Last year, the Young Birders Network challenged young birders to take their eBirding one step further by providing information about birds’ breeding in each of their checklists to learn more about the birds in their neighborhoods and help scientists understand this important part of birds’ annual cycle. Thanks to the generous sponsorship of Carl Zeiss Sports Optics, the winner whose checklist was randomly drawn from all eligible Young Birders Network Portal checklists with breeding codes will receive a new pair of Zeiss binoculars. Read on for more!
Please join us in congratulating Martina Nordstrand, the winner of the Breeding Code Challenge! We asked Martina about her birding history and how she uses eBird and breeding codes.
I’m not sure exactly when I started watching birds. I was always paying attention to them, or reading about them. I would read field guides like I’d read novels, consuming any information I could find. However, I didn’t actually start seeking out birds until late 2012, when I was 13. I soon learned of the Mecklenburg Audubon, and I was eager to meet other people who were interested in watching birds. After a few field trips, I was hooked.
I’ll be frank, however- on many of these trips, I was the youngest person by a few decades. It wasn’t until the Lab’s Young Birders Event, which I attended in 2014, that I met birders closer to my age. The event really opened my eyes- I wasn’t alone! That was a turning point in my birding career. A few months later, I discovered the Carolina Young Birders Club and eagerly joined. Today the club is growing, thanks to our parent club, the Carolina Bird Club, and the dedication of many of our birders, young and old alike!
Since then, I’ve been lucky to have met many more young birders from across the country. Last summer, I attended Camp Cascades, a young birders camp in Washington state run by Victor Emanuel Nature Tours. Those two weeks were the best two weeks of my life. It was my first trip west. I was blown away by all the new birds and the amazing scenery, not to mention some of the sharpest young birders I’ve ever met. I flew back to Charlotte with 79 new birds on my list, unforgettable memories, and some lifelong friends.
I was also lucky to discover eBird early in my birding career. I stumbled across it thanks to All About Birds- on the front page was an article on the Young Birders Network. I signed up and never looked back. eBird is about as important to my birding as my binoculars are; if I don’t submit a list from that day’s birding, I feel like I’ve forgotten something. eBird’s been there every step of the way, from the first Purple Finches in my yard to the Black-capped Petrels in the Gulf Stream!
I’ve always tried to use breeding codes in my lists, especially in the spring, when singing and nesting birds are most obvious. In my neighborhood, I keep track of all the breeders and possible breeders. As of this writing, I have 54 species breeding in my neighborhood! Not bad for a small patch of woods in the suburbs, and most are documented with breeding codes.
Here are a couple of my favorite lists from this challenge:
Thank you Team eBird and Zeiss for hosting this challenge, and good birding!