[Background music]

KEVIN: Shorebirds are captivating, and even charming. But let’s face itshorebird ID is
not always easy, even for experienced birders.

Hi, I’m Kevin McGowan. In this selfpaced, online course on shorebird identification,
we’ll go beyond the field guide to help you build your own shorebird ID toolkit. We’ll
examine all kinds of shorebird plumage, from the spectacularly bold patterns of some
breeding shorebirds to drab, indistinct ones. But one of the things that makes shorebirds
so tricky is that at first glance, they all look alike, especially from far away.

So, I’ll share strategies that will help you tell some of the most similarlooking birds apart,
including noticing distinctive behaviors, like how they forage and how they fly.

This course breaks shorebirds into categories, so you can master the key distinctions
among 8 different types and learn the unique body shapes that can enable you to easily
pick the bird out in a crowd.

Our “Shorebird Yardstick” will help you learn the relative size of each species.

And our SnapID tool will allow you to practice what you’ve learned as much as you
likegiving you the chance to refresh your skills before heading into the field.

Shorebirds are tough, but with this course as your guide, I know you can become
comfortable identifying these fascinating birds.

I hope you’ll join me to learn about shorebirds.


End of transcript

Build Your Shorebird Confidence

Learn the keys to identifying shorebirds with world-renowned birding expert and ornithologist Kevin McGowan.

  • Discover size and shape cues to help you with IDs
  • Get familiar with telltale shorebird foraging techniques
  • Practice with exclusive SnapID visual recognition tools

Be a Better Birder: Shorebird Identification

Enroll Now
About This Course
  • Lessons inside: 16
  • Topics inside: 56
  • Completion time (estimated): 12 hours
  • Instructional videos: 59
  • Total instructional video time: 3.25 hours
  • Level: Advanced
  • Categories: Bird Identification
  • Regionality: United States/Canada – General
  • SnapID makes practice easy
  • Self-paced, no expiration date, 100% online
  • 60-day refund guarantee
Photo of a shorebird on the beach, a Dunlin, will bill open and eyes closed
Image: Baxter Beamer | Macaulay Library
Dunlin calling

Why I Made This Course

"There’s no doubt about it. Shorebirds can be tricky—so I’ve designed this course to get you up-to-speed on the distinctive silhouettes, markings, and behaviors that will unlock your ability to identify everything from sandpipers and plovers to oystercatchers and stilts. You’ll get up-close-and-personal with all 47 species found in the United States and Canada so that next time you encounter birds on the shore, you’ll be able to enjoy the thrill of recognizing what you see and confidently adding them to your list."

—Kevin McGowan, Ph.D., Course Instructor
Piping Plover with two chicks
Image: Matthew Bode | Macaulay Library
Piping Plover sheltering two chicks

What's Inside

This powerful course will take you well beyond the field guide by combining guided video tutorials with specific ID strategies for 47 shorebird species. With more than 200 minutes of video training, Kevin McGowan will walk you through how to distinguish among the many similar looking shorebird species. Plus, you will be able to practice your newfound skills using Bird Academy’s exclusive Shorebird Yardstick and SnapID learning tools as often as you like, to really reinforce what you have learned. Hint! With shorebirds, shape and behavior are the most helpful cues to help you quickly nail your ID.

Take a Free Peek Inside the Course

Dip in and preview the training materials on the Spotted Sandpiper.

Explore the Free Preview

Course Overview

Lesson 1:
Shorebird Diversity

Get an overview of the types of shorebirds, and tips for how to make the most of this course.

Lesson 2:
Shorebird Shapes

Shorebird shape is one of the best clues for making an ID. Learn how to put this feature to use in the field.

Lesson 3:
Shorebird Behavior

Learn to cue in on the most diagnostic behaviors of shorebirds, including how they forage and fly.

Lesson 4:
Shorebird Size

Learn how to use our “Shorebird Yardstick” to see how different birds measure up to one another.

Lesson 5:
Shorebird Habitat and Range

Where and when you see a shorebird is important to notice. Learn the microhabitats and migration timings that are key to pay attention to.

Lesson 6:
Shorebird Color Pattern and Markings

Even though shorebirds aren’t super colorful, there are some spots, streaks, and stripes that are good ID clues.

Lesson 7:
Shorebird Sounds

Get to know the handful of recognizable calls that will help you make an ID in the field, even if you can’t see the bird.

Lesson 8:

Learn about the seven species of tringas found in the continental U.S. and Canada—and practice for the field with SnapID.

Lesson 9:

Learn about the 11 species of peeps found in the continental U.S. and Canada—and practice for the field with SnapID.

Lesson 10:

Learn about the four snipe-type species found in the continental U.S. and Canada—and practice for the field with SnapID.

Lesson 11:

Learn about the three species of phalaropes found in the continental U.S. and Canada—and practice for the field with SnapID.

Lesson 12:
Small Others

Learn about the five species of small “other” shorebirds found in the continental U.S. and Canada—and practice for the field with SnapID.

Lesson 13:

Learn about the nine species of plovers found in the continental U.S. and Canada—and practice for the field with SnapID.

Lesson 14:
Curlews and Godwits

Learn about the four species of curlews and godwits found in the continental U.S. and Canada—and practice for the field with SnapID.

Lesson 15:
Large Others

Learn about the four large “other” species of shorebirds found in the continental U.S. and Canada—and practice for the field with SnapID.

Lesson 16:
Finding Shorebirds Near You

Discover how to figure out what shorebirds are nearby and how to find the sites that shorebirds frequent.

Meet the Course Instructor

Kevin McGowan, Ph.D.
Professional Ornithologist, World Series of Birding Champion
Course instructor Kevin McGowan combines deep knowledge about birds with a passion for helping others learn. He is a professional ornithologist at...
Buy Be a Better Birder: Shorebird Identification Now!
Satisfaction Guarantee

Our educators and birding experts take pride in the courses they create. If you're not satisfied with the material for ANY reason, contact us within 60 days of the start of the course or purchase for a full refund.

Alternative Course Access

Birds can inspire people accross boundaries to build a more sustainable world. At Bird Academy we want to share the love and knowledge of birds! If you would like alternative access to this course, please take a look at our Take Flight Program

Willet standing on one leg with sun behind
Image: Anonymous | Macaulay Library
A Willet stands on one leg at sunset

This Course is Entirely Online

There’s nothing to be shipped, and no additional material is necessary. Bird Academy courses are online, self-paced, and have no deadline to complete the course. You can return to them for reference or practice as often as you want. All course material, practice tools, instructional videos, and quizzes are available through your web browser. Learn anytime, anywhere.* Gain the skills and understanding you’re looking for.

*Requires an internet connection and a modern web browser.

Course Instructor: Kevin McGowan
Course Developer: Laura Helft
Video Producer and Editor: Jess Ahearn
Graphic Designers: Jessica French and Jill Leichter
Video Captionning: Marla Coppolino
Web Designer: Jeff Szuc
Copy Editor: Jill Leichter
Marketing and Promotion: Bobby Stickel and Katherine Welch
Student Support: Lee Ann van Leer
Executive Producers: Laura Helft and Mya Thompson
Special Thanks: Andrew Bibeault, Eric Sibbald, Subhradip Sarker, Katie Sullivan, Don DesJardin, Brian L. Sullivan, and Jay McGowan

Give the Gift of Learning

Gift certificates are a great way to give the bird enthusiasts in your life something that supports and encourages their passion.

Learn About Gift Certificates