Hi, I’m Leslie.

I’m an avid birdwatcher from North Carolina. I’m also the principal of Tudor Studios LLC which owns and operates Birds at First Sight.

A Bit About Me and My Interests

In this section, I’ll let you know a bit about me, and my interest in visual perception and optics.

One of my favorite winding down activities is to step outside and birdwatch with binoculars from my deck. I’m fortunate to live on a pond where I can see a large variety of water birds and songbirds most times of the day.

About Me

My love of birdwatching began at a very young age.

I grew up in a large city, near several parks where my friends and I spent hours playing. There were waterways, woods, rocky terrain… and lots of birds. Especially rock pigeons, which every NYC dweller knows well.

Rock pigeon standing on a boulder in park

For weekend fun, a parent would sometimes volunteer to drive us to Bear Mountain or Harriman State Park where we would spend the day hiking the trails.

The views were crazy and we always had a blast climbing even some of the tougher trails. The adults had large binoculars that they especially enjoyed using when we got to these lookout points.

Beautiful view pf valley and water from Bear Mountain State Park in NY.

During one of these outings, my friend’s father let 7-year-old me look through his mail-order binoculars, guiding my gaze. I spotted a woodpecker. I had never seen one before, and I was spellbound.

When I got home from that outing, I asked my father if I could borrow the opera glasses he used when attending sporting events at Yankee Stadium.

Tasco old opera glasses

I immediately zipped off to the park with my new binoculars. I wanted to study pigeons, which ultimately became an object of fascination to me.

Within a few weeks, my parents bought me a pair of inexpensive Tasco binoculars for my newfound hobby. I was obsessed.

Old Tasco binoculars

A few years later, my parents bought a small vacation home in the countryside, behind acres of woodland. I would spend hours walking through the woods with my binoculars, checking out birds and insects. I even had a little field guide that I used to take notes, fancying myself a “nature scientist”.

The birds that visited our country home backyard bird feeder became very familiar to me – especially one very cute cardinal with distinctive markings that I named Elmer. He would happily stand on the edge of the feeder and gaze in my direction as I focused on him.

Cardinal at bird feeder

Northern cardinals are my favorite birds to this day, thanks to Elmer.

My interest in birds quickly expanded beyond my woodpecker and cardinal obsessions – Mallards, Song Sparrows, Mourning Doves, Killdeers, and Herring Gulls were among the many birds that fascinated me.

But to this day, the bird song that instantly catapults me back to my childhood is the call of the Blue Jay, with its insistent “jeer” call. When I hear that call, I am 12 again, walking through the NY parks with my friends.

Blue Jay on branch makes a jeer call

Over the years, this led to a budding interest in photography. When I was a teenager, I begged my parents to sign me up for a weekend photography course at the Art Students League of NY. I think I was the youngest student that ever registered for that course.

My love of birdwatching, my childhood binoculars, and my interest in photography are what ultimately led to my interest in visual perception after high school.

Formal Education

A beautiful historic building on campus of Rutgers University

I’ve been in the visual perception and cognition field for many years now. For my formal education, I got my graduate degrees in the psychology of visual perception and cognition.

Undergraduate and Graduate Studies

As both an undergraduate and graduate student, I was extremely fortunate to work with a brilliant and very nice, experimental psychologist who was my mentor in all things visual perception and cognition.

While still an undergraduate, we began focusing on the topic of perceptual grouping based on the phenomenal similarity of achromatic color (1). I expanded this work for my master’s degree, looking at levels of processing in perceptual organization (2).

We also explored the seminal publications of Shephard and Metzler on mental rotation (3).

For my doctorate, I extended this work to explore how people mentally rotate irregular three-dimensional wire objects (4). I wanted to know if rotation was based on an actual visualization process or an alternate strategy.

As part of my graduate course requirements, I also taught undergraduate courses and labs in sensation and perception, cognition, and information processing.

Working Years

After graduate school, I decided to focus on usability research and design where I was able to apply much of what I had learned. My first full-time long-term stint was at Bell Labs. If you’ve heard of Bell Labs, the stories are true – it was an incredible place to work!

Bell labs exterior in Holmdel, New Jersey

I’ve continued in this line of work for all these years. I find the area of research, and building end-to-end research programs for companies, especially rewarding.

It all sounds very heady, but it’s continued to fuel my deep interest and excitement for all things perception and has given me an interesting appreciation and perspective for human perception and the role of optics.

I hope to pass a bit of that knowledge and excitement along to you.

So, strap in, and let me help you make the decisions that are right for you. I hope you enjoy this website.