Understanding Birds and Their Voices

Saturday, April 23, 2016 from 9:30-1:30 in Puyallup WA

Listening to Cedar Waxwing Bird Song - Artwork by Joanna Powell Colbert
Listening to Cedar Waxwing – Artwork by Joanna Powell Colbert

When you understand the language of birds, you’ll know where animals (including predators) are hidden, plus other secrets.  Join instructors Kim & Chris Chisholm for a great day tracking birds in the backyard, fields, forests and waterways of the Pacific Northwest. Kim holds a Wildlife Science degree from the University of Washington, where she studied crows, flycatchers and other birds. Chris has been studying Bird Language since 1988, starting with Loons while attending the University of Wisconsin, and expanding to song birds in 1992 when he moved to Western Washington and began tracking wildlife professionally.

In addition to getting a great overview of visual bird identification today, you’ll also learn to distinguish birds by their voices. Learn the meanings of bird songs, companion calls, alarm calls, and calls of aggression, among other vocalizations. It’s easy to do, and you can learn it all from robins, then extrapolate to other bird species which will tell you about raptors flying overhead, owls perched in trees, bears lumbering along trails, bobcats stalking through the brush, and weasels sneaking under downed logs.

Learning today will include Kim’s system for quickly scanning birds with and without binoculars to find the most important identification clues, then using Chris’ great system for knowing exactly where to look in your field guide to pinpoint the species. We’ll also talk about habitat as an indicator of identification, and help you develop a “baseline” knowledge of common bird songs and calls from which it will be easier to determine the identity of birds by ear. We’ll also give recommendations for attracting the widest array of birds to your yard for enjoyment and study, while keeping them healthy and safe.

Awesome Birding by Sight & Sound

Hummingbird-Nest-BabiesThe workshop starts in a backyard birder’s paradise, with a plethora of resident songbirds and accipiter hawks in the neighborhood, common yellowthroats and marsh wrens in wetlands, red-tailed hawks and bald eagles patrolling fields, great blue herons and belted kingfishers stalking the local fish hatchery, dabbling ducks galore in the public pond, and dozens of migrant birds now nesting throughout the DNR lands around us.


• $45 general.
• $40 per additional friend/family member.
• $35 if you attended this workshop with us in the past.

Registration: Who & How

Our weekend workshops are designed for adults, but youth are also welcome to register with an enrolled parent or guardian.

Credit/Debit Card Registration Option: Just call us at 425-248-0253 and we will take your registration securely over the phone.

Check/Mail Registration Option: Send with a check donation payable to the Wolf College, 1026 14th St. SW, Puyallup WA 98371 with participant name(s), phone number, email address, age of any minors, and any allergies or health restrictions we should know about.

Or Use PayPal to register via secure online donation with a credit/debit card or via direct withdrawal from your bank account. Use the link below (might not be visible if you are using “reader view” on your phone or other device) or sign into paypal.com and “send money” to our email address: (we’ll get back to you with any additional information we may need)

Email us to be put on our our list for this program in the future. We always keep your information absolutely private, and will never share it.

Refund Policy: Standard deposits ($75 for day programs, $175 for overnight programs) are not refundable unless we don’t accept your application. If you cancel for any reason, you may receive a full credit good through the following calendar year on appropriate and available programs listed on our schedule, although an additional deposit may be required to secure your spot in the future program. If a program you sign up for is canceled and not rescheduled at a time you can attend, you may receive a full refund except in case of natural (weather, geologic, etc) disasters, government shutdowns, conflicts or curfews, or other unforeseen emergencies making it impossible for staff and/or attendees to reach or use program locations, in which case all payments made will be held by us without expiration date for your future use in appropriate/available programs of your choice. No refund, nor credit, is given if a participant is asked to leave a program for inappropriateness as determined by our kids, youth and adult agreements for participation.

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Please prepare as you normally would for a hike, including snacks, lunch, water bottle, 10 essentials, etc., but especially with appropriate clothing including rain gear and waterproof footwear. Also, bring along a set of binoculars, digital camera, and if you don’t have a birding field guide yet and wish to purchase one, we recommend: s The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America or Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Western North America. Either will serve you well. Personally, Kim is a long-time Peterson user whereas Chris prefers Golden’s Bird’s of North America: A Guide to Field Identification.

See http://www.wolfcollege.com/classes-workshops/weekend/wildlife-tracking-and-trailing-animals-like-wolves-cougars-bears-elk-deer/ for other workshop options, and if you would like to learn to a more advanced level and have time to really practice your skills, please enroll in our 5 Day Summer Course: Tracking Wolf Country: From Birds to Big Critters