Birding by Ear in the Sierra

Dates: June 9-14, 2024
Instructor: Daniel Edelstein
Fee: $500.00 + meals and accommodations fees
Term: Summer 2024

Workshop Description

Designed for both beginners and experienced birders, this workshop will feature: a) introducing you to 20+ common nesting day and night-active bird species in the Sierra via classroom and field trips; b) share diverse methods to improve your Birding By Ear skills, including handouts; employment of books, articles, and apps; and several other techniques; and c) introduce the “why, what, where, when, and how” of song development and its usage by birds for courtship, defense, and migration.

People birdwatching
Daniel giving a presentation on birds

Instructor Bio

Since the 1990s ,Daniel Edelstein has been a freelance Avian Biologist and Certified Wildlife Biologist Asc. He has led birding tours for more than 25 years and presented birding college classes and public presentations in more than 20 states, including week-long and long-form adult classes such as "Bird Song Ecology," "Birding By Ear," "Intro. To Ornithology," and several others at the college level. Daniel’s popular website ( hosts diverse birding handouts (via the Birding Links pulldown menu), and his warbler-centric blog has hosted warbler articles and photo quizzes since 2007. His Sierra Nevada birding began in the 1980s and he regularly visits birding "hot spots" near the Sierra Nevada Field Station, including Yuba Pass, Sierra Valley, and the Gold Lakes region.

Workshop Details

Workshop Schedule

Plan to arrive at the Sierra Nevada Field Campus on Sunday evening. We can get acquainted that evening after dinner, but the class will begin at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Each day we will generally spend the morning in the field, have an afternoon break, and return to the field in the late afternoon. Lectures and discussions will be held informally in the field or in the evening. The class will end on Friday afternoon.

Workshop Supplies List

Field gear:

  • binoculars (a must)
  • spotting scope (optional)
  • field guides
  • notebook

Suggested reading:

  • Birds of the Sierra Nevada: Their Natural History, Status, and Distribution. Edward C. Beedy and Edward R. Pandolfino. 2013. Univ. of Calif. Press, Berkeley. Comprehensive overview of birdlife in the Sierra Nevada; generously illustrated by Keith Hansen.
  • Sierra Nevada Birds. David Lukas. 2011. Lukas Guides, Big Oak Flat, CA. Complementary to the book above.
  • Birds of Yosemite and the East Slope. David Gaines.1988 (revised 1992). Artemisia Press, Lee Vining, CA. An important distributional book on the most complex region of the Sierra by one of the state's greatest naturalists; strong on habitat preferences, seasonal cycles, and vivid prose.
  • Birds of the Pacific States. Ralph Hoffman. 1927. Houghton Mifflin, Boston. Classic field guide that emphasizes birds in their natural settings with compelling prose; illustrations by Allan Brooks. Long out of print, but can be found online fairly easily. 
  • Sierra Nevada Natural History. Tracey. I. Storer, Robert L. Usinger, David Lukas. 2004 (2nd edition). Univ. of Calif. Press, Berkeley. The classic book on all aspects of the natural history of the Range of Light.
  • The Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada. John Muir Laws. 2007. Heyday Books, Berkeley. The compact, well-illustrated go-to guide for identifying all the common insects, vertebrates, and plants of the Sierra Nevada.
  • Hansen's Field Guide to the Birds of the Sierra Nevada. 2021. Keith Hansen, Edward C. Beedy, and Adam Donkin. Heyday in conjunction with Sierra College Press. A must-have field guide to Sierran birds.

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!