey at Eagle Marsh in Fort Wayne. I was pleased that Rodger participated since he knew the property very well and was such an accomplished birder.
I am certain I met Rodger before I became a birder but my memory is fuzzy. I think he came to our house when I was college-aged when my mom invited co-workers to the house for dinner and probably swimming. In the small world that is life, Rodger worked in the laboratory at Lutheran Hospital with my mom for 30+ years (Cynthia Powers also worked with my mom and Rodger at the hospital.)
Affable is probably the word that best describes Rodger. He was easy to talk to, a pleasure to bird with, and nice to everyone. Below is a tribute that Rodger wrote for Jim Haw in January 2017, after Jim's passing. I think it provides a better glimpse of Rodger as a person and a birder than I could write.
Rodger was taken much too early. I already miss seeing his bird reports from Eagle Marsh and other sites. Ted Heemstra, Jim Haw, and now, Rodger Rang - pillars of the northeast Indiana birding community - all gone within the last 16 months. Great memories of each but profound sadness they are gone.
dongorney AT yahoo.com
On Thu, Jan 19, 2017 at 3:15 PM, Rodger Rang<rrang...> wrote:[IN-BIRD-L] Jim Haw-- History Teacher, Birding Mentor, Birding Friend
I met Jim Haw for the first time in 1980, before I was a "birder"...or even a "bird watcher". I was finishing up my B.S. in biology at IPFW and had filled one of my last elective slots with a U.S. History course he was teaching that semester. I sat next to a fellow biology major, a self-proclaimed birder, and before class, Jim would often initiate conversation with her about which, where, and when birds were being seen and by whom. Of course, the bird names meant nothing to me at the time, nor did the observer names he likely mentioned. (I can only imagine now that those names included the likes of Ken Brock, Ed Hopkins, and, closer to home, Jeff Moore, Doug Rood, Sandy Schacht, and Ted Heemstra.) But, despite my total ignorance of the "hobby" and its enthusiasts, it was very obvious to me at the time that Jim was very passionate about it. Not surprising now, that passion seemed to grow as that spring semester-- and that spring migration--progressed through April and May.
I worked for one of my ecology profs that following summer, and that same fellow biology major would point out all the summering birds our group would encounter as we sampled ponds scattered across NE Indiana. Perhaps it was the killer looks at a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak that triggered my interest, but I found myself attending the occasional Stockbridge Audubon field trip not long afterward. It was on those where I experienced not only again Jim Haw's passion for birding, but also his extensive knowledge, his amazing talent, and his incredible patience and generosity in mentoring new birders, myself and many others included. Even as our skills and confidence grew, Jim was always available to provide some perspective and some encouragement in helping us with our various birding conundrums. But, too, he was often eager to know what others, beginner or not, thought about certain topics, whether it be discussion of an ID, or what birding stop to try next, or even whether it was time for lunch.
Through those field trips, as well as through other special birding activities like CBCs, May Day Counts, and Breeding Bird Surveys, many of us grew close enough over the years that we started going on extended birding trips together. Jim was always the planner. Though he always invited input from the group as to where and when we wanted to go and what birds or places we wanted to see, Jim always planned the specifics, the gritty details that make a rough idea become a pleasant memory. Because of him, I saw many corners of the country, many incredible places, and so many amazing birds that I would never have seen otherwise.
And what great times, so deeply ingrained in my mind. The skunk that we couldn't get our vehicle around as it wobbled down the road ahead of us as we descended a slope at Cave Creek Canyon. The Elf Owl one night in south Texas that flew through our vehicle's barely opened window to end up on the dash. The list of rarities that we got on another Texas trip, where we went five-for-five on the potential group lifers (tough to do in a week when most of your group has life lists in the mid-700s). The silly trip songs that Jim would write (cute) and then attempt to sing (hilarious). Even at the end of a day, when the group was tired, grimy, and hungry, laughter was never more than tortured pun, of which Jim reigned supreme, away.
I'm sure many other members of the birding community have their own stories of how Jim affected their lives, as well as their own special memories of their experiences with him. But, as for me, let me just end simply with:
Jim, I will miss your expertise, your leadership, your dry wit, your friendship. And maybe someday I will even miss your singing.
Rest in peace,