Leaders & Office Staff

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Barry Lyon

Barry Lyon's passion for the outdoors and birding has its roots in his childhood in southern California. During his teenage years, he attended several VENT/ABA youth birding camps, which ultimately led to his future involvement with Victor Emanuel Nature Tours. He holds a B.A. from the University of Arizona at Tucson where he studied history and political science, with an emphasis on environment and development politics. Barry joined the VENT team as a tour leader in 1995 and embarked on a tr...


Jonathan Meyrav

Jonathan Meyrav’s interest in birds began at the age of 10, and by age 12 he was the youngest member of a junior birders’ club. At 14 Jonathan earned his banding license and began participating in elaborate monitoring projects in Israel. As an environmental studies student at Ben Gurion College, Jonathan fell in love with the desert and desert birding, and would spend entire days monitoring migrants and taking part in surveys and research programs. Jonathan has traveled the world ...


Brennan Mulrooney

Brennan Mulrooney was born and raised in San Diego, California. Growing up, his heart and mind were captured by the ocean. He split his summer days between helping out behind the scenes at southern California's leading aquarium and working on sport fishing vessels off the coast. As a wildlife and fisheries biology major at UC Davis, he developed his fascination with birds and love of birding while taking a required ornithology course. After graduating from UC Davis, Brennan traveled ...


Tony Nunnery

Tony Nunnery grew up in Mississippi, then moved to Texas, and graduated from Stephen F. Austin University. After teaching elementary school for several years, he moved to Monteverde in Costa Rica. His fascination with birds began when a friend there showed him a Resplendent Quetzal and a Bare-necked Umbrellabird in the same tree. This experience "hooked" him on birds, and he soon learned the Costa Rican birds, ran the Tarcoles Lodge, and conducted guided tours. In 1997 he relocated ...


Michael O'Brien

Michael O'Brien is a freelance artist, author, and environmental consultant living in Cape May, New Jersey. He has a passionate interest in bird vocalizations and field identification, and a serious addiction to migration and nocturnal birding. His travels have taken him throughout North and Central America and beyond. At home in Cape May, Michael serves as an Associate Naturalist with Cape May Bird Observatory for whom he conducts numerous workshops, and, for many years, conducted ...


Brian Patteson

Brian Patteson grew up near the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, but has a keen interest in seabirds, which began over 30 years ago when he started organizing pelagic trips off the coasts of Virginia and North Carolina. In 1995, Brian moved to Hatteras, North Carolina in order to run a more extensive schedule of birding trips to the Gulf Stream. Since that time, thousands of birders have traveled to the Outer Banks to participate on these trips. In addition to providing an exciting day offsh...


Robert Ridgely

Robert S. Ridgely has made an enormous contribution to Neotropical ornithology. A prolific author and researcher, he is the author, with John Gwynne, of A Guide to the Birds of Panama, still one of the finest field guides ever published (and one of the first, way back in 1976). Since then he has traveled virtually everywhere in South America and has become recognized as one of the top experts on its birds.  In the early 1980s, he and his friend Guy Tudor began the monumental task of prod...


Chris Rogers

BirdNote Board Member, Chris Rogers, is CEO and Founding Partner of Point32, a Seattle-based project management firm that helps non-profits execute capital improvement planning and building projects. He was formerly the Director of Capital Projects for the Seattle Art Museum where he oversaw the development of the Olympic Sculpture Park, and prior to that oversaw land conservation transactions for the Trust for Public Land. His interests include international travel, birding, beekeeping, and ...


Brad Schram

Brad Schram became fascinated with birds as a child in the mountains of California, the start of an enthusiasm that has modified and enriched his life. He has birded on all the continents and scores of the world's oceanic islands. Since his early retirement from the business world in 1996, he has led birding tours in much of the American West, as well as Alaska, Antarctica and the subantarctic islands, Hawaii, Iceland-East Greenland, Kenya, and Trinidad and Tobago. While serving as b...


René Shields

René Shields (Tour Operations Assistant) has worked in the recreational travel industry for most of her professional life. She is a native Texan with a business degree from the University of Texas at Austin. With her husband Gary, she enjoys foreign and domestic travel, bicycling around Austin and the Texas Hill Country, and socializing with other "cavers" at the UT Grotto meetings.


Kaz Shinoda

Kaz Shinoda has been integrally involved in the logistics and planning of VENT's Japan tours. He was born in Yokohama, Japan, in 1957. From age 11 to 14 he lived in South Africa with his family and often went on safari where he learned about the fascinating world of wildlife. He later became a birdwatcher and has now been a keen birder for nearly 20 years. Kaz graduated from Waseda University in Tokyo, and then taught English to high school students for more than two decades before dedicating...


Raj Singh

Raj Singh, born in Bharatpur, Rajasthan, is a distinguished ornithologist, fellow of the Royal Geographic Society, and inveterate world traveler. His first passion in life is wildlife conservation, and his knowledge of natural history is unsurpassed. He also has a fascination with India's history, culture, and cuisine. A descendant of India's royal Kshartriya family from Bharatpur, Raj is the author of Bird and Wildlife Sanctuaries of India, Nepal and Bhutan, and Mammals o...


Bob Sundstrom

Bob Sundstrom has led VENT tours since 1989 to many destinations throughout North America, as well as Hawaii, Mexico, Belize, Trinidad & Tobago, Japan, Turkey, Iceland, Papua New Guinea, the Southwest Pacific, Antarctica, the Bering Sea, and the Galapagos. When not on tour, Bob keeps busy as lead writer for the public radio program BirdNote, heard on over 200 radio stations nationwide (visit www.birdnote.org). With a doctorate in anthropology from the University of Washington, Bob enjoys ...


Scott Sutcliffe

Scott Sutcliffe is Director of Annual Fund and Stewardship at the Cornell Lab. He's been a birder since the age of 6 when his grandfather introduced him to Cornell through a gift of Songbirds of North America, an early recording from the Cornell Library of Natural Sounds. Scott received a BS from Cornell in 1975 and an MS from the University of New Hampshire in 1980, both in wildlife ecology. Upon graduation, Scott taught 5th grade science for a year, then directed the N.H. Loon Preservation ...


Patrick Swaggerty

Patrick Swaggerty (Tour Operations Assistant) joined the VENT staff in September 2004. He began his career in 1984 organizing and leading adventure tours throughout Colorado for a family-based sports company. Warmer climates led him back to the island of Maui, Hawaii where he describes his lifestyle there as warm and easy. After traveling much of the world, Patrick and his partner, Ted, eventually relocated to Austin, Texas. Patrick enjoys experiencing new things, but says that he will always...


Balázs Szigeti

Balázs Szigeti is a dedicated birdwatcher and the director of Ecotours Wildlife Holidays Ltd. Based in Budapest, he leads tours to most of Eastern Europe and Mongolia. Balázs speaks perfect English, has a great sense of humor, and has traveled widely in Eastern Europe, West Africa, and the Americas. He is a gifted birdwatcher able to imitate many European bird calls…even a nightjar…no mean feat! Balázs is also a keen wildlife photographer.


Doris Valencia

Doris Valencia, a naturalist born in Cuzco, Peru, began her study of the Manu wilderness at a young age. She has served as a volunteer park ranger in Manu National Park, and has been working as a naturalist tour guide for about twelve years. She is an avid student of the flora and fauna of Manu and has a special interest in birds. Doris is an excellent birder and leads birding groups throughout Peru including Paracas National Marine Reserve, Bajuaha-Sonene National Park, Tambopata-Candam...


Machiel Valkenburg

Machiel Valkenburg was born in 1982 in a southern province in the Netherlands where, encouraged by his parents, he began birding at an early age. During his teens he studied landscape ecology and began performing bird surveys with the Dutch Centre for Field Ornithology. During this period he started traveling outside of Holland, first to Greece, Hungary, Romania, Scotland, and Morocco. Later, his birding travels took him extensively outside of Europe into Western Africa and further east to Ru...


Marco Valtriani

Marco Valtriani holds a degree in biology with an ornithology major from the University Pisa; his thesis was on the ecology of the Dunlin in the Mediterranean basin. A passionate hiker, birder, and field researcher, Marco has spent years exploring wild areas around the world, from France to Nepal, Syria, and Venezuela. He is a licensed private guide and tour planner, creating and leading itineraries for international conservation organizations, schools, and private travelers. Marco specialize...


Santiago Villa

Santiago Villa has operated his own birding tour company, Spainbirds Nature Tours, since 1999. He has also led tours for some of the well-known UK tour companies, as well the American Birding Association and several RSPB local groups. Santi has participated as an ecotourism expert at meetings and conferences in different localities of Spain such as Madrid, Cádiz, Trujillo, Monfragüe, and Doñana, as well as Lisbon (Portugal). Santi has guided tours in Chile, Argentina, Ecuad...

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