Subject: [Tweeters] Ed Swan, birding savant, author, teacher and friend
Date: Fri Nov 4 13:24:42 PDT 2022
From: Raphael Fennimore - raphael.fennimore at

Hello Tweeters,

It is with a sad heart that I pass along the below message from Sue Trevathan:

"There are some who bring a light so great to the world that even after they have gone, the light remains."

Whoever wrote these beautiful words must have envisioned Ed Swan.

We lost Ed to a heart attack Friday, Oct. 28 in the prime of his life, while he was doing what he loved most, birding at one of his favorite places. Vashon has been in mourning ever since.

Ed's knowledge of birds was legendary, yet he remained modest and humble. When he and his wife, Linda Barnes, moved to Vashon in 2000, his reputation as a master birder preceded him. Instead of waiting to be asked, he showed up at every opportunity to support Vashon Audubon and was always willing to share his vast knowledge about birds in a way that fueled one's curiosity to learn more. He served as Vashon Audubon president for many years, and managed the Christmas Bird Count, an annual survey that contributes to global knowledge about bird populations.

Many of us were delighted to encounter Ed while out birding on the island, always wearing his classic bird T-shirts. He was known to bundle up his young sons, Garnet and Leander, and take them all over the island on his birding expeditions.

Ed was meticulous in his record-keeping, noting for many years the arrival and departure dates for migratory and rare birds on the island. This effort culminated in his essential book, The Birds of Vashon Island: A Natural History of Habitat and Population Transformation, which was so popular that he produced an updated edition in 2013.

This book is key to our understanding of bird populations and their habitats on Vashon. It is a go-to for island naturalists and will remain the definitive baseline of bird species accounts, seasonal abundance, and birding hotspots on the island as we face an uncertain future of climate change and habitat loss.

After Ed and Linda moved to West Seattle in 2015, he resurrected Washington Birds, the journal of the Washington Ornithological Society, after many years of dormancy. He was always seeking better ways to teach birding techniques, and he developed a unique, systemic method for improving birdwatching skills that he taught to eager participants through Vashon Audubon, Tahoma Audubon, Rainier Audubon, and North Cascades Audubon. He led countless birding trips all over Puget Sound, and offered backyard consultations on how to attract birds and other wildlife.

As I look out my window and see my first Varied Thrush of the season, I think about the gifts Ed left for us and my hope that we can make a difference in the lives of birds, even if it's just in our own backyards.

-; Sue Trevathan