Birding in Quarantine | May 12-Jun 2

Feeling cooped up? Join Mountaineers volunteer and highly credentialed ornithologist for a 4-week course on Birding in Quarantine.
Thomas Bancroft Thomas Bancroft
Naturalist Committee Chair, Chief Scientist for National Audubon
April 23, 2020
Birding in Quarantine |  May 12-Jun 2

Is this quarantine starting to get to you? Are you watching birds out your windows and dreaming about what a birding trip might be like? Where might you go on your own during these Coronavirus times, and what might you find and identify? Our new course, Birding in Quarantine: Maximizing Your Fun and Relaxation, is here to help!

This course will cover about 100 terrestrial species found in Washington, including their identification, their songs, and where they live. Now is a great time to level-up your bird-watching game. Learn to better appreciate and enjoy the wildlife around you, both now and as we head back to a healthier world.

Here is a taste of what to expect: Dawn Chorus on Mother's Day

At 5 AM, I stepped out my door to head into the wilds, but the dawn chorus stopped me dead in my tracks. A pair of Black-capped Chickadees were moving through the ash above my head, a Dark-eyed Junco sang from a neighbors bush, American Robins were in full tune, and several crows joined in the fun. - Tom Bancroft

To keep our communities safe, it is crucial that our birding is respectful of the local, state, and federal COVID-19 recommendations. Please read this article from eBird for more information. 

Register Today

This course is taught by Tom Bancroft,  a highly credentialed ornithologist and Mountaineers volunteer. Your course fees support the content as well as The Mountaineers mission. If COVID-19 economic impacts have created financial hardship for you, we encourage you to apply for a scholarship to attend this course.

Course Overview

The goals for this course are:

  1. Help you learn to identify by sight and song birds in your Western Washington neighborhood, and learn a little about their ecology and breeding.
  2. Learn to identify by sight and song the most common birds likely to be found in suburban parks in Western Washington. The emphasis will be on terrestrial birds. As of mid-April, the governments have closed these parks, but hopefully, they will open in the near future.
  3. When a day trip becomes available, this course will help you search for birds and identify the species that you see and/or hear. We will explore via Zoom local natural areas on the west side of the Cascades, the species that breed in these areas, their songs, and habits. Possible stops and itineraries will be explored for your future birding. As of mid-April, many of these places are closed, but when they open, the birding will be outstanding.
  4. Maybe longer road trips - a single day, or perhaps several days - are in your thoughts. This course will help you bird east of the Cascades and will highlight species typically not found west of the Cascades. The course will identify some possible routes and help you learn the species that you encounter. We will look at several places along the I-90 corridor that support breeding birds. We will also look at a multi-day trip to the Okanogan area. The species and possible stops will be discussed.

This course will concentrate on the common terrestrial breeding species in Western Washington and just east of the Cascades. We will focus on the key characteristics to identify these birds, their songs, and some natural history information that might increase your enjoyment.


This course is online only via Zoom meetings. Handouts, PowerPoints, possible field trip locations, and presentation information will be provided and will be downloadable. Our goal is to help you grow your birding skills during our quiet time, thus making the best of an impossible situation for all of us! You will need access to a computer with a speaker and microphone, as well as connection to high-speed internet. 


Thomas Bancroft is a writer-photographer focused on the natural world. His goal is to capture people’s imagination, hopefully getting them to think about life, nature, and the importance of protecting wild things. Through stories about birds and wild place, he uses his scientific knowledge, photography, and sound recordings to help the reader see nature in a new way, slow down, and ponder the earth. His Ph.D. is in Ornithology, and he was the Vice President of the Research Department at the Wilderness Society and Chief Scientist for National Audubon. He now lives in Seattle, Washington, where he also serves on the scientific advisory board for Birdnote, the Board of Washington Ornithological Society, and chairs the Naturalist Committee at the Mountaineers. He teaches nature courses for Eastside Audubon Society and The Mountaineers.

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Richard Kennedy
Richard Kennedy says:
Aug 17, 2021 03:00 PM

How about a birding course that would be taped and available to be seen later or on going for a fee.