This monthly online Speaker Series will showcase our outstanding roster of naturalists, filmmakers,  ornithologists, photographers, and other fascinating speakers.

Expect our Speaker Series email alerts the day before our scheduled online events. The emails will have important details including our Zoom link and passcode. Our online Speaker Series has a first come, first serve sign-in basis with a limit of 100 participants. If you’d like to sign up for our general emails, including our Speaker Series email alerts, please contact us at admin@swwings.org. Use buttons below to register for individual talks.


Each of our online Speaker Series presentations will begin at 11 AM Arizona Time. There is no cost to sign in to our online series; but, if you would like to make a donation to Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival, please see the Home Page

A recorded version of the last talk will be available for several weeks afterwards - here

See a full list of future talks - here.

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2020 at 11 AM Arizona Time

Little Brown Jobs of Southeast Arizona: Sparrows and Their Preferred Habitats


Why are so many interesting birds small and brown, and why do they spend so much of their time in Southeast Arizona? Join Ken Blankenship and Allee Forsberg of East West Birding Tours as they discuss the wide variety of sparrows, juncos, and towhees that live full-time or spend the winter in the grasslands, riparian corridors, and canyons of the Sky Islands.

Ken Blankenship is the owner and lead guide of East West Birding Tours: a full-service private company offering bird guiding for individuals and small groups. He feels lucky to have realized his dream of sharing with others his expertise with the unique natural systems and amazing birds of Southeast Arizona, the Lower Rio Grande Valley and Coast of Texas, and the Southeastern United States after a rewarding 14-year career as a public school teacher. As a talented and engaging field ornithologist, natural interpreter, teacher, researcher, and writer, he tries to pursue as many of these passions as he can simultaneously!  Ken also guides for the SW Wings festivals. 

Allee Forsberg loves travel, hiking, and exploring new places, which pairs perfectly with her bird obsession. Born and raised in Michigan, she became a new birder in fall 2013 while living in Indiana and joined the East West Birding Tours team in 2019. She is now busy absorbing all she can about Southeast Arizona's birds and habitats.

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2020 at 11 AM Arizona Time

Sharing, Caring and Thievery: Arachnid Behavior and Interaction 


In this presentation, Jillian Cowles will introduce you to the surprising world of arachnids. These small neighbors live right under our noses and every community has its different individuals: those that share, those that care, and those that steal. Some are gregarious, while others are loners. Arachnids may be devoted mothers, chivalrous mates, and team players. They can also be resourceful sneak thieves. You will meet fiercely devoted mother green lynx spiders, chivalrous cellar spiders, and altruistic vinegaroons. You will also meet hitch-hiking pseudoscorpions, mites partnering with carrion beetles, and the tiny thief Argyrodes as it steals from its formidable host, the black widow.

At the age of eighteen Jillian Cowles came to southern Arizona with the dream of seeing a Gila monster in the wild. She fell in love with the desert (and her spouse) and stayed. While working as a clinical microbiologist at University Medical Center in Tucson (now retired), she was able to document the plants and animals of the desert. She started photographing wildflowers, and the occasional crab spider or green lynx spider would insinuate itself into the photos. Before long, spiders and other arachnids had practically hijacked the photographic database, resulting in the publication of her book, Amazing Arachnids, published by Princeton University Press in 2018. Her photographs have appeared in numerous publications, as well as arachnid courses, a TV show, and a building mural. Sometimes dreams really do come true, and Gila monsters are now her familiar friends and neighbors.



If you missed the talk below, you can watch it again until October 27, 2020. To view, please CLICK HERE

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2020 at 11 AM Arizona Time

The Magical, Mysterious World of Moths 

Moths are so much more than sweater chomping, crop raiding menaces. They are abundant, beautiful, and fascinating insects, a hidden diversity that lies just outside your front door. This presentation by Jeff Babson celebrates moths, the wonderfully diverse, mostly nocturnal cousins of butterflies. We explore the life cycle, classification, and diversity of moths, focusing on southern Arizona's species.

Jeff Babson is a naturalist, with expertise in birds, butterflies, moths, and dragonflies. He lives in Vail, AZ, just southeast of Tucson. He got his start in birding when his grandfather gave him a field guide when he was in kindergarten. That was the beginning of a lifelong passion for birds. That passion quickly grew to include just about everything that moves or has roots. Prior to moving to Vail, Jeff lived in the Bahamas for eight years, enjoying many Caribbean specialties and North American migrants. Now, Jeff owns Sky Island Tours a natural history education and eco-tour company, and guides for the SW Wings festivals. Jeff is also Wildlife Viewing Program Specialist for Pima County Department of Natural Resources, Parks, and Recreation.



OCTOBER 28:  Little Brown Jobs of Southeast Arizona - Ken Blankenship and Allee Forsberg

NOVEMBER 25:  Sharing, Caring and Thievery: Arachnid Behavior and Interaction - Jillian Cowles

DECEMBER 9:  ABCs of Birding Optics - Eric Moore

DECEMBER 30:  Grassland Plant ID Made Easy - Jim Koweek


JANUARY 27: Northern Jaguar Project: Protecting the World’s Northernmost Jaguars - Diane Hadley

FEBRUARY 24: Bluebirds, Robins and Thrushes - Kathe Anderson

MARCH 24: Twelve New Clouds - Glenn Minuth

APRIL 28:  Wildlife, Rescue, Rehabilitation, Release and Coexistence - Angeline Fahey

This list may be subject to change


Contact Us

contact  admin@swwings.org

Southwest Wings

Birding Festival

Sierra Vista, Arizona

© 2020 admin@swwings.org

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