Learn to Bird: Elementary Ornithology


Learn to Bird: Elementary Ornithology for Summer 2023

Teacher: Caleb Alons

Email: calebscotta@gmail.com

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Course Description:  I love birding, and I love teaching birding even more. Ever since I got started, I haven’t been able to stop. Studying, watching, and listening to our winged friends brings an immense amount of excitement and relaxation, and the birding community is vibrant and welcoming. Birdwatching, or “birding,” is one of the fastest growing hobbies in the world with an impressive surge of interest from the teenage demographic, which gave me the idea for this class.

I’ve wanted to teach birds for years, and I’m stoked to finally realize this dream! Do not let the title fool you: this is no ordinary “class,” but rather an engaging workshop environment in which I will personally equip you with everything you need to know to get started with birding (and beyond, if you end up getting hooked like I did several years ago). Birding can be difficult to start doing, because there is a lot to understand and practice, so I was strongly motivated to create this class as a workshop to sort out the weeds and get people birding as soon as possible. There will be four live workshop sessions full of instructional material, exercises in identification, and plenty of time for student questions.

So, don’t be intimidated, and try something new this summer! Dig up those dusting binoculars in your garage, and together, we can Learn to Bird!

Who Should Register: Anyone who wants to begin a life-long adventure :). The class is designed for ALL students, so even if you can only identify geese and robins, this is the class for you! We all start somewhere, and there’s no better time to start than now.

Technical Requirements: Students must have Internet access and be able to join and participate in Zoom calls. Although not technically required, binoculars are super handy to have on hand, and what’s fantastic is the number of decent-quality budget binoculars. I personally own this pair, which are more than sufficient for very advanced birding and are inexpensive in the binoculars world:

Optional Text: Although not a course requirement, I couldn’t teach a course about birds without mentioning the Sibley Guide to Birds (Second Edition) [ISBN: 978-0-307-95790-0]. Sibley is one of the most accessible, affordable, and comprehensive field guides for learning birders, and one can find a copy of Sibley in the glove compartments of most seasoned birders!

Course Meeting Times: The weekly live workshop on Zoom is every Friday, from 11 AM - 12 PM EST. I will post brief Morning Messages with the “Bird of the Day,” providing helpful identification tips from seasoned experience, and students will go birding and create bird checklists each week.

Course Fee: $60 per student.

Length of Course: The course is 4 weeks long, from May 15 to June 11 (2023).

Instructor Qualifications: I am a U.S. Top 20 Global Big Day Finisher (ranked #14), and I won the Spring Global Big Day 2020 competition in the State of Colorado with 154 species in a single 24-hour period. I defended my Global Big Day title in Larimer County, CO for two consecutive years, and at the end of May 2021, I achieved the milestone of entering the 300+ Species Club for the State of Colorado.

Birding has taken me to over 60 counties across 15 states. I have documented 351 of the U.S. species of birds, which is about a third of all the bird species in the country. Over the course of 1000+ citizen science checklists, I have contributed 500+ photos of 222 different species and 100+ audio recordings of 77 different species to the Macaulay Library to improve bird migration studies and AI identification algorithms.

I have had the privilege of witnessing several records:

This is my second year teaching with AP Homeschoolers, and I’m thrilled to return!

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About the Instructor: I am the middle child of a family of seven. I was adopted from South Korea and homeschooled until leaving for university. Aside from work, I have succumbed to the “Jack of All Trades” lifestyle, and my hobbies include All Things Creative (maths, multi-instrumentalist, composition, photography/videography, cooking), speedcubing, competitive birding, and petting my Golden Doodle, Roxy. But above them all, teaching is My Hobby. Teaching has always been my first love. I rehearse lectures while walking between classes or driving to work. I troubleshoot and answer student questions while waiting in lunch lines. The opportunity to share knowledge and help others grow and learn never fails to bring me immense fulfillment and satisfaction. Serving my peers and students is a privilege, and I’m beyond thrilled for this coming summer!

“The birds are happy, and so am I.” – Caleb Scott Alons

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