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Hummer Speakers - Keynotes & Bios

HummerBird Celebration

  Keynote Speakers:


  New! Ann Johnson Prum, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. (Texas BBQ & Presentation) Thursday "Behind the Scenes with Hummingbirds" at the Saltwater Pavilion at North end of Rockport Beach

As the Founder, Producer & Cinematographer of Coneflower Studios, Ann Johnson Prum has created nonfiction programs using a combination of beautiful imagery, fascinating science and great storytelling for the past two decades. Garnering 10 Emmy nominations and an Emmy win for Best Nature Documentary (An Original Duckumentary) Coneflower’s recent shows include Magic in The Air, Animal Homes (3 Part series) and - SUPER HUMMINGBIRDS released In October 2016 on PBS Nature. Ann is currently in production on Sex, Lies and Butterflies for Terra Mater Studios and PBS Nature. Dinner includes Texas BBQ, Smoked Chicken and all the trimmings plus cobbler. Purchase tickets here. When entering beach, let the booth attendant know you are with the HummerBird Celebration and they will let you pass through. 


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. 



Greg Lasley, 3:40 p.m. Saturday "Birds of the Big Bend" in the Auditorium

Greg Lasley, Birder for 40+ years and retired law enforcement officer and now mainly a wildlife photographer and naturalist, interested in dragonflies and damselflies, herps, leps, as well as birds, and pretty much any critters that allow themselves to be photographed. Most of my photography these days is for my own enjoyment and for iNat! I sometimes refer to myself as a "Birder Gone Bad" since after many years of focusing on birds, I went over to the "dark side" and have been studying and photographing dragonflies and damselflies since about 2000. I am an active member of the Dragonfly Society of the Americas and have served on the executive council of that organization. I am also a member of the Odonata Survey of Texas. A number of my odonate images will be found in Paulson's odonate guides as well as "Dragonflies of Texas" by John Abbott which was published in early 2015. I also vett odonate records on OdonataCentral for the south central U.S. as well as on Bugguide. I worked with the curation of odonate specimens for several years as a volunteer at the University of Texas Insect Collection under the direction of Dr. John Abbott. I do not have a scientific background or degree in any natural history subjects, but am strictly an interested layman who has been at this sort of thing for a long time! I live in Dripping Springs.

Speakers and Bios ...

Juan Bahamon


Professor of Neurology at Univ. of Texas San Antonio, Juan is an avid hummingbird photographer. During his vacations, he hauls 150 pounds of high-speed flash equipment about the Americas. His life passion is to artistically photograph hummers in their natural environment. 

Program Title: America's Hummingbird Hotspots - Photographic Journey

Dates and times of program: Friday Sept 15 @ 3:40 pm; Saturday Sept 16 @ 11:40 am




Owen Fitzsimmons


Owen Fitzsimmons is Senior Conservation Biologist with the CBBEP’s Coastal Bird Program. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Texas A&M University-Kingsville where his primary focus was coastal wetlands and waterbirds. His talk “Texas Connection: Coastal Bird Research and Conservation” will cover recent conservation efforts for shorebird and colonial waterbirds that investigate migratory connectivity, breeding and wintering habits, and overall status and trends of some of the most imperiled coastal bird species in Texas.

Program Title: Texas Connection: Coastal Bird Research and Conservation

Dates and times of program: Saturday Sept 16 @ 10:20 am; Sunday Sept 17 @10:20 am

Program Description:

The CBBEP’s Coastal Bird Program has worked to conserve coastal birds and their habitats along the Texas coast for over 15 years through management, monitoring, and research. Recent tracking projects have revealed critical information on migratory movements and habitat usage of imperiled species like Red Knots, Piping Plovers, and others. In addition, work by the Coastal Bird Program managing colonial waterbirds has evolved over the years to include new and novel techniques to improve habitat and ensure the successful nesting of birds like herons, egrets, pelicans, and terns. The “Texas Connection” will cover in detail how birds use the Texas coast, and why it is one of the most important areas in North America for breeding and migrating coastal birds.




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 17 @ 8:30 am - 11:30 am

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 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 15 @ 1:00 pm; Saturday Sept 16 @ 1 pm




Kevin J. McGowan, Ph.D. Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Dr. Kevin J. McGowan has been on staff at Cornell Lab of Ornithology since 1988. He received his Ph.D. in Biology from the University of South Florida, studying the social development of young Florida Scrub-Jays. He is the world’s foremost authority on the behavior and biology of the American Crow, having followed the life stories of more than 2,500 individual crows over the course of his 29-year study. Kevin is an avid birder as well as a professional ornithologist, and has traveled extensively to watch and study birds. Kevin created the original All About Birds online bird guide and currently writes online courses in the Lab’s Education program. He is the author and instructor for “Ornithology: Comprehensive Bird Biology," "Investigating Behavior: Courtship and Rivalry in Birds,” and the Be a Better Birder series of courses and webinars on bird identification. In a workshop setting, Kevin is an expert at introducing inexperienced birders to challenging aspects of bird ID. He emphasizes the most important aspects to use for identification of each different kind of bird, including behavior, shape, and habitat.

Program Title: Raptor Identification – how to get started

Dates and times of program: Saturday Sept 16 @ 2:20 pm

Program Description:

This workshop will introduce the diversity of raptors and point out the best ways to get started identifying them. It will concentrate on the two most important clues you can use for raptor ID: shape and behavior.

Program Title: Shorebird Identification – the most important things

Dates and times of program: Friday Sept 15 @ 2:20 pm

Program Description:

This workshop will introduce the diversity of shorebirds and point out the best ways to get started identifying them. It will concentrate on the three most important clues you can use for shorebird ID: shape, size, and behavior.




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 14 @ 3:40 pm; Friday Sept 15 @2:20 pm

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 15 @ 3:40 pm; Sunday Sept 17 @10:20 pm

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 15 @ 11:40 am; Saturday Sept 16 @ 1:00 pm




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: The Quality of Cranes: Facts, Folklore & Fanciful Tales

Dates and times of program: Friday Sept 15 @ 1 pm; Saturday Sept 16 @ 11:40 am

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: Invasive Species in the Coastal Bend: How the Mission-Aransas Reserve is Battling Back

Dates and times of program: Friday Sept 15 @ 10:20 am; Saturday Sept 16 @10:20 am

Program Description:

This program will focus on defining what categories a species as invasive, exploring the different damages they may cause, and provide a few local examples. Most of the talk will focus around programs, projects, and restoration sites that the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve is working on to battle invasive species within its boundaries and the surrounding area. I will provide ideas on how you can get involved locally, as well as provide some general information on battling invasive species in your own back (or front) yard.