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Steve Carr, a Utah Birding Icon

posted by Tim Avery at
on Friday, January 17, 2014 

There probably aren't very many birders out there who don't know who Steve Carr was, or hadn't had the pleasure to run into or meet him at least once while out birding around Utah.  Steve was an avid member of the Utah Birding community who contributed a great deal in his 50+ years birding in Utah.  I know the first time I met Steve was while back visiting Utah during college--he was the poster child of birding--everything you would expect form someone who had spent their entire life doing.  A few years later I tagged along on what was I believe one of the last Salt Lake Birders trips, to Southeastern Utah.  That was the first time I really talked to Steve much about his past birding in Utah.

Steve (right) chasing Longspurs near Howell

After that Steve showed up form time to time on trips I led.  I remember two specifically--one was to the Salt Lake International Center to look for migrants in 2008.  I touted how great the SLIC was and we had 20+ people show up to go birding there.  By mornings end we had seen maybe 10 bird comprised of 3 or 4 species--it was a spectacular flop, but even at the end when we took a group picture, Steve was still smiling.

Steve center and furthest back with the baseball cap, and 20 some odd Utah Birding Friends.

The other trip was an owling trip in East Canyon the same year.  As our group walked up the road int he dark an owl started calling very close up in the woods.  In the excitement as I found the bird, Steve was making his way over and took a tumble.  He got right back on his feet, excited about the great looks we had.  That night our group had 10 Flammulated Owls, and 3 other species--one of the best owling trips I've had.

I know that Steve will be greatly missed in the birding community.  The last time I saw him was just a couple weeks ago, and he was busy scanning a flock of Horned Larks looking for a Snow Bunting or Lapland Longspur. I wish I would have stopped to say Hi one more time--the last time I recall seeing him before that was looking at the Red-throated Loon at Lee Kay Ponds last spring.  Steve was always out chasing those few birds he hadn't see in Utah.  I'm glad he got the Streak-backed Oriole--one helluva bird to top of your Utah Life List.

Rest in Peace Steve, and thank you for everything you did for the birding community in Utah.


Blogger Kenny Frisch said...

Great post on a great birder.

January 17, 2014 at 10:42 AM  
Blogger Ryan O'Donnell said...

I'll remember fondly my few times birding with this local legend. RIP, Steve.

January 17, 2014 at 11:39 AM  
Anonymous Bryan Shirley said...

Thanks for the post Tim. Steve will be greatly missed. He was a great birder and all around nice guy.
He also published a couple of interesting books about some of Utah's history - I have one he wrote titled
Utah Ghost Rails and I know he had another one about Utah Ghost Towns.

January 17, 2014 at 2:26 PM  
Blogger Jeff Cooper said...

I was able to visit with Steve on the Provo Airport Dike after Eric Huish reported the Tropical Kingbird a year or so ago. I remember feeling a great deal of respect for Steve's experience and noticed that he listened to the thoughts of a novice birder as closely as any other birder.

January 17, 2014 at 9:31 PM  
Blogger thygerson said...

My first meeting with Steve was in the Salt Lake City airport to join Mark Stackhouse on a southern Mexico birding trip. We were roommates and shared several common friends including Clayton White of birding fame. He told me that he almost went into ornithology for a career instead of medicine (he was a pediatrician). He served as a medical doctor for the LDS Church in Peru where he acquired during his traveling hundreds of new species on his life list.

January 18, 2014 at 3:24 PM  
Anonymous Allison Carr said...

Thank you Tim for your sweet tribute to my father. I appreciate you taking the time as well as anyone who commented on experiences they had with my dad. My dad lit up when he talked about his birding trips and experiences, it was the hobby he enjoyed the most. Our family is reading this post and would appreciate anyone else who wants to share stories of my dad. Thank you so much to the birding community for all of the years of enjoyment my dad shared with all of you.

January 19, 2014 at 9:24 AM  
Blogger Craig Fosdick said...

I only birded with Steve once or twice, but he was a gentleman and a scholar. I thought that birders might be interested that he had another passion that he at one time pursued with the same zest he did birds - trains. I have a book that he co-authored with Robert W. Edwards "Utah Ghost Rails" that details many of the long abandoned railroads in the state of Utah, and another book that he coauthored with noted railroad artist Gil Bennett. I had purchased the book "Utah Ghost Rails" before I met Steve, and while we were birding in Cache Valley one day, he asked if I had the book. I had not made the connection that he was one of the authors! Stephen was also a lot more involved with railroads than I realized - he produced at least one map of Utah's railroads, was involved in what is now known as the Heber Valley Railroad, and I believe he helped organize and run the 1997 National Railway Historical Society Convention in Salt Lake City. Steve did everything with a passion, and his passing was noted in Newswire of Trains Magazine, a national publication, which described him as a "railroad historian and author". The last time I saw him, several years ago, Stephen told me that he stopped doing much with trains because he was too busy watching birds and working on his life list!

Rest in peace, Steve.

January 25, 2014 at 10:18 PM  

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