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WINGS Tour Leaders – Steve Howell

Steve Howell

Image of Steve Howell

Steve Howell has been birding for as long as he can remember: of course, this may simply mean that his memory isn’t very good. But the many who have traveled with him over his more than 35 years of leading tours around the world soon learn that birding can be great fun, as well as being a way to enjoy and learn, to see new birds and new worlds.

Steve was born in Cardiff, the capital city of Wales, and spent his formative years birding throughout Britain before venturing farther afield. After university he planned a couple of years of travel before settling down, but by a series of coincidences ended up in Mexico. And so began a 14-year venture culminating in the publication of A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America, co-authored with Sophie Webb. Steve recently celebrated 40 years of birding and travel in Mexico, a truly magical country full of amazing birds. Away from land, he is a world-renowned expert on seabirds, and has spent over four years of his life at sea and encountered over 97% of the world’s tubenoses. 

Concurrent with researching the Mexico guide, writing became a habit. Steve has authored and co-authored several other books, including the Peterson Reference Guide to Molt in North American Birds (2010), the Petrels, Albatrosses & Storm-Petrels of North America (2012), Rare Birds of North America (2014, co-authored with Will Russell and Ian Lewington), the very popular The Amazing World of Flyingfish (2014), and most recently the Peterson Guide to Bird Identification - In 12 Steps (2018, co-authored with Brian Sullivan) and Oceanic Birds of the World: A Photo Guide (2019, co-authored with Kirk Zufelt)  He has also written many scientific and popular articles, ranging from the identification of petrels and frigatebirds to the taxonomy of tapaculos and hummingbirds and molt in woodpeckers and skuas. His ‘chronic’ writing habit was recognized in 2005, when the American Birding Association presented him with the Robert Ridgway Award for publications in field ornithology. Steve serves on the editorial board of Cotinga (the journal of the Neotropical Bird Club) and is a Research Associate at the California Academy of Sciences and at Point Blue Conservation Science, former book review editor for Western Birds, and a former member of the California Bird Records Committee.            

Interests beyond birds include butterflies, tequila, and chocolate (the last two come originally from Mexico, which may be no coincidence). 


"Steve Howell is exceptional in his knowledge of birds and his efforts to find them and make sure that participants see them and learn about them. His knowledge is formidable. He is far and away the best birding tour leader I have ever experienced. Great sense of humor." 
- a participant on Mexico: The Lacandon Rainforest and Maya Ruins 

"Steve is an excellent birding guide and a fine person. He made the trip very easy and enjoyable." 
- Phil U. on Mexico: San Blas

Updated: November 2022