Melissa Fratello

About the Author

Melissa Fratello is an ardent naturalist, photographer, tinkerer, and writer. She has worked to advance a more equitable and approachable birding community, supporting Feminist Bird Club chapters in Tucson and beyond, and currently directs Tucson Audubon Society, which she is guiding through a renaming process. She feels strongly that birders owe it to the birds they observe to protect their precious and quickly disappearing habitats, and that birding can serve as a most wonderful gateway to conservation action and as a cure to the consumerism that ails us. When she's not working, she's gardening, cooking, or exploring the far flung reaches of the Sky Islands—peeping at plants, listening for birds, and always hoping to happen upon a snake.

Steven Prager is a field biologist, science communicator, conservation advocate, and lifelong Arizonan. He may have co-written a book about birds, but the avian world is just a small part of what keeps this naturalist busy. He’s always happy to go birding, but he’s likely to miss that passing rarity as he struggles to not let his thoughts and eyes wander to the snakes, lizards, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates (especially ants) that also call the Southwest home. He thinks that birds are best appreciated as just one part of the habitats they occupy, and he believes that the ethical enjoyment of birds and their habitats requires a commitment to their protection.  Deeply troubled by the environmental challenges—climate change, drought, and rampant development—that have in ways defined his time growing up in and exploring Arizona, he is committed to transforming people’s passion for birding into a willingness to take conservation action. Whether Steven is down in the dirt admiring the efforts of his backyard leafcutter ants or eyeball-deep in thornscrub, searching (so far unsuccessfully) for a Brown Vinesnake, he’s just happy to be outside.

By the Author