In Honor of Shel Severinghaus (#707)

My friend Shel Severinghaus sadly passed away last week after a difficult bout with cancer. The Severinghaus Family was instrumental in developing my interest in birds, starting in the late 1960’s with trips to southern Florida. Well lucky me, the Temple Owls qualified for a football bowl game to be played in Boca Raton this evening, so I “had” to join Nina down there. Even better, the elusive Western Spindalis (aka stripe-headed tanager), a bird I frustratingly missed in Key West two years ago, was being seen daily in a Ft. Lauderdale area park since Thanksgiving.

The rare bird alerts made it seem like this bird would be easy to locate. However, the alerts didn’t mention that the park was a dog park, a really popular dog park. The combination of playful pups, overhead jets and I-595 traffic made it nearly impossible to listen for or to locate the family of Spot-breasted Orioles with whom the smaller, shy Spindalis tended to associate. After two hours searching a ten acre area by myself with no other birders in sight, I was beginning to feel the pressure of my promise to be “back by lunch”. Fortunately, a birder from Minnesota and another fellow from Tampa showed up. We quickly divided up the territory and within minutes the orioles were spotted.

Spot-breasted Oriole

Spot-breasted Oriole

I had not seen a Spot-breasted Oriole since the one that nested in Shel’s father’s Coconut Grove, Fla yard… 1969! And just as promised, the Orioles were a true harbinger for North American life bird #707. A beautiful male Western Spindalis peeked out of the foliage for a moment and I shot off a barrage of digital ammo. A Spindalis in honor of Severinghaus….truly fitting.

Western Spindalis Markham Park, Fla

Western Spindalis
Markham Park, Fla

About George C. Wood

A birder since age ten, but not necessarily an avid "lister", I am closing in on 700 (*800!) species seen in North America.....hoping to capture each sighting with my camera.
This entry was posted in Quest for 700 (*800!). Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to In Honor of Shel Severinghaus (#707)

  1. Tom Mason says:

    Timing is everything. Good going, George.

  2. mike selverian says:

    Very cool George!

  3. Dorothy Weisbord says:

    Excellent birding, George……Sorry for loss of your friend.

  4. Shellie says:


  5. Rowe, Larry says:

    George congrats for #707. Sounds more like an aircraft. My condolences to the Severinghaus family. Lars ________________________________

  6. Joe Scornavacchi says:

    Bravo George! And I’m sorry to hear about Shel. Hope to see you soon, Joey

  7. Bob Roche says:

    Very nice, George congrats on 707! Do you take all the fotos as evidence of the sighting? I’m sorry for Shel’s passing. Have a great Christmas and give our best regards to Nina.
    Bob Roche

    • Hiya Bob (and others), photos aren’t “required” by the birding authorities for listing purposes. At this point, I’m hoping to document a new sighting via a photo and write about each adventure. Without a photo, I’m not sure anybody would read:)

  8. Haden Gerrish says:

    George, Great to see you back out in the “Field”!

  9. burkebiz says:

    Congrats – great tribute to your Fords imprimatur !

  10. Inspiring! Well done.Sent from my Veriz

  11. wistarwood says:

    Way to go, Bro! 707s overhead, #707 in the bush!

  12. Joe Cox says:

    Who doesn’t believe in reincarnation? Well done, Geoge!!

  13. Ralph Howe says:


    My grandfather, Samuel P. Howe, had a house at 3907 N Utopia Court in Coconut Grove, Florida. Don’t know that he and Les ever knew each other.

    Janet and I have a large white South Moluccan Island Cockatoo. We love her and all other birds.



  14. Joe Weisbord says:

    Great tribute, GCW

  15. Dan Miller says:

    Way to go George!

  16. Jim Buck says:

    You are remarkable, Woody, and I can’t imagine a more appropriate tribute to the Severinghaus family than this. Thanks, always, for sharing your life (birds) tales!

  17. Finally reading your moving tribute. It says a lot about coming full circle on birding and friendship and life and how it all comes together…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s