2024 ABA Community Weekend in Boulder, CO
July 13-14, 2024

ABA Community Weekends are focused on urban centers in the U.S. and Canada and aim to connect with local organizations, businesses, and guides to offer a variety of birding-related activities that can appeal to both novice and experienced birders. 

Our objective is to connect in person with ABA members who may have never had direct contact with the organization in the field, while also presenting birding and the American Birding Association to a wider swath of the general public, to learn about the wants and needs of birders, conservationists, and nature enthusiasts; to exchange ideas and share experiences; and to create a network of like-minded people, organizations, and businesses throughout the ABA Area.

Program

Join Ted Floyd, Tykee James, Steve Ball, Carl Bendorf, George Armistead, LeAnn Pilger, Sheridan Samano, Kieran Schnitzspahn, and Kyle Carlsen for an exhilarating weekend of birding in and around Boulder, Colorado!

On Saturday morning, July 13th, we will bird together at Greenlee Wildlife Preserve and Waneka Lake in Lafayette. In the afternoon, Steve Ball will share his insider tips for capturing magazine cover–worthy bird photos, whether in the field or in your backyard. We finish the day with at Twisted Pine for a casual Birds and Beers social.

On Sunday morning, July 14th, we will head to the NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research) for more birding adventures. After that, we join Tykee James for his inspiring presentation, “Building Bridges with Birds.”

All bird walks, talks, and workshops are free and open to the public, but registration is mandatory. We will have OM SYSTEM cameras and lenses available for loan during all field trips, as well as Vortex binoculars. If you are interested in borrowing equipment, please let us know when you sign up.

Don’t miss out on this fantastic opportunity to connect with fellow bird enthusiasts and enhance your birding skills. Sign up now and join us for an unforgettable weekend!

Program

Sat., July 13th, 8 AM MDT: Guided bird walk at Waneka Lake & environs

On Sat., July 13, we’ll be birding together at Waneka Lake and environs in Lafayette, off Baseline Road, and about 20 minutes straight east of downtown Boulder. Although Waneka Lake and adjoining Greenlee Wildlife Preserve and Hecla Pond Open Space are enmeshed within the sprawling Denver suburbs, this ecosystem is well protected—and decidedly birdy. We’ll visit a freshwater marsh with Soras and Virginia Rails, and we’ll check out hummingbird feeders with breeding Black-chinned Hummingbirds and maybe the first migrants of other species. Other birds at Waneka Lake and environs are an eclectic mix: Bushtit, Osprey, Gray Catbird, Lesser Goldfinch, and Cordilleran Flycatcher, to name a few. Depending on the group’s preferences, we may drive a short distance to some other birding hotspots in Lafayette.

Date: Saturday, July 13th, 2024, 8 – 11 AM

Event type: Guided Bird Walk

Meeting Point: Waneka Lake

Guides and hosts: Ted Floyd (ABA), Carl Bendorf (ABA), George Armistead (ABA), LeAnn Pilger (ABA) Steve Ball (OM SYSTEM), Kieran Schnitzspahn

Cameras: OM SYSTEM cameras and lenses are available for loan, let us know if you would like to use one when signing up

Binoculars: Vortex binoculars are available for loan, let us know if you would like to use one when signing up

Trails: We will walk about 2.5 miles along wide, well-maintained trails with minimal elevation gain. At times, we will be exposed to full sunlight. Our time afield will be about 3 hours.

Sat., July 13th, 2 PM MDT: Bird Photography

Love watching birds but want to know more about capturing those memories through photography? OM SYSTEM Ambassador Steve Ball will cover the different approaches between observing birds and trying to capture the perfect photo of our feathered friends. What to look for, how to set up your own “backyard studio” for birds and more. Tips for beginners through those who also may have experience taking bird photos.

Date: Saturday, July 13th, 2024, 2 – 4 pm 

Event type: Classroom presentation

Meeting Point: Mike’s Camera, 2500 Pearl St, Boulder, CO 80302

Speaker: Steve Ball (OM SYSTEM Ambassador)

Sat., July 13th, 7 PM MDT: Birds and Beers

Come together with fellow bird enthusiasts at our Saturday evening social, held at Twisted Pine. This informal get-together is ideal for connecting with nature lovers, exchanging stories about your recent birding adventures, and talking about everything from rare bird sightings to conservation efforts. Bring your birding experiences and enjoy snacks, drinks, and great company. This event is a wonderful chance to network, discover local birding spots, and plan your upcoming birdwatching trips.

Date: Saturday, July 13th, 2024, 7 PM 

Event type: Evening social (cash bar)

Meeting Point: Twisted Pine, 3201 Walnut St ste a, Boulder, CO 80301

Hosts: Carl Bendorf (ABA), George Armistead (ABA), Steve Ball (OM System), Sheridan Samano (Reefs to Rockies), Kyle Carlsen (Colorado Field Ornithologists)

Sun., July 14th, 8 AM MDT: Guided bird walk at NCAR

On Sun., July 14, we’ll be birding together on and near the grounds of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, at the base of the foothills immediately west of the city of Boulder. Without even leaving the parking lot, we should get great studies of some of the characteristic species of the ponderosa pine biome: Pygmy Nuthatch, Steller’s Jay, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, and others. The trails are narrow and winding here—so we’ll bird in small groups with a great “teacher to student” ratio! We’ll look for more foothills specialties like MacGillivray’s Warblers, Lazuli Buntings, and Green-tailed Towhees. We also hope to have encounters with Red Crossbills—and to discuss their fascinating biology. Expect beautiful wildflowers and outrageous scenery!

Date: Sunday, July 14, 2024, 8 – 10.30 AM

Event type: Guided bird walk

Meeting Point: NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research), 1850 Table Mesa Dr, Boulder, CO 80305

Guides and hosts: Ted Floyd (ABA), Carl Bendorf (ABA), George Armistead (ABA), LeAnn Pilger (ABA), Steve Ball (OM SYSTEM), Kieran Schnitzspahn

Cameras: OM SYSTEM cameras and lenses are available for loan, let us know if you would like to use one when signing up

Binoculars: binoculars are available for loan, let us know if you would like to use one when signing up

Trails: We will walk about 1.5 miles on narrow, winding trails with some steep stretches. Most of the time, we will be protected from the sun by pine trees. Our time afield will be about 2.5 hours.

Sun., July 14th, 12:30 – 2:30 PM MDT: Building Bridges with Birds by Tykee James

In “Building Bridges with Birds”, Tykee James delivers a compelling presentation, invoking his passion for birds as a powerful bridge to foster community, illuminate the world, and build power. His journey from local environmental educator to nationally recognized advocate epitomizes how connected we are to the benefits of nature. Tykee emphasizes the importance of solidarity, inclusivity, and storytelling to ensure environmental progress is more equitably distributed to the people who need it most. He invites listeners to bird bolder, using their passion to spark change and inspire current and future generations. During our time together, there will be plenty of time for Q&A and interaction with the presenter.

Date: Sunday, July 14th, 2024, 12:30 – 2:30 PM MDT

Event type: Classroom talk

Meeting Point: Mike’s Camera, 2500 Pearl St, Boulder, CO 80302

Speaker and host: Tykee James

Meet your guides and hosts

Ted Floyd
Alongside Frank Izaguirre and Michael Retter, Ted Floyd proudly serves as Editor of Birding magazine. He also contributes to the ABA website, the American Birding podcast, and the ABA’s young birder programs. Ted is the author of five bird books, with three more on the way. He has published more than 200 articles on birds and other aspects of nature, and he is a frequent speaker at bird festivals and ornithological society meetings. The Cal Ripken of eBird, he has submitted at least one complete eBird checklist per day for 6,378 consecutive days (17.46 years) as of June 17, 2024. Ted and his family live in Boulder County, Colorado.

Like George Armistead and Tykee James, Ted Floyd is obnoxiously proud of his affiliation with Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection. Expect Ted to go off at some point about the wonders and glories of birding in Philly (and if you get Ted, George, and Tykee all at once, heaven help us all). But, mostly, Ted is so excited to be enjoying birds and nature with YOU! You’re going to be so into Bushtits, Black-chinned Hummingbirds, and Pygmy Nuthatches by the time this is all over…

Tykee James
Tykee is an inspiring leader in the birding community, dedicated to promoting equitable access to nature’s benefits. With over a decade of experience, Tykee’s journey began as an environmental educator in his Philadelphia neighborhood, where he ignited his passion for birds. He leverages his love for birds to build trust, create coalitions, and make a lasting impact.

Through his co-creation Black Birders Week in 2020, Tykee co-founded Amplify the Future, a non-profit organization that provides scholarships and outdoor education. His leadership extends beyond his professional endeavors, as he holds positions on the boards of several esteemed organizations, including Justice Outside, Green Leadership Trust, DC Bird Alliance, and the Wilson Ornithological Society.

Tykee’s dedication to birds is further reflected in his roles on key committees at the Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University, the Recording Standards and Ethics Committee at the American Birding Association, and the English Bird Names Committee at the American Ornithological Society.

In his personal life, Tykee enjoys pursuing his passions for salsa dancing, producing wildlife media, and cooking. With an approach to life that includes a lot of levity, he aims for harmony at the convergence of personal interests and professional achievements.

Steve Ball
Steve found his love for bird photography years ago and has been hooked ever since. He received his first camera at the age of four, and a lifetime of photography ensued. Steve is a former portrait studio owner, a former news photographer, and a longtime Olympus employee. He spends his time shooting, teaching, and spreading the love of photography.

Carl Bendorf
As Director of Development of the American Birding Association, Carl works closely with staff, volunteers, and donors to build philanthropic resources in support of the ABA programs and mission. He has extensive fund-raising and non-profit management experience with higher education, healthcare, and birding organizations.

Carl grew up in small town Iowa and started birding around age ten. At age 12, he rigged up a toy parabolic reflector from Sears to a Sony reel-to-reel tape recorder, strapped it to his bicycle, and rode out to record bird songs (Eastern Bluebird was the first!) He joined the ABA in the late 1970s and four decades later served three terms on the ABA Board of Directors. After moving to Colorado in 2015, he founded Colorado Birding Adventures and has guided hundreds of birders to their lifer White-tailed Ptarmigan and Mountain Plover. Carl is also a past president of the Iowa Ornithologists’ Union and founder and past executive director of Iowa Young Birders.

Carl and his wife, Lin Marie, live with their two (indoor only!) cats in Longmont, CO.

George Armistead
George Armistead, a birder since the age of nine years old, has a long history in connecting people with nature through guided trips and expedition travel. Leading field trips since his teenage years he began guiding tours professionally in 2002. George also authored two books on birds. He received a masters degree in environmental studies at the University of Pennsylvania, and is an associate at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, where he spent seven years helping to curate the photographic and specimen collections. Today he lectures on birds, co-hosts a birding podcast, and guides tours internationally and in North America. When not traveling George enjoys birding locally in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and along the Delmarva Peninsula. He’s an avid fan of Philadelphia sports teams and loves spending time at home there, with his wife Kristin and their dog Sully.

Kyle Carlsen
Kyle Carlsen is a birder and traveler from Ohio who now lives in Colorado. He has been an active member of the ABA and the greater birding community since his early teens, and he has written numerous articles and has contributed to many publications, including the ABA’s Birdin magazine, BirdWatching magazine, and Bird Watcher’s Digest. Kyle works fulltime for the Colorado-based travel company Reefs to Rockies, committed to conservation-based sustainable travel to the world’s wildlife hotspots. He also serves on the board of directors of Colorado Field Ornithologists. In his free time, Kyle enjoys cooking, hiking, camping, visiting craft breweries, and playing Wingspan.

Kieran Schnitzspahn
Kieran Schnitzspahn is a high school senior from Boulder, Colorado, and has been an avid birder for the past 10 years. He is a current participant in the American Birding Association’s Young Birder of the Year Mentoring Program, has contributed to Birding magazine, and placed third in the Colorado State National History Day competition for his paper on birding pioneer Alexander Wilson. He currently helps lead “Lafayette Birds,” a monthly community bird walk. Kieran is an expert on the identification of Red-tailed Hawk subspecies and Red Crossbill flight calls, and, if the birds cooperate for us…He’ll explain it all to us in the field during the Community Weekend!

LeAnn Pilger

LeAnn Pilger is Membership Services Coordinator with the ABA. A longtime ABA employee and lifelong Coloradan, she loves getting outdoors to watch birds and other wildlife as much as possible. LeAnn also enjoys reading and volunteering with various animal rescues in the region. She’s excited about joining you for the ABA Community Weekend in Boulder—and will be very happy to answer any questions you might have about membership services and any other offerings of the ABA.

Sheridan Samano
Sheridan Samano is Cofounder and Lead Guide for Reefs to Rockies, a Colorado-based travel company that specializes in sustainable, conservation-driven trips to the world’s wildlife hotspots. She first fell in love with birds while taking Ornithology at Texas A&M University. Sheridan has worked as a field biologist from Mississippi to Colorado, and she has deep appreciation for woodpeckers and corvids, especially Clark’s Nutcracker. Her latest project involves launching new safaris in the Great Plains, also known as the American Serengeti, with the goal of helping to conserve North American grasslands, one of the most endangered ecosystems on the planet. When she’s not in the office or leading trips across the globe, you’ll likely find her exploring a Front Range trail with her family or leading a local bird walk for Birding & Beers, Colorado’s original birds and beers community.

Many thanks to our lead sponsor, OM SYSTEM, for their invaluable support for the ABA Community Weekends, and to Mike’s Camera for helping us bring the birding community together in Boulder, CO.

Thanks to Vortex Optics for their additional generous support for the ABA Community Weekends

Thanks also to our local partners and friends.