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Our Peeps: Becky Suomala

Becky began working at NH Audubon in February of 1988. Back in those days there were computers with large floppy disks, no internet, and the rare bird alert was a call-in phone number. She has many stories from her days of answering the phone (“Do frogs have eyes?” and “I have a crocodile in my bathtub!”). For much of her career she has coordinated the Backyard Winter Bird Survey and been the New Hampshire Bird Records Editor. She remembers the days when bird sightings came in to NH Audubon on 3”x5” slips, and laying out the publication involved literally cutting and pasting small black-and-white drawings into the white spaces on the printed sheets.

Becky Suomala birding on the summit of Wildcat Mt., 7/22/22. Photo by Mark Suomala.

She received her degree in Environmental Conservation from the University of New Hampshire and then went back in 1999 part-time for her Master’s degree in Wildlife Ecology. For her thesis she studied the behavior of migrating songbirds during stopover at the Isles of Shoals. Some of you may remember her reports from the bird banding station that she ran on Star Island during spring and fall in 1999 and 2000. She still volunteers at the banding station on Appledore Island.

In her current job as a biologist she is the leader of Project Nighthawk, a bird that is declining in the state. They are active at dawn and dusk and their nests are very hard to find, making them difficult to monitor. “Hearing their peents overhead on warm summer nights is a heart-warming sound and it is heart-braking to watch them disappear.”

During all of this time, volunteers have been key to all she has accomplished. “I am so grateful for the wonderful people who have helped me to do more than I could possibly have done on my own. I so appreciate their support and friendship.” Her longtime colleagues have also been one of the reasons she has stayed for so long at NH Audubon. “There is something special about working at a mission driven organization with people who share my interests in birding and nature, and are committed to helping the natural world. We can connect and support each other on so many levels. It’s very special.”

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Founded in 1914, NH Audubon’s mission is to protect New Hampshire’s natural environment for wildlife and for people. It is an independent statewide membership organization with four nature centers throughout the state. Expert educators give programs to children, families, and adults at centers and in schools. Staff biologists and volunteers conduct bird conservation efforts such as the Peregrine Falcon restoration. NH Audubon protects thousands of acres of wildlife habitat and is a voice for sound public policy on environmental issues. For information on NH Audubon, including membership, volunteering, programs, sanctuaries, and publications, call 224-9909, or visit www.nhaudubon.org.