Meet Peter Kaestner (Part Time Tour Leader)

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Peter is a world-renowned independent birder who has spent a lifetime sharing his passion for birds with others.

Always a birder, Peter’s first international trip was at age nine in 1962, when he visited the Bahamas. In 1967 he spent a school year in New Delhi and returned twice as a diplomat to work at the U.S. Embassy there. Five years and 964 species later, Peter is one of the top eBirders in India.

Along the way, he has birded in 174 eBird “countries” and currently holds eBird’s biggest world life list (9075). His IOC list stands at 9290 as of May 2019. Peter is also recognized in the Guinness Book of Records as the first person to see a representative of every bird family in the world.

  1. Read more on Peter Kaestner

    After receiving a degree in Biology at Cornell University (where he was an Ornithology teaching assistant), Peter served in the Peace Corps in Zaire as a secondary-school science teacher.

    During his 36-year career as a U.S. diplomat, he helped negotiate the UN Desertification Convention in 1994 and a protocol amending the 1916 Migratory Bird Convention with Canada in 1995.  He represented the United States at Conferences of the Parties of the Ramsar Convention and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

    Peter has lived in 12 different countries where he contributed to the scientific knowledge and conservation of birds, led scores of bird walks and tours, and authored dozens of articles. He re-discovered several birds in Colombia and Ecuador.  But the highlight of Peter’s birding career came in 1989, when he was living in Bogotá. Just 50 kilometers east of the Colombian capital, he discovered a new bird – an antpitta named in his honor: Grallaria kaestneri (Cundinimarca Antpitta)

    Since his retirement in August 2016, Peter has become a full-time birder, striving to be the first person to see 10,000 species. Peter gets the most satisfaction in sharing his passion for birds through involvement in local bird clubs, leading bird walks and tours, and giving illustrated lectures on birds around the world.

EP, Sri Lanka 2020

"Both Peter K and local leader were great. Our local leader went so out of his way to find and stake out owls, he'd start roaming the forest at 2 and have reports for us at dawn when we would meet in field. We had all 9 available owls due to his work. He also knew each area so well we found all endemics as he had such intimate knowledge of location and back up sites for each key species. Amazing, he sure pulled some birds out of almost thin air. Sri Lanka Frogmouth, Sri Lanka Bay and Serendip Owls, etc. Also amazing with his knowledge of calls - my guess is Rockjumper has the country's best local guide - keep him happy! The bus was great, more room than we needed but that sure beats the alternative - made the long drives so comfy. Also had WIFI which added a real time killer to travel."

JR, India 2020

This trip was great! We were told the trip should generate about 250 bird species and our total was very close. Peter was excellent at finding birds, leading us and keeping a positive group atmosphere. The local guides also were competent and helpful. Accommodations are not an important aspect of a trip to me but the ones we stayed at were excellent, as were the meals. The trip was an excellent introduction to India for me tho I was happy to have it very much concentrate on birding.

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