Banish the winter blues with an eight-week course that celebrates spring and the returning songbirds.
The joys of spring birding during a Spring Field Ornithology field trip. Photo by Steve Kress

Banish Winter Blues with Spring Birds

Birding course builds skills, friendships, and connection to nature

For release: January 18, 2012

Ithaca, NY—The annual Spring Field Ornithology course offered by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is perfect for anyone who enjoys being outdoors. This year's eight-week course takes place March 21 through May 13 and is designed for bird watchers of all skill levels.

"It's a great way to soak in the beauty of the Finger Lakes region and welcome back migrating songbirds," says course instructor Dr. Steve Kress. "Participants learn to identify birds by sight and song and visit the best birding spots in the Cayuga Lake Basin. It's all great fun and totally stress-free." Kress is vice president for Bird Conservation for Audubon and has taught the Spring Field Ornithology course since it began 35 years ago.

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Participants may see returning songbirds, such as this Yellow-rumped Warbler, heading back to the Finger Lakes from wintering grounds in the southeastern U.S., Mexico, and Central America. Photo by Don Rash
There are two sections to the course. Wednesday evening lectures cover bird song, nesting, courtship, migration, and habitat and include two trips to the Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates and a night owl-watch. Lectures are timed to match the spring migration and focus on species students will see during guided Saturday or Sunday field trips to regional birding hotspots, such as Braddock Bay, Derby Hill, Dryden Lake, Arnot Forest, and Myers Point. Students are grouped with others of the same skill level on field trips.

Participants may sign up for lectures only, just the field trips, or both sections. There are also two optional overnight trips--one to Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge and the other to Cape May, New Jersey, to experience peak spring migration.  

"Everything about this class is fantastic!" writes Jane, a recent participant from Syracuse, New York. "The leaders are friendly and gifted people