Discover the
Beauty of Birds

Birding and natural history classes, field reports, essays and tours around the Bay Area, California and the West with Ted Pierce.

Birding Courses

Birds of the Bay Area Class Fall Semester 2022 Schedule

Meets at North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst (at ML King Way), Berkeley unless otherwise noted

Birding student at Pt. Isabel Regional Shoreline, El Cerrito, photo by Mike Suner

Birds of the Bay Area Class: Overview
The class has 10 meetings, with six fieldtrips and four class sessions. All class meetings are at the West Berkeley Senior Center (WBSC), on 6th street between University and Hearst, in Berkeley. Parking is generally available at the senior center parking lot, or nearby. All classes are Weds. mornings, 9-12 noon. Carpooling with other students is usually available. Carpools generally leave the WBSC parking lot at 800 or 815am, arriving at the fieldtrip location at 900 am. We go to a variety of East Bay and Marin parks, shown above. Directions to the parks will be given in class and also sent by email. If necessary, any changes in fieldtrip locations will be announced to students at least one week in advance.

Nesting Mute swan at Las Gallinas, photo by Mike Suner

Bird Observation
We typically see about 80 to 100 different bird species over the course of two months (ie, six fieldtrips) of the class. Different fieldtrip locations and habitats allow students to see many different birds, with great differences of behavior, song and appearance. Bird families typically observed include many seen in the Bay Area: ducks, herons, egrets, woodpeckers, hummingbirds, hawks and many different songbirds (finches, wrens, thrushes, swallows, sparrows, etc). In our classroom meetings (four) we review the identification and biology of the birds we have seen and where they are found. Other topics discussed (in non-technical terms) include techniques of bird observation, binocular use, bird evolution, habitat differences, record-keeping, field guides, bird behavior and other subjects. These topics contribute to give the student a greater and deeper understanding of bird biology, conservation issues and wildlife biology generally.

Anna's hummingbird, photo by Steve Haimowitz

Class Registration and Fees
Registration for the complete semester (all 10 trips & classes) is $145 per person. Attendance for a half semester (5 trips and/or classes) is $95. Individual classes or trips (if available) are $45 per person. Checks should be made out to Ted Pierce. Please contact me by email ( for any questions you may have re registration, methods of payment or other matters, and I will be happy to answer them.

How to Register
You may register online or contact me at any time prior to the class, using Paypal or Visa. You may also send a check to: Birding with Ted, POB 7031, Landscape Station, 1831 Solano Ave., Berkeley, CA 94707. You may also register at the first class, which meets at the West Berkeley Senior Center on 6th street between University and Hearst. Early registration is encouraged to ensure a place in the class.



My Berkeley Adult School Courses

Fall 2022 Semester

The classes below reflect my diverse interests, which include a wide range of cultural, historical and environmental fields. They are sponsored by the Berkeley Adult School as part of the Life-Long Learning program. Classes are given at the West Berkeley Senior Center, located at 1900 Sixth Street (near University at Hearst) in Berkeley. The center is located in downtown Berkeley and is accessible by many forms of transportation. Class registration fees are on a sliding scale ($15-$35). All classes begin in Sept. 2019 and continue to Jan. 2020. For more information see the Berkeley Adult School catalogue of courses. You may register at any time during the semester in one of three ways: in class, the BAS website or in person at the adult school (at Virginia and San Pablo in Berkeley). For more information, contact me here directly or call Berkeley Adult School at (510) 644-6130.

The American Environment: Ecology, Wildlife and Conservation Tuesdays, 11am-1pm 
This comprehensive new course surveys the development of North America’s ecosystems, wildlife populations and conservation movements of the 20th century. Major themes include: the modern conservation movement, endangered American wildlife, notable biologists and naturalists and the ecology of selected American ecosystems (such as Alaska, Florida and California). Classes will also focus on the biology of individual mammal, reptile or bird species, such as buffalo, cranes, alligators or moose. The lives and influence of conservation figures such as John Muir, Teddy Roosevelt, David Brower, Aldo Leopold and Rachel Carson will be examined. It will conclude with current environmental challenges (global warming, human population increase, resource management) and the growth of new conservation initiatives, national organizations and strategies. The course includes use of films, lectures, readings, fieldtrips and guest lecturers..

Music and European Civilization of the Romantic Era (1800-1925)
Tuesdays, 2-4pm

This class surveys and interprets music of the Romantic period in the context of Victorian-era European civilization. Course content will include examples of new musical forms and styles (sonata, symphony and concerto), changing social roles of composers and performers, the influence of nationalism and great social change and upheaval during the century. Also explored will be the lives and work of notable musicians and performers such as Schumann, Liszt, Berlioz, Saint- Saens, Wagner, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Mussorgsky and Grieg, among many. Course includes lectures, performances on CDs, readings and films.  

History by Hollywood: Cinematic Visions of 20th Century
Wednesday, 2-4pm

This class examines 20th century history through feature films depicting the lives of people caught up in major events, issues and conflicts of the last century. These dramas and comedies include a wide variety of films such as Gandhi, Modern Times, Lincoln and Casablanca, which show major historical figures, events and trends brought to the screen by notable directors. Films recently shown have included Munich, All the Way, Joy Luck Club, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, The Post, Swimming to Cambodia, The Kite Runner and The Killing Fields. Also featured in the class will be films that depict great changes in women’s social roles in the 20th century, such as Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, Nine to Five and Norma Rae. The careers and performances of stars such as Nicholson, Hanks and Streep will be highlighted. The historical context of each film will be discussed by the instructor, together with class readings that encourage student analysis and interpretation. Discussion and commentary of the films follow showings.

World Affairs and Documentary Film
Thursdays, 10am-12pm 

This course has a dual focus: discussion of world affairs with and by students, selected from a broad range of topics in the news. It also includes showing of documentary films that examine contemporary social, economic and political issues. Recent films shown have included The Fog of War, Inequality for All, Fahrenheit 9/11 and An Inconvenient Truth, which bring complex national and international issues into focus and allow deeper political analysis. This semester we will examine topics such as the weapons industry, national security, the Middle East, the environment, immigration and health care, among many events in the news. Course format also includes lectures, class discussion, readings and guest lecturers.

France and Impressionist Art in the Gilded Age (1850-1900)
Thursday, 2-4pm
The class discusses revolutionary developments in European art and civilization in the last half of 19th century, known as the Gilded Age. Primary among these new art movements were Realism, Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, which took place as a reaction to profound social upheaval in many areas: the Second Empire, the Paris Commune, the Franco-Prussian War, railroad expansion, industrialism and European imperialism. New developments in art, culture and politics will be discussed in the context of the lives and work of artists such as Courbet, Daumier, Manet, Monet, Renoir, Pissarro and Degas, among others. Class format includes lectures, videos, class readings/discussion and occasional museum fieldtrips. Note: class is at the BAS campus on San Pablo and Virginia, not the West Berkeley Senior Center.


Ted Pierce teaching a Birding Class.


Birds of the Sierras Summer 2019

Meets June 5 and 12th at the West Berkeley Senior Center, 1900 6th St. (near University Ave.), Berkeley. Fieldtrip Thurs.-Sunday June 20-23 (meet at Sierraville, Sierra Valley)

Class registration fee is $175. Register online or contact me.

This course includes two Wednesday morning classes (9am-12pm) in Berkeley and a weekend birding tour of the Sierra Valley, located 30 minutes north of Lake Tahoe. The class sessions will provide information on the birds of the Sierras, which include sapsuckers and other woodpeckers, numerous warblers, kinglets, Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Osprey, White Pelicans, Mt. Bluebirds, White-faced Ibis, Sandhill Cranes, Black–billed Magpies, Nighthawks, Clark’s Nutcrackers, ducks, hummingbirds and many families of songbirds. Visiting different locations such as Lake Davis, the Sierra Valley marshes, the Feather River, Yuba Pass and Plumas-Eureka State Park, we expect to see between 80-90 different bird species and numerous wildflowers, butterflies and small mammals. The weekend fieldtrip begins at noon Thursday in Sierraville and ends Sunday at noon in Portola, both in the Sierra Valley. I will provide a list of local accommodations (including campgrounds) for your stay. We typically visit two locations per day, break for lunch and share dinner in the evenings. Lodging and meals are not included in the tour price. Contact me for any additional information you may need, including directions, lodging and car-pooling. Class space limited -- early registration advised!



Upcoming Tours 2022 NEW!
Bolinas Tour
Sat. Nov. 2,  9am-12pm 
Las Gallinas Wetlands, San Rafael

At Las Gallinas hundreds of acres of grasslands, ponds and marshes extend around a small water treatment facility. In the distance, the marshes are surrounded by the beautiful hills of Marin. ..... Read more

Bolinas Tour
Sat. Dec. 14, 10am-4pm
Birds of Bodega Bay and Sonoma Coast

Scenic Bodega Bay, nestled on the Sonoma coast west of Sebastopol, is one of our most exciting Bay Area birding locations in the winter. In recognition of its migration hot-spot status, it has been designated as an IBA (Important Bird Area) by the American Bird Conservancy. .... Read more

Fri-Sunday, Nov. 8-10
A Birder’s Tour of Santa Cruz: Beaches to Redwoods, Shorebirds to Songbirds

Santa Cruz, located just south of San Jose, is known for its beaches, amusement park, surfers and university. But with its dramatic coastline and many parks, this college town is also known for its great birding, especially in the fall and winter. Among the ocean headlands, beaches and forests you can find many ducks, raptors, shorebirds, grebes, pelicans and songbirds. .... Read more