Coyote Track

University of Florida Bird Language Course Syllabus

Bird Language Course Syllabus

Day 1 – Introduction to Bird Language Concepts

Participants will arrive either the evening before or early this morning to setup camp and orient themselves to the property.  The main focus for the day will be introducing the fundamentals of bird language and familiarizing everyone with observational techniques.

AM Session              

- Group introductions and ice-breakers

- Definitions, origins, and benefits of bird language?

- Governing principles (conservation of energy)

PM Session             

- Basic observational skill-building routines (the sit spot)

- Observational exercise

- Discussion of ‘The 5 Voices’


Night Session           

- Birds of the night discussion

- Station tour and overview of habitat types

- Owling exercise

Day 2 – The Bird Language Group Exercise & Alarm Explanations           

The class will get up early to do the first group observation exercise, and then collaborate afterward to piece together everything that occurred during the observation period.  Bird Language behavioral signatures will then be introduced to explain what occurred in the field.


AM Session                       

- Observational exercise: Bird Sit #1

- Mapping exercise and debrief


PM Session                

- Shapes of alarm lecture

- Discussion of plows and the sentinel position

- Diagramming terrestrial alarms

- Diagramming aerial alarms


Night Session           

- Discussion of bird language cases studies

- Language learning exercise (Become the Titmouse!)

Day 3 – Refining Observation Skills to Decipher Bird Behavior           

Improving observational skills in order to take notice and make sense of bird behaviors will be discussed along with tips for finding bird nests and ‘hideouts.’  A second group observation exercise and debriefing will be conducted.


AM Session           

- Detecting and influencing bird ‘sign language’

- Perfecting observational demeanor

- Nest searching using vocal and behavioral cues


PM Session                       

- Observational exercise: Bird Sit #2

- Mapping exercise & debrief


Night Session           

- Advanced bird language topics (wake hunting, secondary alarms)

- Discussion of concentric rings and honeycomb landscape

Day 4 – Introducing Other Naturalist Skills that Enhance Bird Language

The science of animals sign will be discussed with an explanation of the fundamentals involved including track morphology, substrate, and other indicators of sign.  Participants will also be given free time to work on individual projects.


AM Session 

- Observational exercise: Bird Sit #3

- Introduction to Wildlife Track and Sign


PM Session                       

- Independent student field exercises


Night Session           

- Citizen Science research and action ideas

- Open discussion, sharing, storytelling

- Night walk

Day 5 – Integrating Multiple Approaches to Create a Composite Picture

There will be a group discussion on how to blend a variety of naturalist approaches together to get an overall understanding of animals’ behaviors and interactions on the landscape.  Proposals for continued research will be discussed followed by a final dinner.


AM Session                       

- Observational exercise: Bird Sit #4

- Exercise: finding tracks and animal sign

- Lecture on integrating bird language and tracking


PM Session                       

- Research and blog idea presentations

- Pack up

- Closing Dinner (optional)

End of Course


University of Florida 


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