New York City Audubon employs a friendly and knowledgeable group of naturalists and educators to help New Yorkers discover the city's wildlife and natural areas. Learn about the people who lead our trips, walks, and classes.
Annie leads bird walks on Governors Island and in Inwood Hill Park. Both locations, on either end of Manhattan (Governors Island is technically part of Manhattan!) are new to many New Yorkers and to many birders, and each offers unique birding experiences in the city. Governors Island is an old army base with beautiful constructed green areas. Inwood Hill Park, on the northern tip of Manhattan, offers a saltmarsh, a lush and hilly forest, and magnificent views of the Hudson River and Spuyten Duyvil Creek. Both host an excellent array of birds year-round. Annie also leads occasional walks in Riverside Park. When not leading tours, Annie works for Columbia University, currently in the Human Research Protections office, where she reviews studies to ensure they meet federal, state, and university regulations and policies regarding the protection of participants in human subjects research. Annie welcomes birders of all abilities, beginner through expert, young and old.
Joe is a native New Yorker who has been birding the NYC region for over 30 years. A former math teacher and Program Chairman at Fort Hamilton High School, Joe is the birding instructor for the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. He has led bird walks for the Nature Conservancy and Brooklyn Bird Club, and lectures on birding and leads bird walks for the South Fork Natural History Society (SOFO). Joe is the Bluebird Trail coordinator for SOFO, and a captain in the Brooklyn and South Nassau Christmas Counts. In addition to his popular spring and fall morning migration walk series in Central Park, Joe leads trips for NYC Audubon to popular birding destinations in the NYC area and beyond, while also teaching classes on bird song and identification. An enthusiastic traveler, Joe has birded extensively in Central and South America. Joe is the owner of Happy Warblers LLC, a birding and educational travel company.
Leigh is a licensed New York City tour guide who specializes in Harlem, Morningside Heights, and the Upper West Side. She is passionate about exploring all five boroughs and beyond on foot, mostly through organized walking tours. Leigh, who is retired from a 36-year career as a non-profit librarian, leads our year-round Audubon Mural Project tours in northern Manhattan. She is a feminist, genealogist, and lover of arts, culture, and travel. Leigh lives on the Upper West Side.
Don Riepe with American Kestrel
Having devoted over 40 years to conserving the Jamaica Bay ecosystem where he grew up, Don has lived a life steeped in nature—and understands how important it is to both enjoy, and actively protect, its wonders. Don worked many years for the National Park Service as a naturalist and manager of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. He now holds the position of Jamaica Bay Guardian, and serves on JFK Airport's Bird Hazard Task Force, the board of the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance, and as Northeast Chapter Director of the Littoral Society. He has extensive hands-on knowledge of all the diverse flora and fauna of working ecosystems: from butterflies, to orchids, to (of course!) birds. Dons leads regular bird walks and educational programs at Jamaica Bay National Wildlife Refuge, and also has longtime experience leading tours outside of New York City.
As a lifelong Bronx resident, Jack’s only early experiences with birds were house sparrows and pigeons. Then, in the early 1990s, a friend invited him on a bird walk. After the first hour, Jack was hooked. He has birded in many states and countries, but soon realized that he most enjoyed birding with others on his home turf. In 2007, he created the City Island Birds website because he felt the Bronx had been largely neglected as a birding venue. Now, Jack is thrilled that he has joined forces with NYC Audubon for dozens of walks in local Bronx parks. His walks are friendly, non-competitive, social and fun. Whether you see that targeted bird or not, you will leave with a smile.
Born to a Haitian mother and a Moroccan father in New York City, Nadir learned at an early age that nature is where you see it. This was due in large part to the influence and generosity of Oscar Ruiz, a close family friend who was an avid birder and amateur naturalist himself. According to Nadir, “Oscar is probably why I became a teacher. He didn’t just teach me about the natural world, he taught me to love it, and that it also has to be taught.” And so he teaches: as an elementary school art teacher in East Harlem, through The Harlem County Bird Club nature study and bird program he created at his school, and now with NYC Audubon. Nadir continues to observe, teach, draw, and learn about birds and science as much as possible, which he does in the field, and as a volunteer in the Department of Ornithology at the American Museum of Natural History.
Gabriel has been a nature enthusiast and birder since he was a small child in Maine, roaming the woods and fields in search of frogs and woodcocks. In his teens he traveled to Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming to study birds, learning how to use mist nets and band birds. He went on to study ecology in college, his studies taking him to the mountains of Vermont and to southern Mexico, where he studied and painted the endemic avifauna for five years. In 2003 he moved to NYC, hoping to pursue an art school dream, but instead was drawn again to nature and birds, becoming a teacher-naturalist with the Prospect Park Audubon Center and leading tours for Wave Hill, Bryant Park, NYC Audubon, and others. Gabriel leads a wide variety of programs for NYC Audubon these days, including trips to NYC-area birding hotspots like Staten Island’s Clove Lakes Park, overnight excursions to destinations such as the Adirondacks, and classes on bird identification and using eBird.
Tod Winston with Great Egret Chick
Tod grew to love birds as a child in rural Pennsylvania, in the company of his nature-loving father. He particularly enjoys bringing new people to the joy of birds via NYC Audubon's Beginning Birding course, and helping birders of all levels improve their ability to "bird by ear": A lover of foreign languages and music, Tod is constantly working to improve his own understanding of the musical language of birds. He is a proponent of "slow birding"—pausing to appreciate the mysterious activity and beauty of even the most common species—and also enjoys focusing on flowers, trees, and related issues of evolution and ecology. In addition to his role as a birding guide, Tod is NYC Audubon's communications manager for special projects, and leads the organization's Harbor Herons Nesting Survey.