[Tweeters] Ken Knittle

Eric Bjorkman BjorkmanTE at iinet.com
Tue Jan 7 18:58:05 PST 2020

We've just learned that Ken Knittle has passed away. This is a sad day
indeed. I remember the day that my wife, Tammy, and I first met Ken. We were
fairly new to birding when we ran into Ken and Patrick Sullivan at
Horsethief Lake State Park. Ken was sitting on a picnic table while Patrick
was frantically zig-zagging around the park in the hopes of finding a
Red-eyed Vireo. No vireo was uncovered that day but that didn't seem to
bother Ken, who seemed more than content to chat with us about anything and
everything pertaining to birds.

We became fast friends. Ken offered to accompany us on a whirlwind trip of
NE Washington where he introduced us to the wonders of Washington State and
we saw many life birds on that trip. One of my fondest memories of Ken came
when we were speeding along a highway in our Honda Element. We had the
sunroof open and the windows down so road noise was significant. Ken was in
mid-sentence (no surprise) when he said "Hey, was that a Say's Phoebe?" We
turned around and sure enough, there was a Say's Phoebe perched roadside,
singing its heart out. How he heard that bird still seems miraculous to me.
Of course, he followed that up with "That's a hard bird to find in (fill in
the blank) county."

Ken also insisted on sleeping in a sleeping bag tossed haphazardly on the
ground. He would scoff at needing a tent or trailer. While camping at
Steptoe Butte on that same trip, a pretty serious thunder storm passed
through during the night and we found him curled up in the outhouse in the
morning. He and his sleeping bag were quite wet and he was pretty cold but
he still clung to the idea that sleeping under the stars was the way to go.

Ken was a character for sure. He was also a good friend and a sweet man, and
a great ambassador for the birding community of Washington. Our lives were
richer for knowing him and we'll miss him dearly.

Tammy and Eric Bjorkman
Vancouver, WA

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