Winter Birding by Ear (Paul Franklin)

Golden-crowned Kinglet

UPDATE: Registration is now closed as class is in session.

Winter Birding by Ear

The ability to bird by ear, recognizing and identifying various species from their vocalizations, is of invaluable assistance in the field. Most of the available instructional material on bird songs centers around the songs and calls heard during the typical breeding season, in spring and early summer. But there are as many or more birds, individuals and species, present in winter than any other season. Those winter birds call—dawn calls, contact calls, flight calls, alarm calls—and sometimes offer their full songs. Winter bird vocalizations are a bit arcane, and they are seldom emphasized in recordings and guides. Paul Franklin seeks to remedy this situation with the inaugural offering of this exciting course.

Textbook: The National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America will serve as the text for this course; while we encourage students to bring their own, more than enough copies are available for use here in the office.

Where and when do we meet? This six-week class will meet at our Birmingham offices for opening night—and periodically based on how the class goes—on Monday nights (2/11, 2/18, 2/25, 3/4, 3/11, 3/18), 6:30–8:30 p.m. We will spend most of our time in the field, and we’ll reconvene in the classroom as needed. Field trips will be at least once a week either on Saturdays and/or early weekday mornings, and we will try to accommodate students’ schedules. It is important students attend the first class on February 11th as many organizational details will be determined, including the best times for field trips. The instructor will send a group email throughout the class to update about meeting and field trip times.

Our office is located on the second floor of 3720 Fourth Avenue South. (Ample and well-lit parking is available in back, just behind Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ, the former Saigon Noodle House.) We will spend most of our time learning in the field—locating birds and attending to their songs, then learning to describe, recognize, and remember the sounds we hear.

Cost:  Your one-time registration fee ($60/members; $85/non-members) covers all six meetings. (While you are not required to attend each class, do note that we cannot refund individuals for partial attendance.)

Questions? Email the Outreach & Communications Director, or call 205-719-3678.

To see all of our class offerings, click here.


Instructor: A lifelong birder, Paul Franklin has taught birding courses at UAB, Samford University, the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, and other institutions since 1987. As an active member of Birmingham Audubon, Paul has served as chairman of the Field Trips and Conservation committees, volunteered as a bird-count compiler, and fulfilled two terms as president of the organization. Among other accomplishments, he has conducted Breeding Bird Survey routes for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, held a Master Bird Bander license, and acted as the state’s primary ornithologist during the development of the Alabama Birding Trail.