Sam Murray, June eBirder of the Month

By Team eBird 17 Jul 2017

Sam birding in coastal Georgia

Please join us in congratulating Sam Murray of Augusta, GA, winner of the June 2017 eBird Challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics. Our June winner was drawn from eBirders who submitted 15 or more eligible checklists containing at least one breeding code in June. Sam’s name was drawn randomly from the 1,769 eligible eBirders who achieved the June challenge threshold. Sam will receive new ZEISS Conquest HD 8×42 binoculars for his eBirding efforts. Read more to see Sam’s full story.

When I started birding in November 2012, I was immediately hooked on the competitive side of birding. I loved making lists, seeing how many species I could rack up and find in a limited time period. When I was introduced to eBird a few months later, my addiction for birding only increased! I was determined to rise up the ranks of the Top 100 in my region, and I was simply amazed by the analysis tools the site had to offer.

I just returned from a 3 week road trip in Arizona with 2 fellow birders. It was the best 3 weeks of my life, and we couldn’t have had the luck we had without eBird. Over these three weeks we racked up 255 species total, with 109 of them being lifers for myself. Being from Georgia, the Western species were new game for me. I’m sure many will agree with me when I say that Southeast Arizona could be mistaken for another planet. Everything, from the bugs, to the landscape, to the stars seems different out there. Picking up Black-throated Gray Warblers along the Grand Canyon, and getting cut up by Junipers while chasing Black-capped Vireos in Texas, are memories I will never forget. Our best birds included Montezuma Quail, Flame-colored Tanager, and Common Crane. Some of my favorites were Elegant Trogon, Buff-breasted Flycatcher, Red-faced Warbler, and Mexican Whip-poor-will. Without eBird, we would not have been able to find a large amount of the species we saw.

Montezuma Quail from the recent Arizona trip. Photo by Sam Murray/Macaulay Library.

It’s also a great feeling submitting checklists, knowing you’re benefitting research for these species, while picking up lifers at the same time! I think eBird is the best thing to happen to birding in a long time, and I hope everyone is using it someday.