Ken Meyer is co-founder, Executive Director, and Research Ecologist at the nonprofit Avian Research and Conservation Institute (ARCl) in Gainesville. Virtually all of what is known about the gorgeous Swallow-tailed Kite comes from the research of Dr. Meyer. Other species ARCI is studying include the Short-tailed Hawk, Snail Kite, Great Horned Owl, Southeastern American Kestrel, Crested Caracara, Northern Harrier,  Bald Eagle, Magnificent Frigatebird, White-crowned Pigeon, Limpkin, Wood Stork, Reddish Egret and Great White Heron.  Over nearly 40 years of field research, Meyer and his team have captured, radio-tagged, and studied the behavior and ecology of over 830 individuals of 17 species of birds in Canada, Mexico, Belize, Brazil, Jamaica and beyond. Dr. Meyer is also an Associate Professor with the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at the University of Florida. He will be presenting on Helping Swallow-tailed Kites as the Thursday night Keynote at Leu Gardens for Orange Audubon Society as a free pre-festival add-on. Join Orange Audubon Society and other festival attendees for a meet and greet at 6:30 p.m. and this exciting free program at 7 p.m.  Leu Gardens is at 1920 N Forest Ave, Orlando, FL 32803.

Gian Basili is an ornithologist who works for United States Fish and Wildlife Service in Jacksonville. He formerly worked for Audubon Florida for 2 years, and for the St. Johns River Water Management District for 17 years. Gian was one of the people most responsible for guiding restoration efforts on the Lake Apopka North Shore and for opening the area to birding and other passive recreational use. He received his Ph.D. in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison for his groundbreaking work on Dickcissels, the first year-round study of a neotropical migratory songbird.  He will be leading Trip 4, the Friday all-day trip, and will be presenting the  Friday Keynote on Birding Lake Apopka. The meet and greet will start at 4:30 p.m. and dinner and talk  at 6 p.m. (Registration required). Keynote  will be in the Auditorium of the University of Florida Mid-Florida Research and Education Center, 2725 S. Binion Rd., Apopka, FL 32703, adjacent to Magnolia Park.

Greg Miller is one of the country's top birders and was one of the three birders depicted in the film The Big Year. Greg’s character was played by Jack Black. In 2004 Denver-based journalist and birder Mark Obmascik wrote his nonfiction bestseller The Big Year about the competition among Greg and two other birders who also chose to do a Big Year in 1998. Greg was the main birding advisor for the 2011 film based on the book. If you haven’t seen it, the film is available at libraries and from streaming sites. Greg, who is Ohio-based when he is not leading birding tours through Wildside Tours, will be in Florida for the Space Coast Birding Festival and loves leading field trips on the Lake Apopka North Shore. He will be leading all-day Trips 4 and 10. He will also be the Saturday Keynote Speaker telling his fascinating story of The Big Year. The meet and greet will start at 4:30 p.m. and dinner and talk  at 6 p.m. (Registration required).  Keynote  will be in the Auditorium of the University of Florida Mid-Florida Research and Education Center, 2725 S. Binion Rd., Apopka, FL 32703, adjacent to Magnolia Park. Learn more about our 2017 headliner Greg Miller from


2017 Field Trip Leaders

Gian Basili knows the Lake Apopka North Shore well, having worked toward the buyout of the farms and restoration efforts. See more about Gian under Keynote speakers. He is co-leading Trip 4.


Andrew Boyle is the master bander at the Wekiva Bird Banding Station at Lake Lotus Park.  He will be demonstrating banding both at Magnolia Park as part of Birdapalooza on Saturday morning and at Lake Lotus Park on Sunday morning in the first half of Trip  9. Likely captures are winter resident birds like Common Yellowthroats and Catbirds, but the fun of banding is the surprises. Learn more about the Wekiva Bird Banding Station through Andrew's blog at


Lynn Marie Folts is one of the top Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive photographers, found every weekend on the Drive searching out new bird species as well as butterflies and other wildlife.  She is a participant in the Wekiva Banding Station as well as butterfly surveys in Central Florida. See some of her photos at  Lynn will be co-leading Sunrise Photography Trips 1 and 8.


Deborah Green knows the birds and plant life at Wekiwa Springs State Park, having written two natural history books on the area and taught a community college field class at the park. Now a retired  environmental science instructor, Deborah co-chairs Orange Audubon Society’s Nature and Environmental Education Center committee and is founder and committee chair of the Lake Apopka Wildlife Festival and Birdapalooza  Birding Festival. Deborah will be co-leading Trip 9.


Milton Heiberg is a professional  photographer and instructor of nature photography, who has written seven books and numerous articles on photography. The most recent is The Essentials of Nature Photography, Tern Book Company. Milton is the founder of the Photo Committee at the New York City Audubon Society and taught nature photography courses there  from 1980 until he moved to Orlando in 1998. He now teaches nature photography at the Crealdé School of Art, Winter Park, and is Central Florida's photo instructor at DPA (Digital Photo Academy—Panasonic/Lumix's national school of photography, Leu Gardens and SCB&WF). Milton will lead the free sunrise photo shoot at Birdapalooza Saturday from Magnolia Park.


Earl (Bud) Horn is an avid birder who lives near the Lake Apopka North Shore in Mt. Dora. He is a significant contributor to the Lake County Breeding Bird Atlas, as well as Christmas Bird Counts, and other surveys, both in Central Florida and his former Georgia home. Bud will be co-leading Trip 8.


Lorne Malo is a Fish and Wildlife Biological Scientist (Regional Biologist) with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Invasive Plant Management Section.  He worked 23 years in surface water compliance/enforcement  for the St. Johns River Water Management District (District), and during that time assisted  with Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Florida Scrub Jay, and Barn Owl monitoring on District lands.  He also did bird surveys on the Wekiva River/St. Johns River and Tomoka Marsh Aquatic Preserves over 17 years for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). As a volunteer Lorne organized monthly bird surveys on District lands and has been Econlockhatchee Christmas Bird Count Compiler for the past 26 years.  He  worked a season for Ducks Unlimited doing waterbird surveys and over 2 years full time with the FDEP doing surface water enforcement and wetlands delineation, before joining FWC.  Lorne also assists with monthly  butterfly surveys on public lands and in his long career has worked with black bears, venomous and non- venomous snakes, gopher tortoises, and alligators.  He is also a frequent trip leader for the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival in Titusville. Lorne will be co-leading Trips 4 and 10, as well as bus trips at Birdapalooza Saturday.


Larry Martin is an avid birder who is Orange Audubon Society’s field trip coordinator. For the past few years he has organized migration bird walks at Mead Botanical Garden and is Orange Audubon’s liaison to Mead Botanic Garden, which is a 48-acre park located at 1500 S. Denning Drive, Winter Park, FL 32789, that is particularly good for fall and spring migrants. Larry will be co-leading Trip 7 and Beginning Birding with the Simpsons on Saturday.


Greg Miller will be leading Trips 4 and 10. See more about Greg under Keynote speakers.


Gallus Quigley is the Cornell eBird regional reviewer for Lake and Sumter counties and Florida Breeding Bird Atlas coordinator for Lake County, having been an avid birder for 25 years. He is employed as a planner, biologist and Trails Coordinator with the Lake County Parks & Trails Division. His 2008 Florida Big Year with 359 bird species spotted is the third highest on record. He broke Lake County’s “big year” record, counting over 243 species in 2015. In his spare time, Gallus works as a birding guide. He will be leading Trips 2 and 10.


Kathy Rigling is a birder and photographer who teaches middle school science  and each summer directs  Nature Studies at the Wekiva Youth Camp. Through the latter position, she knows Wekiwa Springs State Park well. She currently serves on the Orange Audubon Society board and is a member of Friends of Lake Apopka. Kathy will be co-leading Trip 9.


Ralph Risch is the Florida Scrub Jay (FSJ) Biologist for Seminole State Forest in Lake County. While studying for his Master’s in Zoology at University of South Florida, Tampa he worked on FSJs at Archbold Biological Station with Glenn Woolfenden, John Fitzpatrick, and Reed Bowman. Ralph has birded in 45 of the 50 United States, 3 of Canada’s provinces, and 6 European countries and worked with birds (sometimes serendipitously or tangentially) in New York, Arkansas, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Alaska, Arizona, and Florida. He has participated in or lead groups in Christmas Bird Counts in Florida, Washington, and New York and is a birding guide. Ralph will be leading Trip 6.


Jack Rogers is a prize-winning, widely published bird and nature photographer who has been photographing Florida wildlife for more than a decade. Just this year, one of his images was featured on the cover of Nature's Best Photography. Jack teaches geology at Valencia College in Orlando and nature photography on the side, including for Orange Audubon. Jack will be leading Sunrise Photography Trip 8.


Brook Rohman is an avid birder who serves as Birdathon coordinator and 2nd Vice President of Orange Audubon Society. Brook originally started birding as an  activity for her now 16-year old daughter but quickly caught the bug. She participates in most bird surveys and events in Central Florida, now as a trip leader. In 2015 she came in 3rd in for the number of species sighted in the Central Florida June Challenge. Brook is participant , with her entire family, in the Wings over Florida listing program and loves sharing about this program of the Great Florida Birding Trail. Brook will be co-leading Trips 4 and 11.


Bob Sanders is an avid birder in Central Florida who for many years has taught Raptor Identification. Before moving to Central Florida, Bob was co-founder of the Chimney Rock Hawk Watch in Martinsville, New Jersey. Known as a talented teacher, Bob also teaches Beginning Bird Watching Classes and leads Limited Edition Field Trips for Orange Audubon Society, participates in most Central Florida bird surveys and events, and works as a birding guide in Central Florida. Bob will be leading Trips 5 and 10.


Scott Simmons started learning photography when he was given his first SLR in 2001 and soon became interested in nature photography. In about 2004 through the Central Maryland Photographer's Guild, he developed a strong passion for teaching .  The more he learned about photography, the more he wanted to be out in nature photographing it and the more he “got into” birding. Scott is a fan of the Lake Apopka North Shore area and sunrise photography. Learn more about Scott at his Scott will be leading Sunrise Photography Trip 1.


David Simpson is one of Florida’s top birders. He is a life long resident of central Florida, where he has over 25 years of experience leading tours, both through his previous job as a ranger at the St. Sebastian Buffer Preserve, and at festivals including the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival and the Big "O" Birding festival. David holds many American Birding Association (ABA) records, including Big Year (both first and second place for Florida) and Big Day (current holder of 10 monthly records in Florida). Swarovski Optic recently asked him to be on the team for this year's Great Texas Birding Classic. He is a birding guide through his own company (Birding with David Simpson). David will be leading Trips 3, 7and 11 and co-leading Beginning Birding with the Simpsons at Birdapalooza Saturday.


Dee Simpson is a long-time birder, Florida Master Naturalist, Certified Interpretive Guide, and former Space Coast Audubon board member.  With her husband, she has developed many classes that they present at festivals and to the general public. She and David will present Beginning Birding with the Simpsons at Birdapalooza Saturday.


Becki Smith is a bird bander with the Wekiva Basin Banding Station. Since 2000 with her first internship studying Dotted Skippers and Diamondback Terrapins in Cape May County, NJ., her passion for biodiversity spread from entomology and herpetology to birding. A certified master naturalist, she participates as a volunteer in Jay Watch, NABA butterfly counts and Christmas Bird Counts. Becki will be co-leading Trips 6 and 10.


Jerry Walker has been an avid birder for the past 35 years, formerly in Pennsylvania where he participated in CBCs, Breeding Bird Atlas and spent hawk watches at Hawk Mountain, PA as well as at Cape May Point, NJ and Kiptopeke Va. Living in Lake County since 2005, he has assisted Gallus Quigley on the Florida Breeding Bird Atlas and local Christmas Bird Counts. He did an unofficial Lake County Big Year in 2015 (providing a little friendly competition for Gallus) and listed 216 species for the year and has a life list of 221 birds in Lake County. Jerry will be co-leading Trip 2.



2017 Keynote Speakers

2018 Registration Soon