aba events
Nikon Monarch 7

Remembering Jeri McMahon


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.

—Jeffrey Gordon 

Jeri M cropped 016

Jeri McMahon, birder

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.

Brazilj 179

Jeri in Brazil

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.

OOS fall meeting, Stillwater, 10-15-17, 2010 031

At the OOS fall meeting, Stillwater


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.


2011-08-05 004

Jeri’s grandson, Donnie


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.


The following two tabs change content below.
Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon is the president of the American Birding Association. There's very little about birds, birding, and birders that he doesn't find fascinating, though he's especially interested in birding culture and the many ways we all communicate our passion for birds, including this Blog.
  • Ann Gordon

    I met Jeri when I started helping with MAPS at Sequoyah NWR. Although I was already a senior citizen I was just a fledgling birder and remember her patience with my mislabeled bird bags. She taught me so much!
    Folks sometimes teased Jeri about trying to make rarities out of commonly sighted birds. But I think she had it right – if you expect only the mundane you might miss out on the extraordinary! So now when I look to the skies I’ll try to do so with her eyes and maybe, sometime, somewhere that large dark bird I see riding the thermals will not be a turkey vulture but a harpy eagle. And wouldn’t she smile at that!

  • Shannon Andregg

    To Nancy Hawley, and all at ABA,
    Thank you for such a wonderful and special tribute to my Mom, Jeri McMahon. That was so very thoughtful, and I appreciate your kindness. She will be the “okiebirder” forever! (-:

  • Nancy Hawley

    Much of the history gathering was done by Kathy Roach who, knowing I knew Jeri as well, nudged me to find a way to honor such a wonderful birder and dear friend. Hence, the above link. I personally will always remember Jeri as on of the “Lady Birds” attending almost every ABA event possible!

  • Nancy Hawley

    Funeral: Foster-Petering Funeral Home, in Muskogee, OK.

    Tuesday, Sept. 25th, at 10:00 am, at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Muskogee, OK.

    The family has suggested donations in lieu of flowers be made to the ABA’s Young Birder Program in Jeri’s honor at www2.aba.org/jerimcmahon

  • Liz Deluna Gordon

    Such lovely sentiment. Thanks.

  • http://eatmorecookies.wordpress.com/ Tim O’Connell

    Thanks so much for this lovely tribute to a classy lady and a top-notch birder.

Birders know well that the healthiest, most dynamic choruses contain many different voices. The birding community encompasses a wide variety of interests, talents, and convictions. All are welcome.
If you like birding, we want to hear from you.
Read More »

Recent Comments

  • Dick Latuchie, in Considering Killdeers and Collared Doves... { Hi Lynn, Really enjoyed this piece, which perfectly captures this basic building-block of birding. You might get a kick out of this. Half an hour... }
  • Matt F., in The How and Why of Urban Cooper's Hawks... { Unfortunately it's not just White-winged Doves they're going after. In recent years, Purple Martin landlords have been seeing alarming increases in the amount of successful... }
  • Nate Swick, in Rare Bird Alert: July 31, 2015... { My mistake. I see now that Machias is where it was *originally* sighted, not where it is seen now. Sent from my phone }
  • mtbattie, in Rare Bird Alert: July 31, 2015... { The Red-billed Tropicbird in Maine is actually not being seen on Machias Seal Island, an island way up on the border of Maine and Canada... }
  • Steve Arena, in The ABA Needs Your NWR Birding Photos!... { Female Least Bittern wing flicking while hunting; https://www.flickr.com/photos/pokedaddy/19421400216/in/photostream/ Photographed 05 July 2015, GMNWR, Concord Impoundments, Concord, Middlesex County, Massachusetts Male Least Bittern in flight https://www.flickr.com/photos/pokedaddy/18801591562/in/album-72157629831020551/... }
  • Older »




via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • What exactly is a field notebook? Part 5 of 5. July 30, 2015 5:14
    Recognizing that there are no such things as right and wrong, here are some thoughts for what you might include in your field journal (and field notebook!). But remember, it’s your field journal so you can do what you want. […]
  • What exactly is a field notebook? Part 4 of 5. July 29, 2015 3:51
    Fact: Careful observations and sketches help you really learn birds. […]
  • What exactly is a field notebook? Part 3 of 5. July 28, 2015 3:44
    It’s all very well showing some of my notes from recent years (Part 2), when I’m an experienced birder, but what did my notes look like when I was a teenager? It’s pretty clear, however, that I wouldn’t have come close to winning any Young Birder of the Year field notebook competition! […]

Follow ABA on Twitter