About Us

Lauren and David

Lauren and David birding Malheur NWR. Photo by Alan Contreras

Before moving to western Arizona, David Vander Pluym and Lauren Harter spent two and a half years exploring, with field jobs in Maine, Oregon, Ohio, and Costa Rica. We moved to Lake Havasu City in December of 2010. We chose this area partly as a compromise between our love of birding in Arizona and California, and partly because we already recognized and greatly enjoyed the exceptional birding in the area. Even before we moved in, we started to form questions about the bird life in the area. We saw new birding locations that were basically unknown to the birding public. Phainopepla Fables came about as a way to share our discoveries.

Lauren with Ocellated Antbirds

Lauren holding two Ocellated Antbirds she had just banded. Rara Avis, Costa Rica

Originally from Minnesota, Lauren grew up moving across the U.S. One of her earliest memories was trying to identify the various birds in the Minnesota dawn chorus–by sound. She was hooked on birding by the age of 13, when she started attending bird walks with a local Audubon group (Cheyenne, Wyoming) and started bird banding at 15, in San Antonio, Texas. She settled down for four years in Flagstaff, Arizona at Northern Arizona University, where she studied biology and investigated Pinyon Jay foraging ecology and evolutionary biology with Drs. Russell Balda and Russell Benford (read more about the latter research here). She also began her career in field work, working on bird surveys in northern Arizona’s National Forests and on Tom Martin’s Mogollon Rim project. She now works for Great Basin Bird Observatory on the LCR Riparian Birds project. She serves on the board of Arizona Field Ornithologists and is involved with several AZFO projects including Seasonal Reports, is a member of the Arizona Bird Committee, serves as Book Review Editor of Western Birds, and is a regional editor for eBird. Email: lbharter (at) gmail.com

David Vander Pluym

David scanning for eagles on Lake Mead during the annual eagle survey

David Vander Pluym was born with a pair of binoculars in his hands, or so his parents say.  Some of his earliest memories are of birds, including being a very grumpy 2-year-old because his parents didn’t wake him for a flock of White Ibis.  He grew up in southern California before moving to Santa Cruz where he earned a BS in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of California. As a student at UC Santa Cruz he started going on pelagics with Shearwater Journeys as often as he could and soon after became a leader and got his first taste of guiding. In 2010 he was a leader for a Shearwater Journey’s cruise of the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and the Antarctic Peninsula.

Before moving to the LCRV, he tried to make frequent visits to the Lower Colorado River Valley, cultivating an interest in this unique and rarely visited area. Always interested in under-birded areas (probably why, along with the river, he also has a deep interest in tropical and oceanic birds) the decision to move to Lake Havasu City was a natural one. David has a wide interest in all vertebrate life as well as butterflies and dragonflies. Email: scre (at) aol.com

9 Responses to About Us

  1. André Boven says:

    You have a very nice blog, nice pics and intrasting stories.

    André Boven The Netherlands

  2. sue girard says:

    any Yuma hot spots you could rec to a beginner w/o a scope? will be visiting near So Laguna Dam Rd@Colo river area in No. Yuma end of January. many thanks.

  3. sue girard says:

    thanks–I found SW Birders and ordered David’s book; am anxious to go searching. I live near Morro Bay CA so the birding will be quite different!

  4. Jody McInerney says:

    Thank you so much for the birding location maps with detailed descriptions. I am new to birding and only recently moved to the Havasu area. These were very helpful.

  5. Tom Vander Pluym says:

    Trying to contact David Vander Pluym so that I can mail an article on the local bird watching society in Milwaukee, WI.

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