Winter 2018 CLASSES
Registration opens December 1
NOTE: Class dates are subject to change until the venue location is finalized. Check back on December 1 for official dates and locations.
Gull Identification Jamboree with Mike Donahue
Lectures: Thursdays January 4 and 11, 7:00-9:00p.m.
Field Trip: Saturday January 6 OR Sunday January 7 (sign up at first lecture)
Cost Lectures and Field Trip: $70 members, $85 non-members
Cost Lectures Only: $45 members, $60 non-members
Gulls are a challenging group of birds to identify. As one gull class participant said, “Gulls are like flu shots, you should do them every year whether you want to or not.” Start the New Year off by tackling this group of birds you keep meaning to learn.
Two classroom sessions will cover identification of adults of all the gulls that regularly occur in Puget Sound in winter, with a few rarities thrown in. There will be a half day (8:00 a.m. to 12 p.m.) field trip to visit several local gull hotspots on south Lake Washington. Expect to see 6-7 species of gulls. Appropriate for ALL audiences.
Birding 101 with Jack Stephens & Jane Lester, Master Birders
Lectures: Thursdays January 18 and 25, 7:00-9:00p.m.
Field Trip: Sundays January 21 or 27 (sign up at first lecture)
Cost: $65 members, $80 non-members
Limit: 22 (11 per field trip)
If you’re just getting started with birding, it’s natural to be a little overwhelmed. What are the little brown birds on my feeder? What are all those cool ducks we have in winter, and how can I tell them apart? I heard a woodpecker in the park - what kinds do we have in Seattle? Which birds live here year-round and which are just passing through? Once you learn how to find birds, observe them carefully and identify them, birding becomes a fabulous lifelong hobby that only gets better and better with time.
Join us for an informal, fun-filled, innovative introduction to birds and birding. This hands-on class will incorporate sight, sound and habitat to create a holistic approach to learning. A local field trip will provide time in the field to see lots of birds, ask questions and sharpen your skills.
Suitable for all levels of beginners, from armchair feeder-watchers to those who have spent some time in the field and would like to develop their identification skills. Appropriate for BEGINER birders.
Introduction to the Sparrows of Washington State with Hans de Grys
Lecture: Thursday February 1, 7:00-9:00p.m.
Location: Lakeside School, Allen-Gates Bldg, Room 104
Cost: $25 members, $40 non-members
Nearly 20 species of sparrows (and their close allies) call Washington State home for all or part of the year. While they may appear at first to be a swarm of similar, nondescript birds, our Washington state sparrows are actually quite distinct, with differing field marks, vocalizations, habits, and natural histories. This class will focus both on identification and appreciation of this often overlooked group of birds. Appropriate for BEGINER and INTERMEDIATE birders.
An Introduction to Bird Recording with Jack Leiman
Lectures: Wednesdays February 28 and March 7, 7:00-9:00p.m.
Cost: $25 members, $40 non-members
Have you ever wanted to record bird songs effectively for later study but weren't sure how to go about it? During this class, Jack will cover field techniques for audio recording and will provide an overview of a range of equipment options. Jack will teach the class how to prepare and upload audio files to the Macaulay Library via eBird and will provide an introduction to software for editing and reviewing recordings. Suggested equipment: A smart phone (iPhone or Android) is necessary for the first class session, a laptop and head phones would be helpful for the second session (Seattle Audubon has a few loaner laptops that will be on-hand, and laptop sharing is completely fine). Appropriate for ALL audiences.
Owls of Washington with Jamie Acker, owler, educator and researcher
Class: Sunday February 4 1:00-4:00 PM
Field Trips: Sunday February 11 (see trip note below)
Cost for lecture and field trip: $75 members, $90 nonmembers.
Cost for lecture only: $50 members, $65 nonmembers.
Limit: 10 for lecture and field trip, 30 for lecture only. Adults only on the field trip.
Participants in this class will learn many intriguing facts about the 14 species of NW owls. You will also be introduced to the art of owling via a multimedia presentation and lecture.
At time of registration participants may opt for an early morning field trip to Bainbridge Island, where Barred Owls and Northern Saw-whet owls should be found and other species are possible. Participants will be responsible for providing their own transportation; options for carpooling can be organized at time of lecture.
FT directions: Take the 2:10 am Seattle to Bainbridge Island ferry Sunday morning (two hours after midnight Sunday), and meet the instructor on Bainbridge Island.
(Limit on field trip is based on limiting the number of vehicles to 3. I can accommodate 2 participants in my car, and the two other vehicles should carry 4 each.) Appropriate for ALL audiences.
Modern Smartphone Digiscoping with Nathaniel Peters, Master Birder, Cell and Developmental Biologist, Microscopist
Lecture: Wednesday February 7, 7:00-9:00p.m.
Cost: $25 member, $40 non-member
Learn how to turn your smartphone camera and binocular/telescope into a formidable and (relatively) affordable bird photography tool in this workshop. We will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of professional digital photography equipment (e.g., DLSR with a telephoto lens) vs. the digiscope, freehand vs. mounted digiscoping, binocular vs. telescope digiscoping, commercially available vs. Do-It-Yourself (DIY) digiscopes, and more! Nathaniel will share the tricks that he has learned over 5 years of active digiscoping in the Pacific Northwest as well as the current generation of his DIY diginocular and digiscope prototypes. There will also be some time for practice with your own equipment (i.e., binoculars, telescope, smartphone) and evaluation of its digiscoping potential. By the end of this class, you will either be ready to construct your own smartphone digiscope or know where to find a functional commercial setup.
Materials to bring: Notebook, binoculars and/or spotting scope (optional), smartphone (optional). Appropriate for ALL audiences.
Intermediate Bird ID: Common Birds of Late Winter & Early Spring with Connie Sidles, author and Master Birder
Lectures: Thursdays February 8, 15, 22, and March 1, 7:00-9:00p.m.
Field Trip: February 10 (+ optional/informal scavenger hunt on March 4)
Cost: $95 members, $110 non-members
If you're an intermediate birder who wants to deepen your skills, then this class is for you. Together we will learn about the common birds in our area during each season, this particular season will be the end of winter and the beginning of spring. We'll focus birds that live by the shore and early returnees, including shrikes, swallows, hummingbirds, and thrushes, among others. We'll also study the winter residents that are preparing to leave us for the far north. We'll learn their songs, plumages, and natural history so that you will truly *know* these birds.
In addition to three classroom sessions, Connie will lead one formal field trip where you can observe the birds studied in class. We'll also go on one scavenger hunt, when we will divide into teams and search our area for targeted birds. Connie will also lead informal field trips nearly every Saturday, when she does her shorebird count (not Seattle Audubon affiliated) at Montlake Fill, one of the premier birding sites in the state, and documents species diversity. Who knows what the winter and spring will bring? Join Connie and find out. Appropriate for INTERMEDIATE birders.
Feather Groups and Molt for Beginning Birders with Hans de Grys
Lectures: Thursdays March 8 and 15, 7:00-9:00p.m.
Location: Lakeside School, Room Allen-Gates 104
Cost: $50 members, $65 non-members
If you have ever listened to birders in the field, you might have heard mention of wing bars, malar stripes, or upper tail coverts. Birders have their own highly specific language to discuss the appearance and patterns found on birds, especially as they relate to feathers and feather groups. If you've ever wondered where the malar stripe is, or what exactly the coverts are covering, this is the class for you. We will look in some detail at the feather groups on different kinds of birds, from songbirds to hawks to ducks. We will also discuss the basics of molt, and how and why birds' feathers change in appearance throughout the year. This class will feature some lecture and some hands-on activities, including examination of bird study skins. No previous knowledge or experience is necessary. Appropriate for BEGINER birders.
Birding by Ear for Beginners with David Droppers, Instructor for UW Biology
Lectures: Wednesdays March 14 and April 11, 7:00-9:00p.m.
Field Trips: Saturdays March 17, April 14, and May 12
Cost: $65 members, $80 non-members
New to birding by ear or never thought you’d be able to learn bird calls? Are you wondering what songs, calls, and other sounds can reveal about what’s happening amongst and around birds, and how can this enrich our human experience in nature? During this class David will cover techniques for learning bird vocalizations, regional variations and other challenges, and how to continue learning about bird songs beyond the classroom. The class, including field trips, spans the length of the spring migration season so that students have time to learn the vocalizations of residents and migrants, and provides time for practice and asking questions. Appropriate for BEGINER birders.
How to Identify Sea Birds of Puget Sound with Joe Sweeney, Seattle Audubon Field Trip Leader and Graduate of the 2015 Master Birder Program. Joe has spent hundreds of hours on the Edmonds Pier, scanning the waters of Puget Sound for usual suspects and rarities.
Lecture: Thursday March 22, 7:00-9:00p.m.
Field Trip: Saturday March 24 or Saturday March 31 (sign up for one at the lecture), to the Edmonds Pier or other suitable viewing spot along Puget Sound.
Cost: $40 members, $55 non-members
Identifying the birds that inhabit Puget Sound can be challenging. To the untrained eye, those small, fast-moving birds that fly low over the water tend to all look the same. Is it an auklet, a murre, a murrelet, or some other speedy species?
In this class, you will discover how to separate a Rhinoceros Auklet from a Pigeon Guillemot, a Double-crested Cormorant from a Brandt’s Cormorant, a Horned Grebe from a Red-necked Grebe, and a Common Loon from a Pacific Loon. We will also discuss diving ducks, including mergansers, scoters and goldeneye. We may also address gulls, but not to the extent that our heads start throbbing from over-analysis of that very difficult group of birds.
We will examine photos of the species mentioned above (and more), discuss their flight characteristics, field marks and behavioral differences that can help us unravel the identification mysteries of the birds of the Sound.
No prior experience with sea birds is necessary. All that is required is a desire to learn and a sense of adventure. A sense of humor wouldn’t hurt, either. Appropriate for BEGINER and INTERMEDIATE birders.