Father-Son Rivalry Is for the Birds

5 Minutes With Father-and-Son Professors and 'Combat Birders' 1

Natan Vigna

Andrew and Vernon Howe

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close 5 Minutes With Father-and-Son Professors and 'Combat Birders' 1

Natan Vigna

Andrew and Vernon Howe

Birding sounds like a gentle pastime, but serious birders can be fierce competitors. "Combat birders" is how Vernon and Andrew Howe are known in their family. Vernon, the senior Mr. Howe, is a math professor at La Sierra University; his son is a history professor there. They've gone birding together since Andrew was a teenager.

In 1996, when Andrew was in graduate school, the Howes had a Big Year, in which birders vie to see who can spot the most species in a given geographical area.