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A Feather in Her Cap

Google honors legendary birder Phoebe Snetsinger ’53 with a Doodle

Over the course of her life, Phoebe Snetsinger ’53 was responsible for sighting 8,398 birds—a record she held well after her death in 1999. In honor of what would have been her 85th birthday June 9, 2016, Google honored Snetsinger with its daily Doodle, attempting to capture the immense legacy that Snetsinger left behind.

Though she is now regarded as a birding legend, Snetsinger had little to do with birds until a fateful day in 1965, when she embarked on her first bird walk with a neighbor. Upon spotting a Blackburnian Warbler, Snetsinger was transfixed, marking the start of an illustrious passion. This love for birds peaked shortly after her 50th birthday, when a doctor diagnosed her with terminal cancer. Despite being given only a year to live, Snetsinger remained resilient and refused to let disease impede her. She would go on to live 18 more years, traveling frequently and discovering birds from every corner of the world.

Snetsinger’s work in the field of birding cannot be understated. Even 17 years after her death, she remains a celebrity figure in her field. Her work has paved the way for and inspired young birders such as Sayed Malawi ’18, who was featured in the spring issue of the Swarthmore College Bulletin