Birder's Certificate Program

Full for 2020-2021

All available spots for the 2020-2021 program have been filled, and we are no longer accepting registrations. Information about next year's BCP cohort will be posted here in late August 2021.

Mass Audubon's Birder's Certificate program logo

Take your birding to a higher level with our Birder's Certificate Program (BCP)! This 12-month program is equivalent to an undergraduate-level ornithology course, with monthly online lecture-presentations, extensive field time, and the opportunity for self-directed study.

Offered annually by Mass Audubon since 2004 and equivalent to an undergraduate-level ornithology course, BCP is a key component in our ongoing efforts to provide the finest educational programs to the birding community.


Birders using scopes at Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary

Course Modules

The program covers a wide range of subject matter, including avian systematics, biology, field identification, physiology, behavior, ecology, and conservation.

Modules combine online presentations, small group field experiences, and independent study; student comprehension will be evaluated through homework assignments.

Systematics & Nomenclature
Evolution & Speciation
Field Identification
Anatomy & Physiology
Bird Conservation
Feathers & Flight


Feeding Ecology
Avian Vocalization
Breeding Behavior
Field Ornithology
Independent Study

Students who successfully complete the program will receive a certificate of achievement and a BCP binocular harness.


Due to COVID-19, the BCP will be conducted as an online/in-person hybrid course. Lectures will be held online using Microsoft Teams, supplemented by in-person field trips in Eastern Massachusetts facilitated in small groups. Participants will be required to wear masks and practice social distancing.

The 2020-2021 program will run from September 26, 2020–July 17, 2021. Classes take place one Saturday a month, usually from 9:00 am–1:00 pm (though two classes run from 1:00 pm–5:00 pm).

September 26, 2020 Systematics
October 24, 2020 Evolution & Speciation
November 21, 2020 Field Identification
December 19, 2020 Anatomy & Physiology
January 16, 2021 Bird Conservation
February 20, 2021 Feathers & Flight
March 20, 2021 Feeding Ecology
April 17, 2021 Migration
May 22, 2021 Avian Vocalization
June 19, 2021 Breeding Behavior
July 17, 2021 Field Ornithology

Course Goals

  • Develop the ornithological knowledge base of birders
  • Demonstrate ways birders can contribute to the scientific study of birds
  • Encourage closer collaboration between birders and professional ornithologists
  • Develop a cadre of skilled program and trip leaders
  • Provide professional development opportunities for Mass Audubon staff
  • Contribute to the conservation of birds and to the protection of the nature of Massachusetts


To register for the Birder's Certificate Program, please contact Melissa Vokey by email or by calling 978-462-9998.

Class size is limited to 18 participants.

Contact Us

  • By Phone: 978-462-9998
  • By Email: Send us an email
  • By Mail: Birder's Certificate Program, c/o Joppa Flats Education Center1 Plum Island Turnpike, Newburyport, MA 01950