2020 Summer Festival

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.

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). He has also written numerous popular and peer-reviewed journal articles over the years. His most recent project is The Dragonflies and Damselflies of Arizona and Sonora, co-authored with Doug Danforth and Sandy Upson.

Bob Behrstock

Bob Behrstock is a local photographer, writer, tour leader, and wildlife habitat gardener. He has led birding tours since 1978, participated in various faunal surveys, and aided with the development of a number of state birding and wildlife trails. He has birded throughout the U.S., many countries in Latin America, and in the Old World. His butterfly and dragonfly photography have taken him to all corners of the U.S. and to several parts of Mexico. He has authored, or co-authored, nearly 50 popular and scientific papers concerning fishes, birds, dragonflies, and butterflies in the U.S. and Latin America, and prepared several of the family accounts for The Sibley Guide to Bird Life & Behavior. His bird and insect photos appear in calendars, travel books, field guides, CD-ROMs, and publications such as Audubon, Smithsonian, Birding, Wild Bird, American Butterflies, and the Handbook of Birds of the World. He is co-author of Birdlife of Houston, Galveston, and the Upper Texas Coast, Finding Birds on the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail, and recently authored a beginner's guide to Southwestern dragonflies and damselflies.

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’s other greatest area of expertise is the status and distribution of the birds of the Southeast – particularly Georgia, his native state – where he works for the Department of Natural Resources in early summer performing various types of breeding bird surveys. Ken is a self-admitted "ear-birding addict," and 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.

Tim Blount

Tim Blount is the author of Birds of the Pacific Northwest. He has birded extensively in the United States, Europe and Australia. He was the executive director of the Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. He helped organize and conduct bird surveys on Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding areas. Tim has guided numerous groups and individuals in Oregon, sharing his love of birds with beginners and experts alike. He now resides in Southeast Arizona where he is the co-caretaker of Ash Canyon Bird Sanctuary in Hereford.

Matt Brown

Matt is a life-long outdoors-man, having grown up hiking, canoeing, and camping in the Adirondacks of New York State. he has been an avid bird watcher since the age of five. As a teen, he was a Boy Scout camp counselor, instructing groups of scouts in bird and mammal study, environmental science, soil and water conservation, and fish and wildlife management. Matt has extensive outdoor experience in all but a few states, with particular knowledge of the High Rockies of Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. Since arriving in Arizona, he has led tours for The Nature Conservancy, Arizona State Parks, Tucson Audubon Society, Elderhostel of Nogales, local birding and butterfly festivals, and the Circle-Z Guest Ranch in Patagonia.

Richard Fray

Born in England, and encouraged by a wildlife-mad household, Richard Fray 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 (, 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.

Laurens R. Halsey

Laurens is a bird watching guide and wildlife photographer based in Green Valley, Arizona. Laurens is a lifelong birdwatcher and all around naturalist. He grew up with a family that loved the outdoors and appreciated nature. Having visited southeast Arizona for bird watching since a teenager, he had dreamed of living here. This dream came true in 1999 when the company Laurens worked for closed their facility in north-central Texas and moved the operation to Tucson. Laurens was one of the first to volunteer for the transfer. Several years ago, Laurens left the corporate world and began professionally guiding birdwatchers in southeast Arizona. Southeast Arizona ranks as one of the top bird watching destinations in North America. There are birds here that cannot be found elsewhere north of the Mexican border. Guiding is a means for Laurens to share his wildlife experiences with others on a personal basis.


Laurens has pursued wildlife (mostly birds) photography for much of his life. When not guiding, he can usually be found out in the field taking pictures of just about any creature he encounters. Though birds are the primary focus, other subjects include butterflies, lizards, snakes, spiders, bats, mammals, and an occasional flower. Just as guiding is a means for Laurens to share his wildlife experiences with others, photography provides another venue. Laurens’ images have appeared in “The Vermilion Flycatcher” (magazine of the Tucson Audubon Society), Desert Rivers Audubon Society magazine newsletter, the “Canyon Chatter” (Friends of Madera Canyon newsletter), the Arizona Field Ornithologist photo documentation website, two editions of the book “Birds of Southeastern Arizona” (by Richard Cachor Taylor), and on Laurens’ own website.

Homer Hansen

Homer Hansen, the author of the G.I.S.S. Series bird identification guides, has been bird watching in the southwest since 1995. He especially enjoys the challenges and learning posed by the difficult groups of birds and continues to learn about the secrets to bird identification. Homer is a native of Willcox, Arizona and is chairman of the annual Wings Over Willcox Birding & Nature Festival ( He feels fortunate to have grown up surrounded by Sandhill Cranes in winter and Cassin's Sparrows in summer. Homer has presented numerous workshops on sparrows, raptors, flycatchers, warblers, and bird ecology and is the course instructor for the Tucson Audubon Society's Moving to Mastery birding workshops. He is also a regular presenter and trip leader for other Arizona birding festivals. Homer earned his B.S. in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology from the University of Arizona and is now the president and owner of Aplomado Environmental LLC ( providing services to characterize and remove contaminants from soil and groundwater.

Karen Krebbs

Karen is a Conservation Biologist at the Center for Sonoran Desert Studies, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Karen has experience in surveying birds and mammals of the Sonoran Desert with an emphasis on birds and bats. Supervisory experience for employees, contractors, and volunteers. Conducted education workshops and seminars on birds & mammals for the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (ASDM), local schools (AZ. & Mexico), Tucson Audubon Society, Pima County Parks & Recreation, University of Arizona Elderhostel, National Park Service, AZ. Game & Fish Department, U.S Fish & Wildlife Service, yearly bird festivals (Wings Over Willcox, S.W. Wings, etc.), University of Arizona Extended University, Tucson Unified School District, and local bird groups (Tucson & Phoenix Aviculture Society, etc.). Has led natural history trips in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico, Baja, Costa Rica, and Africa. Initiated and maintained strong working relationships with state and federal partner agencies (AZ. Game & Fish Dept., U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, AZ. State Parks, Department of Defense, City of Tucson, Pima County, etc.), University of Arizona researchers, private contractors, and land owners during field projects and grant work. Has obtained over $500,000 in grants for bird and bat research in Arizona and northern Mexico. Completed progress and yearly reports and maintained budgets for grants. Presented research results at conferences, meetings, and seminars. Karen has a B.Sc. in Wildlife Biology & Management, 1986, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona and has done Graduate Studies in Wildlife Ecology, 1991-1993, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.

Jennie MacFarland

As an employee of the Tucson Audubon Society, Jennie MacFarland 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. 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.

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 geography and 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 be passionate 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.

Ted Mouras

Ted Mouras is a retired Army officer and former engineer for SAIC. He has lived in Cochise County off and on since 1976 and has a great interest in the natural history of the region. His hobbies include hiking, biking, painting, and writing. He is the past-president of the Friends of the San Pedro River, a docent at the Ramsey Canyon Preserve, and compiler for the Ramsey Canyon Christmas Bird Count. He and his wife Melanie enjoy travel and currently reside in Ash Canyon, just south of Sierra Vista.

Vincent Pinto

Vincent Pinto, a Naturalist and Wildlife Biologist, has been teaching people of all ages about the Natural World for over 22 years. He has led individuals and groups throughout the country on trips of discovery on a myriad of topics - Bird-watching, Ethnobotany, Tracking, Wildlife Safaris, Stone-age Skills, Astronomy, Wilderness Survival Skills and more. Vincent and his wife, Claudia, run Raven's Way Wild Journeys, an Outdoor Environmental School, dedicated to raising environmental awareness through experiential programs in Natural History, Habitat Restoration, and Stone-age/Survival Skills. Together they own two Nature Sanctuaries. Their 42 acres by Lake Patagonia houses a large Nature Center, miles of hiking trails, and a campground for Nature-lovers. Their 50+acre land in the foothills of the Chiricahua Mountains contains an authentic stone-age encampment:

Brad Sulentic

A lover of the natural world since early childhood, Brad cut his teeth stalking Colorado’s Front Range, looking for reptiles and mammals, as well as rocks, minerals, and fossils. An avid birder for over ten years, his birding started in southeast Georgia and followed him to Arizona in 2010. After three years trekking the mountains and mudflats of Korea, honing his craft, Brad moved back to Arizona in 2014. Since then, he’s led dozens of walks for several conservation organizations, taking locals and out-of-towners around many of southeastern Arizona’s birding “hotspots.” He became a Cochise Master Naturalist in 2014, as well. With a lifelong passion for the natural world, focusing on avifauna in southeastern Arizona, Brad looks forward to showing birders of all skill levels the special and unique bird life of the Sky Islands of Arizona

Rick Taylor

Hiking up to 500 miles each summer for eight years while conducting research on the Elegant Trogon in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Rick Taylor developed an intimate knowledge of the birds, habitats, and locations throughout Southeastern Arizona. During the course of his research in 1977 he reported the first Eared Trogon seen in the United States. Inevitably, his interest in trogon ecology lead him south into Mexico, then Central, and South America, where he soon discovered the magic of tropical birds. In 1980 he founded Borderland Tours, a birding company dedicated to responsible ecotourism, which operates trips throughout the world. Aside from leading tours to locations from Arizona to Africa and Alaska to Asia every year, Rick has authored location checklists for finding birds in Arizona's Chiricahua and Huachuca Mountains, as well as Trogons of the Arizona Borderlands, and the American Birding Association's most popular title, A Birder's Guide to Southeastern Arizona. His most recent book is Birds of Southeastern Arizona, a regional photo field guide covering all of the regularly-occurring birds in this area, as well as all of the Mexican specialties.

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.

Rick Wright

Rick Wright, a native of southeast Nebraska, studied French, German, philosophy, and life sciences at the University of Nebraska, where he worked in the bird collections of the State Museum and served as teaching assistant to Paul Johnsgard. After a detour to Harvard Law School, Rick took the M.A. and Ph.D. in German at Princeton University. His years as an academic included appointments as assistant professor of German at the University of Illinois, reader/scholar at Princeton University’s Index of Christian Art, and associate professor of medieval studies at Fordham University. Among his scholarly publications are two books on the Latin and German animal literature of the late Middle Ages. He is also the author of the American Birding Association’s field guides to birds of New Jersey and of Arizona, and of the Peterson Reference Guide to North American sparrows. A prolific contributor to the birding literature and a sought-after lecturer, Rick lives with his wife, Alison Beringer, and their chocolate lab, Gellert, in Bloomfield, New Jersey.

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Southwest Wings

Birding Festival

Sierra Vista, Arizona

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