Audubon Master Birder Program

Applications Due June 8th

 

What is the Audubon Master Birder Program?

The Audubon Master Birder (AMB) program is an intensive year-long study of Colorado’s birds and their habitats. The mission of the AMB program is to develop field ornithologists with an understanding of bird identification, behavior, habitat, and conservation, and the desire to share their learning through leadership and ongoing commitment to the Audubon Society of Greater Denver, the Colorado birding community, and beyond


How is the program structured?

The AMB program is composed of 3 parts:

  1. Classroom lectures
  2. Field work (including trips and testing)
  3. AMB notebook (consisting of homework and other assignments)

Students attend 25 classroom lectures, usually every other week.  Lectures presented by leading Colorado birders with expertise in various ornithology topics.  Classes, held on Monday evenings, last 2.5 to 3 hours.  Students must attend 75% of the classes to meet graduation requirements.

Students also participate in field trips to enhance what they’ve learned in class and to introduce them to top birding spots around the state.  Field trips are usually all-day outings close to the Denver area.  Students must participate in 75% of the 23 field trips to meet graduation requirements.

Each student maintains an AMB notebook during the program year. The AMB notebook is used as a study guide, to document program requirements, and to verify program completion.

Mentors work individually with each student to help ensure students are making progress and on track for meeting graduation requirements.  Mentors are graduates or affiliates of the Audubon Master Birding program.

Tuition for the 2017-2018 Audubon Master Program is $750. Tuition is for the full year-long program and includes all lectures and field trips. Additional expenses can be expected for books and field trip travel costs.

The AMB program’s class size is limited to ensure each student has the opportunity for personal attention and development. Ideal Master Birder candidates are intermediate to advanced level birders who have the desire and enthusiasm to share their knowledge with others and who are willing to volunteer with Audubon for 2 years following the end of the program.


What the Program Covers


Field Ornithology is a skill honed over a lifetime. The AMB program develops a strong foundation that enables students to continue to improve their skills.

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Colorado Birds & Key Habitats


The program curriculum includes the study of Colorado birds through their biology, field marks, migration patterns, behavior, and habitat.


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Birding & Citizen Science


The AMB program also integrates technology with field studies. Students learn to use eBird to report trip sightings, to research sighting history, and to report rare birds. During the program year, students learn how to get involved in citizen science, and use bird watching as a service for conservation, research, and volunteerism.


Program Requirements

The time needed to devote to the program is significant. In addition to lectures and field trips, the program requires the completion of homework and readings, maintaining the AMB notebook, and participating in additional program requirements. Some examples of these requirements are:
Classes are held usually every other Monday evening. The classes are in the Audubon Nature Center, or the Audubon Offices near Chatfield State Park. The course offers 25 classes. Students must attend 75% of the classes in order to graduate.
Field trips are taken throughout the year on Saturdays. Trips take students to birding areas along the Front Range, nearby mountains, and eastern plains. The course offers 23 trips during the program. Students must participate in 75% of the field trips to graduate.
In order to graduate the AMB Program, all students must be able to:

  • See, identify, and list 200 bird species in Colorado (can include species seen before joining class)
  • identify 100 species by sight
  • identify 40 species by sound
  • identify 24 key plants
  • identify 15 key habitats

Field tests are given by mentors throughout the year to test student’s progress and abilities in meeting these requirements.

AMB students are given weekly homework assignments throughout the year. Each assignment takes about 2 hours.

A short research paper and presentation is required as part of the requirements.

Students must participate in at least one Christmas bird count and at least one Fall or Spring count.
At the end of the AMB program, students commit to volunteer 48 hours for each of the next 2 years for the Audubon Society of Greater Denver.

Key Dates

  • Jan/May, 2017 – Admissions process. Contact Audubon Email letters sent out in response to inquiries/interest in program
  • May 10, 2017 (Wednesday evening) – 6:30 p.m. First Open House at Audubon Nature Center
  • May 15, 2017 (Monday evening) – 6:30 p.m. Second Open House at Audubon Nature Center
  • June 8, 2017 – Deadline for application
  • June 13, 2017 (Tuesday) – 6:30 p.m. Bird Identification Assessment at Audubon Nature Center
  • Week of June 19-24, 2017 – Interviews with candidates held at Audubon Nature Center. Times to be determined.
    Beginning of July (date to be determined by Committee) meet to review applications and choose candidates). This should be completed by the first week in July, since classes start 7/24.

Candidates will be notified by the admissions committee of acceptance by email on the same day or next day after our final meeting.

  • July 24, 2017 – Start of classes

How to Apply

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    Step 1 - Send email

    Contact the Master Birder Program at: info@denveraudubon.org. You will receive updates, important date notifications, and the formal application. (If you do not receive the information you requested within 72 hours, please check your spam folder, and contact the AMB office.)

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    Step 2 - Attend Orientation Meeting

    Attend an open house and learn more about the program – Wed., May 10 or Monday, May 15.

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    Step 3 - Submit Application

    Submit an application by June 8, 2017.

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    Step 4 - Interview

    The interview process is a two-step process:

    1. Applicants first take a Colorado bird identification skills assessment to gauge their current knowledge.
    2. An admissions committee will conduct interviews with all applicants to discuss interest, commitment, background, motivation, availability and personal goals for the program.

Contact the AMB Program for more information



Current Audubon Master Birders & Mentors

2008 Graduates: Fran Blanchard, Mary Ann Bonnell, Bill Eden, Kris Koff, Barbara Masoner, Mary Ellen Sargent, Karen von Saltza

2009 Graduates: Karen Bickett, Kathy Bollhoefer, Tom Bush, Mackenzie Goldthwait, Dave Hill, Mary Keithler, Alison Kondler, Kathanne Lynch, Deb Mallory, Katie Morrison, Tom Parchman, Harriet Stratton

2009/2010 Graduates: Richard Anderson, Nicole Buyck, Laurie Duke, Kate Frost, Michael Kiessig, Lois Levinson, Jessi Oberbeck, Marilyn Rhodes, Bob Santangelo, Barbara Schissler, Cindy Valentine

2011/2012 Graduates: Chuck Aid, Cheryl Chessick, Celia Greenman, Marsha Heron, Diane Hutton, Rhonda Kelly, Cynthia Madsen, Megan Miller, Michele Ostrander, Sharon Pfeifer, Janet Shin, Jeffery Stroup, Scott Yarberry

2013/2014 Graduates. Karen Drozda, Martha Eubanks, Patti Galli, Chris Goulart, Georgia Hart, Judy Henderson, George Mayfield, Mary Fran O’Conner, Sue Summers, Wendy Wibbens.

2015/2016 Graduates. Sharon Cobb, Ruth Gabreski, Keith Hidalgo, Gloria Nikolai, Christy Payne, Denise Reznicek, Jamie Simo, Bea Weaver, Maikel Wise, Susan Wise, Pam Zimmer

2011/2012 Mentors: Bill Eden, Hugh Kingery, Urling Kingery, Mackenzie Goldthwait, Tina Jones, Karen von Saltza, Dave Hill, Mike Henwood, Bob Andrews, Lois Levinson, Michael Kiessig.

2012/2013 Mentors: Bill Eden, Hugh Kingery, Urling Kingery, Mackenzie Goldthwait, Tina Jones, Karen von Saltza, Dave Hill, Lois Levinson, Michael Kiessig, Chuck Aid, Cynthia Madsen, Janet Shin, Jeffery Stroup

Emeritus Mentors: Robert Andrews, Ann Bonnell, Doris Cruze, Mike Henwood, Alison Kondler