Birding in Quarantine: Maximizing Your Fun and Relaxation

Naturalist Course

Introduction to Shorebirds of the Pacific Northwest

A course to learn about birding during the COVID-19 quarantine. Class will meet online for four Tuesdays from 7-9pm.

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? Well, this course will help, both now and as we head back to a healthier world. We will cover about 100 common terrestrial species found in Washington, their identification, their songs, and where they live.

It is crucial that our birding is respectful of the Governor’s COVID-19 recommendations and keeps you and everyone safe. This article from eBird is helpful:

This course is taught by 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 complete the scholarship application above

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.

Online Only

Unfortunately, we will not be able to have field trips. This course will be virtual and will use Zoom. 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. Students will receive information about how to log-on to the Zoom meeting will be sent a day or two before the session. We will use the security features in Zoom to avoid the problems being discussed in the media. Zoom offers many features that will allow for a great learning experience.

About the leader

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.

Course Requirements

This course has no scheduled activities.

Required Equipment

Computer with speaker and microphone, as well as connection to high-speed internet.

The Merlin App on your cell phone or tablet. Or access to Merlin through

Course Materials

You must register for this course to see course materials.