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 events.)
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 torrey.umm.maine.edu
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 refresher.
Jean Bickal bickal at pilot.njin.net Lawrenceville, NJ