Birding 101

Dates: June 25 - 30, 2023
Instructor: J. R. Blair
Fee: $500.00
Term: Summer 2023

Workshop Description

This workshop is designed for the beginning birder. We will begin with an introduction of the potential tools available for the beginner, including optics, field guides, online resources, and other aspects of getting the most out of the gratifying hobby of observing birds. The major part of the workshop will be an overview of the various categories of birds (at the order and family levels). By the end of the workshop you will be able to recognize the difference between a duck and a coot, a crane and a heron, a warbler and a sparrow, and much more!

three bird chicks in a nest

Instructor Bio

J.R. Blair has been an avid birder since the early 1980’s when he took a 16-unit course in Ornithology at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. He has participated in many Christmas Bird Counts, worked on a wildlife survey of Candlestick State Park, taught Ornithology at San Francisco State University, and led many field trips, especially in the Gold Lakes Basin and Sierra Valley regions of the Sierra Nevada. He recently retired from a 21-year stint as a lecturer of Biology at San Francisco State and eleven years as director of the Sierra Nevada Field Campus. Contact him at

Workshop Details

Workshop Schedule


Workshop Supplies List


Lodging and Camping Supplies

Camping gear if you are staying on campus:

  • tent and sleeping pad (unless you are staying in our tent with a cot provided)
  • warm sleeping bag
  • pillow, toiletries, and towel
  • flashlight and lantern
  • alarm clock

Field gear for everyone:

  • day pack
  • sunscreen
  • insect repellant
  • water bottles
  • plastic containers for packed lunches
  • sense of humor

You might also want to bring:

  • camera
  • binoculars
  • hand lens
  • camp chair


The weather in the Sierra Nevada can vary greatly, even in a single day. Be prepared for chilly temperatures at night, even below freezing early in the summer. Rain is a possibility any time, whether forecast or not. Variable weather clothing that can be layered is best: long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, warm sweater and jacket, t-shirt and shorts or skirt, sturdy shoes or hiking boots, sun hat, rain gear, and a warm hat or gloves for cold weather and/or night activities. And, if you come later in the season, bring your swimsuit for afternoon dips in the lakes!