Effective Bird Identification: Distance learning +Erasmus+ ARCHIVE

Effective Bird Identification: 1 Feb-26 Mar 2021


Learn from home with our support!  For beginners and those who want to build on their current knowledge.

Starting from your current understanding of birds, this Effective Bird Identification course will enable you to explore how to become more effective with your bird identification, increasing your field and note taking skills and therefore enhancing your employability/continuing professional development.  Unique to this course – Ambios Ltd will send you a field notebook and second hand (up-cycled) field guide before taking you through 8-weeks of part time online distance learning.

“I really enjoyed the course and feel it would enhance my CV and help with future job prospects. I believe it is another very important string on my bow.”

Optional Erasmus+ funded 2-week mobility

This Effective Bird Identification course is part of an Erasmus+ Ambios project called Working4Wildlife.

By taking part in this course you have the OPTION to continue practicing your skills on a 2-week Erasmus+ funded visit to one of our European partners.

Although the UK has withdrawn from Erasmus+ we still have project funding in place to run these mobilities.  See the links below for further information.

Many thanks to:


Why take this training?

There are lots of people looking for jobs in nature conservation and there are many employers saying job applicants lack practical field based survey skills.  If you are doing, or have just done, a University degree or you are seeking to change career, then being able to demonstrate your practical skills in nature conservation to a future employer is essential. This 8-week part-time, practical on-line/live Effective Bird Identification course is designed to help you.. and it now includes the option to practice your skills with one of our European partners.

Previous course participants have said:

“Brilliant course, really enjoyable…”
“The balance [of different learning materials] was great and I always found myself excited to learn more and engage with the content.”

Practicing your bird identification skills abroad

Once you’ve completed the UK based element of the course you will have the option to join a small, supportive team so that you can continue to practice your bird i.d. abroad for 2-weeks. This is fully funded by Erasmus+ (travel being subject to any Covid19 restrictions in place at the time).

Accompanied by a member of the Ambios team you will travel to either:

The Barn Owl Foundation in Hungary: More details here


Ambios Portugal: More details here

You will need to tell us your preference for country and dates: this form is available on each of the country pages above.  Don’t forget to complete the form!

What is bird identification?

Being able to put a name to a bird can determine if a particular species is present (with conservation or legal consequences) or it can be used to help with public engagement with nature.  It is also great fun, easily done at whatever ‘level’ you like and a way to engage with enjoyable lifelong learning.

Ecological consultants might use bird identification to see if a protected species is on a given site, nature conservation charities might use it to show the public what species are around on a nature reserve and biological records centres and national species surveys welcome the species records for their datasets.   Becoming an effective bird i.d. person means practicing nature detective field skills and becoming familiar with some key species.  The aim of this course is to encourage you to develop these skills ready for a new job or as part of your existing/future role.

... "but it's difficult and I don't know where to start"

You may be  surprised at what you know already.  What are the birds next to this text?  You probably know the answer right away and if you are not certain, we are here to help.  We believe that anyone can become effective at bird identification – building from whatever your personal starting point may be.  With our support and the support of fellow learners, you can do this!  If you are reading this, you have already started!

If you know a few birds already, that’s great. This course will expand your knowledge, understand and skill at identifying more species.

Course dates and the equipment

The UK online course will run over 8 weeks (part time / 4 guided learning hours per week) from 1 Feb to 26 March 2021. You with be sent a blank field notebook and a second hand copy of the Collins Bird Guide a week before the course starts.

You’ll then be given access to the Ambios Ltd online learning environment where we will support you with live online workshops and additional learning materials.

With a track record going back more than 20-years delivering nature conservation training courses, our experienced and supportive team empower participants to succeed.

Join us from anywhere in the world

We welcome course participants from anywhere in the world.  If you would like to join the course from outside the UK all you have to do is buy a field note book and the Second edition of the Collins Bird Guide for Britain and Europe.  This way you will be able to follow along with our learning materials, building your confidence ready to transfer what you will learn to your local bird species.

Course content

We estimate you’ll need approximately 4-6 hours spread over each week to investigate the on-line learning materials and deploy/collect your bird identification skills. Each week starts on Monday with the release of the learning and the tasks for that week.  You’ll have until the following Monday to complete the tasks.   The live Zoom seminars (@ 7pm on Thursday of each week) are a chance to ask questions and discuss some of the nuances of bird identification.  When you do the learning hours is entirely up to you.  The course is designed to be flexible so that you can fit it around your current learning/work/family commitments.

Week 1 – Introduction + using binoculars, the i.d. process (field notes) and key bird features

Week 2 – The quick look at European bird families

Week 3 – Shape 1: Stance, proportions and beaks

Week 4 – Shape revisited: legs, in flights and overall impression

Week 5 – Size + calls and song

Week 6 – Colour and markings

Week 7 – Behaviour, time of year and location

Week 8 – Final Q&As: Preparing to go abroad

Using your field notebook

We’ll send you a blank field notebook and walk you through some top tips for sketching birds. The aim is to record key feature, not produce a work of art. To be able to draw an outline of a bird and make some notes on shape, colour and stance is a skill that can be learnt.

All this will be supported by access to on-line training materials and live training broadcasts. This is a part-time 8-week course, allowing you to take your time to gain competence with these specialist professional skills, ready for a new job or to enhance your existing employment through continuing professional development.

You’ll then be able to demonstrate their skills by uploading your results to our virtual learning environment.  This will lead to your course e-badge.

The e-badge

Once you have met the course learning outcomes and completed all the assignments you will have demonstrate your competence in bird observation you’ll be effective at bird identification.

You will then gain an e-badge that will contain all the course information (learning outcomes, date, duration, training organisation) and a detailed description of your achievements. If you wish, you can then share the e-badge on social media and professional platforms and provide it to potential future employers.


You will need

You will need a computer (desktop or laptop) and an internet connection. Previous participants have successful used tablets but these can present some challenges.  The learning materials are presented in a Moodle virtual learning environment to which you will have a personal login. If you have a Facebook account you’ll also be able to access the one Live-stream from the field, with Q&A, which is in Week 4.

You’ll need access to a variety of outdoor locations where you can observe birds. While we start the course by suggesting you use your garden, we move on to suggest using local spaces, nature reserves or other potentially bird friendly areas.

We will send you a bird i.d. guide.  If you already one or are thinking of buying one please be aware that for a host of reasons we will send you one of ours anyway. If you already have one, no matter, you can encourage someone you know to start observing birds by gifting them the guide you receive from us.

Costs and questions

This is a one-off Covid lockdown special price of £199

Up to 30 places are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Please keep in mind that we received over 100 registrations of interest from all over the world within 24hours when a similar course to this first went public in late 2019!

If you have any specific question, please email Simon via info@ambios.net 

Note: All fee income goes to support our nature conservation training and rewilding project on the Sharpham Estate, Devon, UK – we are a not-for-profit company.



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