Leader Bio for
Gary Rosenberg is currently the founder and sole owner of Avian Journeys. His passion for birds, and keen desire to share that passion with others has led him to form his own small, independent tour company. For the past 25 years, Gary has designed and led more than 300 tours throughout North America and the Neotropics. His experience includes leading more than 50 tours to Costa Rica, 50 tours to Ecuador, 25 tours to Peru, and more than 50 tours each to North American birding hot spots such as Alaska and Southeastern Arizona, not to mention a lifetime of traveling and birding around the world. He has a Master's degree in Ornithology from Louisiana State University where he studied tropical birds in Peru, and was involved in the discovery of two new species to science. His second passion is bird photography, in particular " Digiscoping." All of the photos on this web site were taken by Gary at the various birding locations visited on his tours. He loves to share his knowledge of birding and photography with others. He currently lives in Tucson, Arizona.
For a more in depth life story - READ ON!
Gary grew up on Long Island, New York, where, along with his brother Ken, was introduced to birdwatching by their father, who himself has been an avid birdwatcher since childhood. Every year the family would take a month-long vacation focused around birding, and by the time he graduated High School in 1975, Gary had traveled to nearly every state and province in North America. Some of his early childhood birding memories include driving up Mt. Pinos in California to see California Condors, birding Central Park (his father had a store on Madison Avenue) where he saw his first Cerulean Warbler, and birding on Bonaventure Island in Quebec where he saw an Atlantic Puffin (the only one he’s seen!). Every year his father would take he and his brother to famous birding areas such as Hawk Mountain, Brigantine National Wildlife Refuge, and Montauk Point, experiences that would have a lasting impact on his life.
Upon graduating High School, Gary spent one year at Oswego State College studying business administration, with minor aspirations of being a professional golfer. Oswego was not the best place to live if one is interested in golf, but the birdwatching proved to be exciting. Weekends were often spent hitch hiking to Ithaca to visit his brother at Cornell, or spent birding along Lake Ontario visiting sites such as Derby Hill. He could still remember walking to class on the campus at Oswego and watching large numbers of raptors migrating east along the lake. After a year of struggling in classes such as Economics and Calculus, Gary left the frigid north and followed his parents to South Florida, where they had retired to. Living and working on a golf course, Gary renewed his desire to excel at golf, but, at the same time, became even more of a serious birder. Many weekends were spent exploring several of south Florida’s birding hot spots. It took Gary about a year to realize that his interest in birds was greater than his skill on the golf course, and by that time, his brother Ken had graduated Cornell, and was working censusing birds on the Colorado River in Arizona. When Ken started graduate school at Arizona State University, Gary traveled from Florida to Arizona to visit and stayed.
After working in Arizona for a year, first at a Denny’s washing dishes, but then censusing Bald Eagles for the Forest Service, and later censusing birds on the Colorado River (working with his brother), Gary enrolled at Arizona State University, studying zoology, and graduated with a B.S. in Zoology in 1981. While in Arizona during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, Gary got much more involved in the birding community, and was heavily influenced by the likes of Kenn Kaufman, Scott Terrill and Jon Dunn. At this time, he made his first ventures into the Neotropics, with birding trips into Mexico to San Blas and Palenque. It soon became clear to Gary that tropical birding was his calling, and he began to follow the exploits of Ted Parker, who had left Arizona for Louisiana State University a few years earlier. It became a dream of Gary’s to follow in Ted Parker’s footsteps and go to graduate school at L.S.U. to study birds in Peru.
Upon graduating A.S.U. in 1981, Gary applied to, and was accepted by Van Remsen into a Master’s program at L.S.U. During the summer of 1982, Gary participated in his first research expedition to Amazonian Peru, where he spent three months in field camps in Amazonia forest studying the habitat requirements and behavior of Amazonian birds. In 1983, Gary returned to northeastern Peru to conduct field work on his Master’s degree thesis, which was entitled “The Habitat Use and Foraging Behavior of River Island Birds in Amazonia”. By the time Gary graduated L.S.U. in 1985, he had participated on four different research expeditions to remote areas in both Amazonian and Andean Peru. At the time of receiving his Master’s degree in 1985, Gary was at a crossroads and was faced with a decision of continuing on for a Ph.D., or joining the job market. During the winter of 1985-6, he worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service studying wintering Kirtland’s Warblers in the Bahamas, and during the summer of 1986, Gary worked for the U.S. Forest Service censusing birds and mammals in the mountains of southern Wyoming.
In 1986, Gary contacted several of the birdwatching tour companies, and Wings expressed a serious interest. Gary led his first tour for Wings to Texas in the Spring of 1986, and began full-time leading in January 1987. In 1987, Gary moved from Baton Rouge back to Arizona, taking up residence in Tucson. During the early 1990’s Gary continued his interest in research by participating on a few expeditions with the Philadelphia Academy of Sciences to Ecuador, on one of which he was involved in the discovery of a new species of cotinga, which he and Mark Robbins named after their major professor at L.S.U., Dr. Van Remsen. Since his return to Arizona, Gary has become a co-editor for North American Birds (formerly American Birds), and is Secretary of the Arizona Bird Records Committee. His love of the Southwest has prompted him to develop tours to Southeastern Arizona, as well as Northern Arizona and Utah. His love of the tropics takes him to Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Peru on an annual basis. His summers are mostly spent leading tours in Alaska, escaping the brutal Arizona heat.
In 2009, Gary left WINGS and formd his own, independent bird tour company called Avian Journeys.It has become his desire to make birding tours more affordable for everyone - hopefully a successful plan for all!
In recent years, Gary has become passionate about digital photography through a telescope (digiscoping), many of his photos appearing in a variety of publications. Gary still plays golf (not as much as he would like), and is an avid movie-goer.