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Kay McCracken papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: Coll-87
The Kay McCracken papers consist of approximately 25 linear feet of materials including scrapbooks, diaries and notes on local bird sightings, correspondence, newsletters, and publications of many varieties such as her newspaper columns. Altogether, they comprise a wealth of information on local ornithology.


  • 1928 - 1992


Language of Materials

These materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

This material is made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright law. The user assumes full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to taking precautions against infringement of copyright and respecting the publication rights of reproduced materials. All rights are reserved and retained regardless of current or future development or laws that may apply to fair use standards. Any materials used should be fully credited with their source according to the example given in the Preferred Citation note. Requests for assistance with citations and images of publication quality should be directed to


24 Linear Feet

Biographical / Historical

Karen (Kay) McCracken (1905-1992) was one of Texas' most avid birdwatchers and the bird columnist for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times for over thirty years. Known to many as the "Bird Lady," she authored approximately one thousand columns during her lengthy career. McCracken became a household name to everyone in her part of the state who was interested in birding.

Born in Cisco, Texas, Karen Harden graduated from Southern Methodist University in 1927. In 1928, she married Dr. J.T. Bynum. They resided in Hamlin until he died in 1941. She soon moved to Rockport where she wrote for the Rockport Pilot. In 1942, she moved to Corpus Christi.

In October, 1942, she began her work with the Caller-Times. She left the newspaper in 1957 when she married its managing editor, Robert G. McCracken. Thereafter, she taught journalism at Del Mar College, involved herself in public relations, and wrote free-lance.

Her weekly column "Bird Notes" appeared in the Caller-Times for over thirty years. McCracken also regularly wrote articles for the Bird Watcher’s Digest. She was widely recognized for her expertise on birds, their habitats, and their habits.She also authored two books including The Life History of a Texas Birdwatcher: Connie Hagar of Rockport (1986) and Birding South Texas (1989), a selected compilation of McCracken’s newspaper columns.

Kay McCracken was likewise active in a number of organizations, including the Coastal Bend Audubon Society, the Audubon Outdoor Club, the Nature Conservancy, and the Sierra Club. She was a friend and mentor to numerous serious birdwatchers and environmentalists in the coastal bend. Her many admirers characterized her as a brilliant mind, excellent writer, and passionate advocate of bird watching. McCracken died at age 87.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift; 1995.

In Progress
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives, Mary and Jeff Bell Library, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Repository

6300 Ocean Dr.
Unit 5702
Corpus Christi TX 78412 United States
361-825-5973 (Fax)