Starr Saphir, the bird-watching guide in New York City's Central Park for nearly four decades died a week ago today from complications of breast cancer.
The Sassistas! first encountered Starr at last year's SilverDOCS Film Festival when she was featured in the documentary, "Birders: The Central Park Effect". She did not hide that she was struggling with breast cancer, and there was something about her quiet spunk that made anyone who encountered her believe that she would be guiding birders for at least two more decades. Her New York Times obituary revealed that Starr:
. . . identified her first bird 67 years ago and began leading the tours in the 1970s. She became an institution among birders because of her avian acuity and eagerness to share observations and knowledge. But she was the first to acknowledge that the star of the show was not her, despite the nickname Starr, which she acquired as a girl and kept from an earlier career as an actress. (Her given name was Muriel.) The real star, she said, was Central Park.
Major flyways converge over the city, making the 843 acres of the park an oasis for migrating birds eager for a green place to rest and feed. More than 280 bird species have been identified in the park. Birders mention it along with places like the Everglades and Yosemite National Park as a birding mecca . . . .
Ms. Saphir, who left 80 notebooks of her daily sightings, identified 259 species in the park.
Click here to read the complete obituary.
In her lifetime, Starr counted 2,582 different species of birds. What a beautiful way to make life count.