Please join us in congratulating Jonathan (Jon.) Anderson of Olympia, WA, winner of the December 2014 eBird Challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optic. Our December winner was drawn from among those who submitted 500 complete checklists or more between 1 January–31 December 2014. Jon. entered 550 complete checklists, and his name was drawn randomly from the almost 1000 eBirders who reached that checklist threshold in 2014. We were very impressed with the quality of his eBird checklists as well (lots of notes and photos), so thank you Jon. for setting such a high standard with your submissions! Jon. will receive new ZEISS Conquest HD 8×42 binoculars for his eBirding efforts. We asked Jon. to tell us a little more about himself, his use of eBird, and his love of birds – check out his response below!
Hi, my name is Jon. Anderson, and I’ve been trying to identify birds since my seventh birthday, when my Grandparents gave me a used copy of “A First Book upon the Birds of Oregon and Washington”, published by Wm. Rogers Lord in 1913. I grew up in the farms and suburbs of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, and my family’s 1847 homestead was adjacent to the newly-established Ankeny NWR. When I started in the Fisheries and Wildlife program at Oregon State University, I finagled a work-study job at the Willamette Valley Refuges complex, and was lucky enough to get seasonal work on Wm. L. Finley, Malheur, Horicon, and Lacassine NWRs, the Oregon Coastal Refuges, at the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, as well as fisheries, wildlife and rangeland resources jobs around the Pacific Northwest.
Besides my “birthday book” list, I had not kept birding lists until I took Dr. Bob Jarvis’s Ornithology class at OSU and traveled to the Student Wildlife Conclave in New Mexico in March of 1976. We got some extra credit points for keeping a trip list, and I started my Life List from that point. Soon, I was participating in Corvallis and Salem Christmas Bird Counts, and learning from the local experts. It has been a lifetime of learning ever since.
How I wish that there had been an eBird in the 1970s and 80s!! And, how I wish I had retained all the bird lists and notes I had made through the years. eBird makes it quick and easy to enter, maintain, and sort the kinds of records that I’d previously kept (or lost) in the backs of field guides, in paper notebooks, three-ring binders, and moving boxes. Since being introduced to eBird back in 2012, I’m again keeping Year Lists, and paying attention to State and County listing. And, I appreciate being able to combine eBird with my “Birding With A Purpose” activities – entering sightings from Breeding Bird Survey stop information and Christmas Bird Count section data. Hopefully, my ‘mundane’ sightings can help others find a bird that I might think is common. I will certainly use eBird for a future trip “out East” to find my ‘lifer’ Eastern Whip-poor-will or Bay-breasted Warbler – common birds for the locals! The eBird Explore feature for Hotspots, maps, and species are instrumental in all my plans for birding at a new and unfamiliar location or in targeting a life bird – such as the Tundra Bean-Goose for my ABA #545 at Nestucca NWR during Christmas week, 2014.
I have found it useful to keep a camera handy just to make my reports more aesthetic and pleasing to the eye, such as capturing the moment during a BBS stop or the majesty of a Black-footed Albatross seen during a fishing trip, as well as for documenting cool behavior (Bald Eagle predating American Wigeon) and odd birds such as a color-banded Western Gull or this Palm Warbler seen during a noontime walk in downtown Olympia (flagged as rare on eBird). Use of the camera makes it easy to confirm a sighting and complement a written description.
Having just recently upgraded to a new phone, my next goal is to learn to use the BirdsEye BirdLog app to enter my sightings into eBird. I am an inveterate believer in “old technology”, but the app is going to be a vast improvement in speed and accuracy from using pencil-and-scraps-of-paper field notes.
The eBird and Cornell Lab teams are always making improvements to the site, and making the data available to help me find birds, improve my birding skills, and really enhance my birding experience. Your efforts are greatly appreciated! I’d also like to give thanks to Zeiss and the Princeton University Press for their moral and material support of eBird, birders, and the birds.
Now, I’m hoping the weather calms and the Pacific Ocean flattens a bit, so that the Westport Seabirds pelagic trip is “a go” this weekend. My wife, Marty Chaney, supports and encourages my birding obsession, and – for some reason – doesn’t mind my going to sea for a day’s birding on Valentine’s Day!