Ansel Payne joins Birmingham Audubon as Teaching Naturalist

Ansel Payne Pix

Ansel Payne, Teaching Naturalist

Birmingham Audubon welcomes Ansel Payne, Ph.D., as teaching naturalist for the staffed urban chapter celebrating 70 years as an Alabama nonprofit dedicated to conservation, birds and habitat, and a greater knowledge of the natural world.

“We are happy to have Ansel join our team and know we will benefit from his enthusiasm for our work and his interpretation of the connection between conservation and recreation,” says Suzanne Langley, Birmingham Audubon executive director. Payne joins the Birmingham staff Monday, Apri1 4.

A native of West Virginia and a former high school science teacher, Payne most recently worked as the Program Assistant in charge of admissions at the University of Virginia’s Rare Book School. An avid naturalist, he holds degrees from Harvard University (BA Biology) and Tufts University (MS Biology), as well as a PhD in Comparative Biology from the American Museum of Natural History.

While Payne’s doctoral research focused mostly on the evolution of wasps and bees, it also created plenty of opportunities for recreational birding. “Going on international research trips turns out to be a great way to build up your life list,” he says. In addition to work in Israel, Mexico, and Nicaragua, Payne has also conducted wasp surveys throughout the American West, from the mountains of Southern California to the deserts of eastern Oregon.

Along with his scientific and educational projects, Payne continues to write for public audiences on the relationship between humans and natural world. You can find his work in TIMEThe Appendix, and in a forthcoming issue of Nautilus.

“Birmingham Audubon was the first group I looked up when my family decided to move here last year—I think literally the first thing I Googled was ‘birding organization central Alabama.’ Ever since then, it’s been a secret goal of mine to join the staff. ”

Payne will interpret both the Urban Bird Habitat Initiative in Jefferson and Shelby Counties, bird and habitat conservation in Birmingham Audubon’s seven county service area, and education and outreach programs provided by the organization. He can be reached at 205-719-3678 ext. 2 or