Our Team

Matthew A. Young, M.S. President and Founder of the Finch Research Network (FiRN):
Matt has been observing and enjoying nature since a very young age. He’s lived in Central New York for 26+ years and it was during this time when he really started studying everything from birds to orchids, and bogs and fens. Matt received his B.S. in Water Resources with a minor in Meteorology from SUNY-Oneonta and his M.S. in Ornithology from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry/Syracuse University in 2003. Matt did his masters research on avian diversity in restored wetlands of central New York at the Great Swamp Conservancy. He was a Regional Editor of the Kingbird for 10 years, the state ornithological journal in New York, was an Adjunct Professor in Environmental Studies at SUNY-Cortland, and currently teaches an Intro to Birding class for Cornell University and was the Board Chair at The Wetland Trust.

Over the last 26 years he’s worked as a social worker (and is currently) with special needs young adults and adolescents for close to 12 years, and worked at the Cornell Lab across 15+ years where he did extensive field work for the Lab’s Cerulean and Golden-winged Warblers atlas projects, and was project lead on the Lab’s first Finch Irruptive Bird Survey for Bird Source in 1999. He was the Collections Management Leader/Audio Engineer at the Macaulay Library ~12 years where he edited sounds for several Merlin packs around the world in addition to being the lead audio engineer on guides, the Songs of the Warblers of North America, Audubon Society Voices of Hawaii’s Birds, and the Cornell Lab’s Guides to Bird Sounds, the North America Master and Essential Sets. Beyond birds, herps and wetlands, he’s the Founder and President of the Native Orchid Conservation Network and co-author describing a new species of orchid, Spiranthes sheviakii. He’s been a tour guide leader for Victor Emanuel Nature Tours, written finch species accounts for breeding bird atlases and Birds of the World, and has published several papers about the Red Crossbill vocal complex including describing a new call type Type 12. He’s currently working on Finches of United States and Canada with Lillian Stokes and is also the President and Founder of the Finch Research Network (FiRN). 

E-mail: may6@cornell.edu or info@finchnetwork.org

Timothy Spahr, PhD. Astronomer and Field Ornithologist:
Tim was interested in birds for a few years in his youth, including attending the 1978 Dayton Ohio CBC. After settling on astrophysics for a career Tim obtained undergraduate degrees in physics and astronomy from the University of Arizona, and MS and PhD in Astronomy from the University of Florida. In the mid 2000s, he eventually returned to birding with the passion he had as a youngster. Tim has traveled the US and Canada on many bird trips, and several specifically targeting crossbills and grosbeaks for recording. In addition Tim served on the Massachusetts Avian Records Committee, including a term as the Chair in 2018-2019. During the large crossbill irruption in the east in 2012-2013, Tim and Matt became good friends and research partners, and have continued as such to this day.
E-mail: tspahr44@gmail.com

Holger Klinck, Ph.D. Director of Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Center for Conservation Bioacoustics:
Holger is a sports and nature enthusiast — He joined the Cornell Lab in December 2015 to become the Director of the Center for Conservation Bioacoustics (CCB) in August 2016. He’s a Faculty Fellow with the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future at Cornell University in addition to holding an Adjunct Assistant Professor position at Oregon State University (OSU). Before moving to the U.S. in early 2008 for a postdoctoral position at OSU, Holger was a Ph.D. student at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Germany. His graduate work focused on the development of the Perennial Acoustic Observatory in the Antarctic Ocean and the study of the leopard seal (coolest animal ever!) vocal behavior. His current research focuses on the development and application of hard- and software tools for passive-acoustic monitoring (i.e. Automated Recording Units) of terrestrial and marine ecosystems and biodiversity. He also is a project leader for the Cornell Lab’s BirdNet app, which is an app and research project that uses artificial intelligence neural networks to train computers to identify by sounds nearly 1,000 of the most common species of North America and Europe. One of my goals is to enable researchers around the globe to acoustically monitor habitats and wildlife at large spatial scales.

Holger a full member of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA), a moderator of the popular Bioacoustics-L mailing list which is hosted by CCB, and is a manuscript referee for several journals including the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, Canadian Journal of Zoology, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Animal Behaviour, Deep-Sea Research Part I, Plos ONE, Acoustics Australia, New Zealand Journal of Ecology, Nature Communications, Ocean Engineering, Sensors, Mammal Research, Methods in Ecology and Evolution, and Landscape Ecology. He also referees proposals for NSF, National Geographic, NOAA, Seagrant New Hampshire, and the US Navy’s Living Marine Resources Program (LMR).
Web: Center for Conservation Bioacoustics
E-mail: Holger.Klinck@cornell.edu

Patrick Franke, Field Biologist & Recordist:
Patrick has been involved in nature conservation since his early youth. Getting additionally interested in sound recording in 2000 paved the way to the field of bioacoustics and thus to ornithology in general. He completed his sound art studies at the Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig with a diploma. 2008 Patrick started working as a field ornithologist and primarily does ecological surveys both onshore and offshore.
Patrick was chairman of the tradition-steeped Leipzig Ornithological Association, member of the Saxon Rarities Committee and deputy spokesman of the Bioacoustics working group in the German Ornithologists’ Society. He regularly gives lectures and workshops and has been involved in bird ringing projects for many years.

His research is focused on acoustic identification of birds and taxonomic issues in the Western Palearctic and Central Asia. In 2012 he founded Birds-in-Flight – an online ID-Guide for the identification of Western Palearctic migratory birds. Patrick’s collection contains more than 15,000 sound recordings of birds. He has made a large part of his collection available to archives, research projects, information centres, museums and for ID guides. Since he first read about crossbill call types in 2006 he has been working intensively on Eurasian populations and has collected several hundreds of sound recordings of crossbills since then.
Web: singwarte.info and birds-in-flight.net
E-mail: work@singwarte.info

Ian Cruickshank, Freelance Ornithologist and Sound Recordist:
Active birder in western Canada since his teenage years, and particularly interested in the subtleties of bird vocalizations. He is an active audio recordist; you can hear some of his recordings here: www.xeno-canto.org He attended Long Point Bird Observatory, Ontario Young Ornithologist’s workshop as a teen. He has done many years of bird surveys and other field biology work in western Canada (including with Bird Studies Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service, and Parks Canada), as well as bird tour guiding, and is a British Columbia Bird Records Committee member and eBird reviewer. If you ask him what his favourite birds are, he might reply with Raven, Red Crossbill, Evening Grosbeak, Nelson’s or Le Conte’s Sparrow, or Bushtit, depending on the day.
E-mail: ian.cruickshank@telus.net

Tom Hahn is a Professor of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior at the University of California, Davis:
Tom has been studying the behavior and environmental physiology of finches since 1987, when he began his PhD work on red crossbill reproductive schedules in the Pacific Northwest. His work since then has focused mostly on annual schedules of reproduction, molt and migration in crossbills, with comparative work on other carduelines, including pine siskins, American and lesser goldfinches, house and Cassin’s finches, evening grosbeaks and gray-crowned rosy-finches. He did his PhD in Zoology at the University of Washington, postdoctoral work in biopsychology at Johns Hopkins University, and has been on the biology faculties at Princeton University and the University of Alaska Fairbanks, eventually settling permanently at UC Davis, where he has been since 2001. His current interests include biogeography and natural history of evening grosbeaks; the relationships between variation in diet breadth and annual schedules of movement, molt and migration in different vocal types of red crossbills; fueling strategies for different types of facultative nomadic migration; and the importance of alternate foods (e.g., foliage insects) to the ability of diet specialists such as crossbills to employ a rich-patch exploitation movement strategy.

E-mail: tphahn@ucdavis.edu

Kenneth McEnaney, Ph.D.:
Ken is an R&D engineer, with interests in solar energy, acoustics, app development, and machine learning.  He’s been an avid birder since his youth.  Before he went to graduate school at MIT, Ken was employed as a field research assistant counting hawks and banding birds in Panama, Costa Rica, Nevada, and the Pacific Northwest. Ken is the lead on on the Crossbill Recognition Model and mapping projects.
E-mail: ken.mcenaney@gmail.com

Jamie Cornelius is an assistant professor of Integrative Biology at Oregon State University.
She has been studying the behavior and environmental physiology of finches since 2001 when she began her PhD work at the University of California-Davis. Her work has focused largely on red crossbill ecophysiology and behavior, with some comparative work in pine siskins and American goldfinches in North America and a comparative study of diverse Cardueline finches in Russia. Jamie was a post-doctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute of Ornithology and UC Davis, an instructor at Cal State University – Monterey Bay and a professor at Eastern Michigan University before landing at Oregon State. Her interests include the nomadic migratory biology and physiology of finches, how finches cope with unpredictable changes in seed supply, the metabolic costs of winter breeding in crossbills and ecotoxicology. Her shark biologist husband and two boys frequently assist with field work.
E-mail: cornelja@oregonstate.edu

Tyler Hoar Freelance Ornithologist/Consultant and Winter Finch Forecaster: Tyler is an experienced field biologist. Over his career, he has studied many avian families including shorebirds, raptors, parrots, and passerines including finches. His work has taken him from the high Canadian Arctic south to the deserts of Arizona and the rainforests of the Caribbean. Recent work has been centred around the wetlands of the Great Lakes and shorebirds staging in southern James Bay (for Birds Studies Canada, Canada Wildlife Service, and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI)). Tyler is the Winter Finch Forecaster that took over for Ron Pittaway and he authored the Evening Grosbeak account for the second Ontario Breeding Bird atlas.

E-mail: thoar@rogers.com

Heather Watts is a Herbert L. Eastlick Distinguished Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at Washington State University.

Heather has been studying animal behavior for over 20 years. She earned a joint PhD in Zoology and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology & Behavior from Michigan State University. Her interest in birds developed while she was studying spotted hyenas in Kenya as a graduate student. She began studying finches as a NIH NRSA Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Davis. Heather’s research has focused primarily on pine siskins, although she has worked with other species, including house finches and red crossbills. She held a faculty position at Loyola Marymount University before moving to Washington State University. Heather is an Elected Fellow of the International Ornithologists’ Union. Her research interests include understanding how birds time annual cycle events such as breeding and migration, the causes and consequences of variation in biological timing, the biology of flexible migration patterns, and the role of social cues in behavioral decision making.


Matt Sarver is a field ecologist and principal at Sarver Ecological, where he provides conservation planning, ecological assessment, and restoration services in Delaware and the surrounding Mid-Atlantic. He has special expertise in pollinator conservation, native plant community ecology, insect biodiversity and invasive species.

Matt has over 20 years of field experience identifying and studying the ecological communities, flora, and fauna of the eastern US and he is an Ecological Society of America Certified Senior Ecologist and a Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner by the Society for Ecological Restoration.

In his non-work time, Matt is a respected conservation advocate, serving as Vice Chair of the Delaware Native Species Commission, Conservation Chair of the Delaware Ornithological Society, on the Open Space Council for New Castle County, DE, and many other board and committee positions.

Matt has been an avid birder, sound recordist, and field ornithologist for over twenty years. His avian ecology interests focus on bird habitat relationships at multiple spatial scales, especially in response to management practices and natural disturbance.

E-mail: matt@sarverecological.com

The address of the The Finch Research Network is 3762 State Route 41 Cincinnatus, NY, but please send any donations payable by check to PO Box 5431 Cortland, NY 13045. You can also email Matt Young at info@finchnetwork.org or call at 607-345-7713 to inquire more.