International Women's Day 2023
The Atlas has a lot of reasons to celebrate International Women’s Day. This year we wanted to do so by recognizing and celebrating the effort of some of our amazing Regional Coordinators. Regional Coordinators are the backbone of the Atlas effort – coordinating hundreds of volunteer atlassers and ultimately helping us achieve the ambitious goals of Altas-3.
Please read on to hear about these amazing women, what they love about the Atlas and some of their favourite stories so far. Please join us in celebrating their amazing accomplishments.
Meet some of the hardworking women that support the Atlas on the front lines and behind the scenes!
Marcie Jacklin (Niagara) – I learned so much while being a participant during the second atlas and I was pleased to be asked to be the RC for the current atlas. I really like working with the other RC’s and contributing to the knowledge about Ontario birds during this critical time for bird populations. When I first started birding 30+ years ago there weren’t many women birders, especially women who birded on their own, so it is great to see so many female birders use their skills to contribute to this important resource.
Regan Goodyear (Muskoka) – I’ve enjoyed working with the other members of the Muskoka RC team putting in many hours planning and organizing before the field work even began. It’s been great communicating through emails and Zoom with our awesome contingent of Muskoka atlassers. Maybe this year we’ll meet in person! As for atlassing, I love exploring otherwise inaccessible places in my kayak. An especially memorable moment for me was sitting in my kayak watching a pair of Peregrine Falcons hunt over the water and feed their young in their cliffside nest. I can’t wait to get back out there.
Carol Dersch (Algoma) – I love that birding is such an inclusive activity. Since birds are fairly easy to observe, they are a good hook to get people of all ages interested in wildlife, wild spaces and citizen science. It doesn’t take a big investment of money or time. You can enjoy birding in your backyard, an urban park, or trek into the woods. For me, it is magical to get out early to enjoy the dawn chorus. The most exciting part of atlassing is getting good breeding/nesting evidence, especially observing young birds – the hope for the next generation.
Anna Sheppard (Manitoulin) – I love atlassing because my data is contributing to a meaningful and important project. I love birding in general, but the atlas motivates me to get outside that much more to enjoy not only the birds but the morning quiet and solitude, the fresh air, and the surroundings. Being an RC has allowed me to learn much more about the Manitoulin Island landscape and in particular about the birds that nest in grassland habitat. Birding can be overwhelming, but I have had many teachers help me along the way, and I hope I can help and motivate the next generation of birders as well!
Lynne Richardson (Grey) – Seeing all the Region 9 squares fill up with eager atlassers was one of the rewarding aspects of being a Regional Coordinator. Watching the data roll in from those squares is equally so. Each square seems to hold new discoveries for the Atlassers and the data bank. Already, at this early start of the 2023 season, the discovery of not one, but two BAEA nests in my own square has been an atlassing highlight. I hope all the Grey atlassers experience the same thrill and feeling of accomplishment from confirming species in their squares – or in any location for that matter.
Angie Williams (Cochrane) – My name is Angie Williams, and I love atlassing! My husband and I are the only birders in our small town, and when we first moved here in 2018, there were quite a few raised eyebrows as I wandered around with binoculars and camera. They didn’t quite understand what I was up to, or why. But when I talk to them about the atlas, and how we are gathering critical data, they suddenly get it. Atlassing raises the value of birding. It’s important, it’s challenging, and it’s fun
Roxane Filion (Timiskaming) – Atlassing in northern Ontario has been a wonderful experience so far; my favourite moments include an extraordinary songbird chorus at sunrise, a Rusty Blackbird in habitat and an Olive-sided Flycatcher song echoing near a quiet spruce bog. What I particularly love about my role as RC are the wonderful atlassers I get to work with in Region 41; they all make a significant impact and their passion for birds makes it all worthwhile! I am inspired each time an atlasser tells me about an interesting observation they made, and I am delighted when I get the chance to help someone input data in the Atlas for the first time. Seeing the coverage map evolve with northern atlassing effort is also very rewarding, especially when you know that the data will contribute to help vulnerable species we all love.
Christine Drake (Marathon) – One day in mid-June, in the first summer of the atlas, I was out for a late afternoon run. To keep my mind off the monotony of the run, I was scanning old pileated woodpecker cavities in the hydro poles along the road. All of a sudden, in a cavity on the hydro pole across the road from me about 10 metres up, a little fluffy black and white nestling appeared! It wasn’t more than a couple seconds before POP! And then pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop and…pop! A full clutch of eight common goldeneye fledged right in front of me! It was an amazing, incredibly cute phenomenon to witness and one I’ll never forget.
Wendy Hill (Muskoka) Being a Regional Coordinator on the very committed Muskoka Team has offered me the opportunity to learn and share with a fun, knowledgeable and inspiring group of birders, who have a mutual concern about the conservation of these avian wonders. I am thrilled to be a part of this process and hope that we are inspiring Muskoka birders to get out there and Atlas! Atlassing has been a grand excuse for spending time outdoors exploring my passion for nature and birds. Providing conservation data is a bonus. The challenge of exploring the back roads and trails of our beautiful Muskoka, successfully tracking a bird and interpreting its behaviour, is a delight. Every new discovery gives me an adrenaline boost, whether it is the song of a new species or the discovery of a perfect, exquisite nest of eggs. Nature at its purest
Christine Trudeau (Cornwall-Hawkesbury) – My birding voyage began at our family cottage at Lake George, just north of Alfred Ontario when I was about 14 years old. We fed birds and had multiple species including the voracious Evening Grosbeaks!! I began actively birding in Far Eastern Ontario when I joined the Vankleek Hill & District Nature Society 24 years ago. As a member of the executive committee, I have been involved in many bird-related projects and I particularly enjoy participating in and organizing local Citizen Science bird projects.
Danielle Gough (Kenora) – Despite growing up in Windsor-Essex and spending every summer in Point Pelee National Park, I didn’t get into birding until my undergraduate degree. I have my ornithology professor, Dr. Dan Mennill, to thank for passing on not only his knowledge but his passion for birds to me. I completed my Masters in Environmental Science from Trent University studying the effects of ambient noise on the song structure of Pacific Wrens on Vancouver Island. I have been fortunate that my work as a biologist with Parks Canada, MNRF, and with private industry, over the past 10 years has allowed me to bird in many of Canada’s provinces and territories.
Emily Rondel (Toronto) – A long-time bird watcher and researcher, I have observed and surveyed birds throughout Ontario, from Lake Erie to the Arctic. I am the Vice President of the Toronto Ornithological Club and an eBird reviewer for Toronto. My interest in birds began with my Master’s degree, which focused on citizen science applications for monitoring birds. This work took me to Ontario’s birding mecca, Point Pelee, and from then on birding became a minor obsession! As someone who has long been fascinated by the intersection of hobby birding and conservation science, the Atlas is an amazing opportunity to see both of these things reach their highest potential!
Karen Cedar (Essex) – I began studying birds in 1989 while working for Mike Cadman but I became a “birder” when I began working for Paul Pratt in 1990. Thanks to these two people I have been enthralled with birds and their behaviour for over 30 years. I have participated in the 2nd Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas, Ontario Rare Breeding Bird Program, Forest Bird Monitoring Program, Breeding Bird Surveys, and Christmas Bird Counts. Most of these were in Essex County but I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to participate in other regions, including Polar Bear Provincial Park. I look forward to the discoveries that will be made as we undertake the 3rd Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas!
Janice House (Muskoka) – I am bird crazy, Secretary of the Muskoka Field Naturalists, a member of Huntsville Nature Club and I also volunteer for the Muskoka Conservancy. I love being outside and enjoy birding by ear, bird counts and birdathons. I survived the Carden Challenge and the OFO trip to Rainy River in 2019 and will be participating in the 2020 Carden Challenge. I played a very small part in the last Atlas and I am excited to be a part of Atlas-3. The song of the Eastern Wood-Pewee is my favourite, they use it in a lot of movies!
Kat Côté (Algoma) – I first started birding while working as a Natural Heritage Educator at Lake Superior Provincial Park, where we taught visitors about commonly seen and heard species (my favourite character I played in one of our theatrical performances was a turkey vulture who explained dihedral soaring and urohidrosis). I now work as a Indigenous Relations Advisor for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. I’m most excited about the conversation many in the birding/outdoor recreation community are having about diversity and equal access to the outdoors (e.g., #BlackBirdersWeek, Colour the Trails, Brown Girl Outdoor World).
Andrea Kingsley (Northumberland) – I have been fascinated by the natural world for as long as I can remember, birds however have always been my main passion. I have a background in biology and natural history interpretation through environmental consultant jobs, teaching, research, and volunteer positions. I have an MSc in biology, which involved studying the effects of uniform shelterwood logging on the birds of Algonquin Provincial Park, where I was also a park naturalist. I have lived and worked all over Ontario but have lived in Brighton since 2011. I love Presquile and Northumberland county and look forward to helping with the atlas in this great area.
Marlene Paibomesai (Wellington) – I like connecting with people and the bird community. The birding community is unlike any other, from beginners to experts, we all share an appreciation for birds. I also like contributing to such an important project for bird conservation. I enjoyed Region 47 square bash at Luther Marsh. We had a small team of atlassers head out for the morning. The day was terribly windy, but we had a lovely time. There was this surreal moment, where we were surrounded by White Throated Sparrows singing. We headed out to a local chip truck afterwards for some poutine and buttertarts.
Amanda Guerico (Toronto) – My first serious introduction to birding was on a field course in Algonquin Provincial Park when I was in university, and from there it became somewhat of an obsession! I love birding by ear and worked as a point count technician for the Manitoba Breeding Bird Atlas for two summers, and spent several of my springs and autumns running the Delta Marsh Bird Observatory. I have also done marsh monitoring across Ontario and Atlantic Canada, and the pursuit of birds has brought me to a number of incredible places in Canada and around the world, but Toronto’s ravines and lakefront migrant traps will always be special to me
Lisa Venier (Sault Ste Marie) – My interest in birds started at the Queen’s University Biological Station in Chaffeys Lock where I had a summer job studying reproductive behaviour of tree swallows with Raleigh Robertson. I wrote my Honour’s thesis and Master’s thesis on tree swallows before starting a PhD on boreal forest birds with Dan Welsh of the Canadian Wildlife Service and Lenore Fahrig at Carleton University. From there I moved to Sault Ste. Marie to work at the Canadian Forest Service, Natural Resources Canada with a research focus on what biodiversity can tell us about forest management.