2017 FEATURED SPEAKERS
When Pete Dunne was seven years old, he was presented with two instruments that would define his life. One was binoculars; the other a book--a book about birds. One brought intimacy with the nature, the other understanding, and through them the woodlands behind his suburban home in Northern New Jersey became a portal that opened onto a world of discovery.
Now 64, serving as Birding Ambassador for the New Jersey Audubon Society and formerly Director of the Society's Cape May Bird Observatory, Pete uses his talents and energy to make the natural world real for others. Through books like THE ART OF BIRD IDENTIFICATION, BAYSHORE SUMMER, PRAIRIE SPRING; PETE DUNNE ON BIRDING; THE WIND MASTERS; HAWKS IN FLIGHT, PETE DUNNE’S ESSENTIAL FIELD GUIDE COMPANION; regular columns that have appeared in Birding, Winging It, Bird Watcher's Digest, Wild Bird, Birder's World, American Birds, Living Bird, the "New Jersey Sunday Section of the New York Times.
A field birder with an international reputation, he has served on the board of the American Birding Association, Hawk Migration Association of North America the Roger Tory Peterson Institute. An authority on the optical needs of birders he has been a marketing and product advisor to Nikon, Zeiss, Leica, Leupold, Swarovski Optik, Swift Instruments, Bausch and Lomb, and other companies.
As involved as he is with New Jersey Audubon's programming, Dunne makes time to lead an every Monday morning bird walk and, in season, to assist visitors at the Cape May Hawk Count--the count he inaugurated in 1976.
He is also the founder of and a 29-year veteran of the World Series of Birding. Called "The Worlds Greatest Natural Treasure Hunt," the annual event attracts approximately 75 teams and has raised over $8 million dollars for assorted conservation initiatives. In recognition of this event, and for “life time achievement” Dunne was awarded the American Birding Association’s Roger Tory Peterson Award in 2001. Other awards include the EPA Environmental Protection Award, Governor’s Conference on Tourism Environmental Award and the 1991 Winchester Good News Hunting Writer’s Contest 1st prize.
When not working, writing, or traveling Dunne spends his free time with wife Linda birding and exploring the natural areas near their hometown of Mauricetown, New Jersey. His presentation SMALL-HEADED FLYCATCHER, HE DIDN’T LEAVE HIS NAME recounts the presumed rediscovery of the bird that has come to symbolize the rivalry between these twin pillars of American Ornithology, written in the guise of a modern day birding who done it.
Nancy McAllister is a professor of environmental science at the University of Maryland and a biologist at the National Bird Banding Laboratory at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland. Combining a career in field work/research and education allows her to bring real-world examples of environmental research into the classroom.
Nancy became an avid birder in the mid-1980’s in her home state of New Jersey. Since then, she’s worked for The Nature Conservancy, managing their South Cape May Meadows preserve, while working to protect on-site breeding populations of Piping Plovers and Least Terns. She performed migratory bird research with Dr. James Lynch at the Smithsonian Institution in the mid-1990’s and started banding birds while living in a research preserve near Annapolis, Maryland in 1998-2001. The issue of bird-building collisions is a passion of hers and she worked on this issue while earning her Masters degree.
Nancy thoroughly enjoys sharing her love for the environment and has taught general science and biology at the middle, high school, and college levels. Recently, Nancy has been working with Wildside Nature Tours and did her own 2016 Big Year of birding, a Mom’s Big Year. This was no small feat for a mom with three children, two unexpected new jobs and a husband. Nancy used the Big Year to begin her journey of healing after a family tragedy and has many wonderful and heartwarming stories to share. You can read about her adventures on her popular blog, www.momsbigyear.com.
Nancy holds an M.S. in Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development
from the University of Maryland (1998) and lives in Ellicott City,
MD with her husband, Paul, and their three young children.
Luke Seitz's birding career took off when a brilliant male Scarlet Tanager graced his Connecticut yard when he was only six years old. Birds then became an all-encompassing focus and he hasn’t looked back since. Luke graduated from Cornell University in 2016 with a degree in philosophy, although much of his time there was spent painting birds and working at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Luke’s interest in Neotropical birding started at age 14 with a week-long stint in northwest Ecuador. Since then, he hasn’t been capable of staying home for very long. He has spent substantial time exploring the nooks and crannies of the Andes and Amazon, enjoying brilliant hummingbirds and tanagers but also the subtleties of tyrannulets and ovenbirds. More recently, Luke has continued expanding his interested in global birding with expeditions to Australia, China, Southeast Asia, and Ethiopia, although South America will always hold a special place in his heart.
One of Luke’s strongest bird-related interests is illustration. He started doodling at a young age, which gradually progressed into more detailed scientific artwork. Especially enthralling is the challenge of sketching birds in the field. His illustrations have been used in many publications including “Birding” and “Birder’s Guide” magazines, and as logos for the World Series of Birding and eBird’s Global Big Day initiative.
Luke currently serves as a member on the Maine Bird Records Committee. In addition to birds, he has a keen interest in gymnastics, dry riesling, and the music of Bruce Springsteen.