Our Potentail Speakers & Guides

Marshall Topham

A lifelong bird enthusiast, Marshall was born and raised in Southern Utah.  He obtained a BS degree from Southern Utah University, where he majored in zoology with minors in botany and chemistry.  He earned a Master’s degree in zoology from the University of Hawaii as well as a Master of Public Administration from Utah State University.  His love for the desert and teaching brought him back to Nevada, then Arizona, and now Utah. An educator by profession, he taught Advanced Placement Biology and served in public school administration for 40 years, retiring in 2013.  

Marshall has been very involved with the community, serving on numerous boards and committees for federal, state and local entities. He is a Cofounder of “Get Outside” a 501C(3) corporation dedicated to getting youth away from screens and into outdoor activities including birding. A qualified biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Marshall has served as an environmental consultant for many

years.  He was tapped by the Washington County Commissioners to serve as the local biologist for the development of the Washington County Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and the creation of the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. He continues to serve on the Technical Advisory Committee for the HCP.Marshall continues to teach (Environmental Science) at Dixie State University and is often invited to lecture on the ecological importance and value of birds.  He provides instructional, birding field trips several times each semester in Zion National Park and on Catalina Island. A longtime member of the Audubon Society, Marshall has participated in and directed numerous Christmas Bird Counts for over 40 years.

Lytle Ranch

THURSDAY, FRIDAY, AND SATURDAY

Tortoises and Other Reptiles Nature Tour

SATURDAY AFTERNOON ONLY

Joseph Platt, Ph.D.

Joe Platt is an ecologist based in St. George, UT. He has spent more than thirty years in environmental work in Arctic Canada, Arabia, East Africa and throughout the US. He has extensively studied nesting behavior of protected species and been an active bander of raptors and numerous shorebird and passerine species. Along with over a dozen published peer-reviewed scientific articles and three book chapters, he has presented scientific papers in 13 countries.
 

He is a past member of the Board of Directors of the Peregrine Fund and the World Center for Birds of Prey. He also served on the editing board of the Journal for the Raptor Research Foundation and a member of the California Burrowing Owl Consortium.
 

Joe is a graduate of Utah State University, Brigham Young University, and received his Ph.D. from Cornell University.

Joe is one of the Directors of the Red Cliffs Audubon chapter.

Condors of Vermilion Cliffs

THURSDAY, FRIDAY, AND SATURDAY

Lucy Ormond

When I was ten years old, the "Audubon Lady," my best friend’s mother, organized a Junior Audubon for all the little girls in the neighborhood. I only remember building birdhouses and watching her delicate little canaries in their cage.

Fast forward 55 years to my retirement, I received a pair of binoculars as a gift. For three months I
carried those bins and a Sibley Field Guide all the way across America in the pocket of my bicycle pannier, identifying only one bird. Soon after that trip, I joined the Red Cliffs Audubon, going on field trips and completely mystified how people knew the names of all the birds we saw without looking in a book. Then I read a book by Scott Weidensaul "Living on the Wind," which as about
migration. Learning that the Arctic Tern migrates over 10,000 miles annually blew my mind. Up to that point, I thought birds only migrated from Northern Utah to Southern Utah and back again every year.
 

That "ah-ha" moment changed my life — I gave up bicycling and became a "birder." For a year I read everything I could get my hands on to learn about birds. Instead of bicycling in foreign countries, my trips were planned for birding. Birding started as a new interest and evolved to a hobby, then an avocation, then an addiction, and it's now an OBSESSION! I can't get enough.

 

For the past five years, I've been guiding the spring volunteer- ranger birding walks in Zion National Park. For the Red Cliffs Audubon, I organize the Wednesday Bird Walks, so that I'll have friends with whom I can bird every week! I guess I'm just a "bird nerd" now.

Zion National Park Birding

THURSDAY, FRIDAY, AND SATURDAY

Judy Schattner

Judy's birding journey began in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina almost 30 years ago with the Carolina Bird Club (CBC).  Most of that birding was by ear and listening to the bird songs tapes in the car on long trips to the mountains.   Judy moved there when she partially retired, birded almost daily, and joined in the High Country Audubon.  It was there that she learned the warblers, shorebirds, as well as the woodland birds.   Trips to Florida and the coast of North and South Carolina added to Judy's love of bird watching.   Four years ago, Judy's life took a twist when she retired permanently to St. George, Utah.  Judy joined Red Cliffs Audubon and lead bird trips the 1st year in Utah.   Since then, she has added birds of the Southwest to her knowledge.   One of the areas Judy loves to bird the most and will share her expertise in this festival is Sullivan Park along the Virgin River.  In a short distance, there is water, mesquite, cliffs, and farmland, including woods.  Therefore, there is a nice variety of habitat to search for birds. She has lead bird walks in this area in the former St. George Winter Bird Fest and our Audubon's own Wednesday bird walks.  Being closer to the hot spot in Sierra Vista, AZ,  Judy has made several trips there, thus adding to her knowledge of Southwest birds.  Judy also met more new feathered "friends" on a bird trip to Costa Rica with Bird Watcher's Digest.

 

Judy continues her volunteer work as the Corresponding Secretary of Red Cliffs Audubon.  She also partnered with a birding friend to volunteer for Utah RINS (Raptor Investigative Nesting Survey).  They locate raptor nests and follow them through the nesting season.

Riparian Birding

THURSDAY, FRIDAY, AND SATURDAY

Tim Hauck
The Peregrine Fund

 Speaker

Tim Hauck is the Program Manager for The Peregrine Fund’s Condor Recovery Program in northern Arizona and southern Utah. Tim is responsible for successful releases of captive-raised condors into the scenic wilds of the Vermilion Cliffs and surrounding areas as well as the day to day management of the wild population.

 

Tim is originally from Rochester, NY and received his education at Ithaca College, where his love of birds and conservation grew into a life-long passion and profession. He has spent the greater part

of the last 18 years working in the field with a variety of threatened and endangered bird species. However, it was in 2005 that he found his true calling when he arrived in Marble Canyon, Arizona to work with the highly endangered California condor. After working as a condor field technician for many years, Tim now manages the Condor Recovery Program and splits time between Marble Canyon and Flagstaff, where he resides with his wife Kim and daughter Isabelle.

LEARN MORE
  • The Peregrine Fund
  • The Peregrine Fund
  • The Peregrine Fund
  • Peregrine Fund

Kate Davis
Raptors of the Rockies

Keynote Speaker

It is our pleasure to welcome back famed avian photographer and author Kate Davis to our chapter's bird fest, this year as our keynote speaker.

Kate began life with a love of animals when she was caring for mammals and raptors with the Cincinnati Zoo Junior Zoologists Club starting in 1973. Her father had a great interest in photography, tutoring Kate with a darkroom in the basement all of her childhood. She received a degree in Zoology from the University of Montana in 1982 and founded the non-profit educational organization Raptors of the Rockies in 1988. Kate keeps a dozen non-releasable and falconry birds at the facility at her home in Western Montana.

Program appearances with these raptors number more than 1,760 for 135,000 people, young and old alike. They are the subjects and sources of inspiration for her drawings, paintings, etchings, welded steel sculptures, photography, and writing. She has authored and illustrated 5 books on raptors, and Raptors of the West won the National Outdoor Book Award and Montana Book Award Grand Prize. Her 6th title is Birds Are People, Too, a blend of humor and photography, and she is currently working on the new and revised Falcons of North America from 2008.

  • Raptor Blog
  • TEDx Kate Davis

Tracy Taylor

Tracy has studied and painted birds for as long as she can remember, and fondly recalls the first bird her father pointed out to her when she was 3, a Northern Cardinal singing high in a tree. Combining her BS in Biology from Ursinus College and her love of art, she has rendered award-winning scientific illustrations of natural subjects on postage stamps worldwide, bird field guides, scientific journals, and major zoo exhibits. Trips with the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University to remote rainforests fueled her interest in tropical birds and she is awaiting the publication of her own book on West Indies birds.

For two years she was head bird watching guide for the Red Mountain Resort, leading trips to local birding hotspots including Snow Canyon State Park. She is currently working on a detailed book on bird behavior with Princeton University Press, illustrating and describing the life history of all birds that breed in North America.

Tracy loves connecting people with her feathered friends and will bring this on your bird walk in the beautiful southern Utah desert.

Red Cliffs Birds and Nature Walk

FRIDAY AND SATURDAY ONLY

Paul Jaussi

Paul was introduced to birding in college when he first saw a Western Tanager through a pair of binoculars and was hooked. That event started a passion for birding that has followed him throughout his life. While a native of Utah, he lived in Oregon for 22 years, where he helped grow the Friends of the Refuge for the newly founded Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, serving as both as a Board member and Vice President for several years.

 

He is a Manufacturing Engineer by profession with both Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Brigham Young University.

 

Paul and his family recently moved to St. George, where he quickly discovered the wildlife diversity of the area. Paul's reason for volunteering with the Audubon: to give back to the birding community in some small way. He feels he has received so much from them in the past.

Paul is the current Red Cliffs Audubon chapter President and one of our Directors.

Zion High Elevation Birding

THURSDAY ONLY (other guides on other days)


Greater Zion Big Day

FRIDAY AND SATURDAY ONLY

Elaine York
The Nature Conservancy

 Speaker

Elaine York is West Desert Regional Director for The Nature Conservancy and is based in Salt Lake City, Utah.  She is the on-ground lead for their conservation efforts in western Utah, including biologically diverse Washington County. 

 

In her 23 years with the Conservancy, Elaine has led innovative projects in landscape planning, ecological modeling and land acquisition with multiple state and federal government agencies and private landowners.  In 2008 she received

the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s “Recovery Champion” award for her work protecting rare plants in Washington County.  In her free time, Elaine enjoys spending time with family and exploring the deserts, canyons and mountains she is personally and professionally committed to protecting.

LEARN MORE
  • The Nature Conservancy Utah
  • The Nature Conservancy Utah

Kristine Crandall

Kristine Crandall is entering her sixth season as a naturalist guide for the Zion National Park Forever Project, the non-profit partner that supports Zion National Park, and Cedar Breaks and Pipe Spring national monuments.

 

In addition to taking visitors on naturalist hikes, she teaches bird field classes. Kristine's educational and professional backgrounds have focused on environmental conservation, including working for over 20 years on Western water issues. She has been enamored with birds since she was a young girl. Growing up along the Roaring Fork River in Aspen, Colorado, the American Dipper was her "spark" bird.

 

She serves on the board of the Utah Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and also is a writer, currently writing occasional blog posts about the natural world on the blog This Very World.

Zion National Park Naturalist

THURSDAY ONLY

Mike Schijf

Mike works as the Biologist for the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve – a 62,000-acre area protected for the Mojave desert tortoise and other desert wildlife. While tortoises are main the focus of his job, Mike is an avid birder and photographer during his free time, and he especially enjoys searching for rare and vagrant species in Washington County.

After graduating from Southern Utah University in 2010, Mike worked several seasonal jobs in five different western states before settling into his current position in 2017. Mike began birding as a kid, but it has become more of a passion in recent years. His Washington County bird list currently stands at 281 species; 240 of which he observed during 2019.

Mike especially enjoys birding in Washington County because some species in this corner of the state are found nowhere else in Utah. He hopes to find, and share some of these species with visitors during the Bird Fest.

Cliffs and Creeks + Tortoises

THURSDAY AND FRIDAY ONLY

Cordell Peterson

Cordell began his varied career as a biologist in a less-than-traditional way — the US Navy. His favorite tour of duty after enlistment was Adak, Alaska, where he not only experienced the weather extremes but collected caribou jawbones turned in by hunters for age evaluation by the Fish & Wildlife Service.
Cordell retired from his Chief Warrant Officer post after having experienced a wide range of ecosystems; woodland of the east coast, the deserts of the Kofa and Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona, the Sierra Nevadas, and a tourist climb of Mt. Fuji, Japan.
Cordell returned to Salt Lake City to begin his interest in biology with a plant course at Utah State University, then more related courses at the University of Utah. A geology course there led him to St. George and the early spring climate of the region. Cordell soon moved to St. Geoge and attained an Associate's and Bachelor of Science degree before working for a private contractor doing baseline survey field-work for the Washington County Conservation Plan for Desert Tortoise and the Bear Claw

Poppy. He also participated in Mexican Spotted Owl surveys on the Cedar Mountain and Escalante areas of the Dixie National Forest. Cordell aided in the early scoping phase meetings that ensured what is now Red Hills Parkway in St. George met Washington County Habitat Conservation Plan approval. He also monitored Desert Tortoise during Red Cliffs Desert Preserve's power line construction project.
After private work, Cordell was hired by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources as a technician within the Cedar City Office's non-game section. Work for the Division consisted of Ferruginous Hawk nesting surveys, winter raptor counts, threatened prairie falcon surveys along with trap/relocation projects, bird banding, and bat mist-netting throughout Southern Utah (including the baseline survey for Grand Staircase National Monument).
Cordell's dedication to the fauna of the region continued after leaving the Division, and he's been a volunteer for wildlife ever since. With the help of his partner Sandy, Cordell continues the Filmore (Sevier Desert) winter raptor count surveys for the DWR. Hawkwatch International established a survey route in Enterprise to monitor wintering raptor population fluctuations that Cordell began assisting in 2014.
More recently, Cordell has led raptor field trips for the past St. George Winter Bird Fest and regularly guides special Red Cliffs Audubon field trips. He also participated in a recent Short-eared Owl Landscape Survey by Hawkwatch, in partnership with Red Cliffs Audubon and members of the DWR team.

Cordell is one of the Directors of the Red Cliffs Audubon chapter.

Raptor Run

THURSDAY, FRIDAY, AND SATURDAY

Owl Prowl

THURSDAY AND FRIDAY ONLY

Pam Wheeler

Pam Wheeler has always had an interest in nature, and graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in Conservation Biology, with a wildlife emphasis.  While working for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources she helped with winter raptor surveys and monitored nests of ferruginous hawks and southwestern willow flycatchers.  She feels environmental education is important and has worked with several educational outreach programs including the Junior Ranger Program at Zion National Park, the Bean Wildlife Museum in Provo, and school outreach programs with the UDWR. 

 

Pam enjoys birdwatching with her husband, Kevin Wheeler, and their three children. 

Zion High Elevation Birding

SATURDAY ONLY

Holden Green

Holden started birding in 2018 after taking an ornithology course at Dixie State University. His Saturday “labs” for that course consisted of going out birding somewhere in the area, and he has been hooked ever since. He grew up in St. George and graduated from Dixie with a degree in biology. Besides birding, he enjoys making music, writing, bird photography, and playing the delightful birding board game Wingspan with his family and friends.

His biggest thrill is showing new birds to others, whether new birders or just visitors to the area. He also enjoys finding raptor nests and observing them throughout the breeding season (from a safe distance of course, because he’s terrified of getting swooped at by Cooper’s Hawks).

His favorite birds are Steller’s Jays and Barn Owls, and he staunchly believes there is nothing cuter in the universe than a Burrowing Owl. Don’t argue with him.

St. George Parks — Crissal Thrasher & Vermillion Flycatchers

THURSDAY, FRIDAY, AND SATURDAY

Contact Us

We have lots of information about the festival, Greater Zion, and more, right here on the site. Still unable to find the information you need? Have a question we have yet to answer in these pages? Don’t hesitate to get in touch today.
 

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