Peter Finley, October eBirder of the Month

By Team eBird November 11, 2020

Please join us in congratulating Peter Finley of Indiana – one of two winners of the October 2020 eBird Challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics. Peter’s name was drawn randomly from the 4,641 eBirders who submitted at least 5 eligible eBird checklists on October Big Day. Peter will receive a new ZEISS Victory SF 32 binocular for his eBirding efforts. Here’s Peter’s birding story:

I began birding in the spring of 2018 after my father introduced me to the hobby and to eBird, though I’ve appreciated birds since childhood, when they were often the subjects of my sketches. At the beginning of my foray into birding, eBird was vital in helping me find great local birding locations, some of which I didn’t even know existed. From these locations, I reported the few birds I was able to identify, and over time, with the help of tools like the Merlin app, my skills improved.

Green Heron © Peter Finley / Macaulay Library

Photography, a prior interest of mine, has been and continues to be, essential in helping me to improve. It allows me to closely study a bird that I might otherwise only have seconds to observe in the field. I also enjoy the challenge of photographing birds in flight and small birds like warblers, and thanks to the Macaulay Library, I’m able to store my photographs alongside my reports.Over the past couple of years, birding has become a bonding experience between myself and my dad. When we’re together, we always make time for birding, intentionally traveling to be with each other during peak migrations, and between visits, we regularly report our findings to each other via text. Day to day, it has also served as a way to relax out in nature and to hone my photography skills.

Tennessee Warbler © Peter Finley / Macaulay Library

As I continue to learn, I’m extremely grateful for eBird and the ever-helpful volunteer reviewers, as well as the many tools provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, all of which have been essential to my learning experience. Thank you also to Zeiss for yet another tool that I’m confident will enhance my future birding.