Theresa Hyde, May eBirder of the Month

By Team eBird 10 Jun 2015

Theresa and her mom at Yellowstone National Park

Please join us in congratulating Theresa Hyde of El Cajon, CA, winner of the May 2015 eBird Challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optic. Our May winner was drawn from among those who submitted at least 5 complete checklists from May 9th, the Global Big Day. Theresa’s name was drawn randomly from the 2,640 eBirders who achieved the Global Big Day challenge threshold. Theresa will receive new ZEISS Conquest HD 8×42 binoculars for her eBirding efforts. We asked Theresa to tell us a little more about herself, her use of eBird, and her love of birds – read on for more!

My name is Theresa Hyde, I am a native of New Mexico and a member of the Hopi Tribe of Arizona. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to travel and live in a few different states, mostly in the Southwest, but as far east as New Hampshire. This has enabled me to see many different bird species in different habitats and it has really helped me with identification of vagrant species. My most recent move took me from Southern Nevada to the San Diego area. I chose San Diego because it is one of the best places in the country to be a birder and because my significant other would not move to Tucson just so I could look for birds.

The Global Big Day really started for me a week before when my friends in Nevada were talking about doing a Clark County Big Day. Having recently moved from there I was bummed that I wouldn’t be able to go out with them. I decided to do a day on my own and try and go for some target species in San Diego County. Lucky for me the one of the great things about eBird is you can look up a target bird and find out where to go to look for it. I started by meeting a friend and looking a Least Bittern at Kumeyaay Lake, we dipped. Next we tried for Scaly-breasted Munia at both Santee Lakes and Mast Park, we dipped. I then left my friend and headed to the San Diego River without any targets in mind, there I was treated to no less than 50 Black Skimmers (one of my favorite birds to watch).  I then went to Famosa Slough for a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, I dipped. One last bird to try for, a Black Oystercatcher at Cabrillo National Monument, dipped again. After that it was time to head home and I did one last checklist from my yard. It didn’t matter that I dipped on all the birds I had hoped to see that day, I was able to get out and see almost 80 species. Birding for me makes the whole world more beautiful and peaceful. I love the challenge of it and the feeling I get when I identify something new or rare.

I must say eBird is one of the coolest tools I’ve ever used. I use it to find target birds, nearby birds, birds I’ve missed this year, rare bird alerts, needs lists and for historical data information. I also check BirdCast and participate on the eBird quizzes. I use BirdLog World to log my sightings and BirdsEye in the field to see what is being reported around me. I only wish I would have started logging my sightings sooner.

eBird has helped me become a better birder by challenging me to look at every bird and count every bird. It has become an invaluable tool for me to learn about local bird distributions and historical sightings of certain species. I found it was really helpful for me to learn about a new place without having spent much time there. I know it will continue to grow and morph into more exciting things. I can’t wait to see where it goes next. Thank you for all the amazing things that are happening at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. I’d also like to thank all the eBird reviewers for their hard work and dedication.

[Fun birding vocabulary tidbit: To “dip” a bird is an expression, originally British, meaning to “try for it and miss it”. Theresa sounds like she dipped on a lot of birds on global Big Day, but still had fun doing it! Never let a dip ruin your birding day!]