Birding Festival: Tour Leaders

We're excited about the 2017 Birding Festival! Mark the dates on your calendar: May 10 - May 14, 2017. For an idea of the kinds of tours, lectures and bird sightings available, take a quick tour through our 2016 events.

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Tour Leader Bios

    Aimee Way grew up searching for elusive songbirds in the treetops of Connecticut. After relocating to Colorado in 1999 and working in medical research, she decided to retrain and pursue a career where she could learn about and work in the mountain environment that drew her to the west. While in graduate school, Aimee interned and conducted field surveys for Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, and reconnected with her passion for birds. Aimee owns her own environmental consulting firm in Southwest Colorado, Wingate Biological Solutions.
    Chris Parish was raised in Buttonwillow, California near the historical range of the remnant California condor population in the southern San Joaquin Valley. After a brief introduction to the wildlife of the desert foothills, he moved on to school at Northern Arizona University, obtaining a B.S. in Biology with emphasis on Fish and Wildlife Management. After working on the Black Footed Ferret Reintroduction Program for the Arizona Game and Fish Department, he transferred to the Flagstaff Regional Office as Condor Project Coordinator in 1997. Since fall 2000, he has been directing the condor project’s field effort for The Peregrine Fund.
    Chuck Haspels has a BS and MS in Biology, as well as a DDS. He was a science teacher in the U.S., Korea, and Ethiopia, and developed materials for Ethiopian schools on nature and conservation. Chuck was a dentist in Cortez from 1985 to 2008, and now enjoys “birding with a camera.”
    David P. Faulkner has a BS from BYU in botany with an emphasis in ecology and natural resources. He did Master’s work in Range Ecology from Oregon State University and research in applying remote sensing to natural resources. Most of his career has been as a natural resource consultant to such diverse organizations as NASA, EPA, United Nations FAO, BLM and USFS, BIA, Lakota Sioux, Ute Mountain Ute and Navajo tribes, and several energy companies and private land owners. He has lived in the Cortez area for nearly 40 years and has served with several community organizations including county planning board, and the Friends of Hawkins Board. He has also taught classes in plant identification for the Native Plant Master’s program under the Master Gardner and CSU Extension Service. He has conducted several threatened and endangered plant studies and range ecology surveys in the Four Corners area.
    Donald Bruning, Ph.D. was chairman and curator of Ornithology for the Wildlife Conservation Society for 37 years before retiring to Durango. He initially began breeding Andean Condors at the Bronx Zoo in New York in 1970. He worked with USFWS and University of Wisconsin in breeding and releasing the captive bred birds in Peru. This was a pilot project to prepare for the California Condor. The student he hired for the Peru project has gone on to lead the California Condor program for nearly twenty years.
    Donna Thatcher is an education specialist with the Farmington Museum, and the Director of the Museum’s Riverside Nature Center. A lifelong birder, she initiated and leads weekly bird walks in Farmington’s riverside parks, as well as other birding and outdoor education activities. Donna has been a leader for the Birding Festival since its beginnings.
    Fred Blackburn is one of the founders of the Ute Mountain Mesa Verde Birding Festival. He coordinated the Cortez Christmas Bird Count for several years. Fred has led several UMMV birding tours including overnight tours into the Ute Mountain Tribal Park, to Bluff, Utah, and the 2014 tour to Telluride. His work experience and interests include a wilderness ranger, teacher, author, local historian and rancher.
    Gabi Morey is the Education Outreach Director for San Juan Mountains Association in Durango, CO. She has been in the environmental education field for over 13 years, and especially enjoys seeing the wonders of nature through children’s eyes.
    George San Miguel has been the Branch Chief for Natural Resource Conservation and Research Coordinator at Mesa Verde National Park for 17 years. He has worked for the National Park Service as a biologist and ranger naturalist since 1980 in other parks such as Devils Tower in Wyoming, Big Cypress in Florida, Olympic in Washington, and Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Joshua Tree, and Santa Monica Mountains in California. He has been studying and writing about birds and other wildlife since his college days at UCLA including banding songbirds and shorebirds with the Point Reyes Bird Observatory. Currently he exercises his banding license on hummingbirds at Mesa Verde.
    Glenn Dunmire is a field Biologist who has worked on numerous raptor and owl projects. He is working on the Second Colorado Breeding Bird Atlas. The Dolores River Canyon is Glenn’s backyard and he looks forward to these yearly outings to share the local birds. Glenn and accidental birding spouse, Carolyn, often spend vacations birding out of the country.
    Heather Morris grew up in the Durango area, and has been a backyard birder her whole life. She has a BS in Fisheries Biology from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and now works for the Colorado Parks and Wildlife as a Customer Service Representative. She has been an avid birder since 2005 and is president of the Durango Bird Club. She and her husband enjoy traveling for birding adventures, most recently to Brazil and Florida.
    Ilyse Gold worked for the BLM & Forest Service for about 30 years; with a great deal of time spent out in the field birding. She conducted numerous owl surveys with Marilyn Colyer plus inventories for Northern Goshawk and American Peregrine Falcon. Ilyse also completed US Fish and Wildlife Service Mexican spotted owl and southwestern willow flycatcher protocol trainings and conducted many habitat assessments for federally listed species as well as for federal agency sensitive species. Her master’s degree is on black-tailed prairie dogs, which gave her many close visits with burrowing owls!
    Jim Beatty is the sub-regional editor for southwest Colorado for “North American Birds” published by the American Birding Association, and for “Colorado Birds” published by the Colorado Field Ornithologists, for their News from the Field articles. Jim has traveled throughout the US and Canada, including three trips to remote Alaska. His ABA area life-list is over 700 species. He retired to Durango in 1998 from Cincinnati and now concentrates most of his birding in SW Colorado. Jim is past President of the Colorado Field Ornithologists.
    Kylan Frye holds a BS in Zoology from the Ohio State University and a Master’s of Environmental Management from Duke University. Her major interests are in landscape ecology and avian biology, with special focus on raptors and landscape-scale ecological health. Prior to joining Ecosphere Environmental Services, she was a conservation biologist with HawkWatch International, where she was integral in several studies that determined raptor response to landscape change, creating continent-wide models of raptor migration corridors and identifying declines in golden eagle nesting populations in Utah. She also has several seasons’ experience with Mexican spotted owls, songbird ecology and rangeland vegetation health inventories. When she’s not working, she enjoys whitewater boating, mountain biking and hiking.
    Linda Martin, Retired Supervisory Park Ranger in the Division of Interpretation & Visitor Services, Mesa Verde National Park, has led tours for the bird fest since 2006. She and Marilyn Colyer worked on bird park bird surveys for over 25 years, trying to keep the files updated and the information current and accurate. Birdwatching is an avocation for her, as it is for millions, but her 36 year association with the Park gives her a solid knowledge of the birds and habitats of Mesa Verde.
    Lynn Wickersham has almost 20 years of experience as an Avian Ecologist, with an emphasis on reproductive ecology of Neotropical migratory birds. She serves as the Statewide Project Manager for the Second Colorado Breeding Bird Atlas in addition to serving as Senior Avian Ecologist with Animas Biological Studies in Durango. Her time as an undergraduate at Colorado State University fostered her love of nature and birds, but she has been fortunate to have studied and worked on a variety of bird research projects across the continental U.S. After publication of The Second Breeding Bird Atlas, Lynn plans some much need rest, relaxation, skiing, and birding.
    Mark Franklin, an avid birder who is familiar with hotspots and species in the Durango area, serves as the Colorado Director for the Old Spanish Trail Association. Mark has led field activities related to the Old Spanish National Historic Trail and organized OSTA’s 2013 conference in Cortez. He has scouted the historic route in SW Colorado and eastern Utah and is familiar not only with landmarks and trail traces but also with birds that frequent habitat along this early 19th C. trade route.
    Martin Moses works as a Private Lands Wildlife Biologist across southwestern Colorado. His position is a partnership between the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory (NGO), Natural Resources Conservation Service (Federal), and Colorado Parks and Wildlife (State). His duties focus on restoring habitat within private lands for species of concern. He utilizes conservation programs available through the USDA Farm Bill along with outside grants to restore and enhance: wetland, riparian, plateau grasslands, mountain- shrub, sage-steppe, ponderosa pine, aspen, and mixed-conifer habitat types. He also works in partnership with local agencies and community action groups. Martin holds a Wildlife Management AS, Natural Resources Ecology and Conservation Biology BS, and a Wildlife Science MS. He has worked as a wildlife biology technician in Ohio, Louisiana, Oregon, Washington, and New Mexico. In Colorado, he also served as a conservation technician with the Longmont and Boulder Valley Conservation District.
    Mike Schmidt graduated from Fort Lewis College in 2008 with a Bachelors of Science in Environmental Biology. After Fort Lewis, he felt lucky to get a job in Dolores, Colorado working as a Wildlife Technician for both the San Juan National Forest and the BLM Tres Rios Field Office. After slowly working his way up the ranks over the last 7 years, he is now a wildlife biologist for the BLM out of the same office in Dolores. Over the years he has worked with a variety of bird species, but spent the majority of his career focused on Gunnison Sage-grouse. One of the most memorable projects that he worked on was transplanting grouse from the largest population in Gunnison, Colorado to very small populations in Dry Creek and Dove Creek in an attempt to bolster dwindling populations. He has also worked with Golden Eagle, Northern Goshawk, Cooper’s Hawk, Peregrine Falcon, waterfowl, and hummingbirds.
    Neil Perry is a wildlife biologist with the Bureau of Land Management, Farmington Field Office. During his 18 year career Neil has worked with a large variety of wildlife species in many different North American ecosystems. Much of his work has included endangered species recovery,
    habitat management and inventory and monitoring of avian and mammalian species. Neil holds a BS in Wildlife Biology from the University of Massachusetts and a Master’s Degree in Wildlife Science from Texas A&M University. A resident of Mancos Colorado, Neil is very familiar with our local avian community.
    Paul Morey has worked in the wildlife field for 15 years, researching and managing for a wide array of animals including songbirds, raptors, coyotes and wolves. He is currently a wildlife biologist for Mesa Verde National Park.
    Riley Morris is originally from Wisconsin where he grew up enjoying backyard birding with his parents. He has a BS in Environmental Biology from Beloit College in WI and now works for Colorado Parks and Wildlife at the Durango Fish Hatchery. He has been a more avid birder since moving to Durango in 2005 and joined the Durango Bird Club for which he is the Presentation Coordinator. He and his wife enjoy traveling for birding adventures, most recently to Brazil and Florida.

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