Monday, November 18, 2019
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20151022 LEG8395Birders get ready for 22nd Annual Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival to be held Nov. 4-8, headquartered at the Harlingen Municipal Auditorium, 1204 Fairpark Blvd.

The festival will feature top notch field trip leaders and speakers along with new field trip locations. Located in an area known for a wide diversity of bird species, many years during the festival, there is a new finding not discovered on previous field trips.

This year’s Birding Festival offers a wide variety of expert speakers and field trip leaders. To register for the festival field trips and seminars, go to the RGV Birding Festival website at or call (956) 423-5565.

Among those participating in this year’s festival are Dale Roselette and Kevin Karlson. Rosselete is involved in the New Jersey Audubon’s educational program. Karlson is a professional tour leader and writer whose articles about birds and nature have been appearing in nature publications for the last 20 years.

Greg Miller was one of three persons to participate in a Big Bird Year in 1998 where he and two other people saw over 700 species of birds in North America. Their story was made into a Pulitzer Prize winning book and later a movie.

Shawneen Finnegan manages tours for WINGS, is a photo editor for Birding Magazine and has been Range Data Editor for Santa Barbara Software’s bird area for 23 years.

Jeff Gordon is president of the American Birding Association, located in Delaware. He is a well-known writer, photographer, speaker and tour leader.

Karl S. Berg has spent over a decade studying the green-rumped Parrotlets in Venezuela, perhaps the best-known parrot population. D

Dorian Anderson is a well-known birder who started birding at seven in the greater Philadelphia area. He holds a Ph. D. in developmental genetics from New York University.

Field trip leaders include David Benn, a Brownsville native with birding experience in South Texas, Mexico, Central and South America.

Jim and Cindy Beckman are avid birders whose North American list of birds is over 600 species while their world list tops 3600. Cindy is a retired school teacher who took students on birding expeditions to American and Central and South American destinations. She was named WildBird Magazine’s 2007 “Birder of the Year.” Jim is known for his ability to spot birds in deep forest situations.

Carlos Betancourt, originally from Panama, was educated in Oregon and now works for the Canopy Tower. He has participated in numerous conferences around the world presenting information about the birds of Panama.

Jen Brumfield is a bird illustrator, author of several natural history field guides and runs birding workshops in the Great Lakes area.

John Brush was educated in the Valley and holds an interest in making urban areas better for bird diversity. He worked at Quinta Mazatlan and conducts workshops across the Valley.

Chip Clouse is returning to the RGVBF for the seventh time. His interest started with tooth and claw predators but expanded to other species of birds. He has had bird and nature project management experience in nine states and the Caribbean Island nation of Grenada.

Mark Conway is a bird bander, who is located in the Rio Grande Valley. He teaches at Harlingen South High School and is an adjunct instructor at Texas Technical Institute in Harlingen.

Jim Danzenbaker of Washington has been participating in the RGVBF for 12 years. He led boar tours in Monterey Bay, CA and foreign destinations including Panama, Venezuela, and Ecuador. Annually, he tales part in the Faulklands-South George-Antarctica cruise for Cheeseman Ecology Safaris. He is director of expeditions for CES.

Javier De Leon, a Harlingen native, has worked at several of the nature centers around the Rio Grande Valley before becoming Park Superintendent at Estero Llano Grande State Park.

Larry Ditto is a well-known nature photographer who worked for 29 years for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a refuge manager in the National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) system.

Jennie Duberstein is Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Sonoran Joint Venture, dedicated to the preservation of unique birds and habitat in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico.

Tom Dunkerton spent four years studying the Florida Scrub-jay. He leads field trips for Florida Audubon through the Merritt Island NWR. He leads private birding tours and teaches photography workshops.

Jon Dunn has been a tour guide for WINGS leading tours in North America and Southeast Asia. He co-authored “National Geographic’s Field Guide to the Birds of North America and Their Birding Essentials” and other publications.

Kim Eckert worked as a guide for Victor Emanuel Nature Tours in the US and Canada. He authored “A Birder’s Guide to Minnesota” and other publications. He has participated in 18 RGV Birding Festivals.

Dudley Edmondson has worked as a freelance nature photographer traveling the nation gathering information on flora and fauna. His book “Black & Brown Faces in America’s Wild Places” landed him an invitation to the White House Conference on America’s Great Outdoors.

Laurie Foss leads birding tours to the tropics for JB Journey’s an eco-tourism company and works at Shield Ranch in the Texas Hill Country.

Richard Fray, a birder from England, operates Fun Bird Tours in Arizona. He also leads tours to the United Kingdom, Belize and Guatamala. He is also a wildlife photographer.

Stephanie Galla is a habitat biologist at Estero Llano Grande, Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley and Resaca de la Palma State Parks. She has worked on avian conservation projects with Piping Plovers, Mississippi Sandhill Cranes, Ruffed Grouse and Attwater’s Prairie-chickens.

Mark Garland of New Jersey runs a nature-oriented tour company. He works with the Audubon Naturalist Society, Rhoad Scholar and Smithsonian Birding Association.

Doug Gochfeld of Brooklyn studied birds in an urban landscape of New York City before working for the Cape May Observatory. He has done hands-on ecology work in sub-artic Alaska, the coast of South America and the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Currently, he leads tours in the Bering’s Sea Pribilof Islands.

Ashli Gorbet received a degree in wildlife management from Ohio State University before relocating to New Mexico where she is secretary of the New Mexico Ornithological Society and serves on the board of Rio Grande Bird Research Inc.

Mary Gustafson works as coordinator of the Rio Grande Joint Venture for the American Bird Conservatory. Her bird list is near 800 and she was part of a team that won the World Series of Birding and another team that won the “Big Sit” of the Great Texas Birding Classic at Estero Llano Grande.

Swedish-born Martin Hagne was head of the Valley Nature Center for 13 years before moving to Bandera where he works as a field biologist.

Homer Hansen of Arizona has served as chairman of the Willcox Birding & Nature Festival for 17 years, was co-founder of the Sulphur Springs Valley Young Birders Club and the Arizona Young Birders Camp. He also works with the Tucson Audubon Society.

Michael Hilchey of New Mexico is owner of Birding Research and Nature Tours, a birding and eco-tourism company committed to conservation in all place they tour.

Lee Hopwood was an east coast birder before moving to Albuquerque, where she opened a Wild Bird franchise. She is a volunteer bird bander with Rio Grande Bird Research, Inc.

Englishman Julian Hough spend his early years birding the British Isles for rare birds before expanding his research into India, Nepal, China, Australia, Europe, and Central and South America. He has written articles for many birding publications.

Huck Hutchins grew up and lived in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains where he was an avid birder. Today he is a park host and naturalist at Estero Llano Grande State Park.

Dave Irons started birding in Indiana and continued after a move to Oregon where he was a member of Oregon’s Bird Records Committee.

Dan Jones has been birding in the Rio Grande Valley for 38 years and is credited with finding the first White-crested Elaenia, ABA’s first Crescent-chested Warbler and Arizona’s first Pine Warbler.

Tiffany Kersten has interpreted migration with Cape may Bird Observatory, conducted honeycreeper research in Hawaii, monitored shorebirds in Massachusetts, and surveyed waterfowl in Wisconsin. She currently manages the McAllen Nature Center.

Retiree John Kaye fell in love with birding on a trip to Alaska and has since visited all seven continents pursuing his love of birding. He is an active member of the Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park Hawk Watch.

Rich Kostecke has been birding in Texas for 15 years and in 2011 assumed the position of Associate Director of Conservation for the Nature Conservancy statewide.

David La Puma is Directory of the Cape May Observatory in New Jersey. He has been a researcher of birds for a decade.

Tom Langschied is founder of the King Ranch Nature Tour program and has worked as a research associate for the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute.

J. Drew Langham is a native of South Carolina where he is host of the “Your Day Birding and Nature” show on the ETV radio network.

Ben Lizdas of Wisconsin fell in love with birding while doing vegetation research studies 15 years ago. Since then he has traveled the country participating in birding and nature festivals.

Michael Marsden of England was working as general solicitor to the Cayman Islands government when he met birder Donna Knox who persuaded him to come to Texas. He has guided Road Scholars, providing trips for birders, and led trips into Belize, Costa Rica, Panama and Cuba.

Edward Martinez, owner of Mexico Birding Tours, learned birdbanding in Ontario, Canada and now bands birds all over Mexico.

Valley resident Brad McKinney co-authored “A Birder’s Guide to the Rio Grande Valley” and contributed to the checklist of Lower Rio Grande Valley Birds.

Michael O’Brian is an associate Naturalist with Cape May Bird Observatory where he conducts numerous birding workshops and conducts a fall songbird count. He co-authored “The Shorebird Guide,” “Flight Calls of Migratory Birds” and “America’s 100 Most Wanted Birds.”

Kyle O’Haver worked with the Missouri Department of Conservation in Fisheries before coming to Estero Llano Grande State Park.

Glen Olsen leads birding and butterfly ecotours and teaches bird identification through Rice University’s Continuing Studies Program. He is active I many nature festivals across Texas and travels to Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands, the Amazon Rainforest and Costa Rica, hot birding spots across the world.

Randy Pinkston is an expert in neotropical birds and has traveled extensively in Mexico and Central America. He leads birding tours in Texas and Arizona.

Bob Powell is currently Site Coordinator and Naturalist for the University of Texas’ “Deep South Texas” birding programs.

Tom Reed is field coordinator for Cape May’s migration counts. He is a regional editor for “North American birds.”

Michael Retter is editor of American “Birding Association’s Birder’ Guide” magazine. He guides many Midwest birding tours, where he grew up, but currently lives in Fort Worth.

Justin Rink of Omaha guides birding trips in the US, Mexico and Costa Rica.

Rob Ripma, is founder of, “the place to go to find birds. He is on Ohio’s Black Swamp Bird Observatory Board of Directors.

Paul Riss works to bring birding and bird conservation to a wider audience.

Roy Rodriguez, well-known naturalist throughout the Rio Grande Valley, is lead instructor for National Hispanic Environmental Council’s Training Institute Scholarship Program and the Changing Face of American Birding diversity conferences.

Mark Scheuerman, Texan, has traveled throughout Texas and fifteen other countries on five continents to study birds and lead birding tours.

Scott Schuette is director of St. Paul Island Tours where he loves sharing the diversity of Alaska.

David Sarkozi has worked for the University of Houston for over 30 years. He has led birding trips in Texas, Belize and Costa Rica and served with many birding groups in the Houston area.

Willie Sekula’s love of birds has taken him all over Texas, Mexico and South America. He is a sub-regional editor for South Texas and Texas co-editor for “North American Birds” for 20 years.

Physician Byron Stone specializes in sparrow identification. He co-founded the SparrowFest in Balcones Canyonlands NWF.

Bill Supulski is a contributing photographer to the RGVBF.

Clay Taylor started birding in New York and Connecticut and founded the Rochester Banding Project.

Rene Valdes is a birding export from Monterrey, Mexico where he specializes field research on endangered parrots. He guides birding trips in Monterrey and northeastern Mexico targeting the tufted jay.

Raymond VanBuskirk of New Mexico started the Sandia Rosy-Finch Project. He spent two summers on Artic boats monitoring seabirds.

Wisconsin native Chris West has traveled to every corner of the US and Canada and to the American tropics to study birds. He recently led a three-month stint at the Cristalino Jungle Lodge in the Brazilian Amazon.

Sherry Wilson a native of Vermont spent a lot of time in Colorado, Nevada and Texas before discovering Resaca de la Palma State Park where she is now a master Texas naturalist.

Louise Zemaitis teaches birding workshops as an Associate Naturalist with the Cape May Observatory.

Ric Zarwell has birded in 38 nations on six continents since retirement. He has seen 189 species in his yard and 4031 in different locations around the world.

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