About Me/Contact Information
I'm Tommy DeBardeleben and I have been birding since I was 13 years old. I started in June of 2000, and I picked up the hobby at Prescott's Goldwater Lake. Before I became a birder, I was actively into camping and wildlife watching my entire childhood. Wildlife watching was my favorite thing to do on camping trips in Greer, Arizona, and I would like to see the large mammals such as elk, deer, and coyotes. Most of the time, I would come back empty-handed, as most of the mammals I was wanting to see are nocturnal. Coming back empty-handed frustrated me, and I wanted to find a way to fix that frustration. On one of those camping trips, I bought a few cheap field guides with money that my parents gave me to spend in the local gift shop in Greer. One of those field guides was the Peterson First Guide to Birds. I didn't look at the book much during the trip, but shortly later when we went to Prescott, I took my field guides with me. It was supposed to be a "mammalling trip" at first, but once we got to a crowded Goldwater Lake on a weekend, I knew that there wouldn't be any large mammals in sight. I saw that there were quite a few birds around, and I decided to walk around the lake with the Peterson First Guide to Birds and my bincoculars to see what I could identify. By the end of the day, I had identified 10 species on my first ever birding adventure. I was soon to be hooked on birding. Shortly after, my family took another trip to Greer, Arizona, and it was my first major birding trip over the course of 5 days. I've always liked to bird in the high elevation conifer forests more than anywhere else, perhaps because that's where I started to bird.
From 2000 to 2008, birding was one of my many hobbies before I became completely serious about it and treated it as my full-time hobby in 2009. Since then I have traveled around Arizona and have visited and birded many areas throughout the state. Besides birding in the field whenever I have the chance, I have studied my field guides and have listened to bird songs and calls relentlessly in order to become a better birder. The rewards of birding in this state are unlimited and exciting, you really never know what you might find on any given day. I have spent the larger majority of my time birding in Maricopa County, where I have worked on two Big Years and have studied the region extensively. What I like about Maricopa County is the diversity of habitats that can be found in one county and the potential it has. There is a lot of exploring to do in Arizona in any region or county!
For a few facts about me, I'll start with my birding favorites. My favorite bird is the Northern Goshawk. It has been my favorite bird since I started looking at my first advanced field guide after I fledged from the Peterson First Guide (which doesn't illustrate Northern Goshawk). Birding wise, I often like to bird from dawn to dusk, and visit as many places as possible. There is nothing funner to me than spending a successful day out in the field. Despite the fact I like to bird in all habitats, my favorite habitat to bird in are mixed conifer forests up north. I also enjoy birding by ear a lot. I enjoy all birds, from common to very rare.
If you see me out in the field, I have several field marks. I'm rather tall and skinny, and I carry a lot of stuff. With a mix of binoculars, spope, camera, and backback, I may look very serious. I have gotten a lot of sun over these years, and my best field mark is marked by the binocular wear on my neck. That part of my neck has never gotten sun due to the binocular wear, and is very evident.
Other than birding, I have several other passions. One of them is basketball. I love to watch basketball anytime and anywhere, especially the NBA. I'm a huge Suns fan and always know who is dunking the basketball. Over the last few years, the Suns are shooting layups instead of dunks...hopefully that will change soon. I also like to spend time with my family and attend church whenever I can. My favorite TV shows are MasterChef and The Voice. I'm also a huge fan of music, and my favorite musical artists are Disciple, Kari Jobe, Chris Tomlin, and Skillet. I also enjoy playing video games such as my Playstation 2 (I guess that would be considered old school now). There aren't any birding video games unfortunately. I guess I'm a well rounded dude and enjoy a variety of different things.