Leaders & Staff: Tour Leaders

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Rafael Galvez

Rafael Galvez has been birding and illustrating birds since childhood, a dual passion that developed when his family moved from Peru to South Florida. Always with a sketchpad in hand, he has traveled throughout the U.S., Latin America, and Eurasia in pursuit of birds. He served several years as a board member of the BirdLife International affiliate in the Republic of Georgia, developing educational and conservation programs.  He gained knowledge of the Caucasus region while directing a s...

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George Gerdts

George Gerdts taught middle school math and science for 40 years, retiring in 2009. He owns Pandion Nature Tours through which he leads a number of classes and day-trips around Bainbridge Island, Washington, where he has lived for the past 35 years. His interest in birding started at an early age in northern New Jersey. He has since traveled extensively in all of the United States, South America, Central America, Australia, Africa, and Europe. George conducted breeding-bird surveys for the US...

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Brian Gibbons

Brian Gibbons grew up in suburban Dallas where he began exploring the wild world in local creeks and parks. Chasing butterflies and any animal that was unfortunate enough to cross paths with the Gibbons boys occupied his childhood. A wooden bird feeder kit sparked a flame that was stoked by a gift of the Golden Guide and family camping trips to Texas state parks. Thirty years ago Brian attended two VENT camps for young birders. Birds are now his primary interest, but all things wild continue ...

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Kate Godman

BirdNote Director of Development, Kate Godman, is a beginning birder with roots in England, storytelling, and theatre. After working for many years as Casting Director for the Intiman Theatre in Seattle, Kate moved into a fundraising career at Book-It Repertory Theatre and the Frye Art Museum, also in Seattle. She loves to bring about transformational change in individuals and communities through storytelling, and she's thrilled to be learning about, and advocating for, birds and the natural ...

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Gerard Gorman

Gerard Gorman was born in England but has lived abroad for most of his adult life. He is an experienced birding and wildlife guide, specializing in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, where he led many tours including several to Poland. He is also a prolific author, having published numerous articles and papers and eleven books. Gerard's main ornithological interest lies in the Picidae (woodpeckers); indeed, he is the author of Woodpeckers of Europe (Coleman), Woodpecker (Reaktion), ...

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Paul Greenfield

Paul Greenfield grew up near New York City and became interested in birds as a child. He received his B.F.A. from Temple University where he was an art major at the Tyler School of Art. Since 1972, he has lived in Ecuador where his fascination for birds and art has culminated with the completion of 20 years of work illustrating The Birds of Ecuador, which he co-authored with Robert Ridgely. He is also co-author of Birds of Western Ecuador, a Photographic Guide (Princeton University Press) and...

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John Harrison

John Harrison is a travel writer and lecturer, and a native of Liverpool, England. He took First Class Honors in geography at Cambridge University and a Masters Degree in environmental planning at Liverpool University. For 20 years he worked for the UK government on planning and environment matters. John’s short stories have been broadcast on the BBC and collected in book form. His first travel book, Where the Earth Ends, about South America and Antarctica, was a Sunday Times Book of th...

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Brandon Hay

D. Brandon Hay has served as research assistant to Ann Sutton since 1996. Together they are conducting research on migrant land birds in Jamaican mangrove forests. Brandon is also the Scientific Officer for the Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation, an organization dedicated to the protection and sustainable development of Jamaican natural resources, particularly in the Portland Bight area of Jamaica's south coast. He also serves as manager for several fish sanctuaries in the ...

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Ann Haynes-Sutton

Ann Haynes-Sutton is a conservation ecologist who has spent her working life in Jamaica. She is the senior author of A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Jamaica, published by Princeton University in 2009, and has been leading bird tours in Jamaica and other islands for many years.  Her private residence is Marshall’s Pen, near Mandeville, in the center of Jamaica—a 310-acre cattle property and private nature reserve that is one of Jamaica’s premier birding destinations...

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Steve Hilty

Steve Hilty is the senior author of A Guide to the Birds of Colombia, and author of Birds of Venezuela, both by Princeton University Press, as well as the popular Birds of Tropical America, A watcher's introduction to behavior, breeding and diversity. He has also written a number of scientific papers on birds and plants, has described two species of birds new to science in Venezuela, and another, with a team of scientists, in Colombia. He also wrote the text and species accounts for...

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Dion Hobcroft

Dion Hobcroft has been working for VENT since 2001. He has led many tours (more than 170) to Australia, New Guinea, New Zealand, Bhutan, Indonesia, India, China, Southwest Pacific, Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Japan, Russia, Alaska, Tanzania, Uganda, Madagascar, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and the Antarctic. In 2007 and 2013-2018 alone, Dion showed more than 2,000 species of birds to VENT clients. His informative, relaxed, and educational nature, combined with sharp ey...

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Denver Holt

Denver Holt is a wildlife researcher and graduate of the University of Montana. He is founder and president of the Owl Research Institute, a nonprofit organization located in Charlo, Montana. A dedicated field researcher in North and Central America, Denver believes that long-term field studies are the primary means to understanding trends in natural history. Since 1978, Denver's focus has been researching owls and their ecology. He has published numerous professional papers and technical doc...

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David James

David James is an Australian birder and ecologist. In 1982, a teenaged David joined a pelagic trip off Sydney Australia, just for a lark. He was instantly hooked on seabirds and has been a birder ever since. David has birded widely in Australia (where he has seen over 750 species), North America (over 650 species) Southeast Asia, Antarctica, and a few other countries. He has written several identification articles on gulls, honeyeaters, and frigatebirds, and is recognized as an international ...

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João Jara

João Jara was born in Lisbon and studied biology at the Faculdade de Ciências de Lisboa, where he developed his professional career in the pharmaceutical industry as senior manager and director of various multinational companies. With some 35 years of field experience, João has an intimate knowledge of the birds and birding in Portugal. He has traveled extensively in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas with birding as the main objective. João was a member of the ...

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Phil Jones

Phil Jones grew up in Surrey and now lives in East Sussex, England. He began birding in the United Kingdom in 1968 while at school, where he earned a B.A. in geography. He has birded on all continents, and has taken part in banding training courses in Greece, Kuwait, Thailand, Kenya, and Colombia. Although originally a banker, Phil led bird tours for eight years before settling in Sussex and has birded in over 50 countries. He has written a number of papers for local bird societies and has al...

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Kenn Kaufman

Kenn Kaufman is an author, artist, teacher, traveler, and naturalist who has focused on birds since the age of six—earning him the odd distinction of having received the American Birding Association's lifetime achievement award twice, in 1992 and again in 2008. Kenn is a field editor for Audubon magazine and a regular contributor to every major birding magazine. He is editor of the popular Kaufman Field Guides series, which includes volumes on North American birds (both English and ...

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Liz Kinast

Liz Kinast serves as assistant director of gift planning administration and stewardship at the Cornell Lab. Her interest in birds began with backyard bird walks with her grandmother in North Carolina. Liz holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Wake Forest University and has spent her career in development, communications, and project management for mission-driven organizations. She’s thrilled that her path led to the Cornell Lab, where she can unleash her inner bird nerd! Liz...

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Bramble Klipple

Bramble Klipple is the Senior Director of Philanthropy at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Prior to joining the Lab, Bramble worked in development at The Nature Conservancy for eight years, serving most recently as Director of Foundation Relations–Global Strategies and sitting on TNC’s development leadership team. She also served as the director of TNC’s Campaign Resources and Information Team, and the director of the Proposal Development Team. Prior to her time at TNC, Bramb...

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Jeri Langham

Jeri M. Langham has a Ph.D. in plant ecology from Washington State University, and after 38 years as a professor of biological sciences at California State University in Sacramento, retired in May 2008. He received the first Outstanding Teacher Award from the newly formed College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics in 1997; the Outstanding Faculty Award from the Science Educational Equity and Minority Organization of Science Students organizations in 2005; and his University's third annu...

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Matt Larson

Matt Larson is a graduate of the University of Montana. He has worked as a research biologist with the Owl Research Institute since 2008. He is a lifelong naturalist and avid outdoorsman. His research, focused primarily on North American owls, has afforded him the opportunity to travel and work throughout western Montana and Alaska. Matt has published six professional papers. He also has four papers in review and will be a co-author for the Northern Pygmy Owl, Birds of North America (BNA) spe...

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