FIELD TRIP GUIDES 

2022 Spring Fling

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Sandy Anderson

Sandy Anderson has had a lifelong passion for all things natural, especially birds. A self-educated naturalist she has taught birding classes, coordinated and led birding and natural history tours and guided professionally for over 35 years. In 2000 she founded Gray Hawk Nature Center, a non-profit environmental education facility located on the San Pedro River. She currently serves as director and educator-naturalist for the center which provides experiential outdoor learning opportunities for thousands of students of all ages each year. The center also maintains a collection of native reptiles which serve as ambassadors at the center and also at festivals and outreach presentations throughout Arizona. Sandy was the first president of the Southwest Wings Festival and has been actively involved in conservation activities since moving to Arizona in 1991.

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Jeff Babson

Jeff Babson developed an interest in birds and native animals early in life and attended Arizona State University in pursuit of a degree in marine biology – but decided to foreswear the classroom in favor of “independent” field studies. He moved to Andros where he became fascinated by community ecology – the effects of weather, topography, and habitat on familiar and exotic bird species. While working on Andros he took an extended vacation to do an internship at the Southwestern Research Station in the Chiricahuas. He was introduced to another natural paradise. While there he made the acquaintance of Painted Redstarts, Mexican Jays, Blue-throated Hummingbirds, Javelinas, Black-tailed Rattlesnakes, and many other species. He then realized he had to move to southern Arizona as soon as possible. Fortunately, a few years later the opportunity to move presented itself and he and his wife leapt at it.

When he moved to Arizona he worked at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (ASDM) in the Department of Mammalogy and Ornithology. That enabled him to teach courses at the University of Arizona (U of A) and Pima Community College. He led field trips for ASDM, the U of A, the Tucson Audubon Society, Tucson Botanical Gardens, and others. He has also conducted fieldwork in Arizona on the importance of the saguaro cactus to the avian community. In Mexico, he assisted on hummingbird migration studies, concentrating on the Rufous Hummingbird. Jeff is proud to have met many other fantastic animals since then. He feels as though he lives in the Holy Land of U.S. natural history: Madera Canyon, the Huachucas, the Chiricahuas, the San Pedro River, the list goes on. Jeff feels extremely fortunate to live near places that he had read about for decades, places renowned for the biological wealth that they harbor. Jeff looks forward to sharing these places, and the treasures they contain, with you. 

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Rich Bailowitz

Rich Bailowitz 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 publications, of which he is senior author, include Butterflies of Southeastern Arizona (1991), 70 Common Butterflies of the Southwest (1997) and Finding Butterflies in Arizona (2007), and he co-authored The Dragonflies and Damselflies of Arizona and Sonora (2015) with Doug Danforth and Sandy Upson. He has also written numerous popular and peer-reviewed journal articles over the years.

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Ken Blankenship

Ken has been birding across the southern tier of the United States for over a decade, from New Mexico to SoCal, south Texas around the Gulf of Mexico to the Florida Keys. Like many North American birders, for years Ken has been fascinated by the unique birds and habitats of Southeastern Arizona. In 2015, he decided to pursue a dream of living full-time among the “Sky Island” mountains of Cochise, Santa Cruz, and Pima counties. Ken has spent countless hours in the field in all seasons, learning the ebb and flow of our special migrants, breeding birds, and wintering species of the deserts, high elevation canyons, grasslands, and riparian corridors. Ken is the owner and lead guide for East West Birding Tours and is a self-admitted "ear-birding addict," who has obsessively studied bird vocalizations for years, both in the field and using CDs. This includes anything from songs, to chips, to flight calls, to scolds, and every "seet " and "tsip" in between.

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Stefany Boleyn

Stefany is a birder who originates from Indianapolis. She is relatively new to Southeast Arizona, but has spent several years birding the area while visiting family. Stefany was formerly a Park Ranger at Kartchner Caverns State Park and her move to Arizona comes after working as a naturalist at the Eagle Creek Park Ornithology Center in Indianapolis. Stefany is also a Southwest Wings Board Member and manages its social media profile.

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Chris Chappell 

Chris is a professional birding guide who has been birding and leading birding field trips for over 40 years, beginning in Washington state where he grew up. He loves to share his knowledge and enthusiasm for birds and nature, savor the beauty and wonder of birds with others, and participate in the adventure of new discoveries. He is particularly skilled at ‘birding by ear’, and his birding and field adventures have taken him all over the western U.S., Latin America, Asia, and Europe. Chris studied ornithology intensively at The Evergreen State College and has worked on a variety of field ornithological research projects for several universities and agencies. He runs Take Flight Birding and Nature Adventures and is now based in New Mexico. See www.facebook.com/takeflightbirding for more info.

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Richard Fray

Born in England, and encouraged by a wildlife-mad household, Richard has been birding since he was big enough to hold binoculars. He moved to SE Arizona in 2002 and has since formed Fun Birding Tours (www.funbirdingtours.com), a birding guide and tour service. Birding has taken Richard around Britain, Europe and Asia, and more recently North, South and Central America. A dedicated conservationist, Richard has served as a volunteer and board member for various organizations in the U.K. and U.S.A., including Tucson Audubon Society. He’s a keen amateur photographer whose works have appeared in both U.S. and British birding journals.

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Kristy Gallo

As a Michigan native, Kristy grew up in a family with a passion for nature and birds, spending countless hours camping, canoeing, hiking, and birding throughout the state. She has led several guided bird walks through Michigan Audubon and local nature centers, and is currently the co-caretaker of Ash Canyon Bird Sanctuary where she helps to continue the legacy of Mary Jo Ballator and enjoys sharing it with visitors. She also competed in powerlifting for over twenty years and broke the world record in the bench press.

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Jennie MacFarland

As an employee of the Tucson Audubon Society, Jennie coordinates the Arizona Important Bird Areas Program and coordinates the Tucson Bird Count. She leads many Tucson Audubon field trips and trips for various Arizona festivals. Jennie is also Vice-President of the Arizona Field Ornithologists. A resident of Tucson from a young age, she loves the birds and nature of Arizona and cannot believe her luck at living in such an excellent place for birding! Besides birding, Jennie enjoys reading and many other "geek chic" activities.

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Julie Michael

Julie grew up on both coasts of the US and has always been fascinated by the diversity of the natural world. As a Geography student at U of A, she interned at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum with their education department, learning ways to share her knowledge and enthusiasm for the environment with others. Since then, Julie has continued to explore nature through camping and hiking, discovering her love for birding in the process. She finds that her understanding of physical geographyand varied habitats complements her birding skills. Recently retired, Julie now leads field trips for Tucson Audubon, interprets at the Paton Center for Hummingbirds, and is a volunteer naturalist at Sabino Canyon. She continues to bepassionate about helping people make deeper connections with birds and nature. Whether guiding others or wandering alone, Julie looks at every birding outing as an adventure----a never-ending treasure hunt.

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Scott Olmstead

Scott has been interested in birds and wildlife for as long as he can remember but he did not "get serious" about birding until about the age of 20, when he was studying at the University of Richmond in Virginia. After finishing a BA in Latin American Studies and Spanish in 2003 he took his first trip to the Neotropics, spending three months in Costa Rica, and becoming almost immediately hooked on Neotropical birds. A few years and a couple of trips later, Scott began his professional guiding career in 2006 as a naturalist guide at Rio Tigre Lodge in Costa Rica, and a short time later began leading tours for Tropical Birding. He has also spent two months in the volunteer guide program at Cristalino Jungle Lodge, in the Brazilian Amazon. Since becoming a full-time tour leader, Scott has become an avid digiscoper and in 2007 he began taking videos through his scope as well

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Robert Weissler

Robert is the President of the Friends of the San Pedro River and served on its Board of Directors for more than ten years prior to that.  He is a passionate advocate for protecting the natural and cultural resources of our local public lands. For most of his career Robert has been a software engineer, working for the RAND Corporation for over 25 years and later for a local defense contractor. His personal interests include outdoor pursuits like birding, bicycling, hiking, gardening, and foreign travel.

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Joe Woodley

Joe has been living and birding in Arizona for more than 22 years. He moved to the Sierra Vista area about twelve years ago to be closer to some of Arizona’s best birding hot spots. In 2006, he compiled a list of 200 bird species seen within walking distance of his home. Joe works as an actuary and is also an enthusiastic bird photographer.