Remembering Barney Kroeger, 1950 – 2014
By Rudy Darling
Barney was not a joiner – he never belonged to Sierra Foothills or National Audubon – but he was arguably the most active non-member we have ever had. He took part in countless local Christmas Bird Counts. He was a founding member of the Avian Nation Bird-A-Thon team and helped raise thousands
of dollars for SFAS. He helped me lead field trips, though he protested that he was not a leader. He was a member of the Ne- vada County record-setting Big Day team. He taught me good places to find owls and about owl sounds. He was my birding buddy. He was my friend.
Barney was already a darned good birder when I first met him. Even his car’s license plate was “RU4BRDS”. We hit it off immediately. I remember one time early on when he wanted to learn more about identification of bird songs. I took him on my walking loop, pointing out the songs I knew. About half way through, he declared, “Dagnabbit, I’ll never learn how to tell all those sounds apart. I just don’t have the ear for it!” Never say “never.” When his 6-year battle with ALS made it impossible to hold binoculars steady, he took up recording bird sounds and soundscapes. Many of these recordings can be heard on www.boidnoise.org. By the end, he was teaching me about the fine points of bird sound identification. SFAS Board member, Walt Carnahan, reports, “Barney’s recording of a morning on Banner Mountain was virtually the last thing that Gayle Carlsmith [former SFAS treasurer] heard when she passed. Gayle had lost her sight at the end and I gave her a copy of Barney’s recording. Her daughter reported that when she passed they had been listening to it in a hot tub.
”Keith Hansen (renowned artist, birder, tour leader) writes, “Barney displayed a contrast between how gentle of a man he was, while also showing how strongly he would protest when relating to an injustice. … We had just come down from a long and steep climb and were resting our feet and bodies when a young boy … came walking by with a 40+ pound sack of coffee on his back. He was just so upset by the fact that this boy wasn’t playing but was work- ing HARD. Barney was an unfailingly generous person. I was touched by his gift of his nice carbon fiber tripod to Hugo, our leader from Guatemala.”
Barney and I shared many adventures together. One that sticks out in my mind was a whirlwind trip to Death Valley one March. On the way we got our life Black-backed Woodpecker and Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch. At Death Valley, we observed enterprising blackbirds extracting bugs from car grills and radiators – mmm, grilled grasshopper. That night the wind was so strong it blew my pillow away, leading to a wild chase in the dark. On our way home we stopped at Owens Lake and called Virginia Rails. Shortly, two of them came out of the marsh and stood right at our feet. It was a trip I will never forget. Barney was a person I will never forget. He will be missed.
Slide show from Barney’s Memorial
Published on February 25, 2015 · Filed under: Uncategorized;