Jessie Maye Smith (1907-2005), known locally as "The Bird Lady of Tarrant County," began her life-long interest in birding and conservation through efforts to identify a mysterious red bird observed on a fly fishing trip with her husband. Jessie Maye was a charter member of the Fort Worth Audubon Society (1941) and the Texas Ornithological Society (1953). In the 1960s, she was instrumental in creating the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge.
Author/naturalist Roy Bedichek urged Jessie Maye to write articles on birds. In 1953 she approached the Fort Worth Star-Telegram with a sample column. Her weekly "Birds and Watchers" column was a regular feature in the Sunday edition of the Star-Telegram for more than 21 years, running from 1953 through 1974. Although Texas birding was usually the topic of her columns, Jessie Maye discussed birds from all over the U.S., Central America and the Caribbean. Following her death in 2005, the Jessie Maye Smith estate donated the tear sheets for her Star-Telegram columns to the UT Arlington Library.
In this photograph, members of the Fort Worth Audubon Society demonstrate their bird watching technique at Lake Como during the 1963 annual Christmas bird count. Left, front to back, Anne Bus, Jessie Maye Smith, and Elizabeth Derrick; right, Ann Wallis and Bill Richerson.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram Collection, Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington