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Avid Nanaimo birder killed in Alberta

A young birder who played a key role in identifying the many birds living in Linley Valley has died. Ryan Cathers, 20, devoted a lot of time to cataloging Nanaimo’s feathered residents.

He was killed in a car accident near Lesser Slave Lake, Alberta, on Saturday, where he was working on banding birds as part of a field survey.

Cathers organized the Christmas bird count in Nanaimo for the last few years. His friend and fellow field ornithologist Christopher Stephens says Cathers was also passionate about preserving vital nesting habitat in Linley Valley.

Cathers was elated last week when he heard about Nanaimo City Council’s plan to buy about 90 hectares of Linley Valley to preserve as parkland. Stephens describes Cathers as a champion for birds in Nanaimo and a natural-born leader who knew how to promote birding in the community. Stephens says Cathers will be missed by the entire birding community on Vancouver Island and his love for birds and the environment will love on through the many people he inspired.

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