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Dylan Pedro, October eBirder of the Month

Dylan in the aftermath of some marsh birding

Please join us in congratulating Dylan Pedro of Waterford, Connecticut, winner of the October 2017 eBird Challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics. Our October winner was drawn from eBirders who submitted 15 or more eligible checklists with media that had 1 or more ratings in October. Dylan’s name was drawn randomly from the 3,048 eligible eBirders who achieved the October challenge threshold. Dylan will receive new ZEISS Conquest HD 8×42 binoculars for his eBirding efforts. Read more to see Dylan’s full story!

My eBirding for October began and ended where I live in southeastern Connecticut, but also contained a lot of birding to and from my parents’ house in Rhode Island, as well as some weekend trips thereabouts. I’ve been birding this area for about four years now, and I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon. I’ve contributed to the Rhode Island Breeding Bird Atlas 2.0 in the form of both volunteer work and point-count surveys, and I’ve also recently become a board member of the Ocean State Bird Club, for which I lead walks every so often. My birding ventures have occasionally lead me out of town on fun vacations as well, such as the quest to see a Mottled Petrel off the west coast, or a birding trip to Spain and Portugal.

However, October is an especially enjoyable month in right here in New England, considering the beautiful fall foliage, the mild temperatures, and the birds of course! This month’s challenge was to photograph and record as much as possible, and to classify each piece of media by quality. The quality of my media varies a fair amount; I don’t really consider myself a bird photographer or recordist per se, but occasionally I’ll get lucky and a bird will perch close by: 

or call repeatedly in my ear and microphone (which is just my camera on video mode):

A lot of the time my end goal with my camera is to just document a bird’s presencealthough I find it can also be quite useful to identify and count birds. Capturing the outer tail feathers of a fall Selasphorus hummingbird or spectrographic analysis of a nocturnal flight call allows for an identification that would otherwise be exceedingly difficult or impossible for the naked eye or ear. 

Huge flocks of resting or flying waterbirds can be tedious to count in person, but a quick photo can help tremendously with counting well after you’ve left the field: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S40211083

The main reason I use eBird is that I think it’s an awesome database. I genuinely enjoy contributing to it. Big data, including eBird, is really changing modern science and the world, and I’m glad to be a part of it. Photos and audio are an excellent way of enriching that data, and rating each item by quality enhances that data even further. They are also a lot of fun! Media-rich eBird checklists tell a story, and are almost as if you really are birding from your armchair!

Thanks eBird team for all you’ve done to make this possible! And thanks to Zeiss for the binoculars!