Speaker Series

Golden Gate Audubon’s monthly Speaker Series in San Francisco and Berkeley features renowned naturalists, photographers, ornithologists, authors, international travelers, and other fascinating speakers.

To cover event costs, we ask non-members for a voluntary donation of $5. Non-members may attend for free if they join that evening. As always, GGAS members are welcome to attend free of charge. Locations are listed on the right side of this page.


The Heights of Birding in Colombia

Golden-headed Quetzal by Bob Lewis

Golden-headed Quetzal by Bob Lewis

Bob Lewis
San Francisco: Thursday July 17
6:30 pm Annual Meeting & refreshments; 7:30 speaker 

Photographer and birding instructor Bob Lewis will present knockout images of birds seen during two trips to Colombia. One focus of these trips was hummingbirds, with the Bearded Helmetcrest being a primary target. Part of the challenge was its habitat: over 13,000 feet in the Andes. Colombia has 147 species of hummingbirds, affording many opportunities to photograph these delightful creatures. Most of the time was spent in the three ranges of the Andes, where habitats change with altitude, and the bird species are many and local. Colombia has more species of birds than any other country, with over 1,850. In addition to hummers, Bob will show images of ovenbirds, tanagers, flycatchers, and other brightly colored denizens of the Colombian mountains. He’ll explore the unique mountain range in the northeast, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, which reaches 18,700 feet, the highest summit in Colombia. He’ll also take a brief side tour for a cup of Colombian coffee.

Bob Lewis is a GGAS board member, birding instructor, and chair of the Adult Education Committee, as well as president of the Farallon Islands Foundation. Bob is currently teaching Bay Area Birds with friend Rusty Scalf, which they have done for more than 20 years, and is also teaching Master Birding, a new course offered at the California Academy of Sciences, with Eddie Bartley and Jack Dumbacher. He is co-compiler of the Oakland Christmas Bird Count.

Come at 6:30 for our Annual Meeting. Meet our new Executive Director Cindy Margulis, learn about GGAS’ plans for the coming year and share your ideas! Then stay for Bob Lewis’ slides and talk.


Birds and Coffee

Crimson-rumped Toucanet / Photo by John Sterling

Crimson-rumped Toucanet / Photo by John Sterling

John Sterling
Berkeley: Thursday August 21
7 pm refreshments, 7:30 speaker 

Your morning cup of coffee may seems like a trivial routine, but the coffee industry as a whole has a major impact on the habitat available for birds in Central America and other coffee-growing regions. Biologist John Sterling will present some of his Smithsonian research supporting the Bird-Friendly Coffee movement. He will discuss why some coffee farms are better than others for birds and why good coffee farms are critical for conservation. Illustrating his talk will be photographs of birds from coffee farms in Latin America, the Philippines, and Sumatra.

John Sterling has been an active birder since 1971 and a professional wildlife biologist since 1981. He has traveled extensively throughout California learning about local bird distribution and is working on a book on the Central Valley’s avifauna. He has also traveled internationally as a guide and ornithologist for many institutions including projects as a Smithsonian ornithologist to Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, Sumatra, the Philippines, Canada, and Russia. John has his own company specializing in tours, birding classes, research, and environmental consulting (


North American Birds and Climate Change

Burrowing Owl / Photo by Noreen Weeden

Burrowing Owl / Photo by Noreen Weeden

Gary Langham
San Francisco: Thursday, September 18
7 p.m. refreshments, 7:30 program 

Audubon scientists recently completed a comprehensive analysis modeling the winter and summer ranges of 588 North American bird species in response to future climate change. Using extensive citizen science data and detailed climate layers, these models characterize the relationship between the distribution of each species and climate through the end of the century. Gary Langham will share the results and the implications for conservation. The science is clear that climate change is the biggest conservation threat to birds through the rest of the century. As a result, the fate of North America birds will depend critically on conservation decisions that reduce the impacts of climate change as well as the ability of these birds to colonize areas that become climatically suitable outside their current ranges.

Gary Langham is chief scientist at the National Audubon Society. He grew up in a birding family and started attending Audubon chapter meetings at age seven. He has spent most of his life watching or studying animals across the Americas and Australia. Langham enjoys sharing nature with his wife and six-year-old daughter in Washington, DC.