Blogging My Way Through the Cornell Lab’s Home Study Course in Bird Biology

HBBBI’ve been hoping for a couple of years now to take the Cornell Lab of Ornithology home study course in bird biology, but the textbook (second edition, 2004, Princeton University Press) has been out of print and used copies sell for hundreds, and thousands, of dollars. I found out that a new edition is in the works, but it been delayed several times already, and according to the Cornell website its publication date is now the summer of 2014. The course takes about four to six months to complete, and because I’m in grade 11 and have an awful lot on my plate, I want to take the course before I finish high school. If there are any more publication delays, if I depend on getting the new text, I probably wouldn’t be able to keep to my plan.

I spent most of this past spring and summer looking for a copy to borrow, but it wasn’t easy. I was finally able to find a copy from a birder in Calgary, who is generously letting me borrow it for the time I need to take the course. Thank you, Doug!

I’ve decided I’m going to blog my way through the course and the book, for anyone else who might be interested in the course and is wondering whether or not to do it. My mom signed me up for the course earlier this week — approximately $200, with the membership discount and shipping of course material to Canada — so now  I’m just waiting for the package to arrive.

I’ve already started reading the book, but once the materials arrive, I’ll be able to start the course properly and blog my way through it.

9 thoughts on “Blogging My Way Through the Cornell Lab’s Home Study Course in Bird Biology

  1. Looking forward to reading this series. My 13 yo dd is developing into a keen birder and it sounds like the sort of thing she would be interested in doing in a year or two . Hopefully the new edition will be out by then although I think we can access the old one. We’re in New Zealand and one of my fears is the course will be all North American focussed so I’ll be interested in your views on that.

    • Dear Sandra, most of the course is bird biology so that part isn’t at all country specific. However, the book starts with a section on “Birds and Humans: A Historical Perspective”, and while part of that section is about birds in literature, culture, and religion, there’s another part about the evolution of North American ornithology (Audubon, etc.). And the last chapter is on Bird Conservation which I think might look at the subject from a North American perspective. But for bird biology, there really isn’t anything else comparable, and if your daughter is interested in anatomy and physiology it would be a great course to take. I will keep your thoughts in mind as I work through the book, especially for the last chapter.

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