Kim Tomko, August eBirder of the Month

By Team eBird September 11, 2020

Please join us in congratulating Kim Tomko of Baltimore, MD, winner of the August 2020 eBird Challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics. Kim’s name was drawn randomly from the 2,865 eBirders who submitted at least 20 eligible eBird checklists in August with species comments. Kim will receive a new ZEISS Conquest HD 8×42 binocular for her eBirding efforts. Here’s Kim’s birding story:

A few years ago I decided to get back into birding after a long hiatus. I joined the Patterson Park Audubon Center for one of their monthly walks. It was September and the park was full of warblers – I decided I needed to do this more often! During the walk, another birder kept mentioning eBird. I had never heard of eBird but checked it out when I got home. At first I used eBird to find other places to bird. Eventually I worked up the confidence to start submitting my own checklists. What a difference from when I first started to bird twenty years ago! Back then you had to call and listen to a recorded message to find out about rare bird sightings. eBird makes it so easy to find birds and even helped me get to know the other birders in my area.

Cedar Waxwing © Kim Tomko / Macaulay Library

One of my favorite lists to keep is my yard list. I read somewhere that you are the only one who can count the birds in your yard so that makes the data valuable. Over the years I’ve planted lots of native plants for the birds. eBird helps me keep track of just how many birds are visiting my little sanctuary. Some of my favorite visitors are the flocks of Cedar Waxwings that descend on my serviceberries in June and the Orange-crowned Warbler that stayed for a month one winter.

Orange-crowned Warbler © Kim Tomko / Macaulay Library

This year I’m participating in the Maryland & DC Breeding Bird Atlas. Thanks to eBird’s atlas portal system, entering atlas checklists is as easy as entering regular checklists providing that you follow the atlas guidelines. You can also check on the progress of your atlas block and see which species still need to be confirmed. There’s even a cool little feature that shows you exactly where you are within an atlas block when you’re out in the field so you can make sure you’re keeping the data accurate by staying within the block.

Barn Swallow © Kim Tomko / Macaulay Library

In October I’m going to help lead a few bird walks for the Patterson Park Audubon Center’s Birding Weekend fundraiser. This time it’s my turn to enlighten a fellow birder about the benefits of using eBird! Thank you eBird and Carl Zeiss Optics!

Featured photo of Kim taken by Chris Scroggins