Joan Collins is a New York State licensed bird guide, bird walk leader, writer, and speaker on ornithology topics. She has led walks and made presentations for many organizations including Audubon, the Adirondack Mountain Club, and the New York State Ornithological Association. Joan also belongs to the ranks of the intrepid Adirondack 46ers (having climbed all 46 peaks in the Adirondacks over 4,000 feet).
Joan is a serious ear-birder and is fascinated by bird vocalizations/sounds. The nocturnal world of sound often keeps her from getting any sleep! Bird behavior, migration, and the history of North American Ornithology are among the many topics that interest Joan. She enjoys bushwhacking and camping in the Adirondack wilderness year-round, sometimes forgoing a tent to enjoy sleeping under a brilliant starlit sky — even in snow!
Ornithology Presentations & Workshops
Joan has made presentations on ornithology topics for many organizations and programs, including the Audubon Council of NYS, NYS Ornithological Association, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s Huntington Lecture Series, Adirondack Mountain Club Lecture Series, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, local Audubon chapters, field biology classes, school districts for all ages, Adirondack Birding Festival, the Clarkson University Club, and historical associations. Joan presented a series of ornithology lectures for the SOAR organization at the State University of New York at Potsdam in 2007, 2009, and 2011. She has also been a speaker on behalf of Audubon at public hearings on conservation issues.
Joan’s field work includes participation in the Mountain Birdwatch project on Blue Mountain. Two professors who accompanied her in 2008 wrote about the experience in their blogs:
“At precisely 3:55 A.M. we heard our first Bicknell’s thrush sing a couple of hundred feet below the summit. We froze in our tracks and listened intently. My heart pounded with excitement and for a moment I stopped breathing….After two years of searching, my goal of hearing and seeing a Bicknell’s thrush was fulfilled.” Read more
— Steve Broyles, professor of biological sciences at the State University of New York College at Cortland
“Joan quietly sat down with her legs tucked underneath her, spread her charts on the rocks in front of her, and clicked off her headlamp….For the next twenty minutes Joan sat almost motionless, occasionally turning on her headlamp and leaning forward to make a brief note on her chart while Steve trained his microphone on the various birds that were vocalizing around us.” Read more
— Tom Pasquarello, professor of political science at the State University of New York College at Cortland
Joan’s passion for wild birds and the environment have driven her to volunteer for many citizen science projects, including the Vermont Center for Ecostudies Mountain Birdwatch Project, North American Breeding Bird Survey, New York State Breeding Bird Atlas Project (2000-2005), Christmas Bird Counts, and the Great Backyard Bird Count, among others.
In 2010, Joan worked as an Avian Consultant for Ecology and Environment, Inc. conducting surveys in the grasslands near the St. Lawrence River.
In the Media
Joan speaks frequently on North Country Public Radio’s birding programs. The Mountain Lake PBS Adirondack Outdoors program focused on Joan’s bird guide services in May 2005. A feature article about Joan was published in the May-June 2010 issue of the Adirondack Explorer. Adirondack Life magazine featured Joan in “Expert Testimony: Adirondack Guides Tell All” published in their 2011 Annual Guide to the Great Outdoors.
Joan currently serves on the boards of The New York State Ornithological Association and Northern New York Audubon Society. She is a past President of High Peaks Audubon Society and Vice-President of St. Lawrence-Adirondack Audubon Society (these two organizations have merged to become Northern NY Audubon). She is also a past board member of the Audubon Council of New York State.
- The Adirondack Regional Tourism Council’s 2005 Private Sector Tourism Partnership Award “to Joan Collins, Passionate Birder, for Contributions of Time and Expertise that Helped Make the First Adirondack Birding Festival a Success”
- Audubon Council of New York State: first annual Norman Stotz Award For Outstanding Chapter Leadership, 2004.
- National Audubon: Second place in the 2003 National Newsletter Contest with High Peaks Audubon Newsletter.
For the past 13 years, Joan has been serving as a Newsletter Editor for several organizations. In addition, she has written many articles and collaborated on other publications:
- “390 Parts Per Million & Rising”, Joan Collins, New York Birders, January 2011.
- “Projected Effects of Climate Change on High Elevation Forests”, Joan Collins, New York Birders, January 2010.
- Species Account Author and Peer Reviewer, The Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in New York State edited by Kevin J. McGowan and Kimberley Corwin, 2008, published by Cornell University.
- “Grassland Management and Protection”, Joan Collins, New York Birders, July 2009.
- “In the Heart of Wilderness”, Joan Collins, New York Birders, April 2005.
- “Winter in a Hemlock”, Joan Collins, The Conservationist, February 2004.
- “Snow Burrowing by Common Redpolls”, Joan Collins & John M.C. Peterson, The Kingbird, Vol. 53 No. 1, March 2003.
- “An Unintentional Common Raven ‘Experiment’”, Joan Collins, The Kingbird, Vol. 52 No. 3, September 2002.
- “Moonlit Reflections at Marcy Dam”, Joan Collins, Adirondack Peeks, Vol. XXXVIII No. 1, Spring/Summer 2001.
Joan started out as a computer systems engineer after double-majoring in computer science and psychology in college. She worked in the computer field for a decade in Albany, NY; first for Data General Corp., and then for Apple Computer Inc. With their two young sons, Joan and her husband moved to the Adirondack Mountains in the mid-1990s. Life in the wilderness led to a serious passion for Ornithology.
Joan has been a Hospice Volunteer for the past 13 years. She also does fund-raising for the Orchestra of Northern New York. Both of her sons are serious pianists – it’s an ear-driven family! Her older son is at a college conservatory and her younger son is at an arts boarding school. Joan enjoys writing wilderness poetry. Golden Retrievers Max and Rondeau (named after Noah John Rondeau – the hermit of Cold River) are her constant companions.