Gardening tools and watering can in a basket.

Arboretum & Audubon:
A Day of Birding Walks and Workshops

Saturday, May 18, 2019
7 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Register $99 member/$119 non-member, includes customized choice of available sessions, morning coffee/snack, lunch, and Arboretum admission

About Birding Day                

Session Options by Time Slot

Presenter Bios                      



Join birding enthusiasts and experts from around the region to celebrate spring migration! Amidst the setting of spring flowers, novice to advanced birders can interact with a host of experts about birding, habitat, quirky bird science, and even meet live raptors! Custom-select your perfect day filled with your choice of presentations, workshops, nature walks, and book signings. 

How it works

Choose any 5 available sessions
Pay one fee for the day but customize your experience based on your preferences, interests and session availability! When you register you'll be able to choose your own options in each time slot to create your own personalized schedule. You will receive a custom schedule of all your selected activities.

Session Options by Time Slot

Register early, sessions have limited enrollment!
Volunteers will monitor each session to admit only those who are registered.

Limit 250, Visitor Center, Check-in to receive your schedule and light breakfast in the Reedy Gallery

Featured Speakers

Presenter Bios           

Birds of Minnesota by Stan Tekiela

Minnesota's Outdoor Wonders by Jim Gilbert

National Audubon Society logo

Nature at Our Doorstep by Matt Schuth

Native Plants of the Midwest, Alan Branhagen

Stan Tekiela
Stan Tekiela
Naturalist, Author

Jim Gilbert
Jim Gilbert
Naturalist, Author
John Rowden, Audubon Society
John Rowden 
National Audubon Society

Matt Schuth 
Naturalist, Author

Alan Branhagen
Arboretum Director of Operations, Author



Matt Schuth, photo Susie Hopper

Sunrise Birding Welcome

Matt Schuth
The early bird gets the worm! Join Matt for an inspiring welcome to the day, including:
  • An orientation to the Arboretum as a resource for birds and birders alike
  • Tips and tricks for birding in our region and at the Arboretum
  • Some highlights to look for during the day, from blooming wildflower species to birds that are beginning to nest.
  • Inspiring stories from his experiences at the Arboretum, such as his work with the bluebird trails and osprey nests.

Jim Gilbert

An Introduction to Birding in Minnesota

Jim Gilbert
Are you fascinated by the birds that visit your feeders and want to learn more? Join local legend Jim Gilbert as he provides an introduction to birding in Minnesota. With 50 years' experience as a naturalist and author of five books on nature in Minnesota, there's no one better to learn from! In this session, you will learn:
  • The major categories of wild birds found in Minnesota, from raptors to songbirds
  • How wild birds fit into Minnesota ecosystems, and what they need from their habitat
  • Some basic equipment to consider for birding, from ID guides to binoculars
  • Where to start looking, and which species to look for now!

John Rowden, Audubon Society

Planting Hope: Creating Habitat for Birds

John Rowden, National Audubon Society Director of Community Conservation
Audubon works to improve communities all over the country by providing birds with food, shelter, safe passage and places to raise their young. In this keynote, you will learn:

  • How native plants provide resources that support birds, and research is demonstrating that even small patches of habitat planted with natives - down to the yard and neighborhood scale - can benefit birds. 
  • In 2016, Audubon introduced the nationwide Plants for Birds program that provides resources and support, with the goal of helping people put native plants in the ground in gardens, yards, and community spaces. 
  • The benefits that native plants provide to birds and explore the resources Audubon has developed to support the planting of natives. 
  • Planting native species is something everyone can do that can have tangible benefits for birds!

Stan Tekiela

Backyard Birds: Welcomed Guests At Our Gardens And Feeders

Stan Tekiela
Based on Stan's new book, Backyard Birds, see magnificent photographs and learn fascinating facts that spotlight the lives of the most captivating and beloved backyard birds. This talk is packed with information that is not found in the ordinary field guide:

  • Why are some birds so brightly colored?
  • Why do they sing songs?
  • Life inside an egg and nest
  • Does feeding birds in your backyard help the birds?
  • How many eggs can a bird lay?

Stan Tekiela

Bird Nests: Amazingly Ingenious and Intricate

Stan Tekiela
Based on Stan's new book Bird Nests, discover why bird nests are among the most amazing dwelling places in the entire animal kingdom. Few creatures craft such brilliant and involved homes as birds do. From holes drilled into trees to intricately woven cups, these magnificent structures are worthy of our admiration. This talk is full of fun details told with Stan's great sense of humor.

Raptor Center staff with Bald Eagle

Raptors of Minnesota: Meet Live Bird Ambassadors

University of Minnesota Raptor Center
Have you ever wanted to see a raptor up close? Join the Raptor Center and four live raptors (including a bald eagle!) as you learn more about these fascinating birds:
  • How raptors differ from other kinds of birds
  • The natural history of raptors in our region
  • The impact humans can have on the raptor's environment, and what we can do to help them
  • The amazing local comeback story of bald eagles.

Great Horned Owl, Carlyn Iverson
Carlyn Iverson

Exploring the Powerful Vision of Raptors

Mike Billington, University of Minnesota Raptor Center
Have you ever wondered how well a raptor can see, and how vision scientists find these kinds of answers? This session will cover:
  • The science of vision and research techniques used to determine how other species see the world
  • The basics of raptor eye anatomy
  • You will be blown away by the powerful sight of raptors, as well as the fascinating behind-the-scenes look at vision science research.

hummingbird, photo by Alan Branhagen
photo Alan Branhagen

Birdscaping: The Most Bird-Friendly Native Plants for your Yard

Alan Branhagen
Are you interested in making your yard a safe haven for wild birds? In this session, Alan will share how the plants in your landscape can support birds:
  • Learn how plants provide cover for roosting and nesting
  • Discover why native plants are so important to native wild birds
  • Learn what plants are best at providing food through foliage, fruit, seeds, and hosting insects and caterpillars as additional food sources.
  • Leave with a list of suggested native plants for your yard, plus planting tips and tricks.

Feather, photo Josch13/Pixabay

Microscopic Look at Contour Feathers

Mike Billington, University of Minnesota Raptor Center
Have you ever really looked carefully at feathers? Learn more about one of natures' marvels, as seen through an electron microscope. This session will explore:
  • The different types of feathers and their function
  • The evolution of feathers
  • Compare and contrast the feathers of a variety of raptors
  • Touch and learn from The Raptor Center's collection of feathers firsthand.


Climate Change and its Forecasted Impact on Minnesota Birds & Ecosystems

Carlyn Iverson
Wild birds' habitat, food, and migratory patterns are being impacted by climate change. Join Carlyn, who is a Data Visualizer for the NOAA's Ocean and Atmospheric Research Division, to learn more:
  • The most recent changes in weather patterns and seasons that impact our state's ecosystems.
  • An introduction to phenology- the study of cyclic and seasonal natural phenomena.
  • How climate change is impacting wild birds in Minnesota- those here year-round as well as migratory species.
  • Some ways that you can help to support wild birds in the face of climate change.


The Basics of Bird Feeding

Teresa Grimm
Learn the basics of providing food and water for birds- and not squirrels- on your porch or backyard with Teresa of the Wild Bird Store:
  • Introduction to the different types of food you can provide, and what wild birds are attracted to certain kinds.
  • Orientation to a variety of different types of feeders.
  • How to deter squirrels, from hot pepper infused foods to specialized feeders.
  • The importance of fresh water and how you can provide it on your site.

Owl, photo Don Curle Imagedon Productions

Wild Bird Photography: Capturing Beauty and Respecting Habitat

Don Curle
As a birder, photographer, or both, you have probably admired beautiful close-up images of native birds. In this session, join celebrated photographer Don Curle as he shares some of his favorite bird images from the Arboretum and surrounding region:
  • Hear stories of some of his favorite photo shoots
  • Learn more about his artistic philosophy and approach to photographing birds
  • Learn how Don and other photographers must balance their search for the perfect image with respect for birds' habitat and often reclusive nature.

woman photograper taking a photo with a digital SLR camera

Lessons in Bird Photography w/Erica Robinson

No matter in your backyard or out in the backwoods, there is so much to discover and our cameras are there to help us capture it all, especially when it comes to birds! However, birds offer many challenges to us photographers. This session will explore:
  • Techniques to capturing those ever-moving birds
  • What gear can help you in the process
  • How to make your images stand out of the crowd
Limit 28

Raptor Photography, Carlyn Iverson

Mini Raptor Photography Class with Live Birds

Carlyn Iverson
Owls, vultures, and eagles, oh my! Experience a unique opportunity to photograph mighty raptors in a controlled, safe and natural setting at the Arboretum:
  • Learn basic techniques to help you capture stunning images of these magnificent creatures close up.
  • Hear more about the featured raptor species and their habitat
  • Spend time practicing your newly learned photography skills with live raptors.
  • Required Equipment - Any digital camera
  • Suggested Equipment- DSLR or mirrorless camera, 90mm or higher focal length lens, tripod/monopod (optional)



  • As Minnesotans know, Mother Nature can be unpredictable...that is the joy and spontaneity of nature, and of these explorations. Be prepared for the weather and a possible change of subject matter based on what Mother Nature has in store for participants during this session. 
  • Each of our walks will depart from and arrive back to the Great Hall, and each guide will determine a location and path closer to the date of the event. 
  • SUGGESTED EQUIPMENT: binoculars, magnifying glass, practical shoes for walking over uneven paths, and dress for the weather.

Matt Schuth Bird Walk, photo Susie Hopper

Bird Walk with Matt Schuth

Matt Schuth
Be immersed in late spring wildflowers and migrating birds! Matt is an experienced naturalist and you're sure to discover a treasure trove of flora and fauna with him. This is the time of year for bluebells, Minnesota dwarf trout lily, and mayapple; the early time frame provides the best chance to catch the sights and sounds of yellow rumped warblers, kinglets, thrushes, waterfowl, and a variety of sparrows, and to learn about their nesting and mating habits.

Alan Branhagen

Bird Walk with Alan Branhagen

Alan Branhagen
Learn more about the fascinating connections between plants and birds! Alan offers in depth perspectives on plants, birds, and butterflies through his experience as a life-long birder, gardener, and Lepidopterist! (butterflies and moths). On this walk, you're sure to get an insider's scoop on great places to see birds at the Arboretum.

Gardening tools and watering can in a basket.

Bird Walk with Amy Simso Dean & Julie Brophy

Amy Simso Dean & Julie Brophy
Learn how to connect the kids in your life to birds and nature! Amy and Julie, part of MY (Minnesota Youth) Bird Club, bring along binoculars and engaging methods for anyone wanting to learn more about wild birds.

 Gardening tools and watering can in a basket.

Bird Walk with Steve Weston

Steve Weston
Dive into a spring birding session with Steve Weston from the Minnesota River Valley Chapter of Audubon! Steve's specialty is tips and tricks for bringing the birds to you, so close that you don't even need binoculars. Learn how to make it happen as you explore and discover spring wild birds together.



Bird Walk with Tammy Mercer

Tammy Mercer
Be immersed in late spring wildflowers and migrating birds! As an Interpretive Naturalist at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden, Tammy is sure to introduce you to beautiful native plants as well as birds, and focuses especially on birding by ear.

Birdwatcher, photo Stockdonket/Shutterstock

Bird Walk with Gregg Severson

Gregg Severson
Dive into a spring birding session with Gregg Severson from the Minneapolis Parks! Gregg will be able to share in depth information about wild birds found in the cities and suburbs. You'll also be able to learn about his current project to have a "Green Big Year"- trying to see as many birds as he can on foot and by bike!

Coming from Out of Town?

Area Accommodations 

Exhibitor & Sponsor Opportunities

If you have a related organization or business and want to be a part of this program, please contact us!

Tax-deductible financial sponsorship of this program is available!
Contact Cate Fossing - Arboretum Corporate & Individual Relations at

Endorsing Organization
This no-cost option shows your support by helping to promote the program to your constituents.
In exchange, you get discounted "Member" rates to the program and space for one piece of promotional literature on a shared table.
Contact Jill Leenay in Arboretum Education at

Exhibitor Booth
Purchase table exhibit space at this event and increase your organization's visibility to a target audience!
Note that Exhibitor purchases are not tax deductible.
Silver Exhibitor - $1,000

  • 6-foot exhbit table in MacMillan Auditorium from 7am - 12pm
  • Interact with program participants during (3) 15-minute breaks and (1) lunch hour
Gold Exhibitor - $2,500
  • 6-foot exhbit table in the Great Hall from 7am - 3pm
  • Interact with program and participants AND general public Arboretum visitors in a high-traffic area
  • 2 passes to the program

Platinum Exhibitor - $5,000

  • 6-foot exhibit table in the Great Hall from 7am - 3pm
  • Interact with program and participants AND general public Arboretum visitors in a high-traffic area
  • 4 passes to the program
  • Logo recognition (with link to your organization) in prominent place on program website and promotions

Contact Jill Leenay in Arboretum Education at

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Member Perk!

Arboretum Members may invite non-members to attend a class with them at the discounted member rate! Simply register for all participants at the same time in the same order and select the "member" rate for each person at checkout.

Cancellation Policy

Prior to registering, please review the cancellation policy


The best chance of being enrolled in a sold out class is to add your name to the waitlist. Click the orange "waitlist" button and complete the steps, or call 612-301-1210. There is no obligation to register if a spot opens. If the waitlist shows enough demand, additional class sessions may be added.

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