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​FIELD TRIPS | Guides 


2023 Spring Fling


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.


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), 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.

Chris Chappell 

Chris is a professional birding guide who has been birding for over 50 years, beginning in Washington state where he grew up. He led his first of many field trips for Tahoma Audubon Society at age 15. 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’, which he has taught to Audubon Master Birders students. 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. His keen interest in bird habitats led eventually to a master’s degree in ecology and working as a Vegetation Ecologist doing conservation related work for the Washington Natural Heritage Program for 14 years. He runs Take Flight Birding and Nature Adventures and is now based in New Mexico, where he is also the compiler for the Espanola Christmas Bird Count. See for more info.


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 (, 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.


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 is currently the co-caretaker of Ash Canyon Bird Sanctuary where she helps to continue the legacy of Mary Jo Ballator and she also guides for Redstart Birding Tours. Kristy competed in powerlifting for over twenty years and broke the world record in the bench press.

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Felipe Guerrero

Felipe started birding in Arizona 16 years ago and the more he learned about birds the more he discovered about himself and his passion for exploring the amazing world around us and sharing that experience with others. He is currently a member of the Arizona Bird Committee, and an eBird reviewer for Yavapai, Navajo, and Apache Counties. In the past he served as Field Expeditions Chair and board member for Arizona Field Ornithologists, as well as board member for Prescott Audubon Society. His company, Arizona Birding Tours, was born in 2018. Birding with Felipe isn’t just about seeking Arizona’s specialty birds, it’s about celebrating the astonishingly diverse biological treasure that is Arizona.

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Dan Hoobler

After retiring from a 40 year career in the water and agriculture sector Dan and his wife Angie decided Sierra Vista was where they wanted to spend our retirement. They looked at several other locations but none provided the number of birds and other wildlife options that Sierra Vista did. Dan began birding the northern Flint Hills of Kansas as a youngster, the Flint Hills being another remarkable birding area. Now in his retirement he will continue to do so here in Arizona where he is a docent at Ramsey Canyon Preserve.

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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.


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 Taylor

In 1977 Rick Taylor began eight summers of research into the life history and ecology of Elegant Trogons in Arizona. His studies took him south of the border to look at populations of these and other trogons, and in 1980 he founded Borderland Tours, an international birding tour company dedicated to responsible ecotourism. Rick is the author of location checklists for the Huachuca and Chiricahua Mountains as well as A Birder's Guide to Southeastern Arizona and a photographic field guide Birds of Southeastern Arizona. He has a new book, Birds of Arizona, published in September 2022.

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Steve Tracey

At an early age Steve was drawn into birding by his father, who is still an avid birder.  As a young adult he drifted away from birding for a while but returned to birds through photography. For the past 25 years he has pursued birding and bird photography across North America from his home bases in South Carolina, then California, and now after retiring 3 years ago, in Southeast Arizona.  Steve is always up for a good challenge, having completed numerous big years and photo big years at the county, state, and ABA level.  In 2022 he completed a successful Cochise County big year, spending a lot of time learning the birds to look for at local birding hot spots.  Steve volunteers his time as a leader and docent for both the Sierra Vista EOP and San Pedro House bird walks.

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Steve Valasek

Steve has always had an interest in nature, but did not become a birder until 2012. Since then he has become a twitcher and avid photographer. He grew up in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, but has lived all over the United States and in Ireland. He has called Arizona his home since 2016. Steve led birding walks for the Audubon Society in Phoenix and is constantly sharing his passion with his children and friends. He started posting his birding adventures on the Bothering Birds blog, but now uses Instagram to connect with his fellow birders. Steve is in the top 100 eBirders in both Arizona and Ireland. 



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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