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San Diego Bird Festival

We're so proud to announce the lineup for our 2023 Speakers. You will be able to sign up for these talks when registration opens in November.

Feb 22, 2023
Wednesday Keynote Talk "Through the Looking Glass: Reflections of a Grateful Birder" with Kevin Karlson

This light-hearted presentation examines birdwatching through Kevin’s eyes and examines some of the reasons why so many people are bitten by the birding bug, including the unique camaraderie with other birders. Photos of birds from many locations will be shown, as well as humorous events and stories that make the ride so interesting. Forty-four years of passionate birding have shaped Kevin’s life in so many ways, with much of it revolving around the study and enjoyment of birds, and this show shares his appreciation for the journey. Come along for a ride through time that we all can relate to, with birds, people and special places the stars of the show.

Kevin Karlson is an accomplished birder, author, professional tour leader and wildlife photographer/instructor. He is a regular at Bird and Nature festivals in North America, where he gives keynote presentations, workshops on bird identification, and photo instruction. Kevin’s books include The Shorebird Guide (2007); Birding by Impression: A Different Approach to Bird Identification (2015); Birds of Prey (2017) (all three Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishers); and Gulls Simplified: A Comparative Identification Approach (Princeton University Press, 2018). A new book “Bird Families of North America” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) with Pete Dunne was released in August 2021. Photography books include The Birds of Cape May and Visions: Earth’s Elements in Bird and Nature Photography (Schiffer Publishing). Kevin also produced six photographic laminated foldout ID guides for Quick Reference Publishing. While officially retired, Kevin continues to lead select tours and photo workshops for his company Jaeger Tours, and for Wildside Nature Tours of Pennsylvania.

Feb 23, 2023
Thursday Keynote Talk "The Birds, and now, the Bees: How Field Naturalists are Shaping our Understanding of Native Bee Conservation" with James Hung

Bees are among the most important pollinating animals in the world, responsible for maintaining the integrity of many of earth's terrestrial ecosystems. They are also beautiful and lead amazing lives! However, they are becoming increasingly threatened in this changing world, and scientists are striving to learn how best to protect them. Community science has recently emerged as a powerful way to gain a deeper understanding of bee community and population health, especially as bee biologists learn from ornithologists and birdwatchers to more accurately and precisely identify photographic records. YOU can help us keep a pulse on the health of our precious bee communities, too!


James Hung is an ecologist currently serving as an assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma, where he heads the native pollinator laboratory at the Oklahoma Biological Survey. His research focuses on the conservation of pollinators and pollination services in a rapidly changing environment. He has a passion for turning students and lay community members into fellow conservation champions through outreach education. In his spare time, James enjoys being outdoors with his kids, making food with his wife, growing vegetables, photographing wildlife, and playing the violin in his church band. 

Feb 24, 2023
Friday Keynote Talk- "Flight Paths" with Rebecca Heisman

When Rebecca Heisman worked for the American Ornithological Society, a large part of her job was reading and publicizing new scientific studies being published about bird migration. Often the part of a scientific paper she found herself most drawn to was, unexpectedly, the methods: how ornithologists were unraveling the details of where birds go, when, and why. This became the basis for her forthcoming book Flight Paths, which traces how bird-obsessed scientists have harnessed every major technological advance of the last century, from the invention of the transistor to the latest advances in machine learning and high-volume genetic sequencing, in pursuit of the secrets of bird migration. In her talk, Heisman will share more about how her book came to be and tell some of her favorite stories about adventurous migration researchers through the decades. She'll also talk about "migratory connectivity"—how the distinct journeys of individual bird populations within a species can expose them to different threats and set them on different trajectories—and how getting to this level of detail in our understanding of the lives of migratory birds may be a key part of saving them in a changing world.


Rebecca Heisman is a science writer based in Walla Walla, Washington. She has contributed to publications including Audubon, Living Bird (the Cornell Lab of Ornithology magazine), and High Country News, and from 2015 to 2020 she worked for the American Ornithological Society, North America's largest professional society for bird scientists. Her first book, Flight Paths, being published by HarperCollins in March 2023, delves into the history, science, and quirky personalities behind how we know what we know about bird migration. When she's not birding or writing, she can usually be found chasing after her four-year-old son or enjoying her ever-growing native plant garden.


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