Board of Directors
In 2017, a passionate group of birding enthusiasts, representing multiple arenas of technical expertise, decided to formally collaborate to enhance birding enthusiasm and expand birding conservation efforts in their local community – Northwest Montana’s Flathead Valley. Most unique among these Wings In Nature founding members is that even after years of tedious field work, every member remains extremely active as a birding enthusiast. In fact, a few members are perpetually ranked among eBird’s top Montana birders.
Chairman of the Board. Conservation Director / Naturalist / Photographer
Dan started birding as a young kid while growing up in Sussex County, New Jersey – mentored by local enthusiasts Jack Padalino, Floyd Wolfarth, among others. Stimulated by the annual warbler migration and easily manageable birding trips to the Jersey shore, Dan was hooked at an early age.
Dan’s hobby-turned-passion was formalized with Bachelor’s and Master’s of Science degrees in Wildlife Conservation at Colorado State University. His formal education led to a lifelong career as a professional ornithologist that included extended positions at Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and American Bird Conservancy. Dan currently provides his expertise for Ducks Unlimited, where he is focused on grassland birds in the Northern Great Plains.
Within the greater birding community, Dan served on the Colorado Bird Records Committee and the board of directors for the Flathead Audubon Society, where he was recognized as one of FAS’s premier birding guides. Dan currently serves on the Montana Bird Records Committee, is a moderator of Montana Online Birders (MOB), is the eBird reviewer for several counties, and recently co-authored the highly acclaimed naturalist book, “Birds of Montana,” in collaboration with Jeff Marks.
President. Project Development / Photo-videographer / Media / Research volunteer
BJ was drawn to nature at an early age and was particularly captivated by birds’ ability to fly. He attended the University of Montana primarily to be close to Glacier National Park, but secondarily to learn how to skydive – to be at one with the birds. BJ received his BS in Zoology, under the guidance of the highly esteemed Dr. Philip Wright. He also excelled at jumping out of not-such-perfectly-good airplanes under the guidance of highly animated former smokejumpers.
Distracted from a proper career in the biosciences, BJ followed his passion for this nascent air sport. 35 years later, after an accomplished career as an athlete, filmmaker, aerial stunt performer, innovator, and project director, and after serving on the boards of national and international air sports organizations in leadership roles, bj came back to his bio-roots.
Since 2000, BJ has pursued birding with utmost enthusiasm. He has enriched his hobby by recording bird behavior on video – tallying more than 900 species of birds doing what birds do. BJ has expanded his birding interests toward bird conservation, research, and promoting the enriching qualities of birding among the public. He has actively conducted surveys at the Jewel Basin Hawk Watch each season since its inception, for which he received Flathead Audubon Society’s highest conservation award in 2016.
BJ is now combining his filmmaking skills with his birding interests to help WIN develop projects and provide audio-visual and volunteer support for other like-minded entities that are enriching birding, pursuing research efforts, and developing conservation projects.
Treasurer. Dir. of Photography / Naturalist / Research volunteer
I was raised in a farm family in Iowa and Minnesota. I first saw the mountains in northern Utah at my first duty station in the Air Force. The mountains, in different places, have been home to me ever since.
I studied animal science and ranch management at Oregon State University and moved to Montana after graduation. Married, with two small boys, my wife Pam and I worked cattle ranches for several years.
We moved to the Flathead Valley in 1978 and I began working with a local construction company. I retired from that same company in 2010 after 31 years. We also bought and briefly owned a whitewater rafting company on the rivers adjacent to Glacier National Park.
Throughout my ranching, construction and whitewater careers, I saw the extremes of private management practices and government regulations, good and bad. I have gained experience and a conscience to help make decisions for the good of the land, water, wildlife and the people who live on, recreate on, or control our natural resources.
My passions have changed over time from backpacking, hunting and whitewater to carrying as much camera gear as possible and photographing whatever I can wherever I am. A visit to McGee Marsh, in Ohio in 2010, completely tipped me over and bird photography has since become an obsession.
I volunteer for the Harlequin duck banding project, waterfowl surveys, peregrine watch and hawk watch projects.
Secretary. Chief Naturalist / Conservation / Photo-videographer-editor
Before he was ten, Josh was identifying birds and recording their behavior, calls, songs, and habitats to memory. With his parents’ encouragement and Dan Casey’s tutelage, he became a highly respected birder at an early age. Josh became active in the birding community and attended his first Young Birders national convention at 14 years old. Before entering high school, he was leading birding walks in the Flathead Valley.
Josh’s uncanny gift for identifying birds in the field is coupled with his natural ability to convey birding skills to others in a reserved manner that elicits effective learning in the field. When he has the opportunity to travel outside the Flathead Valley, Josh is typically among the leading birders at any site, regardless of location, season, or habitat.
Josh’s ultimate goal is to pursue his passion for birds and birding via higher education. In the meantime, he is developing his wildlife photography and video editing skills by working on WIN’s various multi-media bird-related projects and guiding bird walks and tours as WIN’s Chief Naturalist.
Josh is currently a member of Montana’s Bird Records Committee, serves as the eBird reviewer for Flathead County, and maintains his status near, or at the top of, the Flathead and Montana eBird lists. Josh is goal oriented, and is currently focused on submitting photos of a maximum number of species with his eBird check lists.
Board Member. Science / Education / Naturalist / Banding Projects
After catching the bug early in life, Craig shared his passion for birding and nature by teaching environmental sciences to high school students in Carmel, California, for nearly 20 years. While teaching in Carmel, he became a pioneer in operating critter cams, where he installed an owl cam for his students.
During his years in academia, Craig initiated two major environmental projects: In Andrew Molera State Park, he co-founded the Ventana Wilderness Society’s Big Sur Ornithology Lab (BSOL) in 1992. At BSOL, Craig and his colleagues banded tens of thousands of birds, representing more than 160 species – leading to a significantly better understanding of the species’ populations that migrated along the Pacific Flyway.
In 1995, Craig founded The Habitat – formally known as Carmel Middle School’s Hilton Bialek Biological Sciences Habitat. While teaching at the school, Craig initiated the effort to conserve ten acres of school property, then became its Project Director – developing it into a prime birding habitat for more than 50 species.
Within the Northern California birding community, Craig is one of the most respected birders and field ornithologists. He served as President of the Monterey Audubon Society 2000-2006, served on the California Bird Records Committee, and authored numerous articles in the annual Western Birds ornithology publication.
Craig is now retired from formal work and lives in Flathead County, Montana. Retirement allows his passion for birding to flourish – spending several hours in the field every day, and submitting annual Big Day lists that are second to none. Craig currently serves on the Montana Bird Records Committee and annually ranks among eBird’s top Montana birders.
Craig’s also maintains his enthusiasm for birding habitat via his exceptionally bird-friendly backyard, reminiscent of his more formal habitat conservation efforts in California. Also reminiscent of his BSOL activities… Each spring and fall, Craig conducts banding activities to study fluctuations in the diverse bird populations migrating through the Flathead Valley.
Peter Fisher, MD
Board Member. Naturalist / Conservation / Banding Projects
Board Member. Naturalist / Research volunteer
I am a retired Physical Therapist. During the 41 years I pursued this career, I also nurtured a love of spending time in mountain habitats. With a backpack and boots, ice axe and snowshoes, I wandered throughout the Appalachians, Canadian Rockies, Himalayas and many other individual ridges and peaks. I embraced both the solitude of roaming alone and an interest in isolated mountain communities and how people coexisted within these incredible environments.
Wanting to combine both my love of the mountains and my desire to impact people, I became a Registered Maine Guide and a Wilderness EMT. This led to my guiding 4 season backpacking trips primarily in the northern Appalachians (Maine and New Hampshire). Some of these trips were for special needs populations, but many of them were also focused on wilderness skills, low impact travel in the backcountry and wildlife signs.
In the 1980’s I cofounded a nonprofit called Looking Up. I was on the board of this organization and also founded a unique outdoor program for the organization. Currently I am on the board of Action Resources International and Flathead Audubon.
In the last 10 years, birds have entered my life in a “big” way. I have been volunteering with the Harlequin Duck Project for about 9 years, volunteering with both Glacier National Park and the Forest Service monitoring loons for 10 years, and have been a primary monitor at the Jewel Basin Hawk Watch Site for several years. In between I have delighted in watching the antics of Mountain Goats while surveying for Glacier National Park. In 2013 I was volunteer of the year for the Montana Loon Society, and in 2016 was awarded an Outstanding Conservation Achievement Award for my work at the Jewel Basin Hawk Watch Site.
Executive Director. Administrative / Communication Coordinator
I grew up in northeastern Ohio, spending my free time out of doors wandering the nearby woods, fields and playing in the streams. At age 19, I began the move west to Oregon with my husband Dick. In 1978 with two little boys added to the family, we settled in the Flathead Valley.
While being a wife, mom and working woman, we enjoyed all the outdoor activities Montana has to offer. My work years included managing small offices to a big golf course construction job office. Making lots of lunches for branding crews on the ranch to a week’s worth of meals for river trips. Driving 50 miles to pick up parts for the golf course to driving a team of horses with the babies tucked into the hay while Dick fed cows off the back of the sled .
The kids are grown, the jobs are over and we’ve traded in the skis and snowshoes for hiking poles, cameras, binocs, birding and a camper. It was not until just recently that I’ve taken an interest in photography and birds but then again, it’s hard not to when you spend time with those crazy birders!
Technology Director. Webmaster & Technical Support.
Growing up outside of Glacier Park, Sara was instilled with a love of nature from an early age. She remembers many happy summers hiking and camping with her father BJ in the woods around the Flathead Valley. She was thrilled to come on board the WIN team to apply her varied experience in media and technology toward a cause that supports wildlife and the environment.
Advisor. Back-yard Habitat Consultant; Designing and building birding hardware