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Queer Wilderness Project: Intro to Bird Language

Women's Wilderness
Event organized by Women's Wilderness

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Do you ever wonder what the birds are saying? They are saying a lot more than even their beautiful songs! Birds have incredible powers of observation and evasion, and they use these powers to engage in “recon,” warn others of danger, and at times communicate specific information about threats like nearby aerial or ground predators. Mounting research on bird communication reveals what indigenous peoples have known for a long time—that songbirds are the key species in intricate interspecies communication systems that exist in many different ecosystems and natural communities. We, like many other species, have an ability to tap into this ‘real live twitter feed,’ yet Western science has historically focused on other aspects of orthnithology like taxonomy and species identification, failing to appreciate that birds themselves provide constant live-streams of data about their (our) environments. When we appreciate that birds do this, we can become better (and more respectful) naturalists and allies to our other-than-human kin, and we can also become alerted to the presence of other beings around us like bobcats, weasels, hawks, and owls.

This all may sound intimidating, but actually, getting a handle on bird language is a lot easier than it seems. It’s not about being able to identify every bird you see, it’s more about being able to categorize songbird behaviors and vocalizations into several broad categories, learning who a handful of the most common species in your area are, and using these as keys to help you observe and pattern the songbirds that live in your own backyard. Your backyard, favorite hiking trail, or the nearby park can then be a stepping stone for pushing your naturalist skills further and further. Engaging in relationship with your avian neighbors will reveal you more about your environment than you might have thought possible!

Difficulty level: This will be a very low key class focused on stillness and observation. Be prepared for lots of sitting!

This workshop is intended as a safe container for LGBTQ2+ folks of any gender to engage in the culture and practice of wilderness-self reliance and earth-based living skills.