Nicole Richardson, November 2018 eBirder of the Month

By Team eBird December 14, 2018

Please join us in congratulating Nicole Richardson of Brantford, Ontario, winner of the November 2018 eBird Challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics. Nicole’s name was drawn randomly from 2,504 eBirders who submitted at least 30 eligible eBird checklists using eBird Mobile in November. Nicole will receive a new ZEISS Conquest HD 8×42 binocular for her eBirding efforts. Here’s Nicole’s birding story:

My introduction to birding was actually quite closely intertwined with my introduction to eBird. Eight years ago, curiosity led me on an internet search for more information about the pair of American Robins that had decided to build a nest on my parents’ back porch, and in no time, I found myself reading about any and all things bird. It was in this way that I discovered birding, and it wasn’t long before I found eBird, created an account, and started submitting checklists here and there as I explored the world of birds, got my first pair of binoculars, and a field guide. In 2012 I then stumbled upon an advertisement for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Young Birder’s Event, and there I was, at the very heart of it all [Team eBird note: stay tuned for news on the 2019 Young Birders Event in January]. There I got to see first hand all sorts of neat tips and tricks for using eBird, and see all of the different ways one could use it to record and keep track of sightings. The event was an absolute blast, and the passion and knowledge of the down-to-earth and friendly staff at the Cornell Lab really inspired me and affirmed my desire to continue to pursue a life in the world of birds – and to eBird all along the way!

In the past two years, for me, eBird has become much more than just a place to record sightings. The introduction of a simple, user-friendly mobile app made it simpler than ever before to use eBird on the go, and it was around this time that I started to eBird a lot (lot) more. I now submit a checklist, sometimes more, every single day, everywhere I go. It’s become a bit of a habit really, and in this way, eBird has actually encouraged me to be a better birder. I’ve become much more observant, and more appreciative of even the common birds, as even on a short walk from my car to the library I not only stop to appreciate the birds, but write up a complete checklist as I go.

Every winter I look forward to the opportunity to spend some time watching one of my favourite birds, the Pine Grosbeak. I love these silly, charismatic birds, and the abundance of them this winter has been an absolute treat. This November I spent a lot of time wandering about with a smile on my face watching these special finches cheer from the treetops, and they appear on several of my checklists from this past month.

Pine Grosbeak by Nicole Richardson/Macaulay Library

I bird in more detail all the time, adding notes on interesting behaviour and plumage, adding breeding codes wherever appropriate, and I supplement my checklists with photos, and even audio – something I never did before eBird, but have since really come to enjoy. This recording of a Connecticut Warbler was one of my favourites from this past spring. I was super excited to discover this handsome bird singing loudly in a patch of thick, mossy muskeg forest. The knee-deep sphagnum seemed to put the rest of the world on mute, save for a few Ruby-crowned Kinglets in the background. This is just one of many audio recordings I’ve uploaded over the past year, and I’m looking forward to uploading many more.

eBird is so many things. A place to keep track of all of my sightings, what I’ve seen when, and where. A place to explore, to find new birds in a wild and exciting place, or keep track of the familiar ones at home. A place to contribute to science, to our understanding of bird populations worldwide. I could go on forever. It’s impossible to properly describe all of the ways I use eBird on one short page, and each and every day I use it even more. It gets better all the time, too, as new updates are released with excellent and enriching new features. Thanks so much to everyone at Team eBird and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for continuing to develop eBird, and thanks to Zeiss for sponsoring this excellent initiative. I’m really looking forward to getting out birding with these beautiful new binoculars!