Tours and Private Guiding


Searching for Black-breasted Pufflegs

James Fisher once said that “The observation of birds may be a superstition, a tradition, an art, a science, a pleasure, a hobby, or a bore; this depends entirely on the nature of the observer”. I hope that my trips fulfill a little of all but the last category! I love getting out into nature and showing people the wonders that surround them and sharing my knowledge with them. I think by experiencing places personally we start to gain an awe and respect for nature and a desire to preserve it for future generations.

Personally for me as a tour leader I enjoy the sharing the excitement of these trips and hope that participants get to learn something new and exciting whenever they are with me. As a tour leader I think one of the greatest compliments I ever received was when one of my regular participants told me that he enjoys the slower days in my company as much as the ones that are non-stop birding action.

I am excited to be part of the High Lonesome BirdTours and  Wildside Nature Tours teams as well as leading tours for the Hawk Migration Association of North America.  I also have a couple of private tours and some local trips for Pasadena Audubon Society (details and how to join PAS on their website). I am looking forward to being able to share with other people some of the more exciting and interesting places that I have visited over the years both in the USA and around the globe. Here are some of the forthcoming highlights:

photo (14)

Noah Strycker – Big Year Birding in Los Angeles – Ross’s Goose down, 6,041 to go

Private Guiding

In Los Angeles for work or vacation and want to go birding but not sure where to go, want some expert company for the day or even just dreading facing trying to navigate the city traffic then why not hire me as a private guide?  Whether you want to look for specific species or just spend a day enjoying some of the excellent birding Los Angeles, and beyond, has to offer.

Full days are $350 for up to twelve hours. A full day opens up a wealth of different possibilities including everything from looking for some introduced local specialties like Spotted Dove, Scaly-breasted Munia or Red-crowned Parrot to checking out local beaches for rocky shoreline shorebirds. Other possibilities include searching local parks for wintering or migrant birds or even take an run to the mountains to look for White-headed Woodpecker, Green-tailed Towhee, Thick-billed Fox Sparrow and, with a luck, Mountain Quail. A day in the Mojave might include things like Bell’s Sparrow and Le Conte’s Thrasher and a northward run to search for Yellow-billed Magpie, Tricolored Blackbird and California Condor or a combination thereof.

I am also happy to arrange much more expansive private tours for small groups in Southern California. Grab a couple of your best birding friends and come join me for the best birding Southern California can offer. Here’s a write up of a typical week long SoCal adventure with a great group of birders from Vermont (link here) and a shorter tour for a couple of birders from Illinois (here).

Send me a message and I can work with you to suggest an itinerary that will meet your needs You can see some of the birds we might expect to see on these kind of trips on my flickr page (here). At this current time (October 2020) we would be required to travel in separate vehicles, but I would provide you with pins and directions for locations.

Ps You are not required to be involved in a global big year.


Veined Blue – Luke Tiller

FREE! – Pasadena Audubon Day Trips 2020

PAS Trips on hold until further notice.

If you’d like to book a spot on any of these walks send me an email at


Lawrence’s Goldfinch – Luke Tiller

PAS Bird Science Program Weekend Fundraising Tour. April 25/26 2020

Tour postponed to 2021.

Im excited to offer a two-day spring migration tour over Birdathon Weekend that will explore the deserts and mountains of Los Angeles and Kern County. Expert guidance for the weekend will be offered by myself and Catherine Hamilton. The tour will take place on the peak weekend for spring migration in Los Angeles: April 25 and 26. All funds raised will be designated for use in Pasadena Audubon’s amazing Bird Science Program (link) which brings the world of birds to kids in Pasadena’s underfunded public schools.

We will plan to stay overnight in Mojave, CA on Friday before birding Butterbredt Spring, California City, Galileo (given access is possible) and other spots Saturday before returning to Mojave for the night. On Sunday we will bird desert hotspots in LA County before working our way back through Angeles National Forest and ending our day back in Pasadena in time for dinner. Given the right temperature we might go see if we can find any interesting herps one of the first two nights. 

As well as looking for migrant species, well also be hoping to see a bunch of regularly occurring denizens of LA and Kern Counties, so the trip should make for a fun weekend for local birders and those from outside the county/state too. Though this is a self-driven trip we will be coordinating things to help you plan to book hotels and carpool where possible for the event.

We are limiting this tour to 14 places in order to guarantee plenty of one on one guidance from leaders. We are asking for a minimum contribution of $150.00 for this event – all of which well help support out incredible Bird Science Program. Have fun, see some birds and do something great for the community – what could be better? Link to booking form (click here).

Longer Tours – Postponed until further notice.


Rock Ptarmigan – Luke Tiller

May 30-June 3 2020 — Seward Peninsula

I’ll be leading at least one of the Nome portions of High Lonesome’s myriad of spring Alaska tour offerings. My tour is full but you can check out their other tours (here).


Raptors in the Mist – Luke Tiller

September 17-27 2020 — Georgia: Black Sea Migration Spectacle

Come join me in the incredible country of Georgia for ten days at one of the handful of  “Million Bird” Hawkwatches in the world. This tour is timed for the peak of species diversity and we might hope to see as many as thirty species of Eurasian raptors during our visit including White-tailed Eagle, Pallid Harrier, Levant Sparrowhawk and Greater Spotted Eagle . Beyond the raptors there is much to enjoy at this migratory hotspot along the shores of the Black Sea including a wealth of songbirds, shorebirds, waders and gulls.

Georgian hospitality is legendary and the food, a mix of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Eastern European, is always delicious and plentiful. The Georgians love their wine too and are proud of their local brandy Chacha. One of the highlights of the tour will be an adventure up to the Svaneti region of the Caucasus Mountains. Here we will witness the incredible natural wonder of the Svaneti Glacier and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ushguli. As well as a taste of the culture and traditions of the region we will also be looking out for exciting birds including Great Rosefinch, Bearded Vulture, Guldenstadts Redstart and Caucasian Snowcock.

This tour will support the work of Batumi Raptor Count and Wildside Nature Tours are the first US based company offering a tour here. Come join me on this adventure (click here for more information). Blog post on my adventures in Georgia last fall (here).


Rufous-tailed Hummingbird – Luke Tiller

October 18-25 2020 — Panama Migration Spectacular

Come join me for the week of a lifetime witnessing the magic of migration through Panama. Based at the world renowned Canopy Tower, the tour will take in visits to both their own hawkwatch (Semaphore Hill) and to the world famous Ancon Hill. We will visit at the peak of raptor movement when daily passage of hawks might range anywhere from the tens of thousands all the way up to a record breaking 2 million birds that were tallied on one day in 2014!

As well as the astonishing passage of migrant raptors there will be incredible local hawks to enjoy including everything from King Vulture to Tiny Hawk. Other migrants on their way south will include large numbers of shorebirds as well as a mix of interesting warblers, tanagers and vireos. Focusing on the canal zone will allow us to thoroughly bird all the local hotspots and we will enjoy birding that will garner us a host of incredible and bejeweled neotropical bird species: hummingbirds, motmots, toucans, tanagers, parrots and a whole host more (290+ species in 2018 with 35 species of raptors).

Report from 2017 (here), 2018 (here) and 2019 (here). Photos from the tour on my flickr page (here). Link to some digiscoped video footage of the birds (here). Link for the 2020 tour with High Lonesome BirdTours (here).


Short-toed Eagle – J. Elorriaga

13-21 March 2021 – Straight of Gibraltar – HMANA Fundraiser with Raptours

The Strait of Gibraltar is one of the best spring raptor-watching destinations in the Old World. Impressive numbers of raptors crossing the Strait, returning from Africa to Europe to breed. As thermal currents develop only weakly over water, soaring raptors lose altitude as they progress across the Strait. By the time they reach the European shores they can be flapping a few feet above the waves. As a result of this, a larger proportion of birds are seen flying lower, even below eye-level affording great looks and photo ops.

Over the last decade, spring season-long counts averaged around 80,000 Black Kites, 10,000 Booted-Eagles, and 12,000 Short-toed Snake Eagles. Other raptors on migration during this period, although in smaller numbers, include Egyptian Vulture, Griffon Vulture, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Montagu’s and Marsh Harriers, Osprey, Lesser Kestrel and Eurasian Hobby.

This area of Spain also promises some of the best birding to be had in Western Europe. For more details and details on booking please visit the Raptours website (here).

5 responses

8 11 2009

what’s this trip to costa rica you mention? let’s make it happen! we’re probably heading down in late february/ early march. check out the review for saladero on tripadvisor if you need some convincing!

21 03 2010

I was a member of the BwTCB group that you led in June. I was wondering if you will be leading walks in Fairfield on April 3rd. Might be staying at my moms and thought I might get some birding in.

Thanks cindy

22 03 2010

Hi Cindy,

Good to hear from you again. There should be some details about my upcoming walks on the Sunrise Birding website in the next day or so.


9 06 2018
Edward Stonick

Can’t make it this year but definitely would like to in 2019!

16 02 2019
Laura Stabell

Hi Luke,
Found this blog-and had been wondering for some time where you had landed! Im working on a NFP farm project in Westchester Ny just over the Ct Border.Could use input on eco-tourism use of the 21 acre site. Message me on Face Book Laura Tuttle Stabell or drop an email!

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