Audubon Master Birder Program

Master Birders

Denver Audubon Master Birder Program

The Audubon Master Birding program is taught every other year. Currently the 2019-2020 class is underway. Information on the next class should be available beginning in the Winter 2021.

The information below is for reference only and will be updated at that time.

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 Denver Audubon, 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 2019-2020 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.

Draft Curriculum Schedule for 2019-2020 AMB program

Please note: This is a draft schedule for the Audubon Master Birding program and is subject to change.

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.


Colorado Birds & Key Habitats

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


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 commitment for the AMB 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.

Key Dates

Open Houses:

  • May 5, 1-3pm – Sign up (optional)
  • May 8, 6:30-8:30pm – Sign up (optional)

Applications Due:

  • June 3

ID assessment:

  • June 11, 6:30-8:30 pm


  • Week of June 17-21

AMB Program Begins:

  • July 22

How to Apply

  • Step 1 - Send email

    Contact the Master Birder Program at: 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.)

  • Step 2 - Attend an Open House

    Attend an open house and learn more about the program from graduates and mentors. Orientation meetings are scheduled on May 5th and May 8th, 2019. We’d love to know your coming, but feel free just to drop in if you didn’t get a chance to sign up.

  • Step 3 - Submit Application

    Submit an application by June3, 2019.

  • Step 4 - Skills Assessment & 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

2017/2018 Graduates. Barbara Fahey, Mary Geder, Don Hall, Pat Heller, Cynthia Kristensen, Christina Leslie, Tracy Rackauskas, Michelle Robbins, Bill Schreitz

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

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

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

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

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

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