I have dedicated my life to our feathered friends. Growing up in the mountains of Virginia, I became obsessed with nature and the outdoors. But it wasn't until I took an Ornithology course in college that I truly became mesmerized with birds. Understanding just how amazing they are from an evolutionary perspective ignited a passion in me that will never diminish.
As an undergraduate, I studied the physiology of song production in birds and the ability of male birds to protect their paternity. I continued my study of bird song with a Master's Degree in Biology. As a graduate student I spearheaded a study to map owl populations throughout the state of Virginia. Following my MS, I worked at a Marine Corps base conserving the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker. Everything I did was geared toward restoring a bird population that was rapidly dwindling as a result of habitat loss. I became hooked on the idea of conservation biology.
I decided to go back to school to obtain my PhD and focus on issues of conservation importance. My doctoral research centered around identifying biomarkers in water birds (herons, egrets, ibis and cormorants) that could be used to determine the health of local habitats.
It was during my time as a doctoral candidate that I started traveling the world. I visited over 40 countries and birded every habitat imaginable. When I visited Panama for the first time, I felt as if I had found my mecca...the place where I could go to be at peace with myself. Panama's amazing diversity of birds is unparalleled and the country is absolutely stunning. I began making multiple trips each year and before long I was leading trips. Over the years, I established connections with amazing people in the country and this network has provided me with the tools to offer an experience like no other to the groups that accompany me to Panama.
In addition to my full-time job as an Ornithologist and leading birding trips around the world, I have given hundreds of lectures around the world on topics of avian biology, evolution, conservation, and tropical ecology.
You may be asking what sets me apart from the other tour companies that offer international birding trips. For starters, I am not a tour company and my goal is to cater my trips to your agenda. There is nothing impersonal about my trips...I take small groups and spend every minute ensuring you get the most out of your tour. Most importantly, I am a scientist. As a professional Ornithologist, my birding tours are much more than a cursory glimpse into the tropics. Rather, they are filled with lessons on the natural history of the tropics and how the birds we see have co-evolved for millions of years to thrive in their environment. Each species we come across has a diversity of tactics they employ to survive. Birding with me is akin to taking a course in field ornithology...only you don't need to take notes and there will be no test!
So why is this webpage titled "About Us" instead of "About Me"? Well, if you are reading this, it means you love birds. And more than just love them, you are moved by them. I am a scientist, but I have devoted my life to studying birds because something stirs in me every time I see a bird in flight. Birding is good for the soul: it quiets the noise in your life and it rejuvenates your spirit.
I lead these trips because I want to share this feeling with you. I want you to leave your tour transformed by what you have seen...a seed planted that will grow into an insatiable desire to learn more about these "Lords of the air".
This is not a trip about me and my passion...it is about us, and the chances we have in life to see the world in a different light.
*All photos on this website were taken during my birding trips by myself or one of my clients. I am grateful for their permission to use these photos.
**The name of my tour company, Antbird Tours, was born out of my affection for this particular avian family. The Thamnophilidae, known by the common name of "antbirds" is unique to the neotropics. Some of the species in this family are obligate army-ant following birds and make their living by trailing these great ant swarms in order to profit from the insects and small vertebrates the ants flush from the understory of the rainforest. Truly unique, there is no analog to this group of birds in the temperate zones of the earth.