Tom Johnson

Field Guides Leader

Tom Johnson grew up surrounded by birds in central Pennsylvania. Fascinated by science and the outdoors, and encouraged by his mom and dad, Tom developed an obsession with birds at an early age. He banded migrant landbirds and owls, conducted point counts for the Pennsylvania Breeding Bird Atlas, and set off on many road trips to learn about North American birds.

Tom was fortunate to complete his undergraduate studies at Cornell University within the inspiring orbit of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Following university, Tom surveyed desert birds in Arizona and California and studied seabirds from NOAA ships between Nova Scotia and the Bahamas. He is an eBird reviewer, a regional editor for North American Birds, a regular contributor to Birding, and a member of the ABA Checklist Committee.

Now living in Cape May, New Jersey, Tom devotes his energy to recording bird sounds, photographing flying birds, searching for vagrants and puzzling hybrids, night birding, and reading as much as he can. He's an inveterate road tripper and frequently looks for excuses to travel long distances in pursuit of birds and mammals. You might also find him on a boat looking for tubenoses and other seabirds just about anywhere.

Tom loves helping others pursue their passion for birding and the outdoors and has felt lucky to lead tours for Field Guides around the world since 2014. Though he focuses on the Neotropics and North America, Tom has a diverse schedule that includes Antarctica, India, Australia, and more.

Scroll down to see Tom's current schedule of tours.

Have you checked out our new OutBirding with FieldGuides video series? It features episodes covering not just guided tours of great birds and habitats but also interviews with fascinating bird-folks, field techniques, tools of the trade, field recipes, and much more. This is a long-term venture that will share much of what our guides love about birds and birding, both their own experiences and their tips for enjoyable, enriching field time. Why not subscribe for a modest annual or monthly fee?

Client comment
"This tour was amazing. Excellent birds, skilled guide, delicious food, and comfortable accommodations. The migration experience was awesome! Guide Tom Johnson is such a skilled birder and a gentleman... I would go to the ends of the earth looking for birds with Tom! He is so informative, not only about bird identification but also about related facts of interest. He includes everyone and shows patience in getting each group member 'on the bird.' Tom oozes enthusiasm about birding, especially when he sees an unexpected bird!! This experience was superior to other tours. I am glad I found Field Guides." B.B., FALL FOR CAPE MAY

"I wanted to go to Cape May and witness spring migration. Field Guides had a tour that worked with my schedule. I don't often go on guided tours...this trip was so fabulous...way beyond my expectations. If I had to pick one best feature it would be the guides, Tom Johnson and Doug Gochfeld. Their birding skills were incredible and they really made this an incredible adventure. Your office service was very good, efficient. I look forward to my next adventure with Field Guides." K.M., SPRING IN CAPE MAY

"Tom Johnson and Micah Riegner are both such excellent guides. They were always cheerful and helpful and went out of their way to be certain that we were seeing the birds and were as comfortable as possible. They worked so hard to find all of our desired birds for us. They included all members of the group in the conversations.... I would happily go on another tour with both of them! Office service was excellent." M.P., ARIZONA NIGHTBIRDS & MORE

Photos by Tom
Below is a link to some of Tom's work we think you'll enjoy:

Tom's photos and audio recordings on the Macaulay Library site


Tom's Upcoming Tours


GULF OF CALIFORNIA: MEXICO'S RICH DESERT COAST
Status: Open
Dec 5-10, 2022 ($2550) with Micah Riegner & Tom Johnson
Tour Limit: 12
A week-long get-away to explore the islands, estuaries, and cactus forests near Kino Bay.
ARIZONA WINTER SPECIALTIES
Status: Provisionally full; waitlist available
Dec 30, 2022 - Jan 5, 2023 ($2575) with Tom Johnson
Tour Limit: 7
Exceptional winter birding on a short tour with numerous specialties and potential rarities.
COSTA RICA: BIRDING THE EDGES
Status: Provisionally full; waitlist available
Jan 21-30, 2023 - Part One ($3550) with Tom Johnson & local guide
Tour Limit: 12
A two-parted tour to this bird-rich country exploring sites and birds not covered on our March or holiday tours.
COSTA RICA: BIRDING THE EDGES
Status: Provisionally full; waitlist available
Jan 29 - Feb 7, 2023 - Part Two ($3550) with Tom Johnson & local guide
Tour Limit: 12
A two-parted tour to this bird-rich country exploring sites and birds not covered on our March or holiday tours.
PUERTO RICO
Status: Provisionally full; waitlist available
Feb 18-24, 2023 ($3250) with Tom Johnson
Tour Limit: 7
A week of respite to a very birdy and beautiful Caribbean island, a mix of North American and local culture and cuisine; 17 endemic birds and a number of other Caribbean specialties.
MEXICO: OAXACA VALLEY
Status: Provisionally full; waitlist available
Mar 4-11, 2023 ($3125) with Chris Benesh & Tom Johnson
Tour Limit: 14
Superb birding with two dozen Mexican endemics and fascinating ruins while based in lovely Oaxaca City.
May be combined with Mexico: Enchanted Chiapas or Mexico: Oaxaca's Atlantic & Pacific Slopes
HAWAII
Status: One space available
Mar 20-29, 2023 ($7175) with Tom Johnson & Mandy Talpas
Tour Limit: 14
On our birding tour we'll visit three of the major islands--Oahu, Kauai, and Hawaii--giving us a chance to sample a great portion of the Hawaiian endemic birds and the seabird specialties.
COLORADO GROUSE
Status: Open
Apr 15-25, 2023 ($4325) with Tom Johnson
Tour Limit: 14
An 11-day tour to seek out the state's prairie-chicken and grouse species.
SPRING IN CAPE MAY
Status: Provisionally full; waitlist available
May 6-12, 2023 (Fee TBD / 2022=$2550) with Tom Johnson
Tour Limit: 7
Spring migration at one of the country's famed birding hotspots.
PENNSYLVANIA'S WARBLERS & MORE: FROM CERULEAN WARBLER TO HENSLOW'S SPARROW
Status: Provisionally full; waitlist available
May 16-21, 2023 ($2375) with Tom Johnson
Tour Limit: 7
A tour at the peak of eastern spring birding, focusing on a delightful array of warblers as well as other songbirds.
ALASKA
Status: Provisionally full; waitlist available
May 24 - Jun 9, 2023 (Fee TBD) with Tom Johnson & Doug Gochfeld
Tour Limit: 14
Our fabulous survey of the best of Alaska birding: the Pribilofs, Kenai Fjords, Nome, and Utqiagvik (formerly Barrow).
ALASKA: NO PLACE LIKE NOME
Status: Provisionally full; waitlist available
Jun 12-19, 2023 (Fee TBD / 2022=$3925) with Tom Johnson
Tour Limit: 7
A chance to spend the better part of a week birding in one of the subarctic's most famous hotspots!
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Status: Provisionally full; waitlist available
Jul 25 - Aug 12, 2023 (Fee TBD) with Doug Gochfeld & Tom Johnson
Tour Limit: 10
Birds-of-paradise and bowerbirds are the crown jewels of one of the most remarkable bird faunas, one that exists alongside equally fascinating and varied cultures.
(New Britain Extension to Aug 17, 2023)
SLICE OF CALIFORNIA: SEABIRDS TO SIERRA
Status: Provisionally full; waitlist available
Aug 31 - Sep 9, 2023 (Fee TBD / 2022=$4575) with Tom Johnson
Tour Limit: 7
A diverse mix of West Coast specialties, montane species, and pelagics in rugged and scenic sites.
AUSTRALIA
Status: Provisionally full; waitlist available
Sep 29 - Oct 19, 2023 - Part One (Fee TBD / 2022=$9850) with Chris Benesh & Tom Johnson
Tour Limit: 12
In two parts for those with limited time. Part I covers the environs of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, southwest Australia, and Alice Springs. Part II begins in Darwin and continues to Queensland (Cairns, Atherton Tableland, Outback Queensland, and O'Reilly's Guest House). Both parts combine for a complete birding tour of Australia. An optional endemic-rich extension to Tasmania follows Part II.
COSTA RICA: BIRDING THE EDGES
Status: Open
Jan 21-30, 2024 - Part One (Fee TBD / 2023=$3550) with Tom Johnson & local guide
Tour Limit: 12
A two-parted tour to this bird-rich country exploring sites and birds not covered on our March or holiday tours.
COSTA RICA: BIRDING THE EDGES
Status: Open
Jan 29 - Feb 7, 2024 - Part Two (Fee TBD / 2023=$3550) with Tom Johnson & local guide
Tour Limit: 12
A two-parted tour to this bird-rich country exploring sites and birds not covered on our March or holiday tours.
PUERTO RICO
Status: One space available
Feb 17-23, 2024 (Fee TBD / 2023=$3250) with Tom Johnson
Tour Limit: 7
A week of respite to a very birdy and beautiful Caribbean island, a mix of North American and local culture and cuisine; 17 endemic birds and a number of other Caribbean specialties.
ATLANTIC ODYSSEY: SOUTH GEORGIA TO TRISTAN DE CUNHA AND ST. HELENA
Status: Open
Mar 27 - Apr 20, 2024 (Fee TBD) with Doug Gochfeld & Tom Johnson
Tour Limit: 18
Exceptional seabirding opportunities on this re-positioning cruise that includes South Georgia, the Tristan de Cunha island group, and St. Helena.
ALASKA
Status: Open
Jun 5-21, 2024 (Fee TBD) with Tom Johnson
Tour Limit: 14
Our fabulous survey of the best of Alaska birding: the Pribilofs, Kenai Fjords, Nome, and Utqiagvik (formerly Barrow).
ALASKA: NO PLACE LIKE NOME
Status: Open
Jun 23-30, 2024 (Fee TBD / 2022=$3925) with Tom Johnson
Tour Limit: 7
A chance to spend the better part of a week birding in one of the subarctic's most famous hotspots!
ARIZONA'S SECOND SPRING
Status: Open
Jul 27 - Aug 5, 2024 (Fee TBD / 2022=$3575) with Tom Johnson
Tour Limit: 7
An ideal time for visiting one of the best birding regions in North America: great for local specialties and Mexican vagrants.
SOUTHERN ARGENTINA: THE PAMPAS, PATAGONIA & TIERRA DEL FUEGO
Status: Provisionally full; waitlist available
Oct 29 - Nov 14, 2024 (Fee TBD) with Tom Johnson & Doug Gochfeld
Tour Limit: 12
Superb springtime birding tour through southern South America amid stark and spectacular landscapes.
May be combined with Northwestern Argentina
MEXICO: OAXACA VALLEY
Status: Open
Dec 21-28, 2024 (Fee TBD / 2023=$3125) with Tom Johnson & Jesse Fagan
Tour Limit: 14
Superb birding with two dozen Mexican endemics and fascinating ruins while based in lovely Oaxaca City.