Getting to Know Your Birds at the "Sky Islands" of Interior Alaska

Dates: July 10-21, 2017
Cost: $700.00

If you could have one superpower, you would choose ________?

If you answered “flight”, this module is for you! Birds are fascinating, the most successful of the vertebrate animals to have evolved the power of flight. And, if you’ve ever dreamt of flying, chances are you’re fascinated by birds also. Luckily, Fairbanks is a great place to be a birder, due to the diversity of habitats here. We have wetlands, forests, rivers, fields, and even sky islands! But what are sky islands, you ask? Well, they’re the isolated peaks that are surrounded by lowland habitats. Because of their height, they attract unique plants and animals not common to the area. Sounds pretty great, right? Even better, we have three sky islands within an hour’s drive of Fairbanks!
Imagine flying from Alaska to Africa, or the Amazon Rainforest! While we can only make those journeys with the help of technology, in this module you’ll get to know the incredible little birds who fly to those destinations round-trip, every year. We’ll have the opportunity to meet wheatears on Murphy Dome, sage grouse on Ester Dome, and golden eagles on Wickersham Dome. Exploring these habitats will help us to find out how they are similar and what sets them apart. You’ll be introduced to the methods a field biologist uses when conducting bird surveys, and even learn how the data you collect as an amateur bird-watcher can be used for scientific research. Finally, you’ll learn about the birds we see through interactive lessons, hands-on activities, fun games, and by conducting our very own research project.


Apply hereLink only works during application period, February 1 through April 15


Meet your Instructors

Falk Huettmann PhD, Associate Professor, Institute of Arctic Biology, Department of Biology & Wildlife, University of Alaska Fairbanks

 I am Falk; I work at the university and do bird and wildlife projects in Alaska, as well as all over the world. I started my career just like you will do here: getting close to nature and looking at birds and in their habitats. I did a lot of bird surveys, in the jungle, in old-growth and temperate forests of Europe, Canada, and recently in China, and in the Himalayas. For over 15 years I work in adjacent Russia, too. I also taught many years in Central America, and looked at birds in Papua New Guinea, Australia and Africa even! Most relevant bird banding stations I have visited in this world to track migratory birds! I actually did a PhD degree on seabirds, researching on cruise ships for many years. If I am not ‘birding’ or do nature conservation work, then I am probably in the boreal forest with my dogs skijoring, or writing about climate change, data and statistical analysis.

Mark Spangler, Master of Science candidate, institute of Arctic Biology, Department of Biology & Wildlife, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Hi, I’m Mark! These days, I am many things. I’m a student, a teacher, a researcher, and a writer, all at once! These things come and go, but the hat I never take off is my adventure hat. First and foremost, I’m an explorer. And as an explorer, one thing I love is helping others explore the world around them. I’ve helped preschoolers, senior-citizens, and everyone in between explore nature at their local nature centers, zoos, national parks, and even in their own back yards! Over the years, I’ve seen that people learn about nature best through experiences OUTDOORS. Makes sense, huh? Leave the classroom for the school year (and poor-weather days), summer is a time to be outside!


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