Subject: Institute for Field Ornithology
Date: Sep 13 12:29:24 1994
From: Charles D. Duncan - cduncan at TORREY.UMM.MAINE.EDU

Donna Brunette recently inquired about the 5-volume video guide to bird
identifications, particularly for learning to identify sparrows and
non-spring-male warblers. In principle, the idea of a video field
guide seems very appealing, particularly for things like seabirds where
they're all variations on grays, browns, blacks, and whites; it's the
flight patterns and wingbeat speed that are such help to id's.
Unfortunately, the reviews I've seen aren't encouraging for the
existing volumes. Let's get someone afield with a good video camera,
then transfer it all to CD-ROM, with sound etc....

An alternative means of learning bird id has been polished here at the
Institute for Field Ornithology over the years. (We are strictly
non-profit so I hope no birdchatter objects to the "plug". I know
several chatters are "graduates" or even former instructors of our

Our workshops are typically a week long held in a location chosen for
its ornitho-attractions. We use a combination of field and classroom
sessions (slides, maps, tape recordings, sometimes specimens) with
instructors of the highest caliber (particularly those who are
birdchatters!!). We have held a workshop on warblers for many years
now, with Jon Dunn (one of the major authors of the much-debated NGS
guide) as instructor. It is held in Machias, Maine, and we typically
find 17- 20 species of breeding warblers during the week. Side
benefits include a session on optics for birders (including a chance to
borrow B&L Elites or Customs, or Zeiss 10x40's for an extended period)
as well as a session teaching how to read a sonogram.

Migration, conservation, evolution, life histories and moult are all
discussed as well as the issue of identification. Participants get a
copy of the NGS guide as well as a custom-made cassette from Cornell
Library of Natural Sounds of voices of eastern warblers.

The 1995 version of this event will likely be June 25- July 1.

We are also in the early planning stages for a "sparrows" workshop, to
be held in January, 1996, most likely headquartered in Sierra Vista,
Arizona, again with Jon Dunn as instructor. Check out your field guide
to see how many sparrow species (broadly defined to include juncos and
towhees) winter in that area!!

For more info, or to be on our mailing list send e-mail to

cduncan at

or write: Institute for Field Ornithology
University of Maine at Machias
9 O'Brien Avenue
Machias, ME 04654

*** If you tried this e-address before and had things bounce, please
try again. We had a series of network crashes and a system
administrator in the hospital. Sorry!! ******

Maybe some chatter will want to pick up on this thread to comment about
our workshops or others they have taken elsewhere. For me, I learn
best by birding with someone who knows their stuff, rather than from
books, videos, tapes studied at home.

Charles D. Duncan, Director
Institute for Field Ornithology
Tel 207-255-3313
Fax 207-255-4864


From: Jean <bickal at PILOT.NJIN.NET>

As a graduate of the Field Institute for Ornithology Workshop on Hawk
Identification held annually at Cape May, NJ in October, I can testify as
to how much you can learn in this type of forum. The workshop was led by
Charlie and Clay Sutton, co-author of Hawks in Flight. We would see slides
in the morning and then sit outside in the afternoon near the Hawkwatch
platform and practice, practice, practice. It was great. I could use a

Jean Bickal
bickal at
Lawrenceville, NJ