Swan Song

By staff February 1, 2006

At 77, confined to a wheelchair with Lou Gehrig's disease, Marge Sokol's birding days are behind her. But this intrepid adventurer, who, with her late husband, Bob, spent more than 25 years in search of new species, has a new catch-the first Lifetime Achievement Award from the Sarasota Audubon Society.

The Sokols retired to Longboat Key in 1975 and, captivated by the abundant shore birds, joined the Audubon Society. To find a bird she'd never seen before was "thrilling," says Sokol, and she and Bob spotted 3,000 different species in their travels throughout Africa, India, New Guinea, Antarctica, South America, Central America and the Pacific islands. But their favorite bird-watching spot remained the north end of Longboat.

Sokol is a rare bird indeed, says Jeanne Dubi, president of Audubon's local chapter. Besides leading Christmas bird counts and guided walks, she and Bob gave dozens of slide presentations on their overseas trips. "We still use her slides in programs all over town," Dubi says. "She's left a lasting legacy."

Sokol revels in the rising popularity of birdwatching. Her advice to newcomers: "Be patient, have a good bird guide, and just get out and look."

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