Bird Language & Nature Connection online

6 week online Zoom course

Next course starting: Thursday, 19th October 2023

Cost: $240

Meeting times: Thursdays 6.30pm to 8pm (all sessions recorded for participants)

Dates: 19th, 26th October and 2nd, 9th, 16th & 23rd November

“Andrew’s quirky sense of humour and impressive knowledge combine to make this course incredibly engaging. 5 stars, would recommend!”


The following course outline provides an overview of the scope, learning areas and field exercises associated with this 6-week online workshop series.

Each week consists of a 90-minute Zoom session where Andrew introduces different bird language and nature observation focus areas, as well as group sharing of field observations from personal sit spots and facilitated discussion of observed bird behaviour / nature experiences. Andrew sets field-based “homework” each week.

Here’s a glimpse of what to expect:

Week 1: Bird language – gateway drug for Nature Connection

  • Learning bird language is first and foremost about reprogramming your brain so that your sensory system engages with the world around you in ways that, once learned cannot easily be unlearned.
  • Once you start down this road it will change you permanently, you will be cursed to notice things that remain silent and invisible to most. You will begin to notice “what is really there”, removing sensory filters which previously interrupted your direct and full experience of natural environments
  • Being aware of bird language is not so much about knowing everything that birds are saying to each other, but rather about active listening to the world, so that you become alive to the lives of non-human others
  • When ignoring bird language used to have lethal consequences

Week 2: Gondwanan Origins & Relating Anatomy to Ecology

  • Songbird ancestors that survived the Chicxulub meteorite detonation were ground nesting / dwelling birds and possibly were able to use torpor as a strategy to survive. We still find these qualities in birds alive today
  • Songbird ancestors survived in Australia after Antarctica froze over, acting as a safe haven for the further evolution of songbird lineages which then spread to the rest of the world as late as 20mya
  • Birds that look similar across the world are not generally closely related but rather the product of concurrent evolution where birds occupy similar habitat niches, leading to similar specialisations
  • A bird’s job description determines the tools of its trade so observation of bird anatomy tells us much about their lifestyle and ecology

Week 3: Fundamentals of Understanding Bird Language for Nature Connection

  • Introduction to bird language
  • Soundscapes – learning to reassociate bird song as sound rather than noise
  • Unique voices, including alarm, bickering, territorial song, begging, hurting, contactcalls, mating calls and more
  • Why learning bird language is like watching a foreign film without subtitles
  • Re-patterning your brain to an older way of being in the world
  • Learning how to isolate solitary voices in the crowd using Binocular ears

Week 4: Bird Alarm – Introduction & tracking “invisible” predators across the landscape

  • Types of alarm
  • Ground versus aerial predators
  • Learning how to “go dark” so the source of alarm isn’t always you
  • Nature News and Concentric Rings of Disturbance
  • Experience the “baseline” state of an environment for the first time
  • The basis for tracking predators through the landscape or around your gardens is through becoming an active listener to alarm
  • Ground alarm versus aerial alarm – recognising each and knowing where to look for predators
  • Trickery and coercion – thornbills and lyrebirds
  • How predators make a living from killing, despite sophisticated alarm systems

Week 5: Wild Trust

  • Wild animals have no reason to trust us, so how can we develop relationships of trust and respect?
  • Learning to recognise an invitation for wild trust and how to accept
  • On becoming humble
  • Noticing the hidden boundaries of bird territory and anxiety
  • Why being a practitioner of wild trust can extend your life

Week 6: Keeping a field diary and making Seasonal Calendars

  • Some birds seem to appear from out of nowhere, stay a while and just as suddenly disappear. Keeping a field diary can help to make sense of these seemingly random bird movements
  • Many songbirds reserve certain calls for particular times of the year. To track these changing voices we can create a seasonal calendar and learn how characteristic calls correspond with changes in annual climate and ecosystem cycles
  • Keeping field records takes us well beyond just listening to birds. To truly make sense of bird language we need to become all-round naturalist observers
  • Apps to use to aid in ongoing learning