Outdoorsman checked off 1,350 bird species

By STEPHANIE HAYES, Times Staff Writer
Published August 9, 2007

SPRING HILL - Like the birds he loved, Paul Anthony Young flew south for the winter of his life.

The avid bird-watcher reveled in spotting different species in Florida. Plus, the warm weather suited his laid-back attitude. He wore shorts and T-shirts every day for more then 20 years in Spring Hill.

Young died Friday at age 86, after a short bout with pneumonia.

Nature was in his blood. He grew up in Michigan, in a family of outdoors enthusiasts. His father was Paul H. Young, a renowned fly fisherman who made bamboo rods and lightweight fishing gear.

As a boy living atop his parents' fly rod shop, he learned to thrive in the wild. At age 12, he shot his first buck. The same year, he helped his 14-year-old brother build a riverboat house from the ground up.

Young was a bombardier in the Army Air Forces and later worked in a bank. In Michigan, he opened a marina.

He was deft at running the business, his family said. But his heart was in the woods.

Whenever possible, he would escape to the family's cabin in Michigan. In snowy weather, Young spread carrots on the ground for deer. He shot skeet and honed his bird-watching skills.

"It seemed like he was always noticing birds, mentioning what they were as if we were scientists beside him and not little kids," said Deanne Young, one of Young's four children.

He loved to fish at night. He wore a headlamp, but never turned on the light. He liked to sense the fish in the dark, watching the big schools swim by.

Fishing didn't last forever. Young's male family members, with whom he had always fished, eventually died. Casting the line, and all the memories with it, became hard.

"I just think there was too much of a river running through it for him to handle it anymore," said Deanne Young.

He hung up the rod and moved to Spring Hill in 1985. It was time for his new passion to take over: bird-watching.

Young, always bold and headstrong, would ignore "no trespassing" signs to get close to a new species. He went on bird-watching trips to the Galapagos Islands, Alaska and Argentina. He never missed the society's Christmas bird count event.

By the time he died, he had spotted 1,350 different bird species.

Friends would often call him up and report seeing odd birds. Eventually, the calls turned into e-mail.

And so, at age 76, the outdoorsman did a very indoors thing - he got his first computer.

Stephanie Hayes can be reached at shayes@sptimes.com or 727 893-8857.



Paul A. Young

Born: Jan. 20, 1921.

Died: Aug. 3, 2007.

Survivors: Wife, Dorothy; daughter, Deanne Young; granddaughters Mary AuSable Myers and Marina Martha Myers.

Arrangements: Turner Funeral Home. Donations to the Paul H. Young chapter of Trout Unlimited. E-mail bthorson@paulyoungtu.org for details.