Birder's Certificate Program

Birders using scopes at Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary

Prepare to take your birding to a higher level with Mass Audubon's Birder's Certificate Program (BCP)! 

This 12-month series is equivalent to an undergraduate-level ornithology course. The structure combines monthly online lectures, extensive field time, and the opportunity for self-directed study.

Offered annually since 2004, BCP is a key component in Mass Audubon's ongoing efforts to provide the finest educational programs to the birding community.

Course Modules

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

Mass Audubon's Birder's Certificate program logo

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
Feeding Ecology


Feathers & Flight
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.


The BCP is conducted as an online/in-person hybrid course. The 2021-2022 program will run from August 29, 2021–June 12, 2022. 

Please note that all dates are subject to change.

Online Lectures

Lectures take place one Saturday a month from 9:00 am–1:00 pm.  Mass Audubon uses the Microsoft Teams virtual meeting platform for all online presentations. Instructions for connecting to online sessions will be provided to all participants.

September 11, 2021 Systematics & Nomenclature
September 25, 2021 Evolution & Speciation
October 23, 2021 Field Identification
November 20, 2021 Anatomy & Physiology
December 18, 2021 Bird Conservation
January 15, 2022 Feeding Ecology
February 19, 2022 Feathers & Flight
March 19, 2022 Migration
April 9, 2022 Avian Vocalization
May 21, 2022 Breeding Behavior
June 11, 2022 Field Ornithology

Field Trips

Each online presentation will be supplemented by an in-person field trip in Essex County on Sunday mornings from 8:00 am–12:00 pm. Field trips are three to four hours in length and will follow the most current public health authority guidelines on social distancing and other safety measures.

  • August 29, 2021
  • September 26, 2021
  • October 24, 2021
  • November 21, 2021
  • December 19, 2021
  • January 16, 2022
  • February 20, 2022
  • March 20, 2022
  • April 10, 2022
  • May 22, 2022
  • June 12, 2022

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.

Cancellation Policy

If you decide to drop the course, we will issue a refund, prorated by your participation in modules, and subject to a $100 administrative fee.

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