Keynote Speakers

The Schedule

Wednesday evening, January 22
5:30pm-8:00pm: Birding Artist/Photographer Catherine Hamilton sponsored by Wildside Nature Tours, Offsite, $55
Thursday evening, January 23
6:15pm-7:30pm: George Armistead sponsored by Rockjumper Birding Tours, AUD, $20
Friday evening, January 24
6:15pm-7:30pm: Steve Shunk, author of Peterson’s Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North America sponsored by Swarovski Optik, AUD, $25
Saturday evening, January 25
6:30pm-9:00pm: Popcorn and a movie with Greg Miller and The Big Year, AUD, $20

Meet The Keynotes

Steve Shunk

PARADISE BIRDING

How Woodpeckers can Save the World (or at least your local woodland)!

Woodpeckers represent one of the most specialized bird families in the world, and North America’s woodpeckers play critical roles in our continent’s forests and woodlands. In fact, nowhere else on Earth are woodpeckers such important contributors to woodland ecology. Join Oregon naturalist and North American woodpecker specialist, Steve Shunk, for an exciting journey into the lives and times of North America’s amazing woodpeckers.

Steve will share the secrets of woodpecker anatomy, and he will translate anatomical adaptation into the fascinating behaviors we love to watch among our woodland carpenters. Each species’ anatomy perfectly suits its unique lifestyle, with different woodpeckers possessing adaptations for aerial acrobatics; for drilling sap wells; for extracting wood-boring beetle larvae; or for extracting ants from underground burrows. He will demystify woodpecker feeding, courtship, and nesting behaviors, including the reasons why woodpeckers pound on our houses and what we can do about it. Steve will also reveal the keystone ecological roles played by our local woodpeckers, and he will send you home with a mission: Prepare to be entertained, educated, and inspired as ambassadors for woodpecker and forest conservation.

Steve Shunk started birding in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1989, and he moved to central Oregon’s ‘Woodpecker Wonderland’ in 1997, where 11 woodpecker species can be found breeding in an area the size of Orlando. This phenomenon led to a 20-year obsession studying this charismatic family of birds, and he founded the region’s woodpecker festival in 2008. Steve’s work as a field biologist has taken him from the Coast Range of Oregon to California’s Sierra Nevada. Most recently, he spent three seasons as a field biologist for the Institute for Bird Populations studying Black-backed Woodpeckers of California’s Sierra Nevada and Cascade Mountains. Steve has served on four non-profit boards of directors, co-founding the East Cascades Bird Conservancy (now East Cascades Audubon), and working as its first president. He has also managed two non-profits as executive director. Steve also co-founded the Oregon Birding Trails Program and coordinated its flagship project, the Oregon Cascades Birding Trail. He founded his tour company, Paradise Birding, in 1997, and he currently leads natural history tours to 12 countries on four continents, including a spring tour to southern Florida and the Dry Tortugas. When he is not traveling for tours and bird festivals, Steve can be found writing, skiing, hiking, and watching woodpeckers at home in lovely Bend, Oregon. Steve’s woodpecker fanaticism eventually led to the 2016 release of his Peterson Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North America—which he will gladly sign for you at the festival.

Catherine Hamilton

WILDSIDE NATURE TOURS

Amur Falcon – Living on the Edge

The Amur Falcon makes a spectacular flight during its migration each year from Siberia to Southern Africa and then back. Hundreds of thousands of these birds congregate in remote northeast India during the fall, providing a true spectacle of migration. It is believed to be the largest concentration of falcons anywhere on Earth. Through the photos and artwork of world-renowned artist, Catherine Hamilton, we’ll hear the story of these kestrel-sized birds, the threat that hunting poses to this species, and the recent conservation efforts to save them. Come find out how a small group of conservationists and the will of the local people to protect this incredible “resource” has started to turn the tide in this story.

Catherine Hamilton was born in Altadena, California, with a pencil in hand. She began birding at an early age with her father, developing a keen interest in both natural history and art, and started her first ornithological notebook at seven. Her talk will present her recent adventures in Nagaland, a far-flung corner of India that has only recently been opened to western visitors. There, in just the last few years, a conservation crisis and conservation miracle seems to have unfolded. Come discover the world of the amazing Amur Falcon.

Catherine holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design and a Master of Fine Arts from Bennington College, but is currently walking a bit off the beaten path, “on the road drawing and studying birds,” as she puts it. Translated, this means she is properly homeless and focusing on dubious pursuits. In her previous life, Catherine exhibited paintings while she was teaching at the Rhode Island School of Design, but that career ended abruptly when she developed severe allergies to the chemicals used in painting studios. Since that time, she has been wandering farther and farther afield in pursuit of all things avian. Today, Catherine works in mediums that do not contain the toxic chemicals that caused her allergies. Pencil, color pencil and watercolor are some of her current choices with which she creates her amazing studies of birds and wildlife. Visit http://mydogoscar.com/birdspot/ to see more of her work.

George Armistead

ROCKJUMPER BIRDING TOURS

Megadiverse Colombia: The World’s Epicenter of Birds

A couple years ago the curtain was drawn back and now, a forever enticing country, long deemed off-limits to travelers is wide open. Colombia has more species of birds than any other country. The growing list is a staggering 1930+, which is nearly 1/5th of all those on the planet; of which, at least 89 are endemic, and it also includes more hummingbirds (near 170 species) than any other country. This massive diversity results from the equally diverse range of habitats. Behind the big numbers and dazzling birds, is a fascinating biogeography, which George will break down into digestible pieces so we can began to tease apart why and how Colombia came to be the Earth’s birdiest country.

George Armistead, a birder since the age of 9 years old, has a long history in connecting people with nature through ecotourism and expedition travel. Currently he is chief network officer at Rockjumper Worldwide Birding Adventures, which operates  birding tours, photographic tours, and wildlife safaris to over 100 countries. A professional wildlife guide with 20 years of experience, George has led trips to all continents, and has authored two books on birds including Better Birding: Tips, Tools, and Concepts for the Field (2015, Princeton University Press) and The ABA Field Guide to the Birds of Pennsylvania (2016, Scott & Nix, Inc.). Based in Philadelphia, he received a masters degree in environmental studies at the University of Pennsylvania, is an associate at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, and spends much of his free time outdoors, studying birds and nature around Philly and beyond.

Popcorn and a Movie: The Big Year

Hosted by Greg Miller: Bird Consultant for The Big Year Movie

WILDSIDE NATURE TOURS

Jan. 25, 6:30pm-9:00pm; AUD; $20

In 1998 Greg zigzagged across the continent – traveling 130,000 miles while trying to hold down a full- time job at a nuclear power plant — to try to see as many species of birds in one calendar year as possible. It was an incredible experience passing the 700-species mark — an achievement many birders aspire to in a lifetime. But there was competition. Two other birders, Sandy Komito and Al Levantin also did “Big Years” the same year as Greg and they also broke the 700 mark. Their competitive quests are documented in the 2004 non-fiction book, The Big Year, by Pulitzer Prize winning author Mark Obmascik. And unbelievably, Twentieth Century Fox made a full feature motion picture inspired by the book!

The Big Year movie had A-list actors Jack Black, Steve Martin, and Owen Wilson plus a strong support cast. Greg had the fortunate opportunity to be the Bird Consultant for the movie, which was filmed in spring & summer of 2010. He was on the set for 3 weeks with many of the actors and crew and got to meet the stars! Join your birding friends for a fun-filled evening with the Big Year movie and Greg Miller as he tells stories about how he really got started in birding, how he came to do a big year, what it was like to be the Bird Consultant for the movie and to meet the stars, and the aftermath.

Catherine Hamilton

Amur Falcon – Living on the Edge

The Amur Falcon makes a spectacular flight during its migration each year from Siberia to Southern Africa and then back. Hundreds of thousands of these birds congregate in remote northeast India during the fall, providing a true spectacle of migration. It is believed to be the largest concentration of falcons anywhere on Earth. Through the photos and artwork of world-renowned artist, Catherine Hamilton, we’ll hear the story of these kestrel-sized birds, the threat that hunting poses to this species, and the recent conservation efforts to save them. Come find out how a small group of conservationists and the will of the local people to protect this incredible “resource” has started to turn the tide in this story.

Catherine Hamilton was born in Altadena, California, with a pencil in hand. She began birding at an early age with her father, developing a keen interest in both natural history and art, and started her first ornithological notebook at seven. Her talk will present her recent adventures in Nagaland, a far-flung corner of India that has only recently been opened to western visitors. There, in just the last few years, a conservation crisis and conservation miracle seems to have unfolded. Come discover the world of the amazing Amur Falcon.

George Armistead

Megadiverse Colombia: The World’s Epicenter of Birds

A couple years ago the curtain was drawn back and now, a forever enticing country, long deemed off-limits to travelers is wide open. Colombia has more species of birds than any other country. The growing list is a staggering 1930+, which is nearly 1/5th of all those on the planet; of which, at least 89 are endemic, and it also includes more hummingbirds (near 170 species) than any other country. This massive diversity results from the equally diverse range of habitats. Behind the big numbers and dazzling birds, is a fascinating biogeography, which George will break down into digestible pieces so we can began to tease apart why and how Colombia came to be the Earth’s birdiest country.

George Armistead, a birder since the age of 9 years old, has a long history in connecting people with nature through ecotourism and expedition travel. Currently he is chief network officer at Rockjumper Worldwide Birding Adventures, which operates  birding tours, photographic tours, and wildlife safaris to over 100 countries. A professional wildlife guide with 20 years of experience, George has led trips to all continents, and has authored two books on birds including Better Birding: Tips, Tools, and Concepts for the Field (2015, Princeton University Press) and The ABA Field Guide to the Birds of Pennsylvania (2016, Scott & Nix, Inc.). Based in Philadelphia, he received a masters degree in environmental studies at the University of Pennsylvania, is an associate at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, and spends much of his free time outdoors, studying birds and nature around Philly and beyond.

Popcorn and a Movie: The Big Year

Hosted by Greg Miller: Bird Consultant for The Big Year Movie

Jan. 25, 6:30pm-9:00pm; AUD; $20

In 1998 Greg zigzagged across the continent – traveling 130,000 miles while trying to hold down a full- time job at a nuclear power plant — to try to see as many species of birds in one calendar year as possible. It was an incredible experience passing the 700-species mark — an achievement many birders aspire to in a lifetime. But there was competition. Two other birders, Sandy Komito and Al Levantin also did “Big Years” the same year as Greg and they also broke the 700 mark. Their competitive quests are documented in the 2004 non-fiction book, The Big Year, by Pulitzer Prize winning author Mark Obmascik. And unbelievably, Twentieth Century Fox made a full feature motion picture inspired by the book!

The Big Year movie had A-list actors Jack Black, Steve Martin, and Owen Wilson plus a strong support cast. Greg had the fortunate opportunity to be the Bird Consultant for the movie, which was filmed in spring & summer of 2010. He was on the set for 3 weeks with many of the actors and crew and got to meet the stars! Join your birding friends for a fun-filled evening with the Big Year movie and Greg Miller as he tells stories about how he really got started in birding, how he came to do a big year, what it was like to be the Bird Consultant for the movie and to meet the stars, and the aftermath.