Everyone’s raving about The Warbler Guide by Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle, just published and setting a new standard. The RGVBF is proud to have Scott conducting this fun and informative workshop. He’ll go over their new system of identification that uses the views that you actually get, not the idealized views that happen so infrequently. Learn how just a little more attention to detail, coupled with knowledge of habitat, behavior and special points like color impressions can lead to greatly improved identification ability. Also covered will be their in-depth analysis of warbler vocalizations, an extremely effective tool for truly understanding and remembering birdsong. Join Scott and bring your warbler skills up to the next level! Book available for sale and a Signing will follow.
Scott Whittle lives in Cape May, New Jersey, where he teaches bird photography and identification. He is co-author of The Warbler Guide with Tom Stephenson. Scott has twenty years of experience as a professional photographer and educator, and holds an MFA in photography from the School of Visual Arts in New York. He is a Fellow of the MacDowell Colony and is a one-time New York State Big Year record holder.
Birding is more fun when we can identify more of the birds we see. What does it take to increase our ID skill? It’s not simply a matter of learning field marks. Often we can memorize all the field marks for a species and still have trouble identifying it, while in other cases we may recognize a bird without seeing any traditional field marks at all. In this workshop, based on a section from Kaufman Field Guide to Advanced Birding, Kenn will talk about some basic principles that apply to all birds—principles that make it possible to name birds with more accuracy and confidence. He’ll also discuss some surprising pitfalls of ID, and how to avoid being tripped up by them.
Kenn Kaufman needs little introduction. Lifelong birder and naturalist, Kenn is the only person to have received the American Birding Association’s lifetime achievement award twice–in 1992 and again in 2008. He has led nature tours on all seven continents, he’s a field editor for Audubon, writes for every birding magazine, and his books have been published in three languages. His own Kaufman Field Guides series includes guides to North American birds (in English and Spanish), advanced birding, butterflies, mammals, insects, and, most recently, the nature of New England.
Birding today is an amazing thing, complex and varied and exciting. Once we’re caught up in the excitement of it, we may not stop to think about WHY the details of modern birding are the way they are. But in fact, most aspects of birding in 2013 have their roots in things that happened decades ago. In this program, Kenn Kaufman hits the high points of recent history to show how we got to where we are now, by investigating the life of Roger Tory Peterson, the most influential birder of the 20th century. Through equal parts of genius and coincidence, Peterson managed to have an impact in a surprising number of different fields. Since Peterson spoke at the very first RGV Birding Festival in 1994, this is an appropriate time to consider his influence on the present and future of birding. Kaufman books available for sale and a Signing will follow.
Kenn Kaufman, bio above.
For over 25 years The Peregrine Fund has been working with ranchers, agencies, and volunteers to restore and recover Aplomados to the grassland landscapes of South Texas, New Mexico, and Mexico. Early historic records from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s imply a healthy population, but a decline was noticed beginning in the 1930’s, and the lovely, colorful Aplomado Falcon was classified as an Endangered Species on February 25, 1986. Hear the history and learn the future of this special species from Steve Thompson, who was the Refuge Manager at Laguna Atascosa NWR when this terrific project began.
Steve Thompson is now retired from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, after a long and esteemed career. He began as a wildlife biologist at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Burns, Oregon, worked in Washington and Nevada, and then at Laguna Atascosa from 1989-1995. Steve finished as Regional Director for the California and Nevada Region, managing 51 National Wildlife Refuges and 3 National Fish Hatcheries. Steve is a competitive swimmer, avid birdwatcher, and hunter. He and his wife Renée (also a speaker!) have two grown daughters and live in Granite Bay, California.
What is it about birds? Why have they fascinated mankind through the ages, more so than any other group of living things? Victor Emanuel will share his vast experience and insight to answer these questions, then move on to discuss just how profoundly people’s lives are changed by watching birds.
Victor Emanuel started birding in Texas 64 years ago at the age of 8, and his travels have taken him to all the continents. In addition to his well-known company, Victor Emanuel Nature Tours, his list of accomplishments is legendary—founder and compiler for 50 years of the record-breaking Freeport Christmas Bird Count, board member of the American Bird Conservancy, past president of the Texas Ornithological Society, recipient of Houston Audubon’s Roger Tory Peterson Excellence in Birding Award, and also the American Birding Association’s Roger Tory Peterson Award, plus Cornell Lab’s Arthur A. Allen Award. He initiated the first birding camps for young people, and considers that one of his greatest achievements. Victor holds a B.A. in zoology and botany from the University of Texas and an M.A. in government from Harvard.
So what’s this birding thing all about? What are all these happy people doing? The RGVBF would like to share its passion with you. Enjoy a tag team of national and local experts that will cover topics ranging from an introduction to birding, how to use binoculars, how to use a field guide, basic identification tips, and concluding with slides of special Valley birds. Find out for yourself why 48 million Americans (USFW study) called themselves birdwatchers!
Presenters: Norma Friedrich, Arroyo Colorado Audubon Society President; Richard K Walton, Peterson Field Guide series author; Ben Lizdas, Eagle Optics Sales Manager; Kay Baughman, Arroyo
Journey back to the 1800s when vast populations of wild birds filled the skies in annual migrations. But in 1885 alone, more than five million birds were killed in the United States for the millinery industry, prompting the formation of the Audubon Society. Hear Renee Thompson’s recount of this surprising slice of history, based on her acclaimed novel, The Plume Hunter. As David Sibley says, “The novel brings to life an era of our country’s natural history seldom explored in fiction…a fascinating glimpse into the life of a bird hunter and the complex social, economic and personal issues swirling around the birth of the conservation movement.” Book available for sale and a Signing will follow.
Renee Thompson writes about wildlife, her love of birds, and the people who inhabit the American West. Her first novel, The Bridge at Valentine, received high praise from Pulitzer Prize-winner Larry McMurtry, author of Lonesome Dove. Renée lives in Northern California with her husband, Steve (also a speaker-see his Aplomado talk, above), and is at work on a short story collection. The Plume Hunter will be on sale during the Festival and a book-signing opportunity will follow this talk.
The RGVBF’s 20th anniversary year’s bird is the Buff-bellied Hummingbird, so let’s visit this amazing avian family. Enjoy an introduction to 18 species of hummingbirds by the author of Hummingbirds of Texas, followed by an informative section on how to attract hummingbirds to your backyard. Also learn why hummingbirds are important to us and why we should take particular care with these special creatures. Book available for sale and a Signing will follow.
Cliff Shackelford was born in Dallas and is a 7th generation Texan. He started birdwatching at the age of nine, and is currently the statewide Nongame Ornithologist for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Cliff is the first author of Hummingbirds of Texas, published by Texas A&M University Press in 2005 and revised in 2009. He has also authored over 60 publications on birds and birding, with over a dozen appearing in peer-reviewed journals. Cliff and his wife, Julie, and their 2 young children live amongst towering pines and hardwoods in Nacogdoches, Texas.
Bird identification is the central challenge of birding, and we all strive to improve our skills and to identify more birds, more quickly and accurately. Countless references and guides suggest that the birder who wants to avoid misidentifications should learn more about the fine points of plumage, molt, and subspecies, but the fact is that most mistakes involve glitches in perception. No amount of knowledge and preparation can prevent us from blurting out “Snowy Owl!” when the time is right and we see a white plastic bag in an open field. Our brains, and the very short-cuts that we use with phenomenal success to identify birds, are also the source of most misidentifications. This talk will focus on the psychological aspects of bird identification–how we subconsciously use pattern-recognition, expectations, suggestion, and other clues–and how those methods can lead us to misidentify birds with complete confidence. Books available for sale and a Signing will follow.
David Allen Sibley began painting birds when he was seven years old and has continued painting them for over three decades. The Sibley Guide to Birds, published in the year 2000, was the realization of a lifelong dream for David. It contains over 6,600 original illustrations by Sibley himself, and became the fastest selling bird book in history. He has also published Sibley’s Birding Basics, The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior, and The Sibley Guide to Trees.
The RAPTOR PROJECT PROGRAM
Free! / Saturday 11a – 12n
See Family Activities page for full rundown of this great offering. Everyone welcome!
Hailing from the UK, David Lindo is an urban birder. His mission in life is to try and engage city dwellers into the wonders of the urban nature that is below their noses and above their heads. During his talk he will take you on a wander around some of the world’s cities to discover their not so hidden birdlife. He hopes that you will see that there is wildlife everywhere, even in the heart of the most concrete of jungles. Book available for sale and a Signing will follow.
David Lindo, broadcaster, writer, speaker, tour leader, is well-known in the British birding scene. Previously Head of Membership at the British Trust for Ornithology, David is the author of countless articles on urban birds and writes for many websites, publications, and magazines including Birds for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Bird Watching Magazine, Britain’s best-selling birding publication, and the award-winning BBC Wildlife Magazine. He is a regular television and radio presenter—the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 in the UK, as well as TV channels and radio stations around the world, including CBS in the U.S. He is involved with numerous conservation trusts and organizations. His book, The Urban Birder, was published in August 2011, and his next book Look Up!, a guide to watching birds in urban areas, will be out in the spring of 2014.
You probably saw the viral video, now meet the dancing manakin scientist. Join Bostwick to dive into one of the most puzzling and amazing of all bird phenomena: the Club-winged Manakin, a small songbird from the Cloud Forests of the Andean slope who creates seemingly inexplicable sounds with wing feathers. How he does it is full of jaw-dropping surprises. Then look at 4 other species of manakins with Bostwick, each with their own equally unique and amazing behaviors. Using audio, video, and gorgeous photos, Bostwick will guide you through the evolutionary history of the feathers, bones, behaviors and sounds that led to the unique abilities of the Club-winged Manakin.
Kimberly Bostwick discovered and obsessively explored birding between graduating from Cornell (B.S. in Biology) in 1992 and enrolling in graduate school at the University of Kansas in 1995. After seeing and hearing for herself over 500 species of birds in North America, Kim returned her full attention to a career in Ornithology, and received her PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary biology in 2002. Since then, she has worked as the curator of birds and mammals at the Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates. Bostwick’s research focuses on avian behavior, functional morphology (how bodies work), and evolution of wing-sounds in birds, and has allowed her to travel all over Central and South America, South Africa, and Papua New Guinea to audio- and video-record birds. In 2005 Bostwick was featured in the “Deep Jungles” three-part series of Nature, where she danced like a Red-capped Manakin to the tune of Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean”. This clip of video was extracted and posted to YouTube where it went viral and has been viewed by millions, spawned many knock-offs, and brought great fame and fans to a very deserving but otherwise little-known bird. Her research on the Club-winged Manakin has also been featured in National Geographic, May 2012.
The encores keep getting louder and louder! This offering has been so popular, it’s now in its fifth season. Join our quizmaster, ABA President Jeffrey Gordon, in a TV-style game show format, a multimedia production of birding trivia and friendly competition. You’ll be laughing, cheering, learning, and seeing a different side of some of your favorite birding personalities, authors, and leaders. Audience participation with great prizes, made possible by the generous support of Eagle Optics.
Jeffrey A. Gordon is President of the American Birding Association. His birding career as a writer, naturalist, and speaker includes Field Editor for Bird Watcher’s Digest, interpretive naturalist at national parks and at the Valley’s own Santa Ana NWR, and speaking engagements at festivals and organizations across the country. He spent 12 years leading birding tours worldwide for Victor Emanuel Nature Tours and authored 11 of the chapters in Identify Yourself.