Leading a local community in appreciating, understanding, and protecting birds and their natural habitats.

Adult Classes

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Spring 2020 Online Classes

Birding From Your Home: A Virtual Class with Hans deGrys
Wednesday, April 8, 7:30-8:30pm
Governor Jay Inslee says we should all stay home this month.  But what if you want to enjoy the spring birdlife that abounds in the Seattle area?  Fortunately, you can do both.  This one hour free class explores some ways that you can appreciate birds and nature without leaving your neighborhood, or even your yard or home.  What can you observe about birds just by opening your window or stepping outside?  We will discuss topics such as close observation of backyard birds, bird sketching, bird feeding, bird behavior, and basic birding by ear.  Hans will also suggest some light “homework” and short birding projects you can try from home over the next few weeks.  We will close with some recommendations for books, podcasts, magazines, websites, and other ways to enjoy “virtual” birding from your home.  

Raptors for the Social Distancer with David Droppers
Wednesday, April 15, 7:00-8:00pm
We've been warned: Stay inside. No non-essential trips. No birding trips. BUT, we can still go for walks, right?  Which means we can still bird!  Although our options may be a bit more limited, while on your neighborhood walks or while tending your gardens, there are still raptors around. In this shortened version, David will cover those raptors that are most likely to be experienced in King and Snohomish Counties.  And while the list may be shorter than the in-person class original presentation, there are still plenty of challenges. Use this as practice while you wait for the complete "Raptors of Washington" to be rescheduled!


Updated March 5, 2020, 10:00 a.m.

Public Health — Seattle & King County has released new proactive public health recommendations meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Seattle Audubon is responding to these latest recommendations with additional changes to our activities. We undertake these changes to reduce risks for the members of our community at higher risk of severe illness. We will continue to evaluate as new information becomes available.  (Resources are listed at the end of this document.)

Contact information for the relevant staff is listed for each activity, if you have further questions or concerns. Seattle Audubon is also following recommendations for employers and limiting staff who will work from the office. Through this challenging time in our community, we encourage everyone to act with kindness and compassion, and to support those in the community who most need our collective actions to help reduce the spread of this disease.


  • Stay home when you are sick. Do not go out in public when you are sick.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or tissue and wash your hands immediately afterward.
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly for a minimum of 20 seconds with soap and water. If no soap is available, use a hand sanitizer of at least 60% alcohol content.
  • Avoid touching your face with unclean hands.


  • Classes to be held in March and April have been postponed or cancelled. Registered participants will be contacted directly and refunds issued. We will re-evaluate additional Spring session classes as new information becomes available.
  • Contact: Christine Scheele, Program Director | christines@seattleaudubon.org

A variety of classes on birding and natural history are taught throughout the year by qualified instructors who are experts in their respective fields. Classes support the Seattle Audubon mission of appreciating, understanding, and protecting birds and their natural habitats.

  • New classes open for registration quarterly (March 1, June 1, Sept. 1, Dec.1); if the 1st of the quarter falls on a Sunday or a holiday registration will open the following day.
  • To see a list of Frequently Asked Questions, including helpful tips for finding class venues, click here.  

Visit the Master Birder page to learn more about that two-semester program.


While May classes have not been cancelled, the odds of them being cancelled due to the public health crisis are high. We are not accepting additional registrations at this time.

Birding by Ear Field Workshops
With Bob Sundstrom, tour guide, writer for BirdNote
•    Lower Puget Sound: Wednesday May 6: meet at Ravenna Park & Ride 6:30am.  
•    East of the Cascades: Wednesday May 20: meet at Mercer Island Park & Ride, 6:30am.
Cost:     $55 members, $70 non-members for one workshop
             $100 members, $115 non-members for both workshops
Limit: 16 per workshop in 4-5 vehicles
Two full-day, intensive immersions in birding by ear, at the spring season’s peak of song.  An opportunity to learn to recognize songs and calls in the field, from a professional birding tour leader and long-time teacher of birding by ear.  A good class for those wanting a refresher and field intensive, and for newer birders who want to sharpen their listening skills.  Will also discuss related concepts and science during the day trips. Carpool cost for eastern WA: $65/vehicle to be split evenly among passengers. Carpool cost for lower Puget Sound: $27/vehicle to be split evenly among passengers. Appropriate for INTERMEDIATE birders.

Instructor Bob Sundstrom has led birding tours over three decades to many parts of the world, for Victor Emanuel Nature Tours.  He is lead writer for the radio program, BirdNote, and has taught birding by ear and other classes for SAS over three decades.  Bob also leads a year-round program of regional tours with Mercer Island Parks.

Introduction to Warblers and Vireos of the Pacific Northwest
with Hans de Grys, chemistry teacher at Lakeside School, master birder, Recipient – MIT’s Inspirational Teacher Award
Lecture: Thursday May 7, 7:00pm-9:00pm
Location: Lakeside School, Allen-Gates Bldg, Room 104
Cost: $30 members, $45 non-members
Limit: 22
Warblers are one of the most sought after groups of breeding songbirds due to their brilliant colors, distinctive vocalizations, and fascinating natural history.  Their varying plumages, habitats, and songs make them an interesting and challenging group for birders. This class will focus on both the natural history and the identification (by sight and sound) of this group of songbirds.  We will also compare and contrast warblers to some superficially similar groups such as vireos and kinglets.  Suitable for beginning and intermediate birders.

Introduction to Flycatchers of the Pacific Northwest
with Hans de Grys, chemistry teacher at Lakeside School, master birder, Recipient – MIT’s Inspirational Teacher Award
Lecture: Thursday May 21, 7:00pm-9:00pm
Location: Lakeside School, Allen-Gates Bldg, Room 104
Cost: $30 members, $45 non-members
Limit: 22
More than a dozen species of flycatchers migrate north to Washington state each spring to breed and raise their chicks.  While flycatchers are notorious for being similar to each other and challenging to identify, most of our flycatcher species are actually quite distinct, with differing field marks, vocalizations, habits, and natural histories.  This class will focus on flycatcher identification by sight, behavior, habitat, and voice.  Suitable for beginning and intermediate birders.


with David Droppers, stalwart of the Washington Butterfly Association with a background in teaching and field research
Lectures: Wednesdays May 13, 20 and 27 from 7:00-9:00pm
Location: Phinney Neighborhood Center, Brick Building Room 35
Field Trip: Sundays May 24 and 31
Cost: $80 members, $95 non-members for lecture and field trip; $60 members, $75 non-members for lecture only
Limit: 15 for lecture and field trip
            5 for lecture only
The morning bird chorus has silenced and the day is getting warm.  But you don’t want to go home yet – no way!  There’s an entirely different group of animals just waking up.  Come learn about the butterflies, the perfect accompaniment to your birding adventures.
Topics will include: taxonomy of butterflies including families, major groups, and a few of the most common species; anatomy of butterflies, enabling students to effectively use field guides; roles that butterflies play in the environment; how to find butterflies – their use of the environment, movements, ecology, etc.; caterpillars – because they come first!
Class will consist of 3 weekday evening presentations, with lab activities, and 2 field trips to apply what we’ve learned. Appropriate for ALL levels of birders.


Woodpeckers This class has been rescheduled due to public health concerns. Additional registration info coming soon.
with Dan McDougall-Treacy, Seattle Audubon Classes Committee member and master birder
Lecture: Thursday, March 19,  NEW DATE: Wednesday June 3, 7:00-9:00pm
Location: Phinney Neighborhood Center, Blue Building room 5
Field Trip: Saturday, March 21, 7:00am, NEW DATE: Sunday June 7, destination TBD
Cost: $35 members, $50 non-members
Limit: 25
Join this class to indulge our fascination with Woodpeckers.  Familiar cartoon character – sure. But wait – there’s more!  While most woodpeckers dress themselves in patterned black and white, some show themselves in shades of green or browns. Their unique mode of living – including drumming and drilling – arouses our attention and our curiosity. Some woodpecker species are widespread, and others are uncommon and specialize in unique environmental niches.

The class will examine the distinctive characteristics of this family and review the 12 species that can be seen in Washington. A closer emphasis on the five species commonly found here on the western side of the state will include field marks and other identification tips, range and habitat, nesting, foraging and feeding specializations, and ecological and conservation issues.


Birding by Ear (BBE) - Listening is an act of loving birds his class has been cancelled
with Whitney Neufeld-Kaiser, Seattle Audubon master birder
Lecture: Thursdays, March 26 and April 2, Thursdays April 23 & 30, 7:00pm-9:00pm
Field Trip: (optional) Saturday, March 28, NEW DATE: Saturday, April 25, 7:30–10:00am, Seward Park
Identifying birds by their songs and calls can transform both your birding experience and your everyday life. Using both non-North-American birds and Washington State birds, this class will include a discussion and practice in "parsing" bird song - analyzing the different characteristics of a song (e.g. rhythm, tone quality) - to help with recognition and identification. We’ll talk about what’s understood about why birds make sounds and what we can learn from listening to them. Sonograms will be introduced as a tool to "see" differences between similar songs and calls. The class includes an optional field trip to Seward Park in south Seattle, where most of the birds are so high in the canopy that you can’t see them anyway – a great chance to practice listening! Appropriate for anyone who is new to BBE or wants to learn more.


Raptors his class has been cancelled
With David Droppers
Lecture: Wednesday March 25, NEW DATE: Wednesday, April 29, 7:00-9:00pm
There can be no question - raptors are fascinating, inspiring, and impressive.  Even non-birders notice them (at least the big ones!).  Their feats of agility and speed leave many of us speechless.
However, as with many groups of birds, there is no shortage of confusion with these birds.  What exactly are we seeing?
David will help point you in the right direction and make your hawk-watching more enjoyable.  Not only will we cover the major marks in separating species, we'll cover some basic biology and ecology of these amazing creatures, and, maybe most importantly, learn to accept why sometimes that far-away hawk must be recorded on your checklist as "hawk sp." Appropriate for ALL levels of birders.


Shorebird ID his class has been cancelled
with Tim Boyer, master birder & professional bird photographer
Lectures: Tuesdays April 7 and Thursday April 9, 7:00-9:00pm
Learn the key identification features of the 40 fall shorebirds found in Washington State. Discover the wonderful world of shorebirds and how to identify them in this class. We’ll cover the 40 shorebirds most likely to be seen during spring and fall migration in-depth. Learn not only how to identify shorebirds (including those difficult little brown peeps), but also learn about how and why shorebirds migrate. Through photographs showing birds in various life stages and comparing species side-by-side, you'll learn how to spot the remarkable differences that distinguish similar-looking shorebirds. You'll learn tips and tricks for sorting out those “brown little peeps.” In addition to field marks, you'll learn the telltale clues given by size, shape, habitat, and behavior. We’ll also explore interesting facts about each species beyond identification. If you’ve ever wanted to learn about shorebirds and how to identify them, this is your class. Appropriate for ALL levels of birders.


Nest Box Building Workshop This class has been cancelled
with Dave Wall and Dan McDougall-Treacy
Workshop: Wednesday April 8, 7:00-9:00pm
Placing a next box in your yard, garden spot, or communal outdoor space is an excellent way to provide birds a safe place to raise their young, and offers you a glimpse into bird nesting behavior.  During this class we will discuss “why a box?” how to best deploy your box, and what to watch for when the birds show up.  We will also discuss the essential seasonal tasks of caring for and cleaning your nest box.

Each participant will then construct a next box, suitable for small songbird species (chickadee, wren), using provided premeasured and precut materials. No power tools will be used during class. Participants are welcome to bring their own materials if they have a particular design in mind, though this certainly is not expected or required. Children are welcome as long as they are accompanied by an adult, have registered for the class, and are able to manage the entire two-hour session. Appropriate for ALL levels of birders.

From Mountains to Molehills: an Introduction to the Mammals of Washington  This class has been cancelled
with Mike Donahue
Lectures: Mondays April 13 & 20, 7:00-9:00pm
Field Trip: April 25. The field trip will be to Vantage, with stops along the I-90 corridor
This class will give an overview of the mammal diversity in the state, emphasizing the species most likely to be seen, their natural history, and where to see them. Mike recommends A Field Guide to Mammals of North America North of Mexico by Fiona Reid. Mike grew up in Washington State and has been seeking out mammals as well as birds over the last 40 years. In 2013 he did a Washington State mammal big year. Appropriate for ALL levels of birders.  Meet at the Issaquah Transit Center, 1050 17th Ave NW at 6:30 a.m. for carpooling. Will return in the late afternoon. Fuel costs and park entrance fee will be shared among the riders.


Planning Your Big Day This class has been cancelled
with Scott Ramos, master birder and scientist
Lecture: Wednesday April 15th, 7:00-9:00pm
Whether you are looking forward to the upcoming birdathon or you are wanting to make the most of a day trip in the area, planning and preparation can make a big difference in maximizing your big day.  Scott will share his tips and resources for finding your target birds, planning routes and having fun along the way.  Sign up to turn your next bird big day outing into a birding adventure!   Appropriate for ALL levels of birders.

Seattle's Common Birds in Flight  This class has been cancelled
with Connie Sidles, author and master birder
Lectures: Mondays April 20, 27, May 4, and 11, 7:00pm-9:00pm
Often the only glimpse of a bird we see is a shape soaring overhead, a distant body flapping against the clouds, or a sudden flash of something zooming past. When this happens, we don't have to just sigh in frustration or wish we had binoculars with the power of Palomar. There are many clues birds in flight give to help us ID them: wing shape, flapping patterns, tail/body/head proportions, undercarriage plumage, and flight calls, among others. If you'd like to improve your birding skills by IDing birds in their element - the air - then this class is for you. Master Birder Connie Sidles will conduct four classes focusing on the common passerines, near passerines, waders, and water birds that call the Seattle area home. There will be a choice of one of two field trips, half-day walks around Montlake Fill with Connie. Plus, Connie will be glad to accompany you on informal walks around the Fill throughout the class period - to be arranged as students' and Connie's schedules allow. The class is best suited for intermediate birders who are able to ID pretty much all our local birds when they are sitting still.

Modern Smartphone Digiscoping This class has been cancelled
with Nathaniel Peters, master birder and microscopy instructor
Lecture: Wednesday, April 22, 7:00-9:00pm
In this digiscoping workshop, I will show participants that with a smartphone camera, practice, and patience, they can transform their binoculars and/or telescope into formidable bird photography tools.  We will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the "digiscope", freehand vs. mounted digiscoping styles, binocular vs. telescopic digiscoping, commercially available vs. DIY (Do-It-Yourself) digiscopes, and more!  I will demonstrate my own digiscoping technique, share the tricks that I have learned over 7+ years of digiscoping in the Pacific Northwest, and discuss the evolution of my own DIY diginocular and digiscope prototypes.  There will be time at the end of class for practice, discussion, and evaluation of participants' digiscoping setups, if they bring them.  By the end of this class, participants will be ready to begin construction of their own smartphone digiscopes, or know where to find a commercially available setups suited to their needs and equipment. Materials to bring:  Notebook, binoculars and/or telescope (optional), smartphone (optional), digiscope adaptor (optional).  Appropriate for ALL levels of birders.

Master Birder Information

Seattle Audubon offers a Master Birder Program, a two-semester course and education-for-service program focusing on the identification and natural history of Washington's birds. Offered every other year, participants benefit from an intensive study of Northwest birds and serve as valuable resources for Seattle Audubon and the community.

Seattle Audubon is nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization. Copyright Seattle Audubon.