Natural History of Sierra Nevada Birds

General Description:

The study of natural history means that we look at the entire web of life and in this class we will examine the many resources that support bird populations in a variety of northern Sierra Nevada habitats, using our curiosity and eyes to observe all aspects of the landscape and its birds. From mountain lookouts to lush forests and fertile wetlands we will explore a diversity of birds, learning how to identify species and understand their lives. Most of our best birding will be done in the morning and late afternoon, with breaks during the mid-day heat to rest or travel between sites, but we will have additional optional activities like evening owling or a lecture and dissection to learn about bird anatomy.


David Lukas

Class Schedule

Plan to arrive at the Sierra Nevada Field Campus on Sunday in order to get settled in and meet your fellow classmates. We will get acquainted that evening, but class officially begins after breakfast on Monday. The week's activities will be flexible to take advantage of our best viewing opportunities but in general each day’s schedule begins promptly after breakfast. Each day we’ll head to a different destination in order to explore as many habitats as possible. Some days we have down time during the heat of the day, other days we keep moving from site to site. But each day the plan is to return to the field campus by dinnertime. Lectures and discussions may be held informally in the field or in the evening. Class ends on Friday about noon-ish.

Supplies and Other Useful Items

Field gear

Camping gear


Days are warm, even hot, while evenings are quite cold (close to freezing). Clothing that can be layered for variable weather conditions is best. T-shirts and shorts are often perfect during the day, with a wind jacket or raincoat as backup. Long pants, warmer shirts and sweaters with a coat are necessary in the evening. Comfortable shoes, sun hat, wool hat and gloves are important. Old sneakers or rubber boots and a swimsuit may come in handy while visiting marshes. Miscellaneous: Day pack, sunscreen, insect repellent, raingear, alarm clock, water bottles, hat etc.