Jane Johnson, January 2019 eBirder of the Month

By Team eBird February 26, 2019

Please join us in congratulating Jane Johnson of Tofte, Minnesota, winner of the January 2019 eBird Challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics. Jane’s name was drawn randomly from 1,900 eBirders who submitted at least 1 eligible eBird checklist in January, and also took the eBird Essentials course. Jane will receive a new ZEISS Conquest HD 8×42 binocular for her eBirding efforts. Here’s Jane’s birding story:

We always had bird feeders when I was growing up. My first memory of recording bird data was for a junior high science project where I compared weather conditions with the number of birds at our feeders. I wish there had been eBird back then!

I worked as a medical social worker in Minneapolis and St Paul, Minnesota for 30 years, during which birding was a great stress reliever. I volunteered with Osprey and Trumpeter Swan reintroduction projects there.

When we retired, my husband, Ken, and I moved to Tofte, MN, on the North Shore of Lake Superior. This is an outstanding birding area, especially during migration. One of the great joys of retirement is that I get to go birding every day!

This is when I discovered eBird. Cook County, MN was an under-reported area. It seemed like most of the submissions were for the unusual species seen here. I decided to eBird regularly to provide more data. The barcharts and rare bird alerts are fascinating.The monthly challenges encourage me to think about my birding in different ways. I also love participating in Project FeederWatch. During the winter, after the black bears have gone into hibernation, Ken tends 15 suet and seed feeders around our house. Where we live, the closest movie theater or shopping mall is 90 miles away, so birding is our entertainment!

For the past 4 years, Ken and I have volunteered at nearby Sugarloaf Cove Nature Center. I help with their bird banding program and we both fill feeders there in the winter. Banding is wonderful for improving my identifications skills. There’s nothing like seeing warblers, vireos, flycatchers and thrushes in the hand . . . and, it’s given me a fun group of “bird nerd” friends!

In January, much of my birding was feederwatching. Snow depths around 4 feet, daytime high temperatures of below zero Fahrenheit and a recent knee replacement kept me from going too far.  I kept in mind the eBird instruction – “we want your boring checklists.” [Team eBird note: We don’t think there is such a thing as a ‘boring checklist’! Every sighting counts.] Winter highlights have been daily Pileated Woodpecker visits, a frequent Northern Shrike and a male Ruffed Grouse displaying this past December.

Ken bought me my first pair of good binoculars at least 25 years ago. I’m thrilled to have won this challenge and to be receiving an even better pair. Thanks to eBird and Zeiss for this wonderful gift!