Pick a Bird Brain Series 2022

Pick a Bird Brain is back and as a new series of virtual presentations with optional field trips! These will be held monthly March-August with a focus on bird families (woodpeckers to warblers and sparrows and more!). Genetic DNA analysis provides some fascinating expected and unexpected links in bird family trees (bird phylogeny). In recent years, there has been a fair amount of shifting around of who’s related to who! How did they spread all over the world and develop into the families that we know today? Who are the oldest bird families, and which are newer on the scene? Why are there so many families of birds in the tropics that are not represented in North America? Each month, this series will look a little more in depth at particular groupings of birds during the virtual presentation, then follow with an optional birding field trip to see what we can find. We hope you will join us! Check out the registration and schedule details below!


Photo credit: Andy Witchger

Registration Details

 You can choose any of the monthly virtual presentations or field trips a la carte, or go for the discounted whole package deal for both virtual presentations and field trips.


Virtual presentation registration is ongoing and you can register through the course of the series. Minimum of 5 registrants for the virtual program and a deadline to register of 5:00 PM on Monday the week of the presentation. Optional field trip portions will have a deadline of the end of the day Wednesday prior to the scheduled field trip or until limited slots are filled. Each field trip session is limited to 15 participants with minimum of 5. Please complete the following online form to register for the Pick a Bird Brain Series 2022.

The virtual presentation sessions will happen monthly via Zoom on a Tuesday of each month March-August. Virtual presentations will be roughly an hour long on Zoom on Tuesday night at 7:00 pm and include time for follow-up questions and discussion. Series begins on March 22.

The following Saturday, or Sunday will be the optional field trip portion.  All field trip locations will be determined by where the birds are found at the time and all will be locations in the general Duluth area, with more specific information provided to those registered closer to the field trip date.

COST: Individual virtual sessions are $10 each for members, $15 for non-members. Individual field trips will be $20 for members and $30 for non-members. OR – Sign up for the full series: $150 for Member/Master Naturalists/Students, and $225 for Non-members.



The Berlin Archaeopteryx specimen (A. siemensii)

March 22 Virtual Program 7:00 pm – Where birds began

Birds are relatives of the fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex! The only remaining dinosaurs are the more than 10,000 species of birds on Earth.  What kind of birds have been around the longest, and who are the new kids on the block? We’ll take a look at the very beginning for birds and move forward from there to get this series started.

March 26 Field Trip 9:00 am -11:00 am -Swimming Birds-Gulls, Ducks, Grebes, etc. Birding trip around Duluth Harbor and other Lake Superior shoreline stops to look at winter waterbird residents, winter visitors, and new spring arrivals in the swimming birds.

April 19 Virtual Program 7:00 pm – Woodpeckers- Where They Are and Where They Aren’t
Woodpeckers are the well known denizens of the forest, or are they? Did you know that they are not everywhere we find trees and forests? Why are they found in some locations and not in others? Interesting question, let’s see what we can find out!

April 24 Field Trip 7:00 am-9:00 am– Woodpeckers (and other spring migrants). Birding trip to Indian Point and Western Waterfront Trail with focus on woodpeckers by sight, sound, signs and other spring migrants.

May 17 Virtual Program – New World Birds – Warblers and Sparrows

Birds are living dinosaurs. After the extinction of the rest of the dinosaurs what else was happening geologically/geographically in the world that influenced how birds developed from their earlier dinosaur relatives? And why along the way did we split warblers and sparrows into New World and Old World species when we still call them warblers and sparrows? Hmmm.

May 21 Field Trip – Warblers and Sparrows and other new spring arrivals. Birding trip to Park Point and surrounding area to look for warblers and sparrows….

June 14 Virtual Program – Hummingbirds and their relatives

There are more than 140 different species of hummingbirds in the Andes of South America alone, and they all eat the same thing- nectar from flowering plants! Why did all of the hummers end up down there, and how come those of in the north and eastern half of US are usually limited to one lone species? Hey, we’ve got plenty of flower too! There must be more to this story!

June 18 Field Trip – Hummingbirds and their relatives. Birding trip- Location TBD

July 19 Virtual Program – Cranes, Herons and Loons

A loon is not a duck. How come? Cranes, herons, and loons are all part of a totally different branch of the bird family tree than ducks. Is a loon closer to a crane or a heron, and how did that happen?

July 23 Field Trip – Cranes, Herons and Loons. Birding trip- Location TBD

August 16 Virtual Program – Raptors

Photo credit: John Richardson

Falcons originated in Australia along with the original relatives of the more than 10,000 species of songbirds in the world. Is a falcon a raptor? What about vultures? What have we learned in the recent past which has changed how we think about these birds?

August 20 Field Trip – Raptors and the beginning of the fall migration parade. Birding trip to Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve to learn about everything RAPTORS, the fall raptor migration, see raptor research in action, and possibly even a live raptor in hand!