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Kathy Lopez, January eBirder of the Month

Kathy Lopez before releasing a Cooper's Hawk at the Intermountain Bird Observatory
Kathy Lopez before releasing a Cooper's Hawk at the Intermountain Bird Observatory

Please join us in congratulating Kathy Lopez of Nampa, Idaho, winner of the January 2016 eBird Challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optic. Our January winner was drawn from among those who submitted at least 31 eligible checklists in January. Kathy’s name was drawn randomly from the 3,208 eBirders who achieved the January challenge threshold. Kathy will receive new ZEISS Conquest HD 8×42 binoculars for her eBirding efforts. We asked Kathy to tell us a little more about herself, her use of eBird, and her love of birds – read on for more!

I’m Kathy Lopez and live in Southwestern Idaho.  I have been birding for just over a year.  Last year at this time I had only seen 20 species.  This January I have 89! 

I love eBird and used it when I entered my very first list in December 2014.  I also have found it helpful to locate hotspots in my area. Invaluable to a new birder!  In the beginning I would visit a hotspot where someone else had listed 25 to 30 species.  Then there’d be my meager list.  I started printing out a list of the species recently seen.  It was so helpful to know what to expect and be able to identify those mystery birds! 

I recently made a trip to California and used eBird to quickly (well maybe not so quick because there were so many great hotspots) able to decide where I wanted to go to bird!  I added 9 new species to my list!

Southwest Idaho is a great place to bird and I have so many wonderful places really close to me.  Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge is my go to place!  Even decided I had to visit Christmas day where I saw this beautiful Red-tailed Hawk!

Another of my favorite sightings was the Phainopepla.  In Boise!

Or the Little Blue Heron!  He stayed for several weeks. So I got to see him a couple of times!

One of the best experiences was the opportunity to watch hawks being banded.  The Intermountain Bird Observatory has two bird banding sites and welcomes visitors.  I even got to release a newly banded Cooper’s Hawk! eBird checklist here.

 I have had a fabulous first year of birding.  The birders here in Idaho are great and are always willing to go out of their way to share their experience in identifying some of the birds I have been lucky enough to see!  I belong to two birding groups: Southwestern Idaho Birders Association and Golden Eagle Audubon Society.  I spend most of my spare time birding and attend every field trip that I can.  I also started taking photos again.  There was only film the last time I took photos with any regularity!

 Another birder who won the ‘Birder of the Month’ said birding gave him a connection to his community. I find that to be so true!