We want to support you!
We are aware of the challenges of being a teacher--large classes, high expectations with limited class time, and still wanting to make things fun and inspiring each day. We strongly believe that every teacher has the potential to facilitate experiential, place-based, environmentally-focused curriculum. It is simply a matter of figuring out how to incorporate it into your daily class practices as a means to achieving your learning goals. Please explore the resources below and feel free to contact us at ANY time.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is THE authority on bird science and education on the planet. Their K-12 education branch called BirdSleuth is an invaluable resource for any educator and they are Bird School approved!
1. BirdSleuth: This is their main site, a great place to get started. We highly recommend checking out their various articles, free online curricula, and their informative webinars.
2. All About Birds: All About Birds is a comprehensive bird encyclopedia used by novices and experts alike. Have a question about a bird? You'll find your answer here.
3. Bird Academy: Bird Academy is a great place to find videos, games, and activities to explain the big topics about birds like feathers, song, and behavior.
4. eBird: One of the largest citizen science projects of all time, eBird allows people all over the world to submit their bird observations to a central database. This project is changing the world of bird research and has led to some fantastic discoveries. Students are encouraged to participate!
5. YardMap: A cool new way to change the world! Students learn how to use a basic mapping software, map their backyard or schoolyard, connect their eBird observations, and get recommendations about how to make better habitat. Everyone can participate!
The BEETLES Project, based out of the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkeley, is changing the world of experiential science education. They have done considerable research on how people learn and best practices for teaching high-quality, inquiry-based science outdoors. Be sure to check out their resources for lessons, amazing program leader videos, and their FREE leadership institutes.
Our favorite apps
Merlin Bird ID is an app put out by Cornell that is perfect for anyone just getting started with birding. We encourage all of our students to download it on Day 1.
iBird Pro is the most comprehensive bird app that we have found. It comes complete with range maps, fun facts, sound clips, and great photos.
Citizen science is easier than ever with the eBird smartphone app. Download it and submit your observations immediately in the field!
Field Guides we USe
The Local Birds Guides are perfect for younger kids and folks just starting on their birding adventure. Very basic, easy to use, and affordable for teachers. These are the guides we use with classes.
The National Geographic Field Guides are done extremely well. Great illustrations and a new quick reference guide in the back makes things easy in the field.
The Sibley Field Guides are another great option. Detailed illustrations and well organized. Also check out David Allen Sibley's "Birding Basics" book.
Websites and groups we love
John Muir Laws is the leader in science education through nature journaling and art. He is a master of community building and inspiring people to get outside with their field journal to engage in authentic inquiry. He is the author of several phenomenal books and has a website chock-full of videos, articles, and guided walks.
The Santa Cruz Bird Club and The Monterey Bay Audubon are the local birding organizations in the Monterey Bay area. These folks are the real Jedis of birding in the area and are trying to get more people (particularly younger people) involved with local birding.
Looking for even more environmental education opportunities in the area? The California Regional Environmental Education Community, or "CREEC Network" is leading the charge in bringing educators, schools, and environmental education providers together. Join your local network!
Having a hard time getting your footing as a birder? Check out this AMAZING online resource: The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Bird Watching. Jonny Anderson has been bird watching for over 20 years and created this guide to share and promote access to the wonderful world of birds.
Do you find feathers when you are out hiking and wonder, which bird did this come from? We can learn a lot from feathers, but be careful about collecting them as some feathers have regulations around their collection. Instead, consider making some observations, or drawing the feather and then referencing this website - 60 Tail Feathers of North American Birds. Big thanks to Alex, a fellow birding instructor, for recommending this!