Sarah Preston

Tour Leader

I want to see all the birds! I love traveling to see new birds and having adventures in exotic places. There’s nothing like waking up in a place you’ve never been and hearing all the birds you’ve not yet seen. One of my favorite places to bird, however, is Headlands Beach State Park in Mentor, Ohio, just a few miles from home.

I love showing other birders species that are new to them and sharing my experiences. I would describe my guiding style as educational and collaborative. With me, you won’t just know what bird you’re seeing, you’ll know how to identify it next time and what makes it unique and interesting. I see every group I lead as a team with the common goals of spotting birds, helping others get on the bird, and enjoying what we find together.

So how did I get to where I am now? Like many people, my family had a bird feeder when I was a kid and an ancient pair of binoculars and a 1980’s Peterson field guide on the windowsill. We went hiking and camping often and I went to “nature camp” at the Cincinnati Nature Center one summer. I have a distinct memory of listing and tallying the birds I saw when we drove to Key West, Florida when I was eight years old. The curious child became a serious student of science, eventually earning a position teaching chemistry at a college outside Cleveland, Ohio.

In spring 2014, a colleague and I enrolled in our college’s ornithology class as pass/fail students. It was this experience that opened a whole new world. I love a challenge, especially an intellectual one and birding is exactly that for me. Right after the ornithology class ended, my husband and I spent a day at the Biggest Week in American Birding festival. We’ve returned every year since, spending more time each year, inviting my parents and friends, and beginning in 2019, I’ve had the privilege of being a volunteer leader and van driver for the field trips. It was in 2019 that I co-guided a van trip with Andy Walker and that’s what began my journey with Birding Ecotours!

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