There’s bird-watching and then there is pro birding, that is using “field ornithology skills” to competently ID birds by sight, sound and/or behavior. Sounds daunting doesn’t it? Especially for someone who refers to bird songs as “Who-who-who” (a dove) and “witchiepoo-witchiepoo-witch-witch-witch” (no idea which bird does this, but he/she wakes me up every Saturday morning that I have the windows open).
If you would like to hone your “field ornithology skills,” you are in luck. The South Carolina Wildlife Federation
has two weekend courses in May and one in October that are designed to make you a Palmetto Pro Birder
While I do speak a little tongue-in-cheek on this one, the purpose of the program is very serious as bird counts are done by volunteers in the field and this helps conservationists know when bird populations change significantly and what might be the cause of that.
Each course includes a classroom portion focusing on basic bird biology and habitats, identification and conservation. There also is fieldwork so that by the end of your classes, you will be able to ID about 30-50 birds by sight or sound. (Let me know if you figure out which bird is the “witchiepoo” warbler.)
You also will learn about how to plan more bird-friendly landscaping for your home or office.
You can take just one course or you can take four to become a certified pro birder.
The courses are $150 each and are open to anyone 16 years old and older. Class size is limited to 20 participants.
You must provide your own lunch and binoculars. The suggested text is the “National Geographic Guide to Eastern Birds.”
Each course includes a 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday session and a 7 a.m.-noon Sunday session.
Upcoming programs are:
May 11-12 at Kalmia Gardens
with instructor Josh Arrants. The gardens sit along the Black Creek and offer a wonderfully diverse habitat for species that include the Pine Warbler and Indigo and Painted Bunting.
May 18-19 at Congaree National Park
with instructor Drew Lanham. South Carolina’s only national park is an excellent spot to catch migrating species on their travels, including warblers, tanagers and thrushes.
October 26-27 at Lake Conestee Nature Park
with instructor: Drew Lanham. This park has the designation of Important Bird Area of Global Significance. As if that weren’t impressive enough, its offers birds a variety of habitats including a lake, a river, swampland and a meadow. That means a variety of birds call this park home.
You can register online
or by calling Sara Green, director of education for the South Carolina Wildlife Federation at (803) 609-4778.