Birding by Ear
Fri/Sat/Sun June 20-22, 2014
Instructor: Denny Olson, M.S., (a.k.a. Critter Man)
Meeting Time: Friday, June 20th at 7 PM
Meeting Place: Glacier Institute Field Camp
Accommodations: Friday night and Saturday night lodging is included in the course fee. Extra lodging can be booked with the registrar for $32/person/night. Lodging is provided at the Glacier Institute Field Camp, inside Glacier National Park, on a bluff overlooking the Middle Fork of the Flathead River. Facilities include bunkhouses, a community bathhouse, a classroom, a library and a kitchen.
Food: Students are responsible for all their own food. Please bring a sack lunch for both days in the field, snacks and water. For students staying overnight at camp, we have a kitchen in which you can cook meals and space available for food storage.
Equipment: Be prepared for any kind of weather including snow. Bring rain gear, warm jacket, gloves, a hat, and comfortable hiking shoes. Lots of layers work best because of variable elevation and weather in this class. Binoculars are very useful, as well as field guides that interest you.
Physical Requirements: Moderate. We will be hiking to various sites at an easy pace, stopping frequently to listen for and identify bird songs and the birds that create them. The hiking may be on or off trail in brushy and marshy areas, up to 3 miles and 1,000 feet elevation gain.
Transportation during course: We will be traveling in a Glacier Institute vehicle to trailheads.
Weather: This course will not be canceled due to weather.
The Sibley Field Guide to Birds, or Peterson’s Field Guide to Western Birds, or Birds of North America Golden Guide
Peterson’s Field Guide to Western Bird Songs (CD), Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Houghton Mifflin, 1995.
Wood Warbler’s World, Hal Harrison, Simon and Schuster, 1984.
Bird Watching for Dummies, Bill Thompson III, I.D.G. Books, 1997.
All locations are subject to change based on conditions and bird activity.
Friday: At 7:00 PM, “Professor Avian Guano” (one of Denny’s educational characters) will appear to introduce us to the study of birds and their songs with a slide show and performance. Afterwards we will learn about bird song evolution and ecology until about 9 PM.
Saturday: We will head out into the field before dawn (approximately 6:00 AM) to bird by ear along McDonald Creek. We will return to Field Camp for breakfast and depart for the field again at 8:30 AM to visit Camas Creek and McGee Meadows where we will bird by ear in wetland habitat. We will learn about songs, calls, and territory and niches within wetland habitats. We will eat lunch in the field (at Polebridge) then depart for Winona Lake and Quartz Creek Trails in the North Fork to learn about warbler niches, loon songs and calls, connections to other species and creating word interpretations of bird songs.
After dinner we will reconvene for the evening for synonym bird name games, whistled bird song quizzes and a bird call contest. Weather permitting we will head outside to call for owls (rainy and/or windy conditions make for silent owls).
Sunday: We will resume an exploration of bird songs before dawn by visiting a burned forest. After breakfast at Field Camp we will return to the field at 8:30 AM, heading for Johns Lake fen, Avalanche Cedars (old growth birds) and the McDonald Creek cascades to search for (with our ears) wet meadow and pond birds, thrushes, ouzels, harlequin ducks, vireos, and wrens. We will also learn about calling birds with mechanical calls. We will return to Field Camp for lunch and wrap up with a final discussion and review of species heard. The course will finish around 1 PM.
About the Instructor: Denny Olson has been a professional teaching naturalist for over 30 years, training hundreds of teachers in storytelling, doing 3500 school assemblies, five natural history books, and a weekly “News from the Woods” TV show as one of his unpredictable alter-egos, “Critterman”.