Nelson Contardo, October eBirder of the Month

By Team eBird November 10, 2015

Please join us in congratulating Nelson Contardo of Santiago, Chile, winner of the October 2015 eBird Challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optic. Our October winner was drawn from among those who submitted at least 31 complete checklists not containing an “X” in October. Nelson’s name was drawn randomly from the 1,541 eBirders who achieved the October challenge threshold. Nelson will receive new ZEISS Conquest HD 8×42 binoculars for his eBirding efforts. We asked Nelson to tell us a little more about himself, his use of eBird, and his love of birds – read on for more!

My name is Nelson Contardo, and I’m from Santiago, Chile. My relationship with nature started when I was 8 years old, when I lived with my mother for three years in a little town called Romeral, northeast of Curicó in the Maule region of southern Chile, a place where I experienced incredible places: rivers, forests, and a small part of the Andes mountains. After this, 8 years passed before I reconnected with the wonder of birds that I experienced as a child. I decided to study adventure tourism so that I could be a guide, go places, and really know Chile. After graduating, I worked in environmental education for four years, advising and managing an eco-tourist park in the metropolitan region of Chile.

While working at this park I also guided schools trips, scouts, and general tourists. The park was my school where I learned the natural heritage and biodiversity of central Chile. I bought field guides to wildlife, to study and learn more, but the one that fascinated me most was the Field Guide to Birds of Chile—after that my curiosity in birds increased greatly, and I began to find and photograph as many as I could. This decision has led me to travel more than 3,000 km from Coquimbo to the Aysen; from desert locations through valleys and beaches, to the south with temperate forests, lakes, rivers and heavy rains.

Photo taken at the mouth of the Rio Maule, after traveling the Putu wetland with students from a technical college of Linares—looking for birds, showing the biodiversity of the area and the tourism potential of the region where I spent part of my childhood.

Photo taken at the mouth of the Rio Maule, after traveling the Putu wetland with students from a technical college of Linares—looking for birds, showing the biodiversity of the area and the tourism potential of the region where I spent part of my childhood.

This year I was particularly dedicated to find the birds that can be seen in the metropolitan region. This included areas along the coastal mountain range; the central valley where there are interesting wetlands, such as batuco; and finally the Andes mountain range, where I performed 3-day cruises to places less traveled. These trips let me see Torrent Ducks, Diademed Sandpiper-Plover, and the imposing Andean Condor among other interesting birds that can be found in the height of the mountains.

I first met eBird in a project performed by the ROC (national network of birdwatchers from Chile), to help share eBird and encourage more people to upload sightings. From there I started to upload my own observations and have not stopped. It has created a very good network of birding friends, where we use our knowledge to promote others to “pajarear” as we say in Chile. Furthermore, I share the same passion with my girlfriend for the birds, and we always go out together, hoping to find new species for us, discussing and researching birds.

Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe

Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe

eBird is a dynamic tool that has helped me find many species that I had never seen or even known could be in specific places. It has opened doors for me and motivates me to go out and find new places, seeking birds of all kinds.