Seth Benz lists Gray Catbird and Rough-legged Hawk as "Spark Birds". These species, encountered in childhood, continue to inspire a career steeped in conservation science and ecological literacy. Currently, he heads up the Schoodic Bird Ecology Lab at Acadia National Park, where he combines research and education on bird migration with the study of nature's sequencing of events - phenology - which engages people of all ages in Citizen Science. Seth has worked at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Hog Island Audubon Camp, Audubon Expedition Institute, Project Puffin, Acadia National Park, and Schoodic Education and Research Center. After growing up in Berks County, Pennsylvania, he now lives in Belfast, Maine where he launched Bird Bus tours for the city, and leads trips for Road Scholar, University of Maine Hutchinson Center, Waldo County YMCA, and serves as a volunteer for the Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition.
Louis Bevier's passion for natural history and birds began with hikes in the chaparral of southern California and the granite peaks of the Sierra Nevada. Since the 1960s, birds have drawn him to explore most of North and South America, leading to months at sea off Alaska and California, backcountry surveys in the high Sierra, plant and bird expeditions to several countries, editorship of the Connecticut breeding bird atlas, and many other adventures. Bird identification, systematics, and conservation, especially of wilderness areas, are core interests. He has worked as a tour guide for Field Guides, as an editor for The Birds of North America series, and as Associate Editor for the journal North American Birds. He is Chair of the Maine Bird Records Committee.
Jim Bright has been a commercial lobsterman for forty years. His time on the ocean and his love of the outdoors, in general, has made him a keen observer of Mother Nature. It was the visit of a Green-Violet-Ear Hummingbird to his porch feeder that connected him to the world of avid birders, and the fun has not stopped since. Trips to Arizona and Florida have been made but Jim’s favorite birding spots are the outer islands off the coast of Maine. Jim and his wife, Harriet, live on Mount Desert Island, but still maintain a family home on Little Cranberry Island.
Bruce Cole has had a lifelong interest in wildlife and ecology with a particular curiosity for birds. It all started when his grandmother pointed out a Golden-crowned Kinglet in a nearby hemlock tree. Encouraged from childhood with books including the Golden Press guide to "Familiar Birds of North America" and a curious little book on raptors which referred to the Merlin as the "Pigeon Hawk," the fascination grew. Bruce works here in Maine as an RN, enjoys being outside in his spare time. He states he is interested in every bird he sees and hears, from the common and widespread to the rare vagrant.
Jonathan Corcoran obsession with birds started at a young age. He lived in the rural Delaware Valley, surrounded by birds and nature through much of his growing years. Great Blue Herons fishing on the rivers near home were the first birds that really caught his attention. He quickly became more interested in all of the birds that occurred in the world around him. His particular interest in birding has become studying and logging local bird movements, particularly at local patches and on his wooded Pocono, PA property through eBird. Bird Photography has also become a particular obsession for him, and his photos have appeared in numerous conservation publications. Photography has been a great tool for teaching people and opening their eyes to the vast avian world around them. Most people are shocked to discover that over 100 species of birds have traveled through their yards at some point. He views photography as a great way to make people aware of the local avian-fauna.
Dotty Holcomb Doherty lives in Annapolis, MD but has spent time in Maine leading canoe trips on the Allagash, teaching high school in Wells, plus visiting friends all over the state and her daughter while a student at Colby. An ornithology class during Dotty's freshman year at Earlham College launched her lifetime love of birding. A regular eBirder, she participates annually in Project FeederWatch, and on most days can be found stalking birds with camera and binoculars. She's taught high school biology and environmental science, coached, and led wilderness backpacking trips in our southwestern states. As a journalist for local Annapolis area publications, she wrote regular features about birds. Eco-travel to Peru, South Africa, Madagascar, Indonesia, and India has expanded her appreciation of bird diversity and the need to maintain and restore habitat. She leads bird walks in nearby Chesapeake area parks.
Jonathan Doherty is one of many whose interest in birds started with an ornithology course at Earlham College. He has been birding ever since, still traveling with other Earlhamites to explore the world of birds. Jonathan is a conservationist working for the National Park Service and coordinating landscape scale conservation planning in the six-state Chesapeake Bay watershed. He also makes chocolates!
Bob Duchesne became interested in birds in the first grade. Interest grew to passion and today Bob is one of Maine’s top birding experts. He is Vice President of Audubon’s Penobscot Valley Chapter in the Bangor area. Bob is a frequent tour leader and has led trips from Atlantic Canada to the Florida Everglades. In 2009, Bob completed development of the Maine Birding Trail and has authored a guidebook for the state, published on Down East Books. He currently writes a weekly birding column for the Bangor Daily News. Bob recently began a fifth term as a member of the Maine House of Representatives, where he serves on the Environment and Natural Resources Committee and helps direct state environmental policy.
Jim Eager - After buying and hanging a bird feeder in 1984 Jim got hooked after seeing his "spark bird" which was a Northern Cardinal. In 2011 he was a co-founder and co-coordinator of the re-branded Florida Keys Hawkwatch and raptor observer in the Florida Keys. Jim is the Social Media Coordinator and an 11 yr field trip leader for the Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival as well as field trip leader for the Everglades Birding Festival and the Florida Birding & Nature Festival. In addition, he is a board member of the Florida Ornithological Society (FOS), Merritt Island Wildlife Association (MIWA) and Associate Editor (for bird distribution) for the FOS "Florida Field Naturalist" publication. Jim lives in Cape Canaveral, FL and owns Obsessive Compulsive Birding specializing in guided trips in and around Central Florida.
Toni Evans divides her time between Brookeville, Maryland and Goose Cove, Maine. She is happiest out of doors and loves every aspect of the natural world. She got hooked on birding at Earlham college where she graduated with a BA in Biology. As a teacher she helped lead student trips to the Peruvian Amazon multiple times. She has traveled throughout the US, Galapagos, Kenya, South Africa, Europe, Panama, and Ireland, bins at the ready. She likes to say that birding is like Christmas morning, there's a gift waiting every time you go out.
Brendan McKay gained an early love for birds from his grandmother whose house he visited on Great Diamond Island during his childhood. He studied Marine Biology at the University of Maine in Orono and worked for the Maine Coast Heritage Trust as part of their summer trail crew for three seasons. While working for the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, he gained a further appreciation for birds from the knowledgeable stewards who all shared a passion for the natural world. He discovered eBird in 2014 and has been thrown deeper down the rabbit hole ever since. He currently lives in Portland, ME where he enjoys birding local hotspots and takes pleasure in finding rare birds in unexpected places.
Michael J. Good, MS. Biologist/naturalist, President of Down East Nature Tours in Bar Harbor, Maine and Founder of Warblers and Wildflowers Festival (1998-2007), Acadia Birding Festival (2008-present) and the Penobscot Watershed Eco Center, Bar Harbor. He has over 30 years experience studying the birds of North America and brings a wealth of knowledge about Neotropical migrants and the avifauna of the Eastern United States. Michael has traveled extensively in the US, Alaska, Europe, Australia, South America and Cuba. He is a regional business leader promoting sound ecologically practices in business, government and land development. A Registered Maine Guide, Michael has been guiding professionally for many years through his company Down East Nature Tours focusing on avian ecology in the Gulf of Maine. In his spare time he maintains Three Pines Bird Sanctuary in Town Hill, Maine, studying micro-habitat of Neotropical migratory birds on Mount Desert Island, Maine and winter ecology in various Neotropical countries when given the opportunity.
Margot Haertel grew up as a National Park Service “brat”. She learned about birding from an early age, because her mother was an avid birder. Living in National Parks like Sequoia-Kings Canyon, Glacier Bay, Big Bend, Isle Royale, Mt. Rainier, and the Lava Beds in Northern California, she had many opportunities to see and identify lots of birds. Moving to Acadia from Lake Clark N.P in Alaska with her husband Paul, gave her an opportunity to see all those “other warblers.” Alaska doesn’t have many. She and Paul teach birding classes for Acadia Senior College introducing local “Seniors” to the joys of bird watching and much more. She says she wished she had paid more attention to birds when she was a teenager, but because of her mother’s insistence on hiking to Boot Springs in Big Bend, she can say, “Colima warbler? Got that!”
Ed Hawkes, of Bar Harbor is a master bird carver and avid birder watcher. A Male Redstart perched nearby sparked his lifetime passion at the age of twelve in Southern Maine. Since moving to Mount Desert Island in 1977, Ed has become well-acquainted with Acadia National Park and continues to serve as a volunteer ranger with the park's Peregrine Watch in the spring/summer and Hawk Watch in the fall. After retiring from teaching, Ed has found more time to pursue his lifetime fascination with birds. When not connected to his binoculars, he is carving -- creating his lifelike wooden sculptures with such fine detail you expect them to take flight. Whether birding or carving, one passion feeds the other. Ed and his wife, Debbie, regularly lead birding hikes for their Downeast Audubon Chapter or the Downeast Birding Festival. And leisure time means 'gone birding' -- whether on Mount Desert Island or further afield on their trips to Florida, Arizona, Colorado, Southern California, Alaska, Texas, Newfoundland, and Costa Rica.
Debbie Hawkes, of Bar Harbor, is a retired paralegal and past-president of the Downeast Chapter of Maine Audubon, and serves on the board of the ABF. Deb had enjoyed birds at her feeders for years, but after she and husband, Ed, observed a Belted Kingfisher fishing in Babson Creek, she was hooked. While biking or hiking in Acadia National Park or tending her flower gardens, she's enjoying the local bird activity - sights and sounds. Deb and Ed also lead bird hikes for Downeast Audubon and the Downeast Birding Festival and they have enjoyed birding jaunts to Florida, Arizona, Texas, Southern California, Alaska, Newfoundland, Colorado, and Costa Rica.
Susan Hayward is a founder and volunteer faculty member for Maine Master Naturalist Program, an amateur botanist in Maine who has done field research on rare orchids, and taught courses on the flora of Maine for many years.
Tom Hayward has been birding on MDI off and on since he was about 10 years old. He retired in 2013 from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, where he was the Humanities Reference Librarian and Lecturer in Classical and Medieval Studies. Tom has been active in the Stanton Bird Club of Lewiston since 1977, and has led many field trips for them over the years.
Billy Helprin Billy is the Director of the Somes-Meynell Wildlife Sanctuary (right behind Festival Center in Somesville). Before working for the Sanctuary, Billy was the Mt. Desert Island Steward for Maine Coast Heritage Trust, managing Preserve properties and monitoring many conservation easements. He has a Master of Science degree from Utah State University and a Master of Arts in Teaching. Billy has enjoyed leading wildlife explorations and studies in the Rocky Mountain region for Great Plains Wildlife Institute, the Teton Science School, and Abercrombie and Kent; and in Kenya for the School for Field Studies. He has been involved with avian research and inventory projects in Ohio, Maine, Wyoming and Guatemala. Whenever possible, Billy enjoys getting out with friends or on his own to see and hear which bird species are nearby and what they are up to.
Casey Hynes, of Gardiner, is an experienced field guide that loves to share his fascination with Maine's flora and fauna. Casey got his first job at a Wild Bird Center when he was 14, and has never looked back. He has led birding trips extensively throughout the state for both the Acadia Birding Festival and for LL Bean's Outdoor Discovery School. Casey sits as the Vice President of the Board of Directors at Viles Arboretum, allowing him the opportunity to share his love of birds with his community. He has also worked as a consultant for wind and solar power projects in northern New England, and shares the record for a Big Day in Maine.
Craig Kesselheim lives in Southwest Harbor on MDI, and has been birding ever since he was hooked by a college ornithology course in 1973. He has lived and birded elsewhere in North America, but Craig has been a Maine-based birder for about 25 years. He currently logs most of his birding time and eBird lists in Acadia NP, although his work requires extensive travel throughout the State (what a perk!). Craig is a big fan of citizen science and eBird. Professionally, Craig is a career educator employed by the Great Schools Partnership in Portland, Maine.
Fyn Kynd found a love for nature through growing up on a small family farm in mid-coast Maine, where chickens piqued his interest in birds. When Fyn first started reading he preferred field guides over children's books and learned much about the natural world through paper and online resources. With that knowledge he recognized a Ruby-crowned Kinglet at a very young age, a bird that enchanted him with its energy and flair, sparking a love for birding. Wildlife photography quickly became a passion after Fyn was gifted a point and shoot camera at age 10. Four cameras later, capturing nature has become a way of life for him. He is very passionate about conservation and wildlife education, using photography as a conveyance, and plans to pursue a career as a nature guide. Fyn considers himself a naturalist and is always trying to expand and share his knowledge of the world's flora and fauna through various citizen science resources, such as eBird, iNaturalist, and BugGuide, projects he has been an enthusiastic contributor to for years.
David Ladd became interested in Birds in the mid 1980s while working on agricultural pesticide studies in the mid-west. This experience prompted almost every vacation since then to have an element of birding associated in it. David has traveled extensively through Mexico and Central America birding and backpacking. He currently lives in Oakland and as an “empty nester” is once again able to ramp up his wildlife photography and birding activities.
Don Lima has been an avid birdwatcher ever since his grandfather first gave him a pair of binoculars at age 8. He pursued his passion of wildlife and the outdoors at the University of Maine, Orono, where he received his B.S. in Wildlife Management in 1986. He soon began a career that has, so far, spanned 28 years with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), which has allowed extensive opportunities tolive, travel and bird all over the U.S. Don has conducted restoration projects in grassland and saltmarsh habitats, waterfowl banding for the USFWS and Black Duck Joint Venture, point count surveys, and was an active member of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s, Partners for Wildlife Program. His greatest passion is continuing to share his love of birds, wildlife and being outdoors with his sons.
Kyle Lima first discovered his love of birds on a family trip to Florida in 2012; he's been hooked ever since! Kyle has always loved animals and the outdoors since he was old enough to remember. He is currently studying Wildlife Ecology at the University of Maine in Orono, planning to form a life-long career focusing on conserving and studying birds and other wildlife. Kyle spends his free time studying birds, birding as much as possible, learning about other animals and plants, taking photos, and simply enjoying nature. He also enjoys participating in numerous citizen science projects, volunteering with various bird research projects, and working for the University of Maine in Orono on a Spruce Grouse study in northwestern Maine.
Ben Lizdas is excited to be returning to the Acadia Birding Festival this spring. With a background in restoration ecology, Ben turned from plant communities to birds when he joined the team at Eagle Optics in 2000. Since then, he has traveled to birding events both domestically and abroad helping birders understand and purchase binoculars and scopes while adding new birds to his own life list. He currently works for Bird Watcher's Digest as a jack of all trades, co-hosts the Out There With The Birds podcast with Bill Thompson III, and manages Redstart Birding, a new optics retail destination for bird watchers.
Becky Marvil lives with her family in Yarmouth, Maine. She has a background in Biology (Earlham College) and in Ornithology and Computer Science (University of Colorado), and runs her own computer programming/webpage design business. She is pleased to be the Executive Director of the Acadia Birding Festival, combining her knowledge of webpage design, organizational skills, and love of birding. She is also the Secretary for the Maine Bird Records Committee, and eBird Hotspot monitor for Maine. During her free time, she helps with local bird surveys, chases after rarities, and she loves to travel and enjoy birds in new locations.
Greg Miller has been birding for over 50 years.... really before he can even remember. It was his father who got him into birding at an early age and he has birded in all 50 states and much of Canada, always smitten by the birding bug. Every trip out is an adventure! 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 and also broke the 700-mark. These three competitive quests are documented in the 2004 non-fiction book, The Big Year, by Mark Obmascik, and later in 2011 made into a movie. Greg had the fortunate opportunity to be the Bird Consultant for the movie. Greg now guides for Wildside Nature Tours.
Melissa Penta is a late-fledging birder who started photographing birds and wildlife very casually at local parks in New Jersey. She became intrigued by her spark bird, the Great Blue Heron, and wanted to learn more about it and other birds. She moved to upstate New York where she was suddenly surrounded by nature and her love for wildlife, specifically birds, took off. She eventually became more of a birder than a photographer. She now lives in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania and loves to travel to find new birds and gain new experiences-behind her lens, scope, and binoculars. Melissa now works with Wildside Nature Tours in hopes of bringing more interest to the birding world.
Corky Potter has a graduate degree from the University of Illinois, spent 32 years as a faculty member at Penn State University where he created and directed Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center. He is a registered Maine Sea Kayak Guide and member of the licensing Guide’s Board for Maine Fish & Wildlife. In the off-season Corky is an organizational consultant facilitating strategic planning, team building and leadership development for non-profit and corporate groups. Corky has paddled the coast of Maine, Cape Cod, Nova Scotia, Alaska and off the coast of Washington State. He is a kayak instructor as well as a guide, is passionate about birds and natural history, enjoys biking, hiking, birding, music, gardening and spending time with Abbey, his Australian Shepherd.
Michael Retter is the editor of the American Birding Association's Birder's Guide magazine, a tour leader for BRANT Nature Tours, and the author of the ABA Field Guide to Birds of Illinois. During college, Michael began to take regular trips into Mexico and has been tourleading there ever since. He is currently putting his knowledge of the area's birds to paper by writing the upcoming Princeton identification guide to the birds of Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize. Michael runs QBNA, the continent's email list and informal club for LGBTQ+ birders. He currently lives and gardens in Fort Worth, Texas.
Sue Shaw- Originally from the mid-west, Sue and her husband Harold have lived in Penobscot, Maine for 43 years. Sue retired from a 37-year teaching career in 2002, and in May, 2008 took her first Audubon bird walk. "It wasn't a 'spark bird'.it was a meteor flash", Sue says. Since that morning she has embraced birding with both arms, attending festivals ("what wonderful opportunities for learning-all of that expertise in such a concentrated area!"), taking classes and learning from CDs and videos. She always has her binoculars, whether biking, kayaking, or just out and about, "because you never know what will show up!" Sue is both Secretary and Field Trip and Program Chair for the local Downeast Audubon chapter, and celebrates her love of birding through both her poetry and her art.
Bill Sheehan lives and birds in northern Maine, where he grew up. He is a registered Maine Guide and has been leading trips and guiding birders in the woods and wetlands of Maine for over 25 years. Bill is the president of the Aroostook Birders birding club and has been involved with the Maine Bird Records Committee since its inception. A reviewer for Maine eBird, Bill has a deep interest in the distribution and status of birds in Maine and is currently working with Peter Vickery on a book on this subject. An avid duck-a-phile, Bill loves most scanning his favorite local patches for rare waterfowl and waders. He can be seen observing a Ross's Goose in Limestone, Maine on Google Earth at the coordinates (46.913309, -67.824541).
Doug Suitor, a reverse migrant, moved with his wife and daughters to Maine from Fort Myers Beach, FL in 2007. To date he still claims this was a good idea. He became interested in birds while working with Manatees and Sea Turtles in Southwest Florida. He is currently an aquatic ecologist with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection's Lakes Program and enjoys exploring Maine's scenic beauty. A board member of Merrymeeting Audubon he leads trips for the chapter and thoroughly enjoys birding and playing around in the midcoast area.
Terry Towne is a life-long amateur naturalist and USCG Licensed Captain. He uses his outdoor enthusiasm and skills as the Regional Steward for Maine Coast Heritage Trust to steward the islands around Mount Desert Island’s bays and offshore on Marshall Island and Long Island Frenchboro. After learning how to make a living in Maine more than 30 years ago by commercial fishing and municipal government, he is a graduate of the University of Maine. He has introduced many to the beauty and ruggedness of Maine’s islands through his trail building and public awareness programs.
Margaret Viens , a native Mainer, who grew up in Connecticut, has been a backyard birder since she was a young child, but only became a more "serious" birder once she retired in 2007. She is one of 5 siblings who bird together and was lucky enough to have some great local birding mentors, as well as the opportunity to travel extensively both domestically and internationally where she is rarely seen without her binoculars and camera. She volunteers with several citizen scientist projects, is a Maine eBird reviewer, serves on the Maine Birds Records Committee and is active with the Augusta Birding Club, both giving presentations and leading walks in central Maine. She has lived in Waterville since 1973.
Chuck Whitney has been living and birding in Hancock County since 1978. He is a local educator and being a xenophile, values seeing and introducing others to new and diverse populations of migrants.
Fred Yost started watching birds and enjoying nature as a child while tagging along with his parents, grandparents and the birding clubs they participated in. His interest in birding became more serious during his undergraduate studies at Eastern Connecticut State University where he was exposed to bird banding, birding by ear and tropical biology. Fred has worked for the Fish & Wildlife Service as a fisheries biologist for 18 years. He enjoys sharing birds with birders and non birders, dragonflies, carving, photography and hiking.