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California Quail

Education - Classes and Resources

The MDAS Education Committee arranges classes for chapter members and the public, serves as a resource for information on local classes through other organizations, and provides links to educational materials and programs available online.

The Education Committee is looking for volunteers interested in helping set up classes, contacting instructors, brainstorming ideas, collaborating with area conservation groups to provide birding expertise on hikes, and/or working with youth and classroom teachers to further the MDAS mission.

If interested, please contact Maren Smith at or (925) 322-8477.

MDAS Registration PoliciesMDAS Classes

Gull Identification - Lisa Hug
One-day classroom and field study course
Saturday, January 12, 2019, 9 AM-4 PM
Bodega Bay Grange in Bodega Bay (maximum of 15 participants)
Cost: $40 MDAS members/$45 non-members

Class Description: Many birders find looking at gulls to be an intimidating process, but it doesn’t have to be. There are some simple strategies to follow that can take some of the intimidation and frustration out of gull identification. You won’t become an expert overnight, but you may become more courageous about practicing your bird identification skills on gulls. We will spend a half-day in the classroom with a PowerPoint presentation focusing on gulls of Bodega Bay and the Sonoma Coast. After a lunch break, we will study these gulls in the field for the rest of the day. Join birder Lisa Hug for a day of fun, exciting, and challenging gull watching. Bring lunch, water, binoculars, field guide, layered clothing for unpredictable weather, and wear comfortable, waterproof shoes or boots.

Instructor Bio: Lisa Hug is a birder and naturalist living in Sonoma County. She is very familiar with the bird life (and other wildlife) of California. Lisa’s specialty area is the North Bay Area, including Marin and Sonoma Counties, highlighting Point Reyes National Seashore and Bodega Bay. She is a freelance naturalist and contract biologist, has been an Interpretive Ranger for Point Reyes National Seashore, and a research assistant with Point Reyes Bird Observatory and the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Lisa served as president of the Redwood Regional Ornithological Society for two years and enjoys teaching birding classes in both Sonoma and Marin Counties.


Fall Bird Sounds Workshop: Birding By Ear - Denise Wight
Two 2-hour classes and two 4-hour field trips
Classes: Thursday, November 8 and 15, 7-9 PM
Field Trips: Saturday, November 10 and 17, 8:30 AM-12:30 PM, location TBD
Lafayette Library and Learning Center, Oak Room (maximum of 15 participants - class is full)
Cost: $45 MDAS members/$50 non-members

To be put on a waiting list, please contact the Class Registrar, Maren Smith.

Class Description: Fall is a great time to begin learning about bird sounds. We will start with learning the songs and calls of some of the birds that live in our area all year, as well returning winter species. This workshop will offer a wide range of tricks and hints on how to learn and connect the birds to the sounds they make.

Instructor Bio: An Orinda native, since 1996 Denise has taught birding classes at the Orinda Community Center, Wild Birds Unlimited in Pleasant Hill, was a co-leader on Shearwater Journeys pelagic boat trips, and has led classes and field trips for the Lindsay Museum, Point Reyes Bird Observatory, Mount Diablo Interpretive Association, Golden Gate Audubon Society, and Mount Diablo Audubon Society, as well as for private groups. Denise has taught Birding by Ear at Albany Adult School for seven years and continues to teach BBE classes for Golden Gate Audubon at the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley. She was Program Chair for MDAS from 1992 to 2000.

Local and Area Classes

The MDAS Education Committee maintains a list of local and area classes of special interest to members of our chapter for which they may enroll. Links to other organizations are also provided below for information about classes they may offer.

9/22, 10/27: Cosumnes Reserve bird counts, paddles, photo walks

Cosumnes River Preserve in Galt offers monthly bird counts, guided kayak paddles, and guided photo walks September 22 and October 27 at 8 AM, FREE! Register at Cosumnes River Preserve

10/2, 11/10: Walnut Creek Open Space bird walks

Join Ranger Dan Bylin for 2-hour, monthly walks. Saturday, October 2, 8-10 AM at Borges Ranch, Saturday, Nov. 10, 9-11 AM at Lime Ridge Open Space. For information:

10/28: Elkhorn Slough bird tour

Elkhorn Slough Safari Nature Boat Birding Excursion tour with an in-depth look by a naturalist at some 250 bird species on their southern migration. Sunday, October 28, 7:15 AM, $45. or (831) 633-5555

Golden Gate Audubon offers classes for all levels of birding skills for members and non-members. You can find out more about them at They also do Eco-Education programs that offer year-round environmental education to Title I (federally-funded) elementary schools in Oakland, Richmond and San Francisco. To find out more visit

The Point Reyes National Seashore Association Field Institute offers over 140 hands-on outdoor education classes per year that foster the enjoyment of the Point Reyes National Seashore, for over 2000 participants. Their classes are led by expert instructors who take you out of your everyday life and into the natural world. You can find out more at or by calling (415) 663-1200 x307.

Ohlone Audubon Society maintains a list of local classes at

Denise Wight's list of birding classes can be found at

Daniel Edelstein teaches classes which can be found on his Merritt College blog and on his website at

John Muir Laws offers classes through his website,

Online Education

The Education Committee provides links to online classes and educational resources.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has over 200 online courses available. Some require a fee, but many are free. You can explore them at or http://www.

Birds of North America is a subscription website maintained by Cornell Lab of Ornithology that has a wealth of information on birds. You can access them at This is not a set of classes, but detailed information to assist your learning about individual bird species.

Programs for Teachers:

Audubon Adventures offers a variety of programs for schools at

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has their Bird Sleuth programs for teachers. Find out more at

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