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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 925-322-9477.

MDAS Registration PoliciesMDAS Classes

Spring Birds Sounds Workshop: Birding By Ear - Denise Wight
Two 2-hour classes and two 4-hour field trips
Classes: Tuesday, March 5 and 12, 7-9 PM
Field Trips: Sunday, March 10 and 17 (location TBD) 8 AM-Noon
Lafayette Library and Learning Center, Oak Room (maximum of 15 participants) - 2 spaces left!)
Cost: $40 MDAS members/$50 non-members

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 and focus on the common and special bird species we hope to hear during the two field trip.

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, Mount 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, and was the Program Chair for Mount Diablo Audubon Society from 1992-2000.

To enroll, contact the Education Chair

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 - 9 spaces remain)
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.


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.

Spring Birding Hike - RSVP

Saturday 3/9/19
9AM - Noon
Mt. Wanda Trailhead
Corner of Franklin Canyon and Alhambra Ave.
Martinez, CA 94553
Join Mt. Diablo Audubon Society and John Muir Land Trust to spot some birds and learn about the Campaign to Save Almond Ranch, free and fun for 25 guests! The moderate 3.5 mile hike begins steeply and levels out with vistas of the Carquinez Straits. Surrounded by grasslands, scrub, oak and bay woodlands; golden eagles, white-tailed kites and ferruginous hawks have been spotted here as well as various species of woodpeckers, hummingbirds, flycatchers and many more.
Please RSVP by filling out the information below. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Hannah Hodgson with John Muir Land Trust at
Please dress in layers for changing weather. Wear closed toed shoes, a hat and long pants. Bring water, bottle and snacks. Bring binoculars and a smart phone loaded with the application E-bird if you like, Mt. Diablo Audubon Society will bring extra binoculars.

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.
Mono Lake Field Seminars

38 classes including birds and photography

Sterling Wildlife Biology

Gulls, raptors, shorebirds, and more

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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