Bernadette Ramer, April eBirder of the Month

By Team eBird May 29, 2015

Bernadette at Pt. Lobos State Preserve

Please join us in congratulating Bernadette Ramer of Santa Cruz, CA, winner of the April 2015 eBird Challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optic. Our April winner was drawn from among those who submitted at least 20 complete checklists containing one or more species of diurnal raptor in the month of April. Bernadette’s name was drawn randomly from the 2,870 eBirders who achieved the raptor challenge threshold. Bernadette will receive new ZEISS Conquest HD 8×42 binoculars for her eBirding efforts. We asked Bernadette to tell us a little more about herself, her use of eBird, and her love of birds – read on for more!

Hi, my name is Bernadette. I live in the Monterey Bay area of California where I actively bird in Santa Cruz County. I feel privileged to be living here as there are so many habitats to explore, from the shores of the Pacific Ocean to the redwood forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

I was first attracted to birds while studying shorebirds in Elkhorn Slough for my master’s degree, and shorebirds remain my favorite group of birds. I worked for Point Reyes Bird Observatory (now Point Blue) studying Snowy Plover breeding biology for nearly twenty years. Being a field biologist means collecting lots of data, and I surely did this as well as entering lots of these data into databases. These data were later used to write and publish scientific articles.

Snowy Plover, one of the species Bernadette used to study. Photo by Christopher Wood.

Snowy Plover, one of the species Bernadette studied

I never considered myself a birder back then. I collected data so that I could understand the biology, distribution and abundance of the shorebirds I was studying. What is great about eBird is that I can do that now as a birder, since eBird has transformed the way people bird–making us all citizen scientists! Now retired, I use eBird for all my sightings. I love the idea that my personal pleasure is also a productive venture providing useful information on bird communities worldwide.

For the past five years, I have been working with the staff of the Watsonville Wetland Watch to implement a citizen science project to survey the birds utilizing the Watsonville sloughs system. All the volunteers report their data using eBird. It is an easy and effective way to capture the survey results, and it makes the data accessible to all. As we continue conducting these surveys, the data we gather will give us a better idea how birds are using these wetlands.

And I still survey birds in Elkhorn Slough for the Elkhorn Slough Foundation (and the bird data here is also entered into eBird). Between the data I collected years ago and the on-going efforts to monitor shorebirds in the slough, we have a better understanding of how Elkhorn Slough and its bird populations have changed over the past 40 years.

When I am not doing birds surveys, my husband and I and our dog wander around the hotspots and nooks and crannies of Santa Cruz County looking for whatever bird surprises may be lurking there.

I am very thankful for all the work that the eBird group has done, which has truly revolutionized birding. I am thrilled to be eBirder of the month. Thank you also to Zeiss for the wonderful binoculars!