Just five months shy of becoming a centenarian and fresh off his second Moderna shot, the man who has perhaps done more to conserve nature in Idaho than anyone over the past half-century, remains a true gem of the state. 

It's strange to write stories about a person praising the life they have led without ever meeting them face to face. Al Larsen's story writes itself, so a meeting with this Idaho legend and animal lover isn't necessary. I can recognize decency when I see it, but Larsen is so much more than that.

While trying to research the man for this story, I came across a touching post written by his grandson. Aside from personally helping to fledge more than 40,000 Idaho bluebirds in his time, Larsen is a devoted grandfather who still rides his bike when he's not keeping himself busy reading or taking walks around the property he shares with his daughter.

Can you imagine spending 50 years dedicating yourself to caring for wildlife? Some of the bluebirds you may have seen on camping trips in southern Idaho over the years might have at one time been in the caring hands of Al Larsen. I don't know Al Larsen, but I also don't know anyone like him.

The year 2021 also marks 90 years since the state's song, "Here We Have Idaho," was created, as well as Idaho's official flower (the Syringa), and the state's bird, which is the Rocky Mountain Bluebird. This means Al had been alive for nine years before many Idahoans even knew what the state bird was.

Al Larsen turned 99 back in March. We want to wish Idaho's "Bluebird Man" a happy belated birthday. Thank you to his grandson Jimmy Hallyburton also, for sharing his wonderful story about his terrific grandfather.

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