Starting this fall, the Potomac Valley Audubon Society is offering a new "Master Birder" program. The program is intended for experienced birders who want to take their knowledge and skills to a higher level.
Instruction will be provided through workshops that include both classroom time and field experiences, with the emphasis on the latter. Each workshop will focus on a specific group of birds or a topic that cuts across groups, such as bird song.
All of the workshop sessions will be conducted by one or more of the following instructors: Wil Hershberger, of Hedgesville; Bob Dean, of Martinsburg; and Matt Orsie, of Summit Point. All are highly regarded birding experts.
Enrollments will be strictly limited to ensure that all participants receive close personal attention and are able to learn collectively. After successful completion of a "baseline" set of workshops, successful students will be awarded a "Master Birder" certificate.
Applicants must be graduates of PVAS's "Birding 101" course or have commensurate experience (three or more years of birding). There is no age requirement but participants under 16 must be accompanied a parent.
The program's first workshop will focus on raptors and begin Thursday, September 13 with a 7-9 p.m. classroom session at the National Conservation Training Center outside Shepherdstown.
This will be followed by four weekend field trips that will be held at various locations within a two-hour drive of Shepherdstown on a flexible schedule (depending on weather). The tentative dates for these trips are Sept. 15 or 16, Oct. 6, Oct. 20 and Nov. 3 or 4.
The main topics to be covered will be raptor migration, identification in flight and perched, behavior, distribution and population trends, and conservation goals.
The cost will be $75 per person for PVAS members and $100 per person for nonmembers. The nonmember cost includes a one-year household membership in PVAS.
Future planned workshops include Warblers, Bird Song, Gulls, and Shorebirds.