All of us at the American Birding Association are saddened to learn of the death of Jeri McMahon this past Sunday. ABA's Membership Experience Coordinator, Nancy Hawley, worked with Jeri's friends and family to put together this biographic sketch and the special memorial that accompanies it.
Farewell, Jeri. Thanks for your many contributions to the birding community. May the sights and sounds of birds, and the thrill of young eyes being opened to them, keep your memory alive in all our hearts.
Jeri started birding at 12 years old in northern Iowa. Her first bird guide book was by Chester A. Reed. Two teachers (the Hagarty sisters) lived on her block, and Jeri would spend hours at their house, studying birds at their feeders or bird bath, or reading all their bird books. She birded all 7 continents and when asked about her bird list, she would say she had about 7000 birds on it.
Jeri belonged to the American Birding Association, Indian Nations Audubon Society of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Ornithological Society, The Bluebird Association, and the Arkansas Birding Association. She had served as president and bird recorder for Indian Nations Audubon and as President and awards chair for the OOS.
She banded birds with MAPS at Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge as well as Fort Gibson Wildlife Management Area and also banded bluebirds in Muskogee County. Jeri was a map consultant for Oklahoma in the Sibley Guide to Birds and also made contributions to the Peterson Field Guide to Birds.
She headed up the Christmas Bird Count for the Fort Gibson area, lead many field trips for birding, and headed up Eagle Days in Fort Gibson for years and introduced her grandson, Donnie, and several other children to the fun of birding.
Jeri has sent one child per year to birding camp, which she found to be one of the best and most meaningful ways to share the joy of birding.
In Jeri's final weeks, another long-time ABA member, Kathy Roach, approached the ABA about setting up a special memorial to Jeri that would help fund other young birders attendence at birding camps. As one of Jeri’s closest friends, Kathy says, “We feel Jeri is certainly worthy of being honored for her life-long love of birds as well as her patience and mentoring to all of us her knew her. In addition, Jeri provided both physical and financial support over the years, to many of our Young Birders. Her outstanding dedication has helped many of our youth to expand their knowledge and gain confidence, as well as allowing many of them to attend our ABA birding camps”.
Kathy adds, “The ABA’s new "Jeri McMahon Memorial" will help maintain and expand all future Young Birder programs and camps. We feel this is a very special honor for a very special lady.”
Jeri lived a life of giving back to birding that all of us would do well to emulate.
To make your donation to Jeri's memorial now, please go to www2.aba.org/jerimcmahon or call Nancy Hawley at 800-850-2473 or 719-578-9703.