Sergio Seipke

Osprey photo by Stephen L. Tabone

Sergio Seipke

Sergio Seipke
Sergio holding a Black Baza at Khao Dinsor, Thailand

I was born in Misiones, NE Argentina in 1974, where I was also raised. As my father ran a lumbering operation, I had frequent access to remote areas covered with tropical rainforest. My father taught me how to hunt, fish, and respect and admire Nature. I feel as if I’ve always been a naturalist.

I started watching and learning about raptors in 1993. In 1995 I graduated as a technician in electronics. I attended biology courses for several years at the University of La Plata, Argentina but never graduated. My classes simply had too little to do with my passion, i.e., traveling the world to watch, learn about, and photograph raptors. I was a Hawk Mountain trainee twice: first in 2005 and again in 2006.

I am currently writing Raptors of South America, the first field guide for the subcontinent. I have authored and co-authored 16 articles dealing with raptor biology, migration, taxonomy, and field identification of Neotropical raptors.

Back in 2005 Bill Clark encouraged me to start leading raptor tours as a means of funding my book project. I co-led my first tour in 2006 along with Bill, in northern Argentina. Although we only had one (!) paticipant on that tour, it was a fun experience—I was hooked. In February 2013 I formally organized Raptours, L.L.C. in Lincoln, Nebraska, and now own the company. This resulted in a new and very exciting phase of my raptor career. Since 2005 to date I have designed, organized, and led or co-led raptor tours in eight countries in four continents.

Raptors have inspired me to travel. I've watched, studied, photographed and enjoyed raptors in 13 countries including Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Germany, Panama, South Africa, Thailand, the U.K., and the U.S.A. While mother taught me to speak Spanish, raptors made me fluent in English and Portuguese. I have met many inspiring individuals in my travels ranging from superstar international raptor experts to impressively knowledgeable local naturalists. Not that I am counting, but as of March 2015 I have seen 192 species of raptors (sensu Gill & Donsker [eds.] 2014, IOC World List). OK, maybe I am counting them, after all.

I will always remember the first time I recognized that a raptor was a raptor: I was eight; it was siesta time, and I was walking by myself along a scorching-hot dirt road in northern Misiones. All of a sudden a “hawk” perched on a tree that was part of the green wall on the road shoulder. The bird wagged its tail and crouched right after folding its wings. I saw its exquisitely fine barring on chest and belly, its dark hood and the penetrating bright yellow eyes as they stared at me. He gave me a harsh, nasal “Eeeehhh”, and glided across the road never to be seen again. I did not know what it was back then (although I do now, as probably you do, too) but I will never forget it.

When I am not scouting, designing, organizing, or leading a raptor tour, I try to fly-fish wherever I go—I am partial to Golden Dorado, although I won't turn down a dry fly rainbow stream. I also enjoy spending time at home playing with my two kids, Sean & Dakota, and chatting or going out to grab a bite with my beloved wife Juliana.

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