bird watcher


Book Steve Shunk as a speaker for your next event

steve shunk giving a birding presentationNeed an entertaining and memorable presentation? Professional naturalist, author, and field ornithologist Steve Shunk is available to speak at your upcoming program.

Steve has delivered presentations for dozens of bird festivals, annual meetings, birders' nights,private gatherings and for over 50 Audubon Society chapters. For a detailed look at Steve's broad repertoire of program topics download Steve's Bird Presentations , then contact Steve Shunk as soon as possible with any questions, and get Steve on your calendar today!

Steve can give presentations on any of the topics listed below, or you can request that he develop a new one specifically for your audience.



broadbilled hummingbirdThe Magic of Birding
Birding offers us a wonderful opportunity to escape from our over-civilized lives. Whether we are working or shopping, walking or driving, birds are there, somewhere, with the magical ability to help us reconnect with wild Nature. And wherever we find birds, we can enter the magical world of birding.

Birding Under the Veil of Winter
As the snow falls in the mountains and the darkness of winter takes hold, the outside world seems to sleep. But the rising sun of each winter day signals the start of the brief daily feeding period for all our wintering birds.

Audubon's carolina parakeetAudubon to Internet:
History of Birding

The advent of ornithology in North America came with the arrival of the first explorers and settlers to the New World. Binoculars did not exist then, and the primary tool of the ornithologist was the gun. Today, we have nitrogen-filled spotting scopes and hi-tech radar contributing to avian knowledge.

evening grosbeakBreeding Birds of the Oregon Cascades
Oregon’s Cascade Mountains epitomize habitat diversity. From the temperate rainforest to the alpine slopes of the Cascades Crest and down to the high desert, the region’s nesting bird life exemplifies this broad range of habitats. Eleven woodpecker species, 13 warblers, 10 flycatchers, 18 ducks, and 13 sparrows are just some of the nearly 200 species recorded breeding.

williamson's sapsuckerWoodpeckers Galore
I have lived the last 15 years in “Woodpecker Wonderland” on the east slope of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, and I recently completed the Peterson Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North America, for which I studied woodpeckers across the continent. With this background, I can safely say that woodpeckers are my specialty. I can customize just about any woodpecker presentation for your group’s interests; the offerings below are just a few examples.

red-naped sapsuckerCentral Oregon’s Woodpecker Wonderland
On the east slope of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, 11 species of woodpeckers annually raise their young—and all 11 can be found in an area about the size of Oregon’s largest city, Portland. The outstanding habitat diversity creates perfect conditions for these cavity-nesting carpenters.

black-backed woodpeckerBurned Forests & Black-backed Woodpeckers in the Wild West
Forest fires present a classic ‘man vs. nature’ dilemma, especially in the montane regions of western North America. In particular, the Cascade Mountains and Sierra Nevada evolved with fire as a critical part of their ecology, and the Black-backed Woodpecker is the quintessential poster-child for the current state of western forests. Enjoy this primer on the ecology of western forests, with an emphasis on forest management and conservation and the keystone roles played by the woodpeckers themselves.

woodpecker skeletonTongues, Toes and Tales of North American (or regional) Woodpeckers: Anatomy & Adaptation
Imagine for a moment slamming your face into a brick wall at 16 miles per hour. This self-destructive (and foolish) act would require about 1,200 g of force. Yet, a Pileated Woodpecker exerts the same force up to 20 times per second, and as many as 12,000 times per day, pounding its head into trees! The woodpecker anatomy is perfectly suited for its climbing and excavating lifestyle. Some woodpecker species also possess adaptations for aerial acrobatics, for drilling sap wells, or for extracting ants from underground burrows. Dive deep into the world of woodpecker specialization.
Woodpeckers of (any particular state or region; one example below)


acorn woodpeckerInland Islands of WoodpeckersFrom the western Transverse Ranges north of Santa Barbara to the Laguna Mountains west of the Anza Borrego Desert, nine species of woodpeckers hold year-round territories in largely complimentary habitats. Learn about natural history, adaptation, and hybridization among our resident and migratory woodpecker species, as well as potential identification challenges.

northern flickerThey Call Him Flicker
The Northern Flicker is more widespread, more conspicuous, and more abundant than any other North American woodpecker. Ironically, it is the least woodpecker-like of them all. This presentation celebrates the lives and times of the Northern Flicker.

hybrid sapsuckerHybrid Woodpeckers
More than half of North America’s 23 woodpecker species have been documented hybridizing with another member of the Picinae subfamily, also known as the “true” woodpeckers. What makes a woodpecker species “cross the line,” and how does the genetic line get drawn in the first place? Learn about the prehistory of woodpeckers and speciation in action.


Through my company, Paradise Birding, I have traveled throughout North America, in search of the best birding experiences on the continent. For exotic flavor, we have also ventured to San Blas, Mexico, and Sicily, Italy, and Malaysian Borneo. Enjoy stunning scenery, local culture, and a great diversity of flora and fauna. The presentations listed below give an armchair view of several of our most popular tours.

european robinWings, Wine, and Wonders of Sicily
From the moment we set foot in Sicily, we were mesmerized by island’s rugged beauty, but we have since fallen in love with a Sicily that most of the world has yet to experience. Inhabiting this spectacular landscape is one of the most diverse peoples on the planet, and reflected in the island’s dynamic history is a culture that is uniquely Sicilian. The warm, inviting hospitality; the incredible Mediterranean seafood; the endemic island wines; and the fascinating archaeological wonders; all of these combine with the island’s post as a hub for migratory birds for an experience that is truly magical.

orchidsMalaysian Borneo: a Rainforest Safari
Explore “The Land Beneath the Wind”—home to orchids and pitcher plants, hornbills and horned frogs, all inhabiting the equatorial island of Borneo. Travel from Southeast Asia's highest mountain—13,000-foot Mt Kinabalu—to the white-sand beaches of the South China Sea. See Orangutans and Proboscis Monkeys in the pristine tropical rainforest, and view the world's smallest raptor, the Bornean Falconet, and the world's largest flower, the Rafflesia. A true nature safari!

bullock's orioleAlbatrosses to Woodpeckers: The Oregon Birding Experience
Oregon ranks fifth among all North American states and provinces for the number of species on the state bird list. But the Oregon birding experience is about much more than just the birds. A swarm of seabirds following a fish-processing ship; the haunting call of the Mountain Quail echoing up a canyon wall; two young goshawks practicing their flying skills; and the air of virility at a Sage Grouse lek. This is birding in Oregon.

lapland longspurWild Alaska: Oil Spill to Arctic Splendor
I spent the summer of 1990 in Valdez, Alaska; this was the second summer after the Exxon Valdez oil spill. I then made a month-long return trip in 2006, when I visited Glacier Bay, Prince William Sound, the Kenai Peninsula, and Barrow. The juxtaposition of these two experiences gave me a unique perspective on the nature of Alaska. Enjoy birds, bears, porpoises, glaciers, and arctic wildflowers.

anna's hummingbirdSky Islands of Southeastern Arizona
The late summer monsoon brings new life to the deserts and mountains of southeastern Arizona. Wildflowers and cactus blossoms attract up to 14 species of hummingbirds; many songbirds initiate a second breeding season; and the juveniles of the recent spring are just starting to venture out. The monsoon and “sky island” phenomenon together support amazing habitat diversity.

cactus wrenSouthern California: Cactus Blossoms and Spring Migration
The southern tier of California, from San Diego to Anza Borrego Desert and the Salton Sea, harbors some of the greatest bird diversity in North America. In late March and early April, seashore, chaparral, pine forest, Colorado desert, and alkali playa all spring to life, with wildflowers and the onset of spring bird migration.

snowy owlNorthwest Winter Birding
Many northern birds enjoy a relatively mild winter in the Pacific Northwest. Arctic-nesting songbirds, seabirds, raptors, and shorebirds are all well represented in their respective habitats, from southern British Columbia, down the coasts of Washington and Oregon, and inland to the lower valleys. Featured regions stretch from Victoria, BC, to the magnificent Oregon Coast.

laysan albatrossTale of the Tubenose
Off the Pacific Coast is an unforgiving ocean that harbors a unique ecosystem, the fauna of which have perfectly adapted to its harsh conditions. Some of the most impressive creatures that dwell in this forbidding environment are its birds, most of which only touch land during a couple months each year to raise their young on the ocean's edges. For most of their lives they soar, dive, and thrive in the open sea. Learn about the seabirds (and marine mammals!) of the eastern Pacific Ocean.

brandt's cormorantPacific Coast Waterbirds: Albatrosses, Sea Ducks & Sandpipers
From coastal terrestrial habitats of the Pacific slope to some of the world’s most productive ocean waters, and from Alaska to California, dozens of waterbird species feed their way through diverse aquatic habitats. Stories include the Kittlitz’s Murrelets of Glacier Bay; wayward Bristle-thighed Curlews on Oregon’s northern coast; Brandt’s Cormorants courting at La Jolla shores; and Black-legged Kittiwakes breeding at Kenai Fjords. 




Feb 18, OREGON: East Cascades Audubon Birders' Night; Bend.

March 3–6,MEXICO: Vallarta Bird Festival, Vallarta Botanical Gardens.

March 11–13, COLOMBIA: Colombia Bird Fair, Choco Woodpecker Scouting Trip; Cali, Colombia.

April 8–10, OREGON:: Harney County Migratory Bird Festival.

May 7,OREGON: Silver Falls State Park Mother’s Day Birding & Wildflower Festival.

May 10-15, OHIO: Biggest Week In American Birding.

June 3–5,OREGON: Dean Hale Woodpecker Festival

June 14–19, CALIFORNIA: Mono Lake Field Seminar and Bird Chautauqua,

Sep 9-11, OREGON: Oregon Birding Association Annual Conference, Bend, Oregon.

Sep 16–18, TEXAS: Rockport Hummer-Bird Festival Rockport, Texas.

Sept 20, CALIFORNIA: San Diego Field Ornithologists presentation.

Sept 21, CALIFORNIA: Buena Vista Audubon Chapter presentation.  

Sept.27: Lane County Audubon, Eugene, Oregon

Sep 28-Oct 2, CALIFORNIA: Western Field Ornithologists' Annual Conference; Fortuna, California.

Nov 2-6, TEXAS: Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival,Harlingen, Texas

Nov.12: East Cascades Audubon Annual Meeting, Bend, Oregon


"Steve's presentation was the perfect combination of science and entertainment."
- 2010; Bartshe Miller, coordinator of the Mono Lake Bird Chautauqua

"Yours was the best presentation we have had in 25 years."
- 2009; Bill Clark, historian for Audubon Society of Missouri