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New Online Course Helps You Learn Bird Behavior

By Hugh Powell

We’ve just launched a new online course about birds and behavior. Titled “Courtship and Rivalry in Birds,” it’s appropriate for all levels of interest and birdwatching expertise—anyone who’s ever seen a bird have an odd hop, wing-stretch, or squabble and wondered what it meant. The five-week course is taught on a rotating basis, and enrollment is open now for classes that begin November 11, 2009, and January 6, 2010.

The course covers territoriality, aggressive and courtship displays, and the fascinating field of sexual selection, all vividly illustrated with examples ranging from the familiar Red-winged Blackbird to New Guinea’s exotic birds-of-paradise.

The course takes students beyond book-based learning. It dissects the mercurial aspects of bird behavior with sound, video, interactive slideshows, simple online games, and conversations with scientists.

“You get the whole gamut—from birds you might see in your backyard to the most spectacular birds on the planet,” said course coauthor Kevin McGowan. “If you pay attention, there are a lot of things happening—you can look at small movements, see how movements are put together, and figure out what it all means”—all rendered beautifully onscreen with video from the Cornell Lab’s Macaulay Library.

Tuition is $295 for the five-week course. Cornell Lab members can enroll for $255 by calling 866-326-7635. Class sizes are small (15-35 students), so get your place early!

The Cornell Lab

All About Birds
is a free resource

Available for everyone,
funded by donors like you

American Kestrel by Blair Dudeck / Macaulay Library