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Check this site frequently for important information about our course, including assignments, and announcements.


I will use the Announcements section of our class blackboard page to communicate with you once the course begins:

Posted August 13, 2018


The 2016 Ornithology Class will begin on Thursday September 6, 2018. The first class includes my first lecture and all sorts of important information. So if you plan to take this course I strongly encourage you to attend this first class. In addition to coverint the first chapter of the textbook, we will discuss the course outline (download a draft of the 2018 course outline here).

The mandatory Saturday field trip will take place on Saturday September 29, 2018 from 6am to 5pm. All students in this class must take this field trip.  Please clear your schedule for that day. If you have a conflict with that day, and you can't move your conflict, I recommend that you register in a different course; this field trip is a centrepeice for this course, and it takes the place of all of the labs in October.

Posted August 13, 2018


There are many great field guides to the birds of North America. All students in this course must have a field guide starting with the first lab! Which one you use is up to you. Note: If you already own a field guide to the birds of North America or eastern North America, you do not need to purchase one of these books. Simply bring your book to the first lab and the GA's and I will assess if it is appropriate.


1. The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America. There is a new, second edition called "Sibley BIrds East" and it is great. This book covers only birds of eastern North America. The plates are the same excellent plates as in "The Sibley Guide to Birds" (see below) but it is much smaller and fits in your pocket. Price is presently $24 on Indigo. As of August 13, there are 30 copies for sale at the University Bookstore, although I don't know their price.

2. The Sibley Guide to Birds (2nd Edition). This book covers all birds in North America -- and it was recently updated (2014). The plates are amazing and depict each bird in several different plumages and poses. The only downside to this book, if there is one, is that it is larger than the average field guide and doesn't fit in your pocket. Price is typically $35. This would be a good choice if you also travel to the west coast of North America sometimes.

3. National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America. This book covers all birds in North America and is relatively small. The plates are very good. Price is typically $30.

4. The Peterson Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern and Central North America. This is the classic bird field guide and is still favoured by many ornithologists and birders.  It is a pocket sized book, like books 1 and 3 above, and the plates are very good. Price is typically $25.

There are many good bird guides for mobile devices. However, these are not appropriate for this class because we will be mobile-device-free during our outdoor expeditions.

Posted  August 2018


Binoculars are relatively inexpensive and they will provide you with a lifetime of enjoyment. For less than a price of the average university textbook, you can purcahse equipment that will make you happy for decades! Binoculars will be an important tool for this course during our birding trips, including walking trips to the Detroit River, our lab trips to Objiway Prairie Conservation Preserve, and our weekend trip to Holiday Beach and Point Pelee. Note that you are not required to purchase binoculars for this course, but it is highly recommended.

Special note:

I will make a special announcement about a binocular deal during class on the first day of classes!

Where to buy binoculars:

There are many places to buy binoculars (see a brief list below). The best prices on binocluars can often be found online. Eagle Optics is a very reputable company which sells both their own brand of binoculars (which come with a completely amazing lifetime warranty) as well as most other brands of binoculars.

Before you buy, many people think it is a good idea to try out several different pairs and find out which pair "feels" the best in your hands. We have one of Canada's best retailers for binoculars, Pelee Wings Nature Store, within easy driving distance en route to Point Pelee. To get their best prices, ask to speak to the owner, Michael, and tell him that you are a student of ornithology at the University of Windsor.

What to look for in binocluars:

When browsing for binoculars you will see two numbers, for example 7x42 or 8X50. The first number refers to the magnification power of the binoculars: A pair of 7x42 binoculars will magnify images 7 times and a pair of 8x50 binoculars will magnify images 8 times. The second number is the width of the objective lens: a larger lens will let in more light and make birds easier to see. You can learn all about binoculars at Cornell University's "All About Birds" website.

Avoid binoculars with less than 7 times magnification or more than 10 times magnification. The most common choice may be 8 times magnification, but 7 times or 9 times or 10 times magnification are also appropriate.

Avoid "auto-focus" binoculars.  It is important for you to be able to focus the binoculars using a focus knob. So called "auto-focus" binoculars provide you with very little control over your ability to see things.

Note that the least expensive binoculars (sometimes called "pocket binoculars"), which can often be purchased for as little as $30 or $40, are a waste of your money. They will be frustrating when you are learining to watch birds, and the won't last long.  For a little bit more money, you can buy "compact binoculars" which may cost between $50 and $100, which will likely last you for longer, although they won't likely survive getting wet.  For just a little bit more money (if you are willing to spend $100) you can purchase waterproof binoculars, which could last you a lifetime. The great thing about waterproof binoculars is that yo don't have to worry if it rains on them, and they will allow you to go birdwatching anywhere in the world, including the steamy tropics.

Possible places to shop for binoculars:
Pelee Wings Nature Store
Eagle Optics Canada
Eagle Optics USA
B&H Photo Video
Local camera stores and nature stores

Updated August 2018

All content copyright D. J. Mennill