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About WINGS Tours

The Company

We began in 1973 when Davis Finch and Will Russell formed Northeast Birding offering a few tours in New England and the Canadian Maritimes.  In 1977 Rich Stallcup joined the company, giving us broader knowledge and better geographical balance, and our tour offerings continued to expand primarily in North and South America. In February 1980, we concluded an agreement with the English bird watching tour company, Sunbird, under which we offered a schedule of joint tours worldwide. In July 1980 we formed WINGS, with Will Russell as Managing Director. We purchased Sunbird in August 1982, and David Fisher was appointed Managing Director. In 1987 we moved our headquarters from Northeast Harbor, Maine, to Tucson, Arizona.  In 2000 Steve Rooke was appointed Managing Director of Sunbird. In 2015 Matt Brooks was appointed Managing Director of WINGS. In 2021 we closed Sunbird and their tours were absorbed by WINGS.

Contact Information

Our telephone numbers are (866) 547-9868 (toll-free from the US and Canada) and +01 (520) 320-9868.

For a local UK contact, Steve Rooke at 01767 262522.

Our fax number is +01 (520) 320-9373.

Our e-mail address is [email protected]

Our mailing address:
1643 N. Alvernon, Suite 109
Tucson, Arizona 85712

The office is staffed from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm, Mountain Standard Time, Monday through Friday.

Office staff: Greg Greene, Erin Olmstead, Stephanie Schaefer, Sara Pike and Kim Dean. Matt Brooks is WINGS’ managing director.

The Tours

Our tours are planned as ones that we ourselves would like to go on, so they are very strongly oriented toward birds. All WINGS leaders have varied interests in natural history and other related fields, but the timing and itinerary of our tours is dictated almost entirely by ornithological considerations. A few tours combine serious birdwatching with other activities appropriate to the area, or even with simple relaxation, and these are clearly indicated.

Unless otherwise noted in the tour text, group size for our tours ranges from four to 16 people plus the leader(s). Very occasionally, group sizes will be larger, as when the use of chartered aircraft or boats requires larger groups to keep our per-person costs within bounds.

If you have never taken a birding tour, you might want to look at our essay Choosing a Birding Tour.

The Pace of Our Tours

Birdwatching involves some odd hours and at least a modest amount of physical activity, and we want all participants to understand fully what’s required. Birds are most active during the early hours, and often we’ll have a pre-breakfast walk or an early breakfast before leaving for more distant points. All tours require gentle walking, sometimes for periods of up to six hours. Birdwatching is continuous, of course, and we rest as necessary. At times we climb hills, walk on uneven or wet terrain, or push through vegetation. On tours with more than one leader, we are sometimes able to have “faster” and “slower” groups. Lunches are often picnics, but sometimes we have a sit-down or “fast food” lunch. In warm climates we usually rest during the heat of the day, venturing out again in mid- to late afternoon and returning to the hotel an hour or so before dinner. A bird list is compiled most days, usually before or after dinner. Nightlife more adventurous than an after-dinner drink is seldom possible on most tours, as we normally stay in hotels well away from commercial development.

All activities are optional within the general framework of the tour. We encourage and assist participants in the pursuit of personal aims if these do not conflict with the conduct of the tour. Persons with specific non-ornithological goals should contact WINGS before the tour to determine whether they can be realized.

Most tour participants have been birdwatching for some time, and while their skills may vary, they normally have binoculars, know how to use them, and are familiar with at least the rudiments of how to watch birds. If you have never watched birds before, please contact us and we’ll suggest a few ways to help you prepare for your tour.

What the Tour Price Includes

The price for tours includes all travel as noted in the itinerary, lodging in comfortable hotels/motels or their equivalent unless otherwise indicated, all meals unless otherwise noted, a drink with meals (including a beer, and sometimes wine, at dinner), tour materials, and the services of the leader(s). Routine tips for included meals, porters, drivers, and other service providers are also included. Gratuities for WINGS leaders are at your discretion.

The Single Occupancy Supplement listed for each tour provides a single room throughout the tour unless otherwise noted. Certain small lodges will not provide single rooms if they are heavily booked; these are listed in the “Notes” section of their respective tour itinerary. In such cases, the portion of the Single Occupancy Supplement applicable to the lodge or lodges will be refunded.

Unless a single room is specifically requested on your reservation form, all registrants will be assigned a suitable roommate. If no roommate is available, a single room will be provided and you will be charged the Single Occupancy Supplement.

The following items are not included in the tour price: passports, visas, departure taxes, immunizations, excess baggage charges, optional excursions, telephone calls, flights/transportation to/from the tour destination, laundry, room service, snacks, or anything of a purely personal nature. If you have questions, please contact us.

Risks, Safety and Health While on Tour

There are inherent risks with traveling in general. Travel may include going to locations that are far from medical care or that have different cultural standards that may feel/appear less safe than a home country where certain things can be expected. WINGS makes every effort to notify participants, mainly through the General Information for a specific tour as well as directly when our group meets up with our guides, of anything in particular they should be aware of in order to help our clients feel more comfortable while on tour. Tour participants are also encouraged to research their area of interest and where their tour is going in order to have a better understanding of the location, terrain, cultural standards, etc.

COVID UPDATE:  Our COVID-19 policy is now in line with our standard vaccination policy, which is that we highly recommend keeping up-to-date on all relevant vaccinations for travel, including destination-specific requirements.


Restrictions on Tour Participation:

Restrictions on participation are a matter of common sense. If you have experienced any sort of health symptoms within 3-5 days of the tour departure (fever, coughing, sore throat or other symptom that is not conducive to healthy travel) it is strongly recommended to see a doctor prior to traveling to ensure your own health and safety and that of others while on tour. Notify the WINGS Office/Tour Manager of your current situation as well so we can be aware of precautions you have taken prior to going on tour.

If you have a health problem or any physical limitation that may hamper or restrict your full involvement in any aspect of the tour, or about which we should be aware for your safety (for example, walking difficulties, diabetes, asthma, angina, and so on), please advise us in detail and in writing at the time you reserve space. We will provide any information that you or your doctor may need to judge your capacity to participate fully in the tour, and we may request a physician’s letter indicating that you are healthy enough to participate on the tour. We do not normally program strenuous physical exercise, but if it cannot be avoided, the fact is made explicit in the tour description and in the General Information sheets for the tour. Participants should be able to complete gentle walks of up to half a day, ride in any seat in tour vehicles, and meet the simple schedule of the tour. We reserve the right to send home persons unable or unwilling to conduct themselves in a manner compatible with the satisfactory operation of the tour.

Please note that we do not allow the collecting of plants or animals during any tour.

Reservations, Deposits, and Payments

Reservations for tours require a deposit of 10% of the tour cost per person, of which $200 is non-refundable upon receipt. Certain tours, such as some cruises, may have higher deposit requirements; participants will be notified of those deposit amounts when they register. If the tour is not yet priced, the deposit amount is a flat $350. After the tour is priced and if 10% of the tour price exceeds $350, WINGS may send a supplemental invoice for the difference.

Reservations with deposits are accepted in order of their receipt. Telephone reservations are accepted provided that they are followed by the appropriate deposit within 10 business days. Reservations can be made online here. A printable reservation form can also be found by following the previous link.

Invoices for the balance of the tour price will be emailed about 14 weeks (98 days) before the departure date. Payment is due on receipt of our invoice. Please note that well-subscribed tours may be invoiced and confirmed on an earlier timeframe than this. Details can be found here.

Payment must be made in US dollars by check, credit card (MasterCard or Visa), money order, or ACH bank transfer.

WINGS offers a 4% discount on most tours (some cruises excepted) when the tour balance on the final tour invoice is paid by check, money order or ACH bank transfer before a specified date; details can be found here. After tour confirmation, all payments must be made by credit card; no discount will be applied. If you have any questions about our payment and discount policies, please contact the WINGS office.


Refunds for tours are made according to the following schedule:

If notice of tour registrant cancellation is received prior to invoicing (normally 98 days before departure but sometimes more – see Tour Confirmation below), the deposit – less the non-refundable amount of $200 – and any payments are refundable.

If notice of cancellation is received between the invoicing and confirmation dates (normally 21 to 28 days apart - see Tour Confirmation below), the deposit is not refundable but any payments against the balance of the tour price will be returned. Please note that in some cases, canceling a tour at any time may also be subject to cancellation penalties for deposits or penalties for deposits or payments, if any, made toward air tickets, concert tickets, permits, or other tour related activities purchased prior to the tour.

If notice of cancellation is received after a tour has been confirmed (see Tour Confirmation below), all deposits and payments are non-refundable and non-transferrable.

If a tour registrant cancels a booking, WINGS permits a one-time penalty-free transfer of a tour deposit to a subsequent WINGS tour as long as the cancellation and transfer takes place prior to invoicing (normally 98 days before departure but it varies), and as long as the tour to which the deposit is transferred begins within 18 months of the date of cancellation. If the tour registrant cancels the subsequent tour, the original deposit will not be refunded or transferred.

No refunds are given for skipped meals or other on-tour activities.

Price Increases

Price increases may occur unexpectedly. In costing tours months in advance, we try to anticipate the rising cost of airfares, ground transportation, lodging, and exchange rates. Tours that have very small group sizes at invoicing time may also need a small surcharge to run. If unexpected increases occur, we reserve the right to charge participants an increase of up to 10% of the tour price. If greater increases are necessary, participants may withdraw without penalty.

Tour Alterations

Our tours are carefully planned but sometimes circumstances beyond our control require us to make significant changes after a tour has been published on the WINGS website. If such changes, for example in itinerary or primary leadership, are necessary before a tour has been confirmed to run (70 days before tour departure unless otherwise specified), participants will be informed and may withdraw from the tour without penalty.
If significant changes occur after a tour has been confirmed but before it has departed, it will be WINGS decision whether or not we can run the tour successfully. Participants may withdraw without penalty only if they have WINGS written agreement. If WINGS decides the tour cannot be run successfully, the tour price will be refunded.

If significant changes to itinerary or mode of operation are forced upon us while a tour is in progress—for example, by an airline strike, weather delay, or political crisis—WINGS will adjust the tour to the new realities as best it can but other than for its leaders and staff, WINGS is not responsible for the additional costs. These costs, if any, are a participant expense and will be invoiced after the tour concludes. Please note that tour leaders may make itinerary adjustments during the course of their tours if local conditions warrant.

Please note that when two leaders are listed, the second may not accompany the tour if there are insufficient registrations.

Tour Invoicing and Confirmation

The standard date for invoicing for the tour balance on a WINGS tour is 3 months (around 98 days) prior to a tour’s start date. Our tours are officially confirmed approximately 2 weeks after invoicing, on a date set by the tour manager. We always recommend waiting until official tour confirmation before purchasing flights and moving forward with plans around a tour. Please note that in some cases, an earlier invoicing and confirmation timeline may be set; for example Christmastime tours or tours that are well-subscribed (see next paragraph).

WINGS regularly invoices (and confirms) tours on an earlier schedule. These are typically tours that have filled early (and possibly have a waitlist), and/or the tour has internal flights that may become space-limited as the tour start date approaches (such as Alaska). If a tour is a candidate for this process, registrants will be notified sometime in the months prior to the normal invoicing date (98 days before tour start). Invoicing on an earlier timeline allows participants to make their travel arrangements much sooner than would otherwise be possible.

Tour registrants are advised to be cautious about purchasing services such as flights from home or personal pre- or post-tour activities prior to WINGS’ formal confirmation of their tour. If WINGS has to cancel or alter a tour before formal tour confirmation, registrants will be responsible for any penalties associated with the cancellation of such services. If the early purchase of such services is important, registrants are advised to discuss their purchase with WINGS.

Waitlist Only & One Space Remains

Tours displayed as “Waitlist Only” are at present fully booked. If you would like to join the wait list, please register for your tour of choice in the normal way. We’ll acknowledge your registration and position on the wait list. 

Should space open up we will contact you with instructions to complete your registration, which may only involve collecting a deposit if you haven’t already left one. If the tour has not yet been confirmed to run (see Tour Confirmation), you will have 10 business days after we contact you to complete this process. After 10 business days, we’ll move on to the next person on the waitlist. Note: tour openings that occur after a tour has been confirmed may have different and more restrictive requirements. 

Tours displayed as “One Space Remains” have at present only one opening. If a couple would like to register, both will be placed on the waitlist pending the opening of a second space.

We are often asked how likely is it that a waitlisted space (or spaces) will clear. There is no simple answer but experience shows that the first one to three people on the waitlist for a tour due to depart six or more months out are often accommodated. Tours that depart within two months are less likely to accommodate anyone from the waitlist (though last minute cancellations do occur).

Tour Cancellation

In case of cancellation by WINGS, all deposits and other payments for the tour or tour extension will be refunded. Participants should note that the cancellation of a tour’s pre-tour or post-tour extension does not affect their rights and obligations with respect to the main portion of the same tour. Please note as well that WINGS reserves the right to cancel all or part of a tour at any time if we feel that the health and/or safety of our participants is at risk. For more details on refunds, see Refunds above.

Tour Materials

Past or prospective bird lists and General Information sheets will be sent to each registrant upon receipt of a deposit. Final tour information, meeting instructions, a participant list, and any additional materials will be mailed about three weeks before tour departure. A final tour report will be emailed to all participants after the tour.

Tours Abroad

Having the correct documentation in place before your trip is essential and visa requirements for U.S. citizens (and citizens of other countries) vary notably by country. WINGS will provide details about obligations known to us at the time, but regulations can change with little or no notice. It is the participant’s sole responsibility for checking foreign entry requirements and when necessary, obtaining a visa from the appropriate embassy or consulate. Alternatively, a visa service can be convenient; for a fee they will handle everything to obtain your visa or expedite your passport. Instructions can conveniently be downloaded from the CIBT website. They can be reached at 1-800-577-2428. Mention account number 50097 to obtain discounted rates.

Travel Insurance

WINGS recommends that you purchase a travel insurance plan to help protect you and your travel investment against the unexpected.

For your convenience, we offer travel protection through Travelex Insurance Services.  For more information on the available plans or to enroll, click here or contact Travelex Insurance Services at 800-228-9792 and reference location number 03-0082.

Travelex Insurance Services, Inc CA Agency License #0D10209. Travel Insurance is underwritten by, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company, NAIC #22276. 55Y

For UK-specific companies, a couple good options are P J Hayman & Company Ltd ( or Staysure ( Staysure is currently covering Covid-19 liability. If you prefer speaking to an insurance broker, Sunbird’s traditional contact has been Helen Fisher at Bullerwell Independent Insurance Brokers, 13 Goldington Road, Bedford, MK40 3JY. Tel: 01234-866964.

Travel to the Point of Departure

WINGS and Frosch Travel would be happy to assist with your travel arrangements. If you would like assistance, please contact Mario Fronda and his team at 646-490-3494 or [email protected] and identify yourself as a WINGS client. Please note a ticketing fee applies for this service.


Up until 2021, many bookings from the UK for our tours came through our sister company, Sunbird. If you are from the United Kingdom, we appreciate that you may have some questions about the whole process from contacting the WINGS office, to booking, payment, flights, and joining the tour. See here ( for detailed information on these points.

Privacy Policy

Our privacy policy can be viewed here.

Assumption of Risk and Liability Release Agreement

While WINGS BIRDWATCHING TOURS, INC., spares no effort in its attempt to provide its clients and staff with a safe travel environment, we frequently travel to remote locations where medical care may be nonexistent or minimal, where the terrain may be rugged and unpeopled, and where local governments may respond very differently than our own. We expect our clients to take reasonable and prudent care for their own safety and to recognize that WINGS cannot guarantee anyone’s personal safety. For these reasons, we are willing to provide you with the tour opportunity you have requested only if you accept your personal responsibilities and you release us from liability for your safety within the limits of the law by entering into the Assumption Of Risk And Liability Release Agreement that you will be sent at the time you register for a tour.

Download the Assumption Of Risk And Liability Release Agreement [PDF, 64KB].

Note: The WINGS website constitutes our document of record. Should published or distributed materials concerning tour descriptions, itineraries, costs, etc., differ in any way from the current WINGS website version, the WINGS website version is correct.

Updated: November 2022