97-year-old honored for Hagerman volunteer work - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

97-year-old honored for Hagerman volunteer work

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SHERMAN -- It's called "birding" and Karl Haller has been doing it for the past 50 years.

Twice a week, the 97-year-old roams the Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge counting and recording all the different species of birds he sees and hears.

Rick Cantu with the US Fish and Wildlife Service says the data Haller has collected is considered the official bird survey for the 11,000 acre federally-managed haven for migratory birds.

"For these guys, they have made it a priority to come out and bird at Hagerman. So, we are very in debt and have gratitude to them," Cantu said.

As a way of saying thanks, the Service, along with fellow "birding" friends, surprised Haller with a cake and a plaque honoring his 50 years of "birding."

"After 50 years and all of a sudden you get this nice big group of people here to wish you well," Haller said. "It was just fun, just really something."

Jack Chiles has been "birding" alongside Haller for 23 years.

Because both are volunteers, the hours they spend "birding" fulfills an interest rather than filling a bank account. They say the hobby pays in other ways.

"It's amazing that he's been here for 50 years. He's done a lot of things to help people, get them interested in birding and he's a great guy," Chiles said.