Bob Sundstrom passed away on May 16, 2021, after a recurrence of leukemia. He died comfortably and in good spirits at his home in the country along Scatter Creek in south Thurston County, in the company of his wife, Sally Alhadeff and their three cats. He was 69. 

Birds were a great love for Bob, as well as his career. He earned a living as a full-time professional birder: leading tours to many parts of the world for Victor Emanuel Nature Tours, conducting van trips from Mercer Island, teaching, and writing for radio. For thirty years Bob taught Birding by Ear for Seattle Audubon Society, helping many to know and appreciate the voices of birds.  

His writer’s voice will continue to be heard through nearly 900 BirdNote radio stories he authored as Lead Writer. He continued writing into his final days, including a final story on May 14. He thanks founder Chris Peterson and Executive Director Sallie Bodie for the opportunity to be part of the BirdNote team. He was overwhelmed by the gratitude expressed for his career work in his last months. (https://www.birdnote.org/messages-bob-sundstrom)

Bob liked to say that birds were his day job, but not his obsession. When not birding or writing, Bob loved books, music, bicycling, and single malt Scotch. He and Sally took great pleasure in gardening and tending the natural habitats on their rural acres. He became a great admirer of classic literature and poetry. He earned his Ph.D. in cultural anthropology at the University of Washington. 

Bob is survived by his wife, Sally Alhadeff, brother Bill Sundstrom, and nephews Ethan and Erin Sundstrom. His loving parents, Mary and Bill, are deceased. He thanks many friends and colleagues, the Olympia Unitarian Universalist congregation, and Sally’s family for their loving support. 

Sally and Bob had 28 wonderful years together. They loved watching the swallows glide and the ravens soar above their camas-covered meadow along Scatter Creek.  

If you’d like to leave a remembrance in Bob’s name, please consider a donation to BirdNote (birdnote.org). 

“If a man should live as if every day is his last, he should also die as if there is another day to come, and another after that.” Hilary Mantel, The Mirror & The Light

Written by Bob Sundstrom