Young Birders Program

BCFO offers two parallel programs for the province’s young birders. The Young Birder Award, inaugurated in 2014, is given to outstanding youth birders, aged 11 to 18, in recognition of their accomplishments, contributions, and engagement with birds and birding in the province. The award welcomes these talented young birders into the birding community. Nominations are sought annually for qualified young birders.

Each recipient of a Young Birder Award receives a plaque, a spiffy BCFO ballcap, and free BCFO membership (electronic) until age 19.

To be selected for a Young Birder Award, recipients must meet all of the  following criteria:

• Be no more than 18 years of age as of January 1st of the year of the Award
• Have demonstrated exceptional observational and birding skills well beyond the “novice” level.
• Have made significant contribution to activities in the birding community such as: posting to list-servs, entering data to eBird, or participating in local surveys, bird counts, bird banding, and field trips.
• Be sponsored and nominated by a BCFO member who has direct knowledge of the candidate.

The Young Birder Program, the in-the-field component of the BCFO offerings for youth, is open to any young birder who shows a keen interest in getting involved with birding. Most participants are winners of a Young Birder Award (see above), plus other young birders who may be future nominees.

Participants are mentored by expert, adult birders to advance their ornithological skills and interests through field trips to exceptional birding locations in BC.

The program is designed and led by BCFO member, Melissa Hafting who started organizing field trips for young birders in 2014. In 2016 the Young Birder Program was adopted as an official program of BCFO, which provides financial support, and assistance from BCFO members.

Current and past Young Birder Award recipients


Willa Crowley
Willa’s love of birds evolved as she grew up in the John Prince Research Forest, in North-Central BC. She loves participating in citizen science projects, like FeederWatch, NestWatch, the BC-Yukon Nocturnal Owl Survey and the Christmas Bird Count. Willa began observing birds in earnest at the age of eight, but her favourites have always been hummingbirds. When she was four years old, a local Tl’azten Elder asked her what her spirit animal was and she declared, “Hummingbird!” The 2016 season was her third volunteering with Rocky Point Bird Observatory’s Hummingbird Project. It was an exciting season, because it was the first year she acted as scribe and began learning about morphological measurements. Willa also collected data on hummingbird feeder hygiene in the Fort St. James area, which will be presented at SD91’s 2017 Science Fair.

Adam Dhalla
Adam has been birding for three years now. He loves to travel for birding and has already been to Japan, Hawaii and all over Southern BC. He hopes to get to Costa Rica and Australia next! At 11 years old he already has a life list of 300 species. Adam has told me that he loves learning about birds and getting to spend time with them in nature. Adam is a great photographer and loves taking photos of every bird he spots! He enjoys posting his photos on his Flickr site. He has great fun chasing local rarities with his dad. Adam likes to blog about his birding adventures on his website Adam enjoys interacting with others in the birding community and appreciates all the help he has received from them.  Adam has several favourite birds but his top 3 favourites are: The Steller’s Jay, Black Oystercatcher and Great Gray Owl. Adam enjoys creating bird art out of lego pieces and is always eager to ask me about where he should next plan his birding trip in BC. He particularly enjoys visiting Manning Park where he can feed and interact with the Gray Jays. Adam is an active contributor on the Birding in British Columbia forum at Adam is a keen, excellent birder who is never afraid to ask questions and learn from others. We can only expect great things from Adam as he continues to  enrich the birding community with his contributions.
Website: <>
Flickr: <>

Matyas Gerloczy
Matyas started birding 3 years ago. He loves to bird in the Okanagan with his friend, Logan, whom he has learnt a lot from. Matyas also has travelled to Europe with his family where he has done some birding as well. He likes to take part in discussing bird identification on the Birds in British Columbia forum at Matyas is very eager to learn more about bird identification and likes to share his photos on flickr. His favourite sport is skiing and whenever he is outdoors in the mountains, he is looking for winter birds like Bohemian Waxwings and Northern Pygmy-Owls.
Flickr: <>

Katya Kondratyuk
Katya is the most enthusiastic birder you could ever meet and her enthusiasm is infectious! To know her is to love her. She is great fun on all our field trips telling the other kids about her bird adventures. Katya has only recently started birding, since she is 11 years old, but her spotting skills are exceptional! Program leaders had never seen anyone pick out Black Swifts the way she did at Grant Narrows when they were distant tiny specs for the rest of the group. She has laser beam eyes. Katya has been really helpful in suggesting field trips  and loves to take part in them with the other children. She first met the group at the Christmas Bird Count for Kids held at Iona Regional Park. She has been inseparable from the group ever since. As she gets older she will only continue to grow in her knowledge (which is already extremely impressive) and promises to be a great birder and twitcher. She absolutely loves chasing after local rarities in Greater Vancouver. Katya contributes to eBird routinely, the Birding in BC forum ( where she enjoys posting her photos and sightings, Christmas Bird Count for Kids, and the Young Birder Program field trips. She also loves posting her great bird photos to her Flickr website.

Toby Theriault
Toby lives on a floathouse in Tofino. At age 12 she is already remarkably good at bird identification, as demonstrated by her accomplishments this year. She decided at the beginning of the year to do a Big Year, with a goal of seeing 120 species of birds. Up to today, she has seen 202 species. Most were seen on the Island but she also travelled with her family to the lower mainland and to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. I should add that Toby is the bird expert in her family and the parents are learning from her. Toby and her close friend, Cedar, also a birder, founded a birding club called the Tough City Twitchers currently with four members. This summer she was interviewed on CBC radio about her birding passion. Her birding blog can be found at: <>

Viktor Vandereyk
Viktor started birding when he was eight years old and is an avid hiker and naturalist. He joined the Young Birder program in 2016 and I have been very impressed by his great bird identification skills. He is never afraid to ask questions about birds and is eager to learn more about them. I was impressed by how fast he spotted birds during our field trips and how well he fit into the group with the other children. I have noticed how helpful he is to the younger children in the group and he behaves as a good role model. Viktor enjoys contributing to the British Columbia Birds Forum ( and adding his photos to Flickr. He and his brother Marnix, who is also a birder enjoy watching the birds that come to their backyard, where they have had some uncommon birds show up. Viktor is a talented artist and enjoys painting and drawing birds.
Flickr: <>


Leo Donnecke
Leo Donnecke 2015
14 year old Leo loves birding with his dad who is an active birder as well. He enjoys pelagics and is an excellent spotter. He has co-led bird walks at the Rocky Point Bird Observatory and has volunteered at the Pedder Bay Banding station for many years. When Leo is not birding he is busy enjoying his other hobby competitive rowing.

Jamie Gadsden
Jamie Gadsden 2015
12 year old Jamie actively contributes to the Fraser Valley Birding Forum as a moderator where he has written an article on leucism and albinism. He is always eager to help out anyone who posts with identification questions. He submits to eBird and loves to bird with his dad especially in such events as the Christmas Bird Count.

Cole Gaerber
Cole Gaerber 2015
14 year old Cole is a walking encyclopedia on rare birds in North America which are his passion. Cole enjoys reading everything he can to further his knowledge on birds. He is always eager to share information on birds (both common and rare) with other children, which is inspiring. He volunteers at The Vancouver Aquarium and specifically takes an interest in working with the Penguins.

Ian Harland
Ian Harland 2015
16 year old Ian enjoys volunteering at Grouse Mountain’s Raptor Program where he specifically works with Barn and Snowy Owls. His work with these owls has sparked a major interest in conservation and wetland habitat restoration. Ian is an avid hiker and enjoys taking part in birding youth field trips especially when situated in the mountains. Now that he has recently turned 16, he plans to volunteer at Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society (OWL) and The Wildlife Rescue Association.

Liam Singh
Liam Singh 2015
13 year old Liam from Victoria has been birding for three years and frequently conducts the census for the Rocky Point Bird Observatory’s Pedder Bay site. He leads Sunday walks at The Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary. In his 2nd year of volunteer work he has accumulated over 200 hours at RPBOs banding station in Pedder Bay. Liam also donates proceeds from the sale of his photos to RPBO. Liam helps out with the youth education program there and has begun training to be a licensed bird bander.

Bridget Spencer
Bridget Spencer 2015
14 year old Bridget is passionate about having more young women in birding and has actively been participating in CBC’s for years in the city of Vancouver. She submits to eBird regularly and actively rescues birds of all sorts. Bridget has got her young sister into birding and is always eager to help out young birders and adults alike at the Birding in British Columbia Forum, where she is an active participant. Her knowledge of birds is astonishing and she enjoys travelling around the world to accumulate her life list which is ever growing.

Virginia Spencer
Virginia Spencer puddleduck crop 2015
12 year old Virginia quickly began birding after she saw how much fun her sister was having in it. Bridget has taught her a lot but now Virginia is a fine young birder in her own right. She is passionate about bird rescue and has rescued many window strike birds near her home and sick ducks. When she turns 16 she plans to volunteer at The Wildlife Rescue Association. She enjoys looking after the nesting Barn Swallows and Owls in her barn and takes part in Project Nest Watch.

Alice Sun
Alice Sun
17 year old Alice is a passionate bird photographer. She has used her love of bird photography to enhance her birding skills and pursue her love of birding. Alice volunteers with the Stanley Park monthly bird count and the bird banding program at Colony Farm with the Vancouver Avian Research Centre. Alice participates in stewardship events with Evergreen and has recently began participating in the Vancouver Window Collision Project with Bird Studies Canada. Alice plans to pursue her love of Birding in University with an Environmental Science degree. When she is not birding she is a competitive swimmer.


Joshua Brown, North Vancouver

Josh has been birding with his family for quite a few years, and has recently upped his game to an impressive level. He takes excellent bird photos, posts to birding lists, and submits copious records to eBird. Last May he was part of the ‘Western Teenagers’ team at the Penticton Meadowlark Festival. In August he joined up with two of last year’s Young Birder recipients Liron Gertsman and Logan Lalonde for a Vancouver Big Day when they found a real rarity, a Reeve at Reifel Refuge.

Joshua Brown

Joshua Brown


Isaac Nelson, Kamloops

Isaac is a very skilled and active birder in the Kamloops area and has also birded around the Lower Fraser Valley. He participates in virtually every kind of local bird survey – Christmas Bird Counts, Swan & Eagle Counts, Feederwatch – you name it – he does it.  He participated as a member of the ‘Western Teenagers’ at the Penticton Meadowlark Festival. He contributes frequently to on-line birding forums, with over 400 postings to one particular list, often offering help with ID’s and hints for bird-finding. He has submitted well over 300 entries to eBird.


Isaac Nelson


Emma Reader-Lee, Victoria

Emma has been attracted to birds ever since she could walk and talk. She is particularly fascinated by bird behaviour, and is considering a career in ornithology. She participates in numerous bird-related activities, including volunteering at the Rocky Point Bird Observatory, Christmas Bird Counts, Baillie Birdathon, and contributing to eBird. As evident in the photo, photography is yet another part of her credentials.

Emma Reader-Lee

Emma Reader-Lee

Rebecca Reader-Lee, Victoria

Despite her relative youth, Rebecca has already established herself as an exceptionally skilled and keen-eyed observer. She is very actively involved with the Rocky Point Bird Observatory, Christmas Bird Counts, bird photography and sketching, and eBird submissions.  She was a member of the ‘Western Teenagers’ team of youthful birders at Penticton’s Meadowlark Festival last May.

Rebecca Reader-Lee

Rebecca Reader-Lee


Khalid Boudreau, Burnaby

Khalid Boudreau
Khalid has shown impressive field identification skills. His facility for making correct identifications for difficult, confusing, and challenging species is exceptional for his age. He is also a very careful observer, and because he reads widely in the literature he knows when he sees something important. In the summer of 2012 while vacationing in the Chilcotin on Puntzi Lake, Khalid recognized the significance of his observation of unfledged young pelicans on a small island in the lake. He had made a significant discovery: the hitherto unknown second breeding location for American White Pelicans in BC. Khalid is also a BC Coastal Waterbird Survey participant.

Liron Gertzman

Liron Gertzman 2013.10.13
Liron lives in Vancouver where he has been birding since age 6. He says he has “been into nature pretty much since I could talk”. An avid poster to several of our local birding forums, including “Birding in BC,” he has posted over 800 items to date. Many of these are presentations of his bird photography, and others are responses to queries about bird IDs or advice on finding certain birds in the area. Liron’s photos are not just a series of images, but always have informative accompanying text. Since the end of 2011 he has regularly entered sightings into eBird, and has submitted over 328 checklists, including the 100th million eBird submission, for which he was widely acknowledged and interviewed. He has been a very active volunteer for the Stanley Park Ecological Society for the past three years, participating in several types of bird surveys and making short presentations.

Logan Lalonde

Logan has already established himself as an active and familiar face in the Okanagan birding scene. He is well known for his sharp eyes, keen ears, and constant bird-related questions. Logan submitted close to 300 eBird checklists in 2013, and is a frequent poster on “Birding in BC”. He regularly summarizes and posts on the birding activities of the Central Okanagan Naturalist Club and shares birding stories and photos from his local patch on his personal blog. An avid amateur nature photographer, he is one of the most active birders in the Okanagan, spending hours in the field each week.