Birding and Nature Festival in Sierra Vista, Arizona
Greatest Little Birding Festival in the United States - since 1991
Our mission is to promote nature-based tourism and environmental awareness in southeastern Arizona
FIELD TRIPS | Guides | KEYNOTE DINNER | FREE PROGRAM | PRESENTERS | VENDORS | FESTIVAL ARTIST
SUMMER FESTIVAL 2023
Melissa’s lifelong fascination with snakes led her to work on a variety of projects on natural history and conservation of reptiles in Arizona, California, and Mexico. After witnessing how negative attitudes can stifle conservation efforts, she incorporated education and outreach into her research to foster appreciation for snakes by sharing stories and videos of their behavior in the field. In the spring of 2014 she co-founded Advocates for Snake Preservation (ASP) with Jeff Smith, to change how people view and treat snakes. In 2017 they received the Jarchow Conservation Award for commitment and creativity in studying snake behaviors and tireless and continuous efforts to use scientific knowledge to advocate for snake conservation through outreach and social activism.
Kathe is an avid birder, leading bird walks, teaching classes, and participating in bird surveys, among other birdy activities. She’s led hundreds of walks for individuals, conservation organizations, private groups, and life-long learning programs, and taught scores of hands-on birding-related classes for nature festivals, Arizona State University’s Osher Life-long Learning Program, The Nature Conservancy, state parks and numerous local conservation organizations. She loves sharing her passion with others.
Rich was born and raised in New York and was smart enough to move to Arizona in 1974, already a seasoned birder and entomologist. He finished his MS in Entomology from the University of Arizona in 1985. His latest books are The Dragonflies and Damselflies of Arizona and Sonora, co-authored with Doug Danforth and Sandy Upson (nominated for Southwest Books of the Year: Best Reading 2016), and Southeastern Arizona Butterflies (2021) co-authored with Jim Brock.
Faith is a 4th generation Tucsonan. On her father’s side she comes from a long line of businessmen and cattle ranchers. On her mother’s side, she comes from Alaskan authors/artists/explorers. She is the mother of two young boys and resides not far from the Empire Ranch in Vail AZ. Being a native of Southern Arizona, she is heavily involved in preserving our western heritage and is currently the Empire Ranch Foundation’s President and has been on the Board of the Foundation since 2005. She has also been on the Tucson Rodeo Parade Committee since 2001, holding such positions as Treasurer, Vice Chair of Entries and Line-up and Chair of the Prizes Committee. Faith is also the owner of Boice Bookkeeping offering mobile bookkeeping services for small businesses. Her hobbies include camping, backpacking, kayaking and basically anything outdoors.
Priscilla has lived in Carr Canyon, in the bird and butterfly rich Huachuca Mountains of Arizona, for twenty-one years. Her special love of the tropical birds and butterflies has taken her on trips to many places around the world, especially the neotropics, mostly Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia. In 1992 she became interested in observing and photographing butterflies. She is a founding Director of the Southeast Arizona Butterfly Association (SEABA) and co-author of Butterflies of Arizona. She has led and co-led many butterfly field trips in Arizona and in Sonora, Mexico.
Callie Caplenor is the Education Technician for the National Park Service’s Southeast Arizona Group, which includes Chiricahua National Monument, Coronado National Memorial, and Fort Bowie National Historic Site. Callie attended the University of Tennessee, Knoxville where she earned a B.A. in English and eventually an M.S. in Forestry with research focused on human dimensions of wildlife management. She then traveled around the west for several years working as an interpretive park ranger at places like Olympic National Park and Glacier National Park before settling down in Sierra Vista, AZ last fall. Despite growing up with a passion for nature and outdoor activities, she did not develop an interest in birds until moving to Arizona, for which she credits the amazingly diverse Sky Islands and a very warm and welcoming local birding community. She enjoys creating and delivering curriculum-based education programs and conversing with the visiting public about the latest bird sightings in the parks.
Bill Cavaliere is president of the Cochise County Historical Society and sits on the board of the Arizona Historical Society’s southern chapter. He lectures frequently on the Chiricahua Apaches at colleges and historical societies. He has written articles for numerous historical journals and magazines, and recently finished his first book, The Chiricahua Apaches - A Concise History. Bill retired in 2012 after 28 years in law enforcement, all on the border. He is the former sheriff of Hidalgo County NM. Prior to this he worked for the US Forest Service in the Chiricahua Mountains. He and his wife Jill live on a cattle ranch and own the Four Bar Cottages near Portal AZ.
Rick is a National Park Ranger at Tumacácori National Historical Park. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Tucson Presidio Trust, on the Board of the Tubac Historical Society, and on the Board of the Empire Ranch Foundation. He also works with the Tubac Presidio State Historic Park, creating exhibits and interpretive materials. He coordinates the volunteers of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historical Trail Mounted Color Guard providing public activities to promote the amazing trail.
Stan Cunningham grew up exploring the “woods” in all the places he lived as a child. After a brief career in the oil fields, he decided “that college deal” his parents talked about might be the way to go. He received his B.S. in Wildlife Biology from the University of Wyoming. He researched Desert Bighorn in Southern CA for his master’s research at Arizona State University. Continuing at ASU, he studied Mourning and White Winged Doves on the Gila River for his PhD research. After school, he worked for Arizona Game and Fish primarily in his dream job as a Research Biologist studying ungulates and animals that ate them. His specialties included ungulate (Big Game) habitat Selection, many phases of mountain lion and black bear ecology, and the effects of fire on a variety of species from lizards to elk and many carnivores. After 30 years, ASU enticed Stan back with an offer he could not refuse, and he spent his last 15 years as a Wildlife Biology instructor on the Polytechnic campus.
Mike has been making videos about Sonora, Mexico and southern Arizona for the last twelve years. He has posted nearly 300 educational videos about the flora, fauna and cultural history of the region. Much of his early work was done with the Friends of the San Pedro River. Now he works as the interpretive person for the Friends of the Huachuca Mountains at the Carr House Information Center. He is also currently doing video work for the Border Community Alliance in Tubac. He has done significant work for the El Pinicate and Sierra Alamos Rio Cuchujaqui Reserves in Sonora and his work also appears on the Coronado National Memorial Park web pages in the US. He has lived in Bisbee for the last 35 years from where he launches his filming trips across the Southwest.
Diana Hadley is a founding member and president of the Northern Jaguar Project (NJP), a bi-national non-profit dedicated to preserving the northernmost breeding population of jaguars on the continent. She is an environmental historian who retired from the Arizona State Museum at the University of Arizona as associate curator of ethnohistory. She has published articles and government reports on ecological changes in the U.S. Mexico borderlands. The former operator of a cattle ranch in Cochise County, her interest in resolution of livestock wildlife conflicts led her to involvement in jaguar conservation. Currently, she assists NJP in management of the 55,000-acre Northern Jaguar Reserve, which provides a safe-haven for jaguars and other wildlife in a remarkably biodiverse portion of the Sierra Madre foothills in Sonora, Mexico, only 120 miles south of the international boundary.
Homer Hansen grew up in Willcox, Arizona surrounded by Sandhill Cranes in winter and Cassin's Sparrows in summer. Homer has a passion for sharing bird watching with others and is a regular field trip leader for several festivals and has served as chairman of the Wings Over Willcox Birding & Nature Festival for over 20 years. Homer loves working with youths and co-founded the Sulphur Springs Valley Young Birders Club and the associated Arizona Young Birder's Camp, non-profits dedicated to educating youths about birds (re-grouping now post-COVID with the 6th annual camp). He also instructs workshops on sparrows, raptors, flycatchers, warblers, birding by ear, and bird ecology, including: the Lifelong Learning courses for the Tucson Audubon Society, the Southwestern Sparrows IFO for the American Birding Association, and educational workshops for the Western Field Ornithologists (WFO) conferences. Homer is a life member of the WFO, Cooper Ornithological Society (COS), and Wilson Ornithological Society (WOS), and recently served on the WFO board as chairman of the Student Programs Committee.
Mark Hart is a public information officer with the Arizona Game and Fish Department in Tucson. He serves as department spokesman for southeastern Arizona news media, and manages information and education programs throughout the region. Hart joined the department in 2009, and also serves as a public information officer for the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management. In addition, he is an agency representative to the federal Borderlands Management Task Force. Hart, a contributor to the Arizona Daily Star and a Best of Gannett award recipient, earned a bachelor’s degree with high honors from Loyola University of Chicago in 1981.
Greg Homel is an ornithologist, award-winning international nature photojournalist, documentary film producer, birding tour leader and lecturer. He lives and works from his home in California, USA and from his second homes in the north tip of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico. A birder-naturalist since childhood, Greg founded Natural Elements Productions in 1986 and Natural Encounters Birding Tours shortly thereafter. Now he travels the globe on a full-time basis in search of rare and little-known birds and other wildlife. Throughout his life, but especially since the early 1990s, Greg has guided, educated, and inspired travelers in over 80 countries throughout the world. He has contributed to many books and magazines, and since the "digital revolution," he has moved into television, video production for conservation groups such as American Bird Conservancy, field guide writing and lecturing aboard expedition. His photographic guides include Birds of Southeastern Arizona, Southern California and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. His new book Bad Roads, Good Birds, a guide to birding in Mexico will be published soon.
Jim is the owner of Arizona Revegetation & Monitoring Co. and the author of Grassland Plant ID For Everyone – Except Folks That Take Boring Technical Stuff Too Seriously. For the last 4 decades Jim has worked with plants, seed, and rock in SE Arizona. To be honest, the results are not always pretty. Then again, having your career’s reputation dependent on moisture in the great Southwest is not a genius move to begin with. When not day working, Jim can often be found playing mandolin at various water holes in the Sonoita - Patagonia area.
Karen Krebbs worked at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum for more than 26 years, and now works on her own as an independent contractor. She has extensive knowledge of birds, mammals, deserts, and animal adaptations and behavior. Karen has carried out research for bats in the United States and Mexico for more than 30 years. She trains biologists on the proper protocol for handling and studying bats. Karen regularly carries out workshops and presentations on bats and birds to groups, schools, festivals, and organizations in the southwest and Mexico. Her long-term inventory and monitoring program for bats in the Chiricahua Mountains continues in its 20th year of study. She has written articles, books, and manuals for bats and birds. She has collaborated with other researchers on many bat research projects with local government agencies, universities, Mexico partners, and non-profit organizations. Karen has participated in natural history learning trips in Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Mexico, Baja, Costa Rica, Africa, Galapagos, and Ecuador. Karen’s passion for bats is contagious! Her animal lectures and presentations are exciting and fun! Karen has a B. Sc. Degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from the University of Arizona. Karen’s latest books include Desert Life: A Guide to the Southwest’s Iconic Animals and Plants & How They Survive; Desert Life of the Southwest Activity Book; Explore Tucson Outdoors; and Bat Basics: An Introduction to the Life of Bats in the United States & Canada & Their Many Benefits.
Gordon Lam is a recently transplanted (from New York) Naturalist and Educator with a particular passion for birds and their habitats. For well over a decade he has been leading nature and history walks throughout the US for organizations such as the National Park Service, the American Littoral Society, and The Linnean Society. He and his wife recently moved down to Southeast Arizona, after many years visiting. He is a docent at the nearby Ash Canyon Bird Sanctuary, as well as a professional musician, and, sadly, a big proponent of dad jokes!
Deb is a 25-year veteran of the National Park Service with assignments from Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Florida, Minnesota, Wyoming and Alaska. She served as superintendent at Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming and at Katmai and Lake Clark National Parks and Preserve in Alaska. She is now at home in Tucson. In 2021 she published Pilgrim, Paddler, Poet: The Ranger Chronicles - a collection of absorbing tales which trace her career across the US.
Glenn is a 34-year career federal civil servant. His bachelors and graduate degrees are in geography with specialties in cartography, geomorphology, remote sensing, and geology. Others areas of academic focus were biogeography (flora/fauna), weather/climate, and pedology (soils). His research focused in the area of geomorphology and geology examining mound micro-relief (Mima-type mounds) on volcanic mudflows in the central Sierra Nevada foothills, California. He taught geography, weather & climate, and geology part time in the Life and Physical Science Department of American River College, Sacramento for seven years. He's been a part time instructor in geography and geology for 20 years in Cochise College credit and non-credit programs where he conducts field trips and lectures in the areas of military history, ecology, weather/climate, geography, and geology.
Eric Moore, owner of Jay's Bird Barn and Arizona Field Optics in Prescott, Arizona, has been a life-long birder. Eric grew up in Tucson and at a young age birded extensively all over southeastern Arizona. As the owner of Jay's Bird Barn and Arizona Field Optics, Eric has an intimate knowledge of optical equipment, including binoculars and scopes and knows what the unique demands are for quality birding optics. With the perspective of being a birder, and not just a business owner, Eric understands the importance of quality optical equipment to maximize birding experiences - both at home and in the field.
Caleb was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona where he began birding at a very young age. Birding has taken him across much of the United States and, recently, to northern Mexico where he experienced the avifauna of tropical deciduous forest and adjacent pine-oak forest in the mountains of Sonora. From watching California Condors soaring over the cliffs of the Grand Canyon to observing a pair of Elegant Trogons visiting their nesting cavity in a sycamore in the sky Islands of southeast Arizona, Caleb truly loves his home state of Arizona! Caleb is an eBird Regional Reviewer for Maricopa, Yavapai, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, Navajo, and Apache Counties in Arizona, a current member of the Arizona Bird Committee.
Stephen Vaughan is a professional photographer and ornithologist. He has been photographing and studying natural history for more than 40 years. His photographs have been published in numerous books, magazines and calendars from publications including National Geographic, Audubon, and Arizona Highways.
Rick Wright leads Birds and Art tours in Europe and the Americas for Victor Emanuel Nature Tours. A widely published author and sought-after lecturer and field trip leader, Rick studied French, German, Philosophy, and Life Sciences in his native Nebraska before making a detour to Harvard Law School. He took the Ph.D. in German Languages and Literatures at Princeton University in 1990, then spent a dozen years as an academic, holding successive appointments as Assistant Professor of German at the University of Illinois, Reader in Art and Archaeology at Princeton University, and Associate Professor of Medieval Studies at Fordham University. He and his wife, the medievalist Alison Beringer, spent eight happy years in Tucson before Alison's work took them to northern New Jersey, where they live with their little girl, Avril, and their chocolate lab, Gellert. Rick's numerous scholarly publications include two books on the Latin animal literature of the later Middle Ages. He is the author of the ABA Field Guide to Birds of New Jersey and the ABA Field Guide to Birds of Arizona; his most recent book is the Peterson Reference Guide to American Sparrows, published by Houghton Mifflin in 2019.