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.
2021 is the eighth 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.
Congratulations to Daniel Graca, Evan Larson, Cameron Montgomery, and Sage Pasay the 2021 BCFO Young Birder Award recipients. They join the ranks of a very talented and growing group of British Columbia young birders.
In her nomination of Daniel, Melissa Hafting says:
This amazing young man has been birding undetected in the local birding scene for far too long. He’s loved birding since he was a tiny tot. Birding with Daniel and his dad this fall I was amazed by his skill. He picked up a Blue Jay in flight, at a great distance, and described carefully why it was a Blue Jay and not a Steller’s or California Scrub-Jay. Daniel also identifies birds by ear. He follows the BC Rare Bird Alert closely, and with the help of his parents who do the driving, he successfully twitches many of the rarities. He also finds his own rare birds, such as the adult Sabine’s Gull he found and photographed in the Fraser Valley. In the past he’s gone with family to Europe, Mexico and the US to look at birds.
This talented young birder deserves the Young Birder Award for his commitment and his skill. He raises money for the CWF and OWL, and is passionate about habitat conservation for birds and wildlife. He’s also passionate about bringing awareness to the problem of window strikes and to making homes and windows bird friendly.
In her nomination of Evan, Melissa Hafting says:
Evan has been birding since 2017, is tack sharp, but also knows when to consult others on a difficult identification. He first got interested in birds on finding a Birds of BC field guide that his dad owned. Looking at the list of birds in the back of the book, Evan wondered how many of those he could see in a day. Heading to Reifel one morning, with field guide in hand, he identified a notable thirty-eight species. Pretty good for a beginner! He was hooked right then and there becoming a keen twitcher.
He follows the Rare Bird Alert blog religiously. We have birded together when he began chasing every rare bird reported in the Metro Vancouver area. Not just a twitcher, Evan also loves birding his local patch of Jericho Park, which he does at least 3 times a week. His parents are delighted with his birding passion. Not only travelling to destinations in BC, Alberta and Saskatchewn, Evan has also visited Australia, Belize, and Costa Rica to see birds.
As citizen scientist he reports all his sightings to eBird. Evan is very thorough, patient, and detailed when it comes to birding. He reviews photos posted to eBird and finds many misidentifications made by other birders. Like I said, he is one sharp kid!
Evan is polite, kind, ethical, and is passionate about conservation. He hopes to pursue the field of ornithology, and to do some volunteer work with OWL. He takes beautiful photos and always ensures the birds are given the space and respect they need and deserve.
In his nomination of Cameron, Dan Pontalti says:
The first time I met Cameron was at Reifel one spring day a year and a half ago; his excitement in the birds – and especially about seeing new birds – was obvious. He was keen to learn about the Black Phoebe we saw that day. I later saw him at Maplewood Flats, and this time he had a decent camera and took some fine shots of a Redhead. Again, I saw that he was eager to see, and learn about a new bird. Later, I also saw Cameron, camera in hand, in Stanley Park as we watched a Cassin’s Auklet. Quite aside from merely twitching new birds, Cameron‘s birding skills will surely grow alongside his camera skills!
I have been birding for over two years now, and have learned lots about birds along the way. I love to take many pictures of the birds I encounter with my ‘Nikon Coolpix P900’ camera. My favourite time of year to go birding is spring migration, when many of my favourite birds are present in my hometown, Burnaby. One of my most exciting bird sightings was when I discovered 10 Pine Grosbeaks on Mount Seymour.
In his nomination of Sage, Allan Jensen says:
I first became acquainted with Sage in the summer of 2019. I had heard about her from a naturalist friend of mine who has for many years been exploring and photographing the flora and fauna of Stanley Park. He told me about this bright young woman who seemed to be a gifted birder. A few weeks later I encountered Sage out in the field and I could see that she has a real talent for finding and focusing on birds. Over time it became clear that she has a real interest in birds and a talent for spotting and identifying various species. She has passed on info about quite a few of the less common Stanley Park birds to me and others who regularly birdwatch in the area.
Sage has clearly displayed a serious commitment to birds for some time now, and she has developed very good skills in spotting and observing birds. She has developed a mature and disciplined approach to spending time observing bird behaviour. Also, over the past few months she has devoted a lot of her time in the field to photographing the birds she encounters.
Over the past year or so Sage has been part of the Stanley Park Ecology Society (SPES) monthly bird survey of Beaver Lake and Lost Lagoon. This survey has historically been done by a group. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic such group activities have not been possible; Sage has kept the survey going by herself (her parents usually go along to help with spotting and filling out data sheets).
Sage regularly posts her sighting on eBird, often including photos. In the field she willingly shares sightings and information with other birders.