Janelle Long – Executive Director

Janelle Long began her career as the Executive Director at Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory in August 2007. She received her M.Ed. in Environmental Education at the University of Minnesota Duluth and a B.S. in Wildlife Management and Biology at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. Her interest in ornithology and conservation biology began by assisting several Ph.D. students with their field research studying neotropical migrants and grassland birds. She continued to share her passion for birds in the field of environmental education working at several Audubon Centers and for the Bureau of Land Management’s Yaquina Head Oustanding Natural Area in OR. She enjoys bridging the bird conservation research, education, and stewardship components through her career with Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory. Janelle resides in Duluth, MN with her husband and 3 children.

Frank Nicoletti – Banding Director/Spring Count Director

Frank Nicoletti grew up in New York State along the Hudson River where he started watching raptors at the age of 11. His passion for raptors and other birds fueled him to work at various locations including Cape May and Sandy Hook NJ, Braddock Bay NY and in Israel. From 1984 until 1996 he traveled throughout the country and conducted various raptor related projects which included nesting surveys, tracking winter raptors and migration work. He arrived in Duluth in 1991 to count raptors and to witness the invasion of the Northern Goshawk and he conducted the count until 2005. After moving to Duluth permanently in the fall of 1996, he conducted the first spring count of raptors migrating north in Minnesota along the West Skyline Parkway of Duluth. Frank continues to study raptors and has been concentrating on boreal forest owls and managing raptor banding sites. He has published a number of papers on birds and has helped with many authors working on books and articles.

He lives just north of Duluth with his wife, Kate. Frank joined the Hawk Ridge staff in 2011 as the Banding Director and as of 2018 will also be directing the Hawk Ridge Spring Count (West Skyline Hawk Count).

John Richardson – Fall Count Director/Spring Count Interpreter

John Richardson hails from East Yorkshire in the UK, but has called Northern Minnesota home for over 20 years. Enjoying his life-long passion for birds, he is a professional bird guide. John joined the Hawk Ridge staff in 2016 as the Fall Count Interpreter and currently is the Spring Count Interpreter and Fall Count Director.  John resides in Duluth with his wife and 3 boys.

Margie Menzies – Education Manager

Margie Menzies: One part educator, two parts naturalist, and two parts bird nerd! Who says slow and steady wins the race? After years in the formal classroom, this educator has abandoned the indoors for the great outdoor classroom. Margie is the naturalist at Sugarloaf Cove Nature Center up the North Shore in Schroeder, MN during the summer. There where she provides programs, camps, and bird banding; returning to Duluth for mail, laundry and grocery shopping! During the rest of the year she is a freelance naturalist and education consultant working on a variety of projects. She has also worked at Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth. She has a BA from Bethel University, and a MA from University of St. Thomas. Providing naturalist programming for the general public furnishes many colorful and meaningful experiences with every day on the job. She loves birds, learning, and sharing the natural world with people of all ages. Margie joined the Hawk Ridge staff as a Naturalist in 2011 and currently is an Education Manager directing school programs for Hawk Ridge in the fall and other programs in the winter/spring.

Clinton Nienhaus – Education Manager

I grew up in a small southern Minnesota town called Winnebago. Much of my free time as a youngster was spent playing outside, whether it was baseball or fishing the Blue Earth River. My interest in birds started with observing a yellow-headed blackbird at my grandmother’s farm when I was young, alongside my affinity for nature and the outdoors. From my hometown, I headed to the southeastern part of the state to attend St. Mary’s University of Minnesota in Winona. I graduated from there in 2013 with a degree in Environmental Biology and completed a thesis on population dynamics of a group of fishes called buffalo. While at St. Mary’s I got an opportunity to work with education birds and my experiences with them solidified my interest in birds and particularly educating the public about them!  Currently, I am a graduate student at the University of Minnesota-Duluth pursuing a Masters in Environmental Education. Previously I have worked in prairie restorations in southwestern Wisconsin, as the summer naturalist at Tettegouche State Park, and at the Lake Superior Zoo. I then completed my Masters in Environmental Education and the University of MN Duluth. Clinton joined the Hawk Ridge staff as the Count Interpreter in 2014. Thanks to a grant from the Lloyd K. Johnson Foundation, I currently serve in a shared position with Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory and the Friends of the Sax-Zim Bog, as an Education Manager for Hawk Ridge in the summer/fall and Head Naturalist for Sax-Zim in the winter/spring


We welcome our Fall 2018 team which includes seasonal employees and volunteers.

Allie Pesano – Bander

Allie first joined HRBO in the fall of 2016 as a banding trainee. With this experience she discovered a passion for raptor migration and a home-away-from-home in Duluth and the HRBO community. In the fall of 2017 she trapped, banded, and counted migrating raptors at the famous Goshute Mountains migration site in Nevada while working for HawkWatch International. This fall, she hopes to be a valuable asset to the banding project while also educating and inspiring others about raptors and ecology. Allie grew up in Syracuse, NY, obtained a B.S. in Wildlife Biology from Unity College in Maine, and has traveled the country working on various avian ecology projects.

Kate Maley – Owl Bander

Kate Maley discovered a love of birds and field work while attending the University of Wisconsin – Madison.  Since then, she has worked on a variety of projects–ranging from banding songbirds in coastal California, to deploying light level geolocators on Golden-winged Warblers and Blue-winged Warblers along the East Coast, to banding diurnal raptors and owls at HRBO as one of the 2017 banding trainees.  Kate is looking forward to spending another great fall at Hawk Ridge, this time as the owl bander.

Stephen Nelson – Counter

Stephen Nelson has enjoyed Hawk Ridge as a visitor, volunteer, and count trainee. His interest in birds was sparked during his time at UMD, where he graduated with a degree in Environmental and Outdoor Education. Since then, he has honed an interest into a passion-driven career. In addition to his prior work with Hawk Ridge, Stephen has done related research for Raptor View Research Institute at MPG Ranch in Florence, MT as well as Hawkwatch International at Gunsight Mountain Hawk Watch near Glacier View, AK. He has also pursued passerine research throughout Northern Minnesota as a point count survey field technician with NRRI. Stephen looks forward to his return to Hawk Ridge in Fall 2018 as the Counter, and hopes to see both new and familiar faces at the Ridge!

Allie Quick – Naturalist

Allie grew up in Superior, Wisconsin and graduated from UW-Superior with a major in Biology, minor in Earth Science, and a certification in Information Technology Systems. Allie enjoys outdoor activities such as fishing, camping, canoeing, snowboarding, and bird watching. Her passion for birds (primarily raptors) started after she took an Ornithology class at UWS. She also was a biology tutor at UWS, which grew her passion for teaching. Allie currently works for Alerus as a Relationship Banker. She will be returning for her fifth fall season as a weekend Naturalist with Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory.

Andy Witchger – Naturalist

Andy first came to Hawk Ridge as a volunteer, where he developed a passion for passerine banding and birds of prey. Since that time he’s received certifications from the Institute for Bird Populations and spent 5 years banding with Sugarloaf Cove Nature Center, Wolf Ridge ELC and Hawk Ridge. Prior to working at Hawk Ridge, he received a BA and MA from St. John’s University and spent 12 years as a teacher in the Minneapolis area. When not chasing warblers, you’ll find him hiking and fly-fishing along the North Shore.

Alex Sundvall – Count Interpreter

Alex Sundvall is a Birder born and raised in the Twin Cities. In 2016, he was the proud recipient of the Minnesota Ornithologist’s Union’s Young Birder Award. He got interested in birds at the age of 5 when his Kindergarten class took a trip to Westwood Hills Nature Center where they released a Dark-eyed Junco they had been rehabilitating. From that day onward, Alex’s life has been for the birds! For the last 16 years, he has been birding around the state honing his bird identification skills. Hot off of a field season in Western Minnesota doing Duck, Marshbird, and Songbird surveys, Alex is very excited to be the Count Interpreter for Hawk Ridge this fall season! While not birding (which happens very rarely), Alex plays percussion with the Encore Wind Ensemble. Picking a single favorite bird is impossible, but his favorite bird family is the Bowerbirds of Australia.

Noel Larson – Visitor Services Specialist

Noel is returning for her 2nd season with Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory. She comes to us from Washington West where she studied Oceanography at the University of Washington in Seattle. Noel was a curator in Bellingham’s Marine Life Center and a naturalist on a Orca whale watching boat. Since moving to Duluth in 2014 she completed the Master Naturalist Training course at Sugarloaf Cove, worked as a lifeguard, and as an Environmental Education Intern at Hartley Nature Center and the Lake Superior Zoo. Most recently she worked for FedEx and qualified for boat crew with the Coast Guard Auxiliary this spring. She is working on her PADI Dive Master certification and will renew her 100 Ton Mates license (Merchant Mariner Document) with plans to attain her Master’s in Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies.

She loves SCUBA diving, XC skiing, birch bark basket making, reading books and discovering new places along the shore of Lake Superior. Noel and her significant other of 17 years, Kirk, reside in Duluth, but hope to buy a coastal farm someday to open a brewery and seaweed farm!

Hannah Toutonghi – Bird Migration Count Trainee

Hannah Toutonghi is excited to be back at Hawk Ridge this season as the count trainee! She grew up in Washington State, and has currently been doing backcountry bird counts in the Olympic National Park. She graduated from the University of Washington in 2016 with a B.S in biochemistry, but has always loved the outdoors and getting experience doing field work with birds. Previously, she has focused on outdoor education, working as a Naturalist in Edmonds, WA, and also teaching classes at Shoreline community college called “Intro to Birding in the Pacific Northwest”. Now, after a season last year as the education trainee at Hawk Ridge, Hannah has realized migration is her passion and wants to continue researching and experiencing visual migration.

Matthew Hanneman – Bird Banding Trainee

I grew up in central Wisconsin where I spent a good amount of time outdoors hunting, fishing and camping. After high school I served 4 years in the United States Army and used the college benefits after my enlistment was completed to attend the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. It was during my time in college that I first discovered my passion for studying raptors. I attended a raptor research field techniques course and assisted local raptor biologists study a variety of species such as Cooper’s hawks, red-shouldered hawks and merlins. I graduated in the spring of 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in wildlife research and management. after college I spent time as a raptor banding technician in both Wisconsin and Michigan specifically banding northern saw-whet owls and other nocturnal raptors during their fall and spring migrations. Most recently I worked as an intern at the National Eagle Center working with the eagles there and educating the public about eagles and other raptors.

Zane Den Ouden – Bird Banding Trainee

I was born in Asheville, NC and spent a lot of my childhood hiking and exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains that surrounded me. I spent my summers in Bemidji, MN at my grandparents’ cabin and fell in love with the area. I went to school at Bemidji State University and graduated with a double major in Wildlife Biology and Fisheries Biology. My first seasonal field job was working with Northern Spotted Owls and Northern Goshawks in Klamath National Forest in California. Through this job, I gained a love for studying birds and a great appreciation for raptors. I have spent the last two summers banding songbirds in the Southern Appalachians. I am excited to be at Hawk Ridge this fall and experience a new type of banding!

Arthur Sanchez – Bird Banding Trainee

Arthur Sanchez Jr. grew up in Ventura County, just North of Los Angeles. He attended Ventura College prior to transferring to Humboldt State University in Northern California. In December of 2016 he graduated with a B.S. in Wildlife Management and Conservation Biology. His bird banding career started in 2015 at Humboldt Bay Bird Observatory where he gained knowledge in every aspect of the banding process. While he was still an undergraduate, Arthur was the Lead Passerine Bander and a Raptor Field Technician for a non-profit organization in Jackson, Wyoming. Arthur’s experience has allowed him to travel the United States working with diverse group of birds. His experience has directed him to work for multiple non-profit organizations such as Intermountain Bird Observatory, Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch, and Black Swamp Bird Observatory, one of the highest volume stations in North America. He has also worked for establishments such as the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and SHARP (Saltmarsh Habitat and Avian Research Program), which is a collaborative program with nine participating northeastern universities. Arthur has taken every step to legitimize his banding skills by taking the NABC (North American Banding Council) certification exam in 2017. His next goal is to become certified as a Raptor Bander and as a certified Trainer. As his passion for birds lies with raptors, he is still infatuated with the complex life history strategies of passerines. In his spare time, Arthur enjoys bird watching, listening to music, playing sports, and spending time with family and friends.

Kaitlyn Okrusch – Environmental Education Trainee

Kaitlyn Okrusch was born in Butte, Montana, where she grew up hiking, backpacking, fishing, floating and birding. She graduated from Montana State University in Bozeman, MT, with a B.S. in Nutritional Science and Biochemistry in 2015. Since graduation, however, she has realized her true passion is ornithology conservation and sustainability. She previously worked in Glacier National Park at The Glacier Institute as a teacher/naturalist. She greatly looks forward to being the Education Trainee at Hawk Ridge, learning and teaching more about birds! She hopes to apply for graduate school for ornithology conservation in the future after gaining more experience.

Steve Kolbe, Volunteer Counter

Steve Kolbe has counted migrating birds at Bradbury Mountain, the Avalon Seawatch, Tussey Mountain, Holiday Beach, Kiptopeke, Derby Hill, and Hawk Ridge (fall 2014 & spring 2018). He recently completed his Master’s degree at the University of Minnesota Duluth studying the migration of Common Nighthawks and is currently working for the Natural Resources Research Institute. Steve will be returning for his 4th season as a volunteer to help with the fall bird migration count at Hawk Ridge. Steve loves watching and taking photographs of migrating birds.

David Alexander – Volunteer Bander

David Alexander grew up living all over the world, and after finishing his medical training in Dallas, Madison, and Tucson finally decided it was time to settle down. Through some luck, he and his wife Christina Tarasczuk landed in Duluth, MN of all places. David has been a sometimes passionate birder over the years and still manages to get overseas for a few nature trips a year. Starting in the Fall of 1995, he has been an annual visitor and later a volunteer at Hawk Ridge.
David served on the board of Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve for many years, took a hiatus, and is now in his second term on the board of Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory. David works full-time as a radiologist for Essentia Health in Duluth. In his time off, he spends long days at Hawk Ridge in the fall helping to lead the Hawk Ridge Passerine Banding Project, as well as one of the assistant banders in the raptor project. In conjunction with Margie Menzies, he helps direct the summer MAPS breeding bird banding study.