California and the Bay Area provide winter homes for many species of pelagic birds that are adapted to life in a deep water environment. This is a short course on the natural history and identification of commonly found members of the families Alcidae (puffins, murres, murrelets, guillemots), Gaviidae (loons), Podicipedidae (grebes) and Anatidae (ducks, geese, and swans). This grouping allows a close study of adaptive strategies that are commonly engaged by those species. Many members of these families are typically bichromatic in winter: dark above and white below, and share other commonly-held adaptive strategies such as salt glands and waterproofing that enable them to live in deep water environments. These convergent features can make these winter visitors challenging to identify, so the class will cover divergent characteristics that will help us better differentiate them in the field. The class offers illustrated explanations of these strategies as well as dietary practices and cycles of breeding, molt, and migration.
Recordings of the lecture presentations will be available to class participants for a limited period of time.
- Three Tuesday evening classes via Zoom, January 11, 18, and 25 ̶ 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
- Three Saturday field trips, January 15, 22, 29 (times and locations will be announced in class and by email)
- $75 for GGAS members, $100 for non-members
Once this class is full, you may sign up to be on a waiting list.
All field trips will be bike accessible and carpooling will be encouraged. Field trip locations will be determined by weather and class interest.