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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

Spring “Avian Treasure Hunt” - Juan-Carlos Solis
Three 2-hour classes and three 5.5-hour field trips
Classes: Thursday, April 11, 18, and 25 7-9 PM
Field Trips: Saturday, April 13, 20, and 27 (location TBD) 8:30 AM-2 PM
Lafayette Library and Learning Center, Oak Room (maximum 15 participants))
Cost: $75 MDAS members/$80 non-members

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 organizations and has lectured on environmental education topics in India, Australia, Panama, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, and most recently, in Sweden.


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 - 2 spaces remain)
Cost: $40 MDAS members/$45 non-members

To register or ask questions about this class, please contact Maren Smith at

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.

Local and Area Classes and Activities

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

Birds of Prey Workshop and Hike by Larry Broderick

Saturday, January 5, 11 AM-3 PM
Solano Land Trust, Rush Ranch (3521 Grizzly Island Road, Suisun City)
Cost $10
Learn about eagles, hawks and falcons--the ways they fly, what they eat, where they hunt and rest, and why they migrate long distances or stay in one place all year. In the 2-hour workshop, Larry Broderick covers birds of prey identification methods, natural history and threats, and the importance of habitat protection and restoration. Participants will learn how to identify differences between species, distinctions across individuals within one species, and changes over time during one individual's life. A 1.5 mile hike after the workshop gives the group an opportunity to practice spotting eagles, falcons and hawks in the hills around Rush Ranch. Bring a sack lunch. Space limited. $10/person.
Sign up:, (707) 432-0150, or email

Walnut Creek Open Space Classes

Join knowledgeable Borges Ranch Ranger Dan Bylin for two birding classes in the City of Walnut Creek Open Space in 2019.

First up: Owl Prowl, Friday, March 16 from 6:30-8:30 PM at Borges Ranch. Meet in the historic carriage house barn first for a slide-show presentation, then stroll the grounds of the ranch and nearby Shell Ridge Open Space to look for (or hear) resident owls, and other night critters. Cost is free, but donations are appreciated. Reservations are a must. Contact Ranger Dan Bylin at: (925) 943-5899 x 2162 or to join the fun. Don't forget your flashlight or headlamp!

In May: Celebrate World Migratory Bird Day where Neo-tropical Migrants will be the subject of study. Discover the birds that call Shell Ridge Open Space their home in the spring and summer, and then spend the fall and winter in the tropics of Mexico, Central and South America. Learn how these birds are capable of flying thousands of miles every year to come and raise their chicks in our backyards. The two-part program will begin with a slide-show presentation in the carriage house barn Friday night, May 10 from 6-8 PM, with a field trip to follow on Saturday morning, May 11 from 8 AM-noon. Cost is $15 and reservations are required. Contact Ranger Dan Bylin at: (925) 943-5899 x 2162 or to sign up for the class.

Interested in Bird Photography?

Join the Fremont Birding Circle on Facebook to learn about monthly walks led by local photographer and birding expert, Jerry Ting, and enjoy bird photography posts by members.

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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