By Samantha Joseph
TREASURE COAST -- A beginners' class from the Florida Oceanographic Society will offer fledgling bird watchers a chance to encounter native species, learn professional techniques, travel to prime nesting sites and meet fellow hobbyists.
"Birding 101" is a four-part series offered on Wednesdays in January to bring together groups of up to 10 bird watchers.
Participants will learn the differences between popular field guides, and get a copy of a Florida guide among their enrollment materials. They will get tips on selecting and using the right binoculars, plus guidance on how to identify common birds.
"We'll concentrate on coastal birds and a lot of the larger birds, such as herons, gulls and birds of prey," said Ellie Van Os, director of education and exhibits at Florida Oceanographic Society.
"We won't be looking for smaller birds and trying to distinguish them, because a lot of beginners get frustrated looking for sparrows and other wobblers."
The goal, she said, will be to learn techniques they can then apply to enjoying the sport and seeking other species.
The classes will take place Jan. 9, 16, 23 and 30 beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center, located at 890 N.E. Ocean Blvd., Stuart.
The first two meetings will run until 4 p.m., but the last two involve field trips that might run longer.
Registration is $170 for members or $200 for non-members.
Because the class specializes in water birds, participants will visit one of the state's top bird-watching sites, said Gina Rodriguez, the group's spokeswoman. Participants will also walk along the center's nature trails to spot the birds there as part of a class that includes multiple field trips, presentations and interactive labs.
Registration covers transportation to each destination, a boat trip and the Florida field guide.
"It's a great class for beginners and bird watchers who like to get out with other people and enjoy the sport," Ms. Van Os said.
For more information or to sign up, call (772) 225-0505, Ext. 113.