Featured Guide: Michael McCloy

Welcome to our “newest” guide, Michael McCloy. He has previously led trips for Ventures in the Carolinas and is excited to be a returning member of the Ventures team again after eight years.

Originally from North Carolina, Michael has been a birder since the age of five. He got into birding thanks to his dad, who first taught him how to identify backyard birds and brought him to local bird club meetings. It was here that his interest in birding exploded. Under the mentorship of his dad, Susan Campbell, Scott Hartley, and several other knowledgeable local birders Michael learned to identify birds by ear. As he grew older, Susan taught him the value of bird banding and bird research. Michael obtained his banding sub-permit at 16 years old, and subsequently went on to complete several internships and seasonal research positions in college. If it wasn’t for Susan, and Michael’s extraordinarily supportive parents, he wouldn’t have the experience and passion for birds that he has today.

Michael received his Bachelor of Science from Western Carolina University in 2014. He worked as an environmental consultant in Atlanta and as a field biologist for Bird Conservancy of the Rockies in Colorado. In 2018 he moved to Texas to pursue his PhD at Texas A&M University. He he currently resides in College Station and is nearing the end of his doctoral program. He is a Graduate Fellow through the Welder Wildlife Foundation and studies the effects of weather and land-use change on songbird communities in the Gulf Coast region.

Michael enjoys birding in new and far-flung parts of the world, planning and executing trips independently and with friends. He loves including scenic hikes, cultural attractions, or other “bucket list” activities on his travels. He recently returned from a trip to northern Peru, and is eyeing potential travel and birding opportunities in Greenland, Madagascar, Tanzania, and Hawaii in 2022.

Michael’s birding travels have taken him to nearly thirty countries across five continents, as well as to 49 of the 50 US states. He tentatively hopes to tick off state number 50 later this year with a trip to Hawaii! Some of his favorite places to bird are in regions that are seldom visited, whether that’s in a nook and cranny of rural Texas or in a far-flung country such as Laos. Appropriately, Michael’s upcoming Venture in May will fall into what many people may consider an “off-the-beaten-path” and “under-appreciated” part of the US- Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle!

Michael has a particular affinity for threatened, endangered, and endemic species and typically makes a concerted effort to integrate searches for those into his own trips. One of the target birds on his Venture to Oklahoma this May will be the range-restricted Black-capped Vireo. He also is interested in how birding and ecotourism can be a tool for community-based conservation. In addition to guiding for Ventures Michael has led trips for the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival, Wings Over Water Birding Festival and is on the board of his local Audubon chapter.

Beyond birding and working towards finishing up his dissertation this year, Michael enjoys an eclectic assortment of other hobbies including running marathons, backpacking, writing, politics, public speaking, and visiting all 63 of America’s National Parks (31 down, 32 to go). Next up on his list of backpacking adventures is to through-hike the 96-mile Lone Star Trail in east Texas.

Michael enjoys teaching and sharing his passion for birds with others and strives to make each of his trips a fun, educational, and memorable experience for all participants. Check out his Venture to Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle coming up in May!

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