Wednesday, November 23, 2016

What is a Master Birder and were they at CFP?

The Master Birder Program at Travis Audubon Society (TAMBP) is designed to help participants increase their understanding of birds and their habitats, while also developing the skills and opportunities for sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm for birds and the natural world with others.

Other Audubon chapters also have Master Birder Programs, but not all. Travis Audubon launched their program this fall, beginning in September. The training, similar to that of the Master Gardener’s Program, includes a series of in-class sessions, study assignments, several field trips, and volunteering and keeping up with continuing education credits for the first three years after completing the curriculum. The instruction is designed to focus on native habitat and vegetation, the distribution of bird species in the area, and conservation issues affecting those communities and species in Central Texas. Participants also receive special instruction on flight and bird behavior, anatomy, and migration.  

The inaugural class of the Travis Audubon Master Birder Program participated in a field trip at Commons Ford on Saturday, October 22, 2016.  If you happened to see this group there, hopefully, you now know more about their motives. Twenty-five participants including field trip leaders Shelia Hargis and Ed Fair worked their way around the prairie and the lake edge.  Some of the participants have already volunteered to act as guides for the Kids at Commons Ford Program scheduled for May 2017.
A highlight that occurred during this field trip happened shortly after the conclusion when Shelia spotted a Zone-tailed Hawk flying away and to the south.  Luckily for the four birders who were still milling about, the bird returned and offered some great views--including a comparison with a close-by Turkey Vulture.
Like any good program focused on conservation and education about a species, the Master Birder Program is designed to create birders/educators for life. We applaud Travis Audubon Society for establishing this important program and for utilizing Commons Ford Prairie as a training ground for learning about birds, habitat, and native plants and their contribution.