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Bird Biology & Bird Watching Class Week 2

  • Upper Mississippi River Wildlife & Fish Refuge Visitor Center N5727 County Road Z Onalaska, WI, 54650 United States (map)

Bird Biology Syllabus

January 9, 16, & 23, 2019

Contact Information

Course Coordinator: Ruth Davis 

 Instructor: Dr. Melinda Knutson

 To Register go to Classes

General Information


If you are looking for a new hobby or you want motivation to get outdoors, stretch your legs, and visit some refuges, parks, and state natural areas, bird watching is for you! Bird watching can be learned at any age.  In the discussion series we will continue with The National Geographic Guide to Birding in North America video course that we started in 2018.  The videos are provided by The Great Courses and taught by internationally respected birding expert James Currie. The course focuses on bird biology and tools and techniques for improving your bird watching skills.  The format will include viewing a 30-min. video, followed by 15-20 min. discussions. Dr. Knutson will lead the discussion, expanding the content and adding examples from her research and experiences. There will be ample time for questions and exploring ideas.  If you missed the 2018 sessions, no worries!  You will still learn a lot about birds and bird watching. 

Expectations and Goals

You will learn about bird biology, migration, birding by ear, bird photography, and take a peek into the lives of the many bird families we have in the Midwest.  We hope that you will become excited about birds and their habitats and expand your enjoyment of the great outdoors!  You will also learn more about how you can promote bird conservation at home and in your community.


Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge - La Crosse District Visitor Center, N5727 County Road Z, Onalaska, WI. 

Course Schedule

Week 1

Jan 9 morning (10-12): Birding by ear AND Essentials of bird migration

Jan 9 afternoon (1-3): Waterbirds, shorebirds, & game birds AND Diurnal raptors

Week 2

Jan 16 morning (10:00-12:00): Doves to kingfishers AND Passerines: Flycatchers to thrushes

Jan 16 afternoon (1-3): Passerines: Thrashers to warblers AND Passerines: Tanagers to finches

Week 3

Jan 23 morning (10-12): Photography for birders AND Birding ethics and conservation

Additional Information and Resources

Coulee Region Audubon Club ( Local group promoting bird watching and bird conservation.  Occasional field trips.

Dunn, J.L., and J. Alderfer (Eds.). 2017. National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 7th Edition. National Geographic Society, Washington, D.C. Field guide.  Recommended by lecturer, popular with bird watchers.

Elphick, C.S., J.B. Dunning, Jr., and D.A. Sibley (Eds.). 2009. The Sibley guide to bird life and behavior. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. Bird biology (not field guide); several books available, but I like this one.

Peterson, R.T., and V.M. Peterson. 2010. Peterson Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern and Central North America, sixth edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Classic field guide, with arrows to field characteristics

Sibley, D.A. 2014. The Sibley guide to birds, 2nd edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. Field guide.  Large format, more illustrations, companion to 2016 book below.  Too large to carry in the field.

Sibley, D.A. 2016. The Sibley field guide to birds of eastern North America: second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. Compact field guide

eBird; Sibley Birds; Merlin Bird ID; Audubon; NestWatch; Warbler Guide; Song Sleuth. Birding apps for ‘smart phones’