BCFO Young Birder Awards 2021

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.

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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.

Daniel Graca

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.

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Evan Larson

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.

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Cameron Montgomery

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!

From Cameron:

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.

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Sage Pasay

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.

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BCFO Young Birder Awards 2020

The BCFO Young Birder Award welcomes talented young birders into the BC birding community providing them with recognition, opportunity, encouragement, and mentoring.

We present Young Birder Awards 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.

2020 is the seventh 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.

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Congratulations to Nicholas Croft and Gaelen Schnare the 2020 BCFO Young Birder Award recipients. They join the ranks of a very talented and growing group of British Columbia young birders.

Nicholas Croft

Nicholas Croft started birding in 2015 when he was eight years old. His favourite birding places include Tofino, Waterton Lakes and the Okanagan. He recently joined two Young Birder Program field trips to Kamloops and the Southern Okanagan. On these trips he saw many lifers, with the highlight being a family of Great Grey Owls. Nicholas has done one pelagic trip, which he loved and hopes to do more. Nicholas recently helped OWL release an injured and rehabilitated Northern Saw-whet Owl.

His passion for birds was rewarded at the Vancouver Island Regional Science Fair where he won an award for his project assessing winter bird use of the Hope Bay estuary. Nicholas has also contributed to citizen science through the annual CBC4Kids on Pender Island, and helps out with the BC Coastal Waterbird Survey, a program of Birds Canada and Environment Canada.

Birding for Nicholas also has an artistic side. Developing and honing his photography skills has resulted in four photo exhibitions on Pender Island. Nicholas hopes to experience a whole new world of birding when he goes to Australia next year.

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Gaelen Schnare

Gaelen has a deep love for all things bird-related. He is an impressive young person and an impressive birder. Possessing a keen eye and unbridled enthusiasm, he is also very good with a camera; framing and selling his photos at various art shows.

As a citizen scientist, Gaelen contributes his bird observations through eBird, and also posts his natural history observations to iNaturalist. He regularly gives presentations about birds at the annual Creston Valley Bird Festival, and has led tours at that festival for young birders – a mentor already.

Gaelen also gives presentations to local Nelson schools, and participates in the Nelson Christmas Bird Count. This past summer, he and his father accompanied friends to Saskatchewan to bird the Grasslands National Park.

 

BCFO Young Birder Award 2019

The BCFO Young Birder Program welcomes talented young birders into the BC birding community, and provides them with opportunity, encouragement, and mentoring.

As part of the program, we present Young Birder Awards 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 Executive Committee.

The Awards Program, now in its sixth year, continues to grow as we 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 2019 we are very pleased to welcome Sasha Fairbairn, another talented and committed Young Birder to this very talented group of young people. Congratulations, Sasha.

Sasha Fairbairn, Surrey

SashaFairburn

Photo: Melissa Hafting

In common with many of our award winners, Sasha is a committed volunteer. The Sunnyside Acres Heritage Society benefits from Sasha’s involvement in a couple of ways. She helps with their social media web pages, and not surprisingly, is also a birding guide for the society, which welcomes visitors to Sunnyside Acres Urban Forest Park near her home in Surrey.

This past summer Sasha attended the Beaverhill Bird Observatory Young Ornithologists Workshop in Alberta where she learned to band birds, and was able to greatly increase her knowledge of matters ornithological.

Sasha enjoys birding with others and participated in the Manning Park Bird Blitz, which she intends to make an annual event.

Previously Sasha lived in New Zealand and this is where her love of birding developed. And now she has even got her parents interested in birding! She participates in Project FeederWatch, and the Great Backyard Bird Count. She enters her sightings into eBird, and writes her own blog about birds and birding <https://bcbackyardbirds.wordpress.com/>.

Keen to promote conservation of the environment, Sasha is an accomplished writer too. In 2017 she won a youth contest called “A voice for animals” <https://www.hennet.org/docs/contest/winners/2017_Sasha_Fairbairn.pdf>.
She is a great birder with intense passion for the hobby and is a very welcome addition to BCFO’s Young Birder Award recipients.

Young Birder Award winners on Gen Why? TV

During the International Ornithological Congress held in Vancouver this past August, a number of BCFO’s Young Birders each participated in a very popular and well-attended public presentation.

Following up on this public success, the group was profiled in a Gen Why? TV short feature highlighting the Young Birders Program and this talented, and exciting group of young people.

See our young birders here.

All the Young Birders featured in the video linked above are recipients of BCFO’s Young Birder Award, part of BCFO’s Young Birders Program.

Flesh-footed Shearwater photographed by Young Birder Bridget Spencer on a recent Young Birders Program pelagic trip out of Tofino.

 

BCFO Young Birders fly high at IO Congress 2018

Photo: Ian Harland

BC Field Ornithologists Young Birders are staged to deliver four incredible talks at the West Exhibition Hall http://www.vanbirdfest.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Program@AGlance.pdf on Thursday, Aug. 23rd from 1:30-2:30

Adam Dhalla “Shade-Grown Coffee in Costa Rica & its Positive Impact on Birds”

Toby Theriault “Seabirds and Plastic Pollution”

Ian Harland “The Artistic Side of Bird Photography”

Liron Gertsman “The Importance of Photography for Conservation”

Moderated by Melissa Hafting. Please come out to support BCFO youth. Admission to the Expo is only $10 and includes all talks at the Community Theater, access to Exhibitor booths, Artist for Conservation Silent Skies mural and more…

BCFO Young Birder Awards 2018

The BCFO Young Birder Program welcomes talented young birders into the BC birding community, and provides them with opportunity, encouragement, and mentoring.

As part of the program, we present Young Birder Awards 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 Executive Committee.

The Awards Program, now in its fifth year and totalling 27 awardees, continues to grow as we 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.

Here are the BCFO Young Birder Award recipients for 2018, presented in alphabetical order:

 

Daniel Beeke, Agassiz

Daniel first distinguished himself when he managed to see all three species of Ptarmigan: Rock, Willow, and White-tailed during a family vacation in Northern BC. Daniel has gone birding in several locations, including China, where he got fifty lifers in one day with his Uncle Tom. His favourite places to bird are Tuyttens Road and Cheam Wetlands Regional Park in Agassiz. He has volunteered at the Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival in Harrison Mills, and at Cheam Wetlands where he has helped clean the park after an ice storm, and helped in building the south entrance to the park. Every year he participates in the Chilliwack and the Abbotsford Christmas Bird Counts. His uncles Jim and Dave Beeke mentor him and help him with bird identification questions. He has been birding for six years and participates in the Fraser Valley Birding forum and enjoys posting photos to his Flickr acct. He uses eBird every time he birds, and is passionate about citizen science. His favourite type of birding is to scan a large flock of birds to find which species is different. He loves that challenge. His entire family are birders and have helped to inspire him to be the birder he is today.

Check out his Flickr account at: <https://www.flickr.com/photos/139279299@N04>

Zachary Fedder, Vancouver

Zac has long been an enthusiast birder and been eager to learn about the natural world. Zac has developed and advanced his understanding of wildlife in his travel adventures, and his more local recreational pursuits. Zac is a promising and already talented young naturalist and birder, and he’s following a fulfilling path that will benefit himself and ensure the conservation of nature in general. This award will encourage him to continue on this path.

Zac says about himself:
I recently gave a lecture to a grade seven class to introduce them to birding, and I organized a one hour activity about birds with them. I am also returning to Costa Rica this summer for six weeks to do some research, hopefully on birds. As an active member of the global birding community, I have also been birding around the world (Costa Rica, Portugal, France, Spain, Israel, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Canada, the U.S., etc.), and have participated in birding tours in most of these places. As well, I have participated in Christmas Bird Counts, and in eBird’s Global Big Day. I have emailed sightings to Melissa Hafting for BC Rare Bird Alert. I have introduced birding to my family (close and extended), and to friends. All these things advance the birding community as I contribute to the global knowledge of birds and help spread this knowledge to others. By making connections and participating in birding around the world, I am also bringing the birding community closer together.

<https://jerichobirdingtours.wordpress.com>

Cedar Forest, Tofino

Cedar on left

Cedar first demonstrated her enthusiasm and knowledge of birds on the September 2017 Ucluelet Pelagic trip when she was quick enough to spot the Manx Shearwater that hardly any adults were able to get on. She is a very intelligent, sharp birder with an engaging and humorous personality. Very good at species identification, she loves to bird with her best friend Toby Theriault (2017 Young Birder Award winner). However, she is also a fantastic solo birder, having found a Tropical Kingbird this year in her hometown of Tofino, and has a BC list that many adults could only dream of. She has done several pelagic trips with her friend Adrian Dorst and has seen many Black-footed and Laysan Albatrosses. Living in Tofino, a great migrant trap, she has spotted many of the rarities that frequently show up there. Cedar also loves to bird with her friend and mentor Ian Cruickshank, who has taught her a lot about birds. Cedar went on a trip to Manning Provincial Park with the Delta Naturalists in August 2017. President Tom Bearss commented that she was so good she became the leader for the group of 10 adult birders on the tour. She spotted all the birds and plants, and explained them well to everyone. Truly impressive at 13 years old. She is another young birder in the province who will make us proud for many years to come.

Kalin Ocana, Kelowna

Kalin is a generous and helpful young birder. The nominator first met him while twitching a Little Gull in Penticton. As soon as she got to the lake to open up her scope, Kalin came running to show her where the bird was. He had also found an American Dipper there as well. As they looked at the Little Gull together, the knowledge he showed about the species and about all the birds present on Okanagan Lake was impressive. He knew the migration routes and nesting behaviours and other fun facts about the Little Gull. He loves to bird the ABA area and recently went to Baffin Island and Florida. He is an amazing photographer and his website is here: https://www.instagram.com/BIRDZ.OKANAGAN/ Kalin birds almost daily near his home in Kelowna and he is very passionate about bird conservation. Under every photo he posts to Instagram, he educates the reader about the bird’s plight and issues the species is facing. He also provides little known informative facts. He definitely is a future conservation leader and nature steward for the Okanagan and Province of BC.

Jason Roos, Chilliwack

Jason, whose favourite type of birding is owling, has a vast knowledge of birds. His volunteer work includes the Chilliwack Christmas Bird Count in which he has participated for 5 years. He has also volunteered with the Eagle Festival in Harrison Mills. Jason uses eBird every time he goes birding, and is passionate about citizen science. He loves to bird with his cousin Daniel (also nominated in 2018). His uncle, Dave Beeke, is his birding mentor, and has taught him a lot about birds and identification. His whole family loves to bird and is very supportive of his hobby. Jason will be a valuable contributor in the future to BC’s birding community.

Marnix Vandereyk, Langley

Marnix loves to count birds and particularly loves to come on hiking field trips in the mountains. He volunteers to do trail clearing with the Langley Field Naturalists. A polite, helpful and respectful birder, Marnix knows a lot not only about birds and their identification but he is also proficient in the identification and habits of amphibians and mammals, usually the first one to spot a Pika or Hoary Marmot on hikes to spot ptarmigan. Marnix enjoys working on the farm at home where he raises calves, sheep and rabbits. He has found many uncommon birds on his property such as Townsend’s Solitaires, House Wrens and White-winged Crossbills. As a well rounded nature enthusiast, Marnix will no doubt continue to add to the understanding of BC’s wildlife and birdlife.

Congratulations all.

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