The Life of Birds in Autumn and Winter

Ref: C3528588

We will investigate which birds are found in Britain and during autumn and winter, how they change from summer: resident birds and winter visitors, the role of bird migration as a survival strategy, including required adaptations and body changes, short and long distance, orientation and migration routes, and effects of climate change. What are the threats to survival of birds remaining in UK during the cold winter months; how do they adapt to find food and water, keep warm, avoid predation? They modify their behaviour, diet and sometimes their appearance to cope with the hardships of winter. How do birds prepare for spring and the forthcoming breeding season? A closer look at some birds typical of different habitats during winter eg. towns and gardens, farmland, heathland, woodland, rivers and wetlands, estuaries and seashore. What we can do to help birds in winter, and ideas for observing and studying birds?

Course aim

To investigate the lives of British birds in autumn and winter, focussing on their strategies and adaptations to prepare for and survive the hardships of winter, including migration to avoid winter

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • No expertise in bird identification is required, merely a general interest in birds. Learners should familiarise themselves with the commoner birds found around their neighbourhood by observation and reference to a field guide of British birds.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • explain the types of threats to birds' survival that occur during the cold winter months, from cold and starvation to predation
  • discuss how species prepare for winter and the range of survival strategies adopted by birds to cope with the hardships of winter
  • how and why the range of species changes with the onset of autumn and winter, including migration: short-range, long-range and partial migrants
  • describe some typical winter species in different habitats: towns and gardens, farmland, heathland, woodland, rivers and wetlands, estuaries and seashore
  • explain how birds preparation for spring and the forthcoming breeding season, and what we can do to help birds in winter

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed
  • A basic field guide to British birds would be a helpful reference

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required

What can I do next?

  • • Take up bird watching • WEA Course: Life of Birds in Autumn & Winter • BTO Bird Identification Courses • Join BTO, your County Wildlife Trust and/or RSPB • Start contributing to a Citizen Science bird reporting scheme

Download full course outline

The Life of Birds in Autumn and Winter Course Outline

Enrolment Conditions

You can enrol online if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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