Barbara Galambos, left, and Margaret Mason stopped to watch a pair of great horned owls at Wood Lake Nature Center in Richfield.

JIM GEHRZ, Star Tribune

Barbara & Margaret: Birds of a feather

  • Article by: Gail Rosenblum and Jim Gehrz
  • Star Tribune
  • March 29, 2012 - 2:59 PM

Editor's note: “Duets” is an occasional feature that celebrates unique relationships between two people.

Barbara Galambos remembers the day she spotted a screech owl perched in the crook of a tree in Theodore Wirth Park.

She jumped into her car and drove to the home of fellow birder Margaret Mason.

"What makes you think it will still be there?" Margaret asked as Barbara hurried her into the car.

"It will be there," Barbara said.

And it was.

Thirty years later, Barbara and Margaret still share birding adventures.

Every Tuesday at 9 a.m., after consulting the birding hot line, the friends drive to area nature centers. Barbara, 80, brings sandwiches on home-baked rye.

Margaret, 81, brings a thermos of coffee. They wear blue jeans, jackets and good walking shoes, and carry Zeiss binoculars. In winter months, they hope to see five birds.

"During spring migration," Barbara says, "you might see 70 birds in one day." But they go year-round, whether it's 36-below or 100 sweltering degrees.

Today, they bundle up against 20 degrees, hoping to spot an owl at Wood Lake Nature Center in Richfield.

"We're always hoping to see an owl," Margaret says.

Margaret moved to Minnesota after graduating from nursing school. At 47, the obstetrics nurse with six young children (and now seven grandchildren) was widowed and feeling lost.

She grew close to Barbara soon afterward, on a birding trip in Itasca State Park.

"Barbara and birding were my salvation," she says.

The two -- both one of 12 children -- have hiked in Minnesota, North Dakota, Texas, even Australia.

"Do you remember that black-throated blue?" Barbara asks.

That sighting was in 1990, at West Point, N.Y., when Barbara's husband, Ted, was on a sabbatical.

Margaret documents their discoveries in her "Bird Lover's Journal."

Barbara, who grew up on a farm in Thief River Falls, keeps her own journal with notes and sketches.

The mother of four and grandmother of five, Barbara led the Minneapolis Audubon Society for many years.

At Wood Lake, they trek down to the partially icy path.

"I don't hear any woodpeckers," Barbara says, trying not to be disappointed. "I don't see any chickadees."

They continue, often shoulder-to-shoulder.

Then Barbara looks up and stops. A great horned owl and then, remarkably, a second, are revealed.

"Well, that is success!" Barbara says, beaming, as she and Margaret head back to the nature center to warm up.

Do you know a special duo? Send ideas to or call 612-673-7350.

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