Field Ornithology: Thinking Like a Mountain - Avian Ecology in the Cascades

Summer 2020 (Full Session)
Daytime EveningWeekend
Day, Evening, and Weekend
Class Size: 15
Credits per quarter

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Birds undertake a suite of distinct activities over the course of their annual cycle, including breeding, molt, and migration.  Understanding strategies deployed by different bird species to complete these activities offers conservation-related insights.  The variety of habitats in the Washington Cascade Mountains offers an opportunity to explore strategies through intensive field ornithology.  This class provides an opportunity to develop hands-on ornithological field skills while observing and collecting data on variation in strategies for breeding, molting and migration.  This includes an intensive bird-netting and banding operation across a variety of elevations from riparian scrub to montane meadows.

The 3-week field portion of the class will involve camping in remote areas of the Cascades; pending National Forest Service approval, we'll be working at sites near Highway 12 between White's Pass and Yakima.  Cool nights, hot days, field cooking, camp chores and the usual array of field conditions, such as occasional thunderstorms, bugs and snakes, mosquitoes, etc., may all be part of the experience.  Facilities are generally pit or vault toilets and taps with drinking water, though some field excursions may require bringing water along.  Living outside helps to expand our understanding of the conditions the birds are dealing with, but roughing it in the same conditions as the birds may not be for everyone!

This is a 5-week class but spans the time frame of first and second session due to specifics of the life-cycle of breeding birds in submontane and montane regions of the Pacific Northwest.  The start date is during week 5 of first session (week of July 20, 2020) and the final week is the week of August 17th. 

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:

Ornithology, Ecology, Wildlife Conservation


Credits per quarter


No prerequisites are required to enroll.  Students interested in attempting upper division science credit or graduate credit must have met the prerequisite coursework described in the "Graduate Credit Option" and/or "Upper Division Science Credit" sections of this description.

Online learning:
  • Hybrid Online Learning - This offering delivers < 25% of its instruction online, rather than via face-to-face contact between you and your instructors.
Special expenses:

Students will need to have appropriate camping gear and clothing for the field trip.  This includes basic camping gear such as tent, sleeping bag, backpack, water bottle.  In addition a field notebook, field journal, pencils, and reading material will be needed as well as a pair of binoculars.  There is a variety of camping gear available for rental through Evergreen's outdoor program:


$1020 to cover 3-week field study

Upper division science credit:

To be awarded upper-division science credit, the student must:

1. Have completed the following pre-requisite coursework: General Biology with Lab (12 credits), College-level Math such as Precalculus, Calculus I, Statistics 1 (4 credits).

2. Complete an independent project. Near the beginning of the program students will be introduced to a series of potential field project topics from which to choose.  There will also be an overview of commonly-used statistical analyses such as Chi-squared, T-test, Analysis of Variance, and Linear Regression.  Interested students will choose a project topic, formulate a testable hypothesis, design a study to test the hypothesis, implement the study design and collect data in the field, conduct statistical analysis, and interpret and communicate study results via a scientific report and presentation.

Class Standing: Freshman–Graduate
Class Size: 15
Daytime EveningWeekend

Scheduled for: Day, Evening, and Weekend

Final schedule and room assignments:

First meeting:

Tuesday, July 21, 2020 - 10:00 am
SEM 2 A2107 - Seminar

Located in: Olympia