ABA-Leica Sub-adult Wheatears

SubadultWheatears_LogoOur team initially started as a distant pipe-dream and yet has somehow, inexplicably, become a reality. Composed of three young birders from across the United States, we are beyond honoured and excited to be able to participate for a second year in Champions of the Flyway.

In many ways we live in the golden age of young birders. Technology is allowing us to connect with each other and grow our birding skills as never before. The huge amount of talent exhibited by young birders all around the world is awe-inspiring. We hope that, we will not only be good representatives to the North American youth birder community, but will also demonstrate to others that young birders are a force to be reckoned with!

Of course there is another cause besides that of young birders for which we are racing. Namely, bird conservation and ending the horrific poisoning and killing of vultures in the African Rift Valley. This is an issue of huge importance and stopping the killing is key to making sure future generations of birders will have birds to appreciate at all! The team is buckling down to an intense fundraising campaign and can use all the help we can get to reach our goal. Please consider taking a moment to donate, both us and the birds would greatly appreciate it! All donations go to BirdLife Kenya, an organisation doing excellent work with vulture conservation in East Africa.

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Meet the Team:

Aidan Place

Aidan (20) started his birding career while growing up on farm in rural Pennsylvania in the United States. It was there that he first became entranced with nature and particularly everything to do with birds. Since then, his love of birding has taken him everywhere from the steaming jungles of Panama to the barren steppes of Kazakhstan.

Aidan’s particular birding interests include world birding (but this will be his first time in the Middle East!) as well as birding by ear and photography. He is also one of the editors of the American Birding Association’s young birder blog, The Eyrie, and writes his own personal birding blog, The Birding Place.

Aidan’s other interests include history, particularly that of the Balkans and former Ottoman Empire. In fact, he resided last year during a gap year in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina where he enjoyed learning the birds of the Western Palearctic on a deeper level. This fall he returned to the States and began college at Carnegie Mellon University where he is pursuing a degree in biology with aspirations to take his love of birds to the next level: professional.

It is a great honour for Aidan to be able to participate in Champions of the Flyway for a second year. He is particularly excited to be raising money for vulture conservation, as he fell in love with Old World vultures at first sight during his travels in the Caucasus Mountains of Georgia.

Gautam Apte

Gautam (18) is a birder and aspiring field ornithologist studying Forestry, Fisheries and
Wildlife Science at The Ohio State University. Born and raised just outside of Cleveland,
Ohio, his parents fostered a deep connection with the outdoors from an early age, which
led to a strong interest in birds and the natural world. Since he started seriously birding
after joining the Ohio Young Birders Club at age 12, he has developed a strong interest
in local, county-level birding. He enjoys going out birding with his close friends and
scanning through flocks of wintering waterbirds on the frozen surface of Lake Erie. One
of his specific interests is documenting evidence of breeding populations of certain
species in Cuyahoga County, his home region.
Gautam is a proud member of The Ornithology Club at Ohio State, and is involved with
several ornithological research projects on campus. He enjoys not only birding, but also
working with bird research and contributing to the scientific community. Other interests
include music, sports, and working out. He sees traveling to Israel as a fantastic opportunity
to support conservation and experience different species, climates, and culture,
and he’s looking forward to seeing how Israel birding differs from what he’s used to in
his typical birding areas.

Johanna Beam

Johanna has always been a nature addict and has fond memories of hiking and camping with her family growing up. Her love of science and conservation has been growing since childhood when her father helped perform science experiments in their kitchen, and her mother gave her books on ornithology and botany at a young age. The 21 year old loves climbing mountains and finding White-tailed Ptarmigan in her home state of Colorado. She currently attends University of Colorado – Boulder as a junior. She studies Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and is currently working on her honors thesis focusing on Eastern, Western, and Lilian’s Meadowlark genetics and divergence. She is hoping to one day illustrate field guides and continue to study birds.

While Johanna has only been birding for five years, she has already risen to great levels in american birding. She became the American Birding Association-Leica Young Birder of the Year in 2017, only three years after picking up binoculars for the first time. Her love of birding has taken her all across the United States, from Florida to Maine to California, where she most recently presented her research on Townsend’s Solitaire song use and structure. She dreams of far off places, like the Negev desert of Israel and the tropical rainforests of Nicaragua and Panama. Johanna hopes to travel around the world to promote conservation, spread the love of birding, and draw/paint as many of the world’s species as humanly possible.