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Alabama birders (and birds) lose a friend

Anyone who has done any birdwatching in Alabama in recent years is bound to have known (or at least known of) Bob Sargent.

For 30 years, Bob and his wife, Martha, banded birds in the state. And not just a few birds: In the case of hummingbirds, the numbers were in the tens of thousands. Bob and Martha were able to establish the presence in Alabama of 12 species of hummingbirds. At the banding station at Fort Morgan, the Sargents, along with members of the Hummer/Bird Study Group, banded birds in the spring and the fall and in doing so were able to educate countless visitors as to the importance of bird studies, bird habitat and bird migration routes.

The Sargents led the way into researching the occurrence of saw-whet owls in the state. At their home in Clay, Alabama, and other locations, they were able to catch in mist nets the small and, in winter, generally silent saw-whets. Previously, the presence of saw-whets in the state's winter woods was thought to be a rare anomaly. The Sargents proved otherwise.

Several years ago, the Sargents' efforts resulted in a national award by the American Birding Association.

Sadly, Bob Sargent, age 77, died Sept. 7. A celebration of Bob's life is scheduled for Oct. 25, 2014, at 2 p.m. at the Trussville Civic Center. Martha Sargent plans to recommend three conservation groups to which donations may be made in Bob's memory.

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