BCFO Young Birder Awards 2023

Once again BCFO is delighted to present this year’s Young Birder Award recipients. As flag carriers for the future of birding they are both notable ambassadors, and outstanding young people. The BCFO Young Birder Award welcomes talented young birders into the BC birding community providing them with recognition, opportunity, encouragement, and mentoring.

The Young Birder Awards are presented to youth who meet certain qualifications. To be selected for a BCFO Young Birder Award, recipients must be between 11 and 18 years of age, and have:

•  exceptional observational and birding skills well beyond the ‘novice’ level;
•  shown substantive engagement in the activities of the birding community through their accomplishments, participation, and contributions;
•  been nominated and sponsored by a BCFO member, and approved by the Board of Directors.

2023 is the tenth year of the BCFO Awards Program as we continue to find many young, keen, committed birders from around BC.

Each recipient receives a free membership to BCFO until age 18, a memorial plaque, and a stylish BCFO ball cap. In addition, this year’s recipients will also receive a one-year subscription to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Birds of the World, and a one-year free admission, for themselves and an accompanying adult, to Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary.


Congratulations to Bentley Colwill, Paul Jacques, Raymond Liu, Daniel Poon, Harry Sedin, Josh Yiu, and Clay Zhou-Radies, the 2023 BCFO Young Birder Award recipients. They join the ranks of a very talented and growing group of British Columbia young birders.

Bentley Colwill    

Nominator:  Len Jellicoe   

This is a nomination for Bentley Colwill for the BCFO Young Birders Award.  I first became aware of Bentley’s interest about 18 months ago.  He was posting regular sightings to Fraser Valley Birds website and they appeared to be intelligent interpretations.  I met him in the field and was impressed with his enthusiasm.  I talked to another local birder (Krissi Marten) and she said she has taken him birding and was impressed with his excitement when he found a lifer. 

From Bentley:  I have been interested in birds for nearly 2 years. I also associate Lesser Scaups at Salish Pond being the point when I was hooked. I had found a pamphlet on birds in BC in the library and was able to ID the scaups. I do keep a list. I’m a big year lister with 310 birds on my life list. I don’t have many places I would consider favourite places to bird, I follow the reports. I do have very fond memories at Boundary Bay during shorebird migration though. I usually rely on family members or birding friends driving me. But I frequently bike, walk, or bus to places in Chilliwack. I rely a lot on ear birding for birds. Picking out an interesting call is always a great feeling! I love travelling and often do. Birding has taken me on many great adventures far from home. I’ve travelled to Osoyoos, Kamloops, and I got a lot of great birds on a wedding trip to the Maritimes. 


Paul Jacques    

Nominator:  Liron Gertzman  

 While he may qualify as a young birder, Paul has been birding for longer than many, picking up the passion at just 4 years old. If you get the chance to meet him, you’ll find that his abilities speak for himself. Paul is highly skilled at spotting birds, identifying them by sight and sound, and is a fantastic bird photographer. He is a keen learner as well, actively adding new information to his knowledge base to enhance his understanding and appreciation of birds. Paul is an active contributor to eBird.

I’ve been fortunate to go birding and photographing several times with Paul around the Lower Mainland, and have not only been impressed by his skills, but also the fast progression and development of his talents over the last couple of years. I’m thrilled to get the chance to nominate Paul, and am so excited to see where his remarkable skills continue to take him!


Raymond Liu    

Nominator:  Carlo Giovanella 

I met Raymond in the field by chance on two occasions.  On our first meeting I could tell immediately that despite his very young age and diminutive stature, this kid was a birding whiz.  He was naming everything in sight.  I introduced myself then and informed him that he was on our ‘watch list’.  I was wanting to meet up with him in the field before submitting this nomination, but was not able to arrange such a meeting, due to short notice, foul weather, and scheduling problems.  Nevertheless, I am quite confident in my assessment that Raymond is well qualified and deserving of our Award.  He has been a regular participant on Melissa Hafting’s field excursions for youngsters.  eBird shows that Raymond is one of the most active birders in our area. His eBird checklists are quite complete, detailed, and thorough.


Daniel Poon    

Nominator:  Carlo Giovanella

I met Daniel by chance in the field on two occasions, and both times it was quite apparent that his birding skills were quite advanced for his age.  I arranged to meet with him recently and we spent nearly two hours birding along the Sturgeon Dike in Richmond.  Daniel is a very polite, quiet-spoken lad.  He is a competent birder, as he observed, and was able to identify every bird that I saw on the outing, some of which he called my attention to.  He was able to detect most of the birds by sound – not all, as he is still learning.  He regularly birds a greenway on his walk to school, and reports those sightings on eBird.  

From Daniel:  I would like to receive this award as I have been very involved in the birding community for the last few years. I have participated in Melissa Hafting’s Young Birders events, contributed my sightings to eBird, and I take note of every bird I see. I am #71 in the top 100 eBirders of 2022 in Metro Vancouver as I have submitted all of my sightings. I hope to add to my life list next year as I am going to Maui in the spring. I aim to have a job that associates with ornithology, biology, or nature when I am older. I enjoy looking for rare birds after they are reported on the rare bird alert.  I am participating in the CBC for youth this Christmas in Ladner.


Harry Sedin 

Nominator:  Liron Gertzman   

Harry has loved birds for a long time and in recent years has become an active member of the birding community, participating in both in-person events and engaging with the community online. He has a keen sense of the important role that birding and photography play in connecting with nature and educating about birds and the challenges they face. In addition to his impressive bird knowledge, Harry is a talented photographer who brings an artistic eye to his beautiful work.

I’ve known Harry since early 2021, and have been thrilled to join him in the field on several occasions. Each time, I’ve been impressed by his continuously growing knowledge and skills. If you are fortunate to run into him in the field, you’ll find that few people carry the excitement and joy for the passion that is radiated by Harry. I’m excited to follow along with his inevitable accomplishments in the coming years!

From Harry:
I’ve loved birds since a very young age, however when I was 11 I got my first camera that helped spark my interest in bird-watching and wildlife photography. During the COVID-19 lockdown I went on walks in my neighbourhood every day, documenting the birds I saw with my camera and writing down my sightings in a notebook. Eventually, I got a scope and binoculars, and I started posting my sightings on eBird. I’ve had the chance to band hummingbirds, do bird counts with the community, and go out on trips with local young birding groups. Birding and photography is to me, the chance to connect with nature, shed light on the issues facing many species of birds, explore new areas, and meet members of the community.


Josh Yiu  

Nominator:    Carlo Giovanella   

Whereas most of our YB candidates were ‘discovered’ by myself or others who brought them to my attention, Josh took the initiative to join the BCFO and enquire about the YB Award, and was then directed to me.

I arranged to meet with Josh (and his father Herman) in the field on two occasions.  He is a rather quiet-spoken youngster, but his intense interest and focus was immediately evident.  On our second meeting, he was ‘in charge’ of a KBA birdcount, and I was most impressed with his performance.  He picked out, identified, and often photographed all the birds that we detected, by sight and many by sound, and some beyond the range that I could work with. His eBird reports for the survey were quite thorough.  In brief, his birding skills clearly meet the standard we look for in our awardees. 

Josh is an extremely motivated young man, who has gotten himself involved in an impressive variety of birding activities: 

• Participation in Melissa Hafting’s outings for young birders, including ‘CBC for Kids’.

• Regularly volunteering for various bird surveys, including the Fraser Estuary KBA eBird Count and Birds Canada BC Coastal Waterbird Survey

.• In summer of 2022 he applied for and was accepted to attend the Birds Canada Young Ornithologist’s Workshop at Long Point.

• He wrote an article for the BCFO Newsmagazine, published in Vol 32, No 2, June 2022.

• He wants to be an ornithologist.  He applied to Cornell University and was accepted!  He will be entering their undergraduate biology program in fall of 2023.


Clay Zhou-Radies 

Nominator:  Liron Gertzman    

Clay’s spark bird was an Osprey, at the age of 8. His interest in birding took off at age 9 and he picked up a camera at age 11. In addition to being a skilled and knowledgeable birder, Clay brings a rarely encountered level of patience and attention to detail to his passion. By taking the time to get to know his patch and learn about species, he has produced breathtaking photographic imagery of birds. Clay is an active member of the birding community, passionate about, and involved in conservation projects. You may encounter him exploring hotspots by transit and bike, speaking to his dedication.

I first heard Clay’s name in 2020, when he was featured in local news after finding that an active Red-breasted Nuthatch and Northern Flicker nest had been illegally destroyed in his neighborhood during tree pruning. We connected the next year, and I’ve since had the pleasure of seeing his skills in action several times out in the field around the Lower Mainland. Whether in the field or on social media, I’m always thrilled to see Clay’s latest accomplishments.

From Clay:

A trip to the interior of BC sparked my birding interest when I was 8 years old. An Osprey dove down into a lake right in front of me, inspiring me to get my first bird guide to identify it. I’ve been birding since I was 9 and started photographing birds when I was 11. I bus and bike to the majority of birding spots to be more environmentally friendly. I love birds in general but owls have always been my favorite. I often focus my attention on one species for a while to gain more understanding on their behaviour. During the spring/summer it was my local Barred Owls that I checked on everyday and I soon got to really know the pair and the chick. I prefer this method of observation because I get to witness the entirety of the breeding cycle of a species. I’m going to spend more time with the Barred Owls next year, but I’m also hoping to do the same with hummingbirds and Great-horned Owls. I’m also into conservation and I did a week of trail building in the Cariboo Mountains during the summer to try and get the area protected. I’m definitely volunteering at the OWL rehab as soon as I turn 15. I’m hoping to focus more on habitat conservation when I’m older and I would like to work as a field biologist or ornithologist.