I am:
American (born in New Jersey, raised in Connecticut).

Professional bird tour leader for Tropical Birding.
A graduate of Rice University (class of 1995, BA in Physics).
The lead author and photographer of Birds of Western Ecuador: A Photographic Guide, published in June 2016.

While I have always been a nature-lover, my obsession for birds did not come until I had the chance to travel in South America. I was working on a geophysical project in Venezuela, and during some time off I headed off to some remote corners of the country. There's something about Neotropical birds that just grabbed hold of me, and before long I had given up my old career with the oil company and was guiding groups of birders all over South America. Sound recording was an early passion, and armed with digital recorder and small microphone, I amassed several thousand audio recordings. Many of these are available on the terrific website Then I discovered digiscoping, and by using a cheap point-and-shoot camera combined with a top-of-the-line Swarovski scope (which I had to lug around while guiding anyway), I was able to get some surprisingly good photos. It was addictive! Before long, I was getting frustrated with the limitations of digiscoping and finally bought my first DSLR, a Canon 50D, with a 100-400mm lens, in Setpember 2008. This only fed the fire, and I have been steadily upgrading my gear as well as my skills since then. I currently shoot a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon 300mm f/2.8 L II lens, often combined with a 1.4x or 2x teleconverter - this combo is perhaps unbeatable for rainforest bird photography. When I want to travel light, I use the "Mark II" version of the Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 - it's better than the original in every possible way, works well with a 1.4x teleconverter, focuses really fast, and is amazingly versatile. I like getting birds in their natural enviroments, and prefer to shoot with natural light, only rarely using flash except when absolutely necessary. went online on 17 April 2007.


All inquiries should be emailed to . Please keep in mind that I am often in the field and could be away from email access for periods of time.

As of May 23rd, 2018, I have decided to make all my photos  available under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license (CC BY-NC-SA). Click here for license details

This license does not permit commercial use. However, if you do wish to use one ore more of my photos for commercial purposes, please email me and we'll come to an agreement. There is a very limited market for bird photos like mine, so I generally charge very reasonable rates. If it is a small project, I may charge nothing at all and/or only ask for a "comped" copy of whatever you are producing. The only exception to this is the following: I do not grant permission for my photos to be used by tour companies, tour operators, or any other entity to advertise or promote any tour, unless the tour is being operated by Tropical Birding Tours, as this would be a confict of interest and would cause problems with my partners.

Photo credit: At a minimum, the credit should be "Nick Athanas". If possible, I also appreciate having a link to my website or Flickr site, e.g. "Nick Athanas -" or "Nick Athanas -"

I am going to stop watermarking my photos in the future. You may crop out the watermarks present on older photos as long as you properly credit the photo in some other manner.

Website design and all photos copyright Nick Athanas
For questions, comments, or photograph licensing info, please email