Presenter: Benny Isaac Jacobs-Schwartz
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Costa Rica has long been regarded as one of the top tropical birding destinations in the world and with good reason! This small Central American country is roughly the size of West Virginia yet is home to ~5% of the world’s biodiversity, with 900+ species of birds, including 47 avian endemics to the country! During this presentation, we’ll visit a variety of ecosystems including the cloud forest, the Caribbean lowlands, the Pacific dry forest, and the ecological factors that have made Costa Rica the international birding mecca that it is!
Benny was born and raised in California and his innate love for nature was evident at a very young age. His interest in the natural world dates back to some of his earliest memories. His outdoor experiences grew rapidly through his participation in multi-week adventure programs during his summers in high school. During his youth, Benny was often seen perusing streams and creeks, listening to trees sway in the wind, and exploring wild open spaces. Continuing on this trajectory, Benny eventually fell in love with birds during a college study abroad program in Costa Rica in 2011. Since graduating from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2013, Benny has passionately pursued work as an avian field biologist, international bird guide, land steward, and wildlife photographer. These positions have afforded him opportunities to work in a wide variety of locations including Central America, Yosemite, Trinidad & Tobago, Ecuador, and most recently coastal Alaska.
A selection of his photos can be seen in his self-published, A Field Guide to Birds of UC Santa Cruz. When not poring through dense field guides, and chasing rare bird sightings, Benny (or BIJS as many call him) ardently pursues a variety of hobbies like surfing, mountain biking, rock-climbing, yoga, leading outdoor outings for kids, and facilitating photography clinics. He hopes his love of the natural world will inspire others to conserve and preserve the open spaces around them!