Please join us in congratulating Kate Lowry of Lynchburg, Virginia, winner of the June 2019 eBird Challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics. Kate’s name was drawn randomly from 2,530 eBirders who submitted at least 20 eligible eBird checklists with breeding behavior codes in June. Kate will receive a new ZEISS Conquest HD 8×42 binocular for her eBirding efforts. Here’s Kate’s birding story:
In the winter of 2013, I discovered FeederWatch from the Cornell Lab. That first year, I struggled to identify 8 or 10 species of birds at my feeders. NestWatch was the next step that same summer, ultimately leading to data recording for various nesting songbirds, as well as 20+ nest boxes and 12 Purple Martin gourds that we have gradually established on our property. As I explored Cornell’s “All About Birds” website to learn more about the birds that I was seeing, I gained confidence in identification.
In 2014, I began to submit lists to eBird on my laptop. However, the eBird Mobile app has been a game-changer in terms of ease of use. I find that if I have even a short amount of time, I can easily submit a checklist. As an example, I was leaving work one afternoon and noticed some bird activity at the edge of the grass bordering the parking lot. A Hermit Thrush, a Golden-crowned Kinglet, a Northern Harrier, and a Red-tailed Hawk (which caught a rodent as I watched), all popped up within a few minutes and were soon entered as a checklist on my phone!
Over the past decade, my husband has been planting native flowers, shrubs, and trees on our property, as well as cultivating a large organic vegetable garden that includes many small fruits. This has led to an ever increasing diversity of species and numbers of birds in the area. For several years I used Habitat Network (Yard Map), another Cornell Lab project, to record our progress. I love the fact that with eBird I can document and track species recorded here in our “Yard” or home “Patch” from the Explore page.
Another asset I find useful on eBird is the option to explore “Hotspots” and download printable checklists from the Explore page. When we travel, I use eBird to help me find nearby birding sites and to learn the most common species that I might see based on date-specific checklists that I print from Explore. The bar charts are also useful and provide quick visual information.
Finally, the eBirder of the Month Challenge has motivated me to take a fresh look at birding, whether it be noting breeding behavior, recording bird songs, or joining other birding enthusiasts for a day’s outing. A big thanks to Team eBird and Carl Zeiss Sports Optics for providing support to so many enthusiastic birders worldwide!