Birding by Ear
Monday & Tuesday: June 13-14, 2016
Instructor: Denny Olson, M.S.
Glacier National Park comprises more than 1 million acres of diverse and stunning bird habitat. Encounter both common and uncommon bird species that thrive in and around the park on an adventure led by expert birder Denny Olson, who possesses an intimate knowledge of Glacier’s unending hideaways. Enjoy two days in nature as you hike through the wilderness and into the habitats of both Eastern and Western Watershed bird species, and share in the knowledge of your expert leader about the intricate avian ecology of these pristine natural areas.
Note: One night of lodging at Field Camp is included in the course fee. If you do not require lodging, call the registrar at 406-755-1211 to subtract $32 from your course fee at the time of booking.
Meeting Time: Monday, June 13th at 7:00am
Meeting Place: Glacier Institute Field Camp
Tentative Itinerary: All locations are subject to change based on conditions and bird activity.
Monday: We will head out into the field after introductions at approximately 7:15 AM to bird by ear along Lower McDonald Creek. We will return to Field Camp for snacks and a restroom break and depart for the field again at 9:30 AM to visit Camas Creek and McGee Meadows where we will bird by ear in wetland habitat. We will learn about songs, calls, territory and niches within wetland habitats. We will eat lunch in the field (at Polebridge) then depart for Winona Lake and Hidden Meadow 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, “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.
During each day, the instructor will entertain during travel time with synonym bird name games, whistled bird song quizzes and a bird call contest.
Tuesday: We will resume an exploration of bird songs before dawn by visiting a burned forest. After regrouping at Field Camp for a snack 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, Water ouzels, Harlequin ducks, vireos, and Pacific wrens. 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 3:00 PM.
Accommodations: Additional lodging at the Glacier Institute Field Camp may be booked with the registrar for $32/person/night. The Field Camp site is located just inside the West Glacier entrance to the 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.
Academic Credit: Please see our ‘2016 Academic Credit’ Link on our website to learn about OPI credit and FVCC and UM credit for our courses.
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”.