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Hummer Speakers - Keynotes & Bios

HummerBird Celebration

  Keynote Speakers:

30th Anniversary Celebration Dinner
New! "Harvey, Hummingbirds & Hope" Martha McLeod, Thursday 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. 
Dinner: Texas BBQ, Smoked Chicken and all the trimmings plus cobbler. Click here for tickets.
Location: Drifters Resort, Recreation Hall, 4401 TX-35 BUS, Rockport 
Travel Hwy. 35 South to Drifters Resort, Recreation Hall. Parking in resort, on side and in front.

Martha McLeod, an award-winning teacher and youth birding program sponsor, has been in education for 25 years. She sponsors a top recycling program in the state of Texas. Her student birding team competes yearly in the Great Texas Birding Classic achieving top honors. She was recently named “Birder of the Year” by Swarovski Optiks/Bird Watcher's Digest. She was the recipient of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s top individual award for the Environmental Excellence Awards in 2017, Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science in 2011, H-E-B Excellence in Education Lifetime Achievement award winner, and was inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame in 2013. Born and raised in the Brush Country of South Texas, she graduated as valedictorian from Cotulla High School and graduated with honors with a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Texas A&M University.


Sky Kings Falconry, 5 p.m. Friday: "Raptors Revealed" in the Auditorium

Sky Kings Falconry features hawks, owls, falcons, vultures, parrots and other colorful and interesting animals. The program will focus on natural history, unique traits and the natural abilities of these incredible animals. Sky Kings Falconry is dedicated to the Education, and preservation of our planet's wildlife, and employing its natural abilities to correct environmental issues. Birds in flight so arrive early as the doors need to stay closed after the presentation begins.



James Currie, 3:40 p.m. Saturday: "Twenty Hummingbirds to see before you die - A Video Journey" in the Auditorium

Nikon's Birding Adventures and National Geographic TV host, James Currie, takes you on a thrilling journey around the new world to explore its diversity of hummingbirds. Countdown the top twenty hummingbirds to see on earth and join James for this fascinating behind-the-scenes look at these remarkable creatures. James will also be signing copies of his award-winning book, When Eagles Roar, after the presentation.


Speaker Bios and Program Descriptions ...

Kathi Borgmann

Kathi Borgmann is currently a science writer at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Kathi is an avid birder and nature enthusiast who has been birding for more than 15 years. Kathi has birded throughout parts of Mexico and Panama and throughout the Americas while contributing to avian conservation. Kathi received her Ph.D. from the University of Arizona in 2010 in ornithology. Since completing her PhD, Kathi has lead numerous wildlife restoration projects throughout California and has helped build predictive habitat models for rail species in North America.

Program Title: How to Use and Make the Most of eBird 

Dates and times of program: Friday Sept 14 @ 3:40 pm; Saturday Sept 15 @ 2:20 pm

Program Description: xx


Greg Lasley


Program Title: Birds of the Big Bend

Dates and times of program: Friday, Sept 14 @ 2:20 pm; Saturday, Sept 15 @1:00 pm

Program Description: xx


Ben Horstmann  New!

Ben Horstmann serves as the regional Interpretive Specialist for South Texas State Parks. His addiction to birding was a direct result of moving here and birding with the park staff and volunteers at the parks. His favorite pastime is birding in the parks and natural places of Texas.

Program Title: A birding tour of the Texas State Parks in South Texas

Dates and times of program: Sunday Sept 16 @ 8:30 am - 11:30 am Location: Goose Island State Park

Program description: Take a birder’s tour of the State Parks of South Texas with an avid birder who visits them all on a regular basis. The tour will go through each park and the birds you can find there in different seasons, as well as how you can take an actual birding tour with our interpreters or volunteers in several of the parks. As an added bonus we will take a birding tour of Goose Island State Park to look for the local residents of the Coastal Bend.


Bill Lindemann

Bill Lindemann is a Native Texan, naturalist and an avid birder for over 50 years. He is a graduate of UT Austin (BA & MS Geology). Bill retired after 34 years with Exxon and has been a weekly newspaper birding columnist in the Hill Country for 19 years. He was also President of Native Plant Society of Texas twice and is Past President of Hill Country Land Trust.

Program Title: Hummingbird Courtship: Flash! Zoom! Done!

Dates and times of program: Friday Sept 14 @ 1:00 pm Middle School; Saturday Sept 15 @ 10:20 am Auditorium

Program Description: Courtship rituals among birds range from simple to spectacular and even
bizarre. In most bird families, males participate in methods to win the “heart”
of the females, including plumage displays, acrobatic aerial maneuvers,
dances, food offerings, songs, and site decorations. Male hummers
principally use their colorful gorget and aerial displays to earn the right to
mate. See examples of their unforgettable brief razzle-dazzle show.


Jason Loghry

Jason Loghry will be sharing a presentation about his first (and current) big year here in Aransas County. After living abroad for nearly ten years where he worked as a teacher and was heavily involved in bird conservation, he arrived back in Texas. Coincidentally, he arrived on the same date that the notorious Hurricane Harvey was ravaging our Texas coast.

Program Title: Homecoming Big Year: A Look at Birdwatching in Aransas County - Rockport & Fulton, Texas

Dates and times of program: Friday, Sept. 14 @ 11:40 am Auditorium and Sunday, Sept 16 @ 10:20 am Middle School Band Hall

Program Description: After several months of hard work, a new year quickly came. Progress with the rebuild seemed to be gaining ground but slow-going, so he knew he would be here longer. It was then that he decided to explore a different side of home: the natural side, with a county big year. A county big year is when a person spends an entire year within the boundaries of a certain county racing to see or hear as many species of birds possible within that county. With his presentation, he will share about the exciting adventures he’s had, the stories he’s heard, the brilliant people he has met, and about the many amazing birds he’s seen while exploring every corner possible of Aransas County.


Glenn Olsen

Glenn’s passion is nature, especially birds and plants. He teaches bird identification and nature classes at Rice University’s Continuing Studies Department and at Houston Audubon. His nature and touring business, GO Birding EcoTours offers both national and international trips to connect people and nature. Glenn also does landscape and habitat consulting through GO Native Landscape Consultants.

Program Title: Lasagna Gardening for Birds

Dates and times of program: Thursday Sept 13 @ 3:40 pm Rockport Center for the Arts; Friday Sept 14 @2:20 pm Middle School Band Hall

Program Description: Learn how to create a Garden that is a magnet for hummingbirds, butterflies and many other birds throughout the year. By using a layering technique and selected plants you can greatly increase plant diversity and create an amazing habitat in a small space. We will cover ground covers, low growing flowers, grasses, short height shrubs and flowers, medium height trees, and vines. We will discuss design elements to comply with homeowner's regulations to keep our garden attractive to humans as well as many birds.


Brent Ortego

Brent Ortego recently retired from Texas Parks and Wildlife. He had been a wildlife biologist since 1982 who primarily worked with conservation of endangered and nongame species. He has a special interest in hummingbirds and has banded over 30,000 individuals of 14 different species.

Program Title: The Hummingbirds of Texas

Dates and times of program: Friday Sept 14 @ 3:40 pm; Sunday Sept 16 @11:40 am Both in Middle School Band Hall

Program Description: A review of the major species of hummingbirds we have in Texas, how to identify them, know where in Texas they are found and whether their numbers are increasing or decreasing.


Sid Rucker

Sid and Shirley Rucker traveled full-time for over 20 years in an RV photographing nature subjects - birds, mammals, insects, flowers and scenics. Their photographs have been published in books, magazines and calendars. They spent 5 of those years as the photographers for Texas Parks and Wildlife book, Hummingbirds of Texas.

Program Title: Living, Loving, and Laughing with Hummingbirds

Dates and times of program: Friday Sept 14 @ 11:40 am; Saturday Sept 15 @ 1 pm Both in Middle School Band Hall

Program Description: xx


Dr. Liz Smith

Liz Smith received her formal academic training at Corpus Christi State University (B.S., M.S.) and Texas A&M University (Ph.D.). For 16 years, she was employed as a Research Scientist at the Center for Coastal Studies, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. She recently joined the International Crane Foundation (ICF) as the Whooping Crane Conservation Biologist in Texas. Liz continues to expand her research on sea-level rise and storm surge effects on coastal habitat change, and promoting community advocacy for conservation planning and coastal protection. These efforts are being undertaken with the specific goal of ensuring quality wintering habitat for the Whooping Crane as its’ populations continue to increase. Most of Liz’s career has been focused on coastal Texas, and she has been nationally recognized in receiving the Coastal America Partnership Award for Restoration at Bahia Grande and Protection at Shamrock Island, EPA Award for Environmental Excellence in Wetlands, as well as regionally recognized in receiving the Conservation and Environmental Stewardship Award for Higher Education and Pathways to Success in Science Programs.

Program Title: Wintering Whooping Cranes - Post Hurricane Harvey Recovery

Dates and times of program: Friday Sept 14 @ 1 pm Auditorium; Saturday Sept 15 @ 11:40 am Middle School Band Hall 

Program Description: Cranes are among the most spectacular, elusive, and beautiful birds on earth, with a heritage that goes back to prehistoric times. Their resounding voices are trumpets from the past, and over the centuries, cranes have been symbols that speak to the human heart. They figure prominently in the artwork, dances, poetry and folk tales of many cultures. Cranes are universal symbols of longevity, monogamy and good luck due to their long-life spans and mate fidelity. They are also messengers alerting us to the health of the landscapes and natural resources that benefit all life on Earth. Through the charisma of cranes, the International Crane Foundation brings people together around the world to find new pathways to sustain water, land, and livelihoods. 


Katie Swanson

Katie Swanson is a Stewardship Coordinator at the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve (the Reserve). She received a bachelor of science in biology from Hobart and Williams Smith Colleges and earned a master’s degree in marine science from the University of Texas at Austin in 2008. She has been with the Reserve since June of 2013. As a stewardship coordinator at the Reserve, Katie promotes the importance of conservation, restoration, and the environment. She has research experience with harmful algal blooms, sea grass and marsh monitoring and surveying, native and invasive species, sea turtles, and marine debris.

Program Title:  Harvey Impacts to Birding Habitats

Dates and times of program: Friday Sept 14 @ 10:20 am Auditorium; Saturday Sept 15 @10:20 am Middle School Band Hall

Program Description:  Hurricane Harvey devastated both the natural and manmade environments along the Coastal Bend. This talk with discuss some of impacts Hurricane Harvey left on natural birding habitats, what has recovered, and what habitats are experiencing long-term impacts from the storm. The presentation will cover everything from general habitat impacts and observations all the way down to impacts at specific locations, such as Fennessey Ranch (Bayside, Texas) and Charlie’s Pasture Nature Preserve in Port Aransas.


Ernie Schertz

Ernie Schertz, a North Texas native, moved to South Texas almost 30 years ago. This lifelong gardener soon realized that South Texas presents a whole new palette of plants.  Searching for landscape plants that would survive and thrive here, Ernie discovered natives. The quest to learn the natives revealed the symbiotic relationship plants share with wildlife that depend on them for sustenance. Becoming a self-taught native plant naturalist is also attributed to her involvement as a Master Gardener, a Master Naturalist, and a member of the Native Plant Society of Texas. She received the Conservation & Environmental Stewardship Citizen Volunteer Award from the Coastal Bend Bays Foundation for Native Plant Habitat programs presented throughout the South Texas area. Her own home landscape is a Texas Wildscape-Backyard Wildlife Habitat, and a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat.

Program Title: Native Habitat for Hummingbirds

Dates and times of program: Friday Sept 14 @ 10:20 am Middle School Band Hall

Program Description:  Native Habitat for Hummingbirds takes the mystery out of creating a native habitat that gives not only hummingbirds, but also butterflies and other wildlife an attractive haven. Discover design strategies for preserving, restoring, creating, and enhancing a diverse wildlife-friendly landscape. Ernie will illustrate native indigenous plants, simple water features and shelter. Learn how to select the best native plants to attract hummingbirds to your own backyard, no matter where you live in North America.