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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

Classes for Spring 2018, including Avian Treasure Hunt with Juan-Carlos Solis, and an extended 4-session Birding By Ear class with Denise Wight are full.

Spring Avian Treasure Hunt - Juan-Carlos Solis
Two 1.5-hour classes and two 5.5-hour field trips
Class: Wednesday, April 11 and 18, 6:15-7:45 PM
Field Trips: Saturday, April 14 and 21, 8:30-2:00 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, Dal Leite.

Class Description: Prepare for the migrant treasure hunt and sharpen your birding skills by better understanding local bird distribution patterns in time and space during the spring. We’ll review how seasonal changes in various Bay Area habitats influence the birds you’ll expect to find in the field, with a strong emphasis on birdsong and behavior. You’ll get practical birding tips on what to look for throughout the seasons when “hunting” for migratory birds. At the end of this course you’ll be better prepared to find local migrant and vagrant birds with confidence. Moreover, the principles you’ll learn regarding bird distribution in relation to seasonal changes and habitats apply to any place you may explore around the world.

Instructor Bio: Quetzal Adventures founder Juan-Carlos Solis is passionate about connecting people to nature and designing programs to experience our planet first-hand. He’s a seasoned expedition leader and naturalist with 20 years of experience managing and leading local trips in California and in all of the world’s seven continents. While working as Public Programs Manager for the California Academy of Sciences for nine years and Field Associate for the Ornithology and Mammalogy Research Department, he led several local and international natural history programs including Academy Travel Expeditions to Antarctica, Baja California, Mexico and Canada’s West Coast. He continues to lead trips for other companies and has lectured on environmental education topics in India, Australia, Panama, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, and, most recently, in Sweden.

Spring Birds Sounds Workshop: Birding By Ear - Denise Wight
Four 1.5-hour classes and two 4-hour field trips
Class: Wednesday, April 25, May 2, 9 and 16, 6:15-7:45 PM
Field Trips: Sunday, April 29 (Vollmer Peak, Tilden) and Sunday, May 13 (Mitchell Canyon) 8 AM-Noon
Lafayette Library and Learning Center, Oak Room (maximum of 16 participants- Class is full)
Cost: $55 MDAS members/$60 non-members

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

Class Description: Spring is one of the best times to enjoy birding, so why not add to your enjoyment by learning some of the songs and sounds of our local birds. We will learn various techniques for learning bird sounds, as well as focus on the common and special bird species we hope to hear during the two field trips to Vollmer Peak in Tilden Regional Park and Mitchell Canyon, Mt. Diablo.

Instructor Bio: Since 1996, Orinda native, Denise Wight, has taught birding classes at the Orinda Community Center, Wild Birds Unlimited in Pleasant Hill, was a co-leader on Shearwater Journeys pelagic boat rips, and has led classes and field trips for the Lindsay Museum, Point Reyes Bird Observatory, Mt. Diablo Interpretive Association, Golden Gate Audubon Society, and Mt. 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 the Program Chair for MDAS from 1992-2000.

Local Classes

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

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, noted Bay Area artist and author offers classes, a nature journal club and private lessons 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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