Senior Leader and Mexico Specialist
About Robert Straub
Robert Straub came to Veracruz, Mexico to witness the famed Veracruz River of Raptors migration in October, 1997, for a 3 month stay, and has been there ever since. Currently Robert lives in Xalapa, Veracruz and is the owner of an optics and birding store, called Aveoptica, perhaps the only of its kind in the country. Previously he worked for Pronatura Veracruz, starting in 1997 as a guide on birding tours, and including 4 years as the coordinator of their Tourism for Conservation program.
Robert is the author of the Site Guide to the Birds of Veracruz, published by Pronatura Veracruz; a comprehensive guide to the best birding sites in the state. Robert studied biology at the University of Delaware, and worked for many years with birds as a field researcher in western United States. Robert has been the field trip coordinator for the local birding club of Xalapa (COAX) and is a founding member since its start in 2003.
What is one of your favorite bird families or species and why?
Love them all, but raptors and hummingbirds are high on the list. Raptors: I live in Veracruz, so that is a given, with the world’s largest raptor migration in my “backyard”! Hummingbirds are just amazing, and the diversity in the mountains of the tropics can be astounding.
What is one of your favorite birding locations?
Veracruz River of Raptors, Veracruz, Mexico, which can be at the official count sites in Cardel or in Chichicaxtle, anywhere in between, on the coast, at my house, at the Quiahuitzlan Totanac archaeological site, etc! Watching 300,000 or more migrating raptors in one day is a phenomenon to see.
Also: The Santa Marta Mountains in northern Colombia. Almost 20 endemics, 16 hummingbird species in one day, a very comfortable lodge, etc!
Can you describe the experience or “spark” bird that first got you hooked on birding?
Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge in central Delaware. When I finally went to the refuge, on a beautiful fall day in September, I was blown away by 100,000+ geese and ducks. I has no idea what I was seeing, except for maybe the Canada Goose and a Mallard, but the noise and vision, especially of 70,000 Snow Geese in flight, was enough to get me hooked! I went to the Visitor´s Center and signed up to volunteer on the Bald Eagle Watch program, they gave me binoculars, a scope, and a field guide and told me to wander around looking for the resident pair of Bald Eagles and for courtship and nesting behavior. In the meantime I watched the other birds and loved it, although I probably did not identify anything smaller than a teal for at first!
Describe any exciting projects or programs in which you’ve been involved?
Studied Spotted Owls and Marbled Murrelets in beautiful old growth forest in Oregon for many years. I was the first to study the full non-raptor migration in Veracruz, estimating a migration of over 30 million birds during the fall migration season.
What do you believe is currently one of the most important avian conservation issues?
What is a fun fact about yourself that many people may not know?
I climbed the Pico de Orizaba, the tallest peak between Denali in Alaska and the Andes in South America. I opened the first birding and natural history and optics shop in Mexico: Aveoptica, in 2007.