Ron Riley, March 2019 eBirder of the Month

By Team eBird April 19, 2019

Please join us in congratulating Ron Riley of Boise, Idaho, winner of the March 2019 eBird Challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics. Ron’s name was drawn randomly from 1,848 eBirders who submitted at least 20 eligible eBird checklists in March that had eBird Mobile ’tracks’ less than 5km (3mi) in distance. Ron will receive a new ZEISS Conquest HD 8×42 binocular for his eBirding efforts. Here’s Ron’s birding story:

I come only recently to (serious) birding as an extension of my life-long study, practice, and of enjoyment of photography. My education, and professional life as a plant geneticist and vegetable breeder was derived from a passion for the natural world, including birds – of which I have alway had more than just an armchair interest.

Though I “watched” birds, and learned to identify many common species since an early age, I never developed a systematic way to record sightings. My life list was in my head – and in an array of disorganized notes jotted on scrap paper, checkmarks in field guides, and collected species lists from various locations. In short, a mess!

Great Blue Heron by Ron Riley/Macaulay Library

The desire to photograph birds as a retirement hobby quickly led me to realize that it would be necessary to commit considerable time to learn not only the technical aspects of bird photography, but most importantly, to learn as much as possible about both bird life, and bird behavior. This is where eBird came to the rescue! It is intuitive and easy to use, and available on ones pocket device anywhere in the world!

During the past 18 months I have been learning about not only the technical and biological, but also learning the importance and utility of eBird, Birdseye, Merlin. And, of course, appreciating the important science done by Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Using these tools I have become a better, more organized birder, and feel a sense of contribution, however small, to ornithology as a citizen scientist.

Song Sparrow by Ron Riley/Macaulay Library

Many thanks to Team eBird for the amazing platform they have developed, maintained, and continue to improve. And especially for presenting the monthly challenges that encourage birders to better use and appreciate eBird. And specially thanks to ZEISS Sports Optics for the gift of high quality binoculars that are a welcome addition to my birding kit.