Bird Language Skills Weekend

Ages 16+

minors must be accompanied by an adult

Tolt MacDonald Park – Carnation, WA

9am-4pm Saturday, 7am-2pm Sunday; No food provided

Future Dates TBD

Join us along the banks of the Snoqualmie and Tolt rivers in the heart of the beautiful Snoqualmie Valley for a deep dive into the wondrous world of Bird Language. Bird Language is an ancient interspecies communication system known to all our ancestors and still accessible to us today. 

Rather than species identification or bird biology, bird language focuses on the behavior of birds, especially vocal behaviors, which help us learn so much more than just about the birds in question. To learn bird language is to tap into events occurring across entire landscapes, including which predators may be present and where. 

This weekend course will introduce you to bird vocalizations and behavior using cutting-edge methods from the Bird Language Leaders movement designed by Jon Young.

In this course, you will learn to:

  • Identify the 5 Voices of the Birds
  • Interpret Shapes of Alarm
  • Deepen your Sensory Awareness
  • Practice Routines of Invisibility
  • Use Mapping, Storytelling, and the Art of Questioning
  • And more!

We will practice deep connection to our senses and intuition – with the purpose of sending you on a connection journey that will last a lifetime. Our approach is both intellectual and intuitive. Our Cultural Mentoring techniques are designed to invite you into a multifaceted relationship with your calm, relaxed body and your inherent belonging in the interspecies dance. Beginning and experienced birders welcome!

Program Logistics

Class takes place on the 574-acre grounds of Tolt MacDonald Park in Carnation, WA, at the confluence of the Snoqualmie & Tolt rivers. It will run from 9am-4pm Saturday and 7am-2pm Sunday. Food is not provided. We will be outdoors throughout the weekend; please dress appropriately with the expectation that you could possibly be outside in the rain all day. While the class isn’t overly strenuous, participants should be comfortable standing and walking on uneven ground, and sitting on potentially wet or muddy surfaces.

For those coming from afar, camping may be available on-site through King County Parks until the campground is full. The campground fills up fast, so reserve your spot early! Click here for camping information and reservations.

Meet Your Instructors:

Heather Durham

Heather Durham is a naturalist and contemplative writer with a BA in psychology from the University of Virginia, an MS in ecology from Antioch New England University, and an MFA in creative nonfiction from the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts. She’s held a variety of nature-focused jobs around the country from interpretive park ranger to field biologist, trails worker to restoration ecologist, and she is the author of two nature memoirs. Heather currently works behind the scenes at Wilderness Awareness School and facilitates programs in sensory awareness, nature journaling, and bird language. As a naturalist she seeks to observe, connect with, and learn as much as she can about the diverse and complex natural environments she’s explored. As a student of ecopsychology, an educator, and a writer, she is intensely interested in what drives others of her kind to make their own meaningful connections in the world.  

Heather is the author of two nature memoirs available in our bookstore: Going Feral: Field Notes on Wonder and Wanderlust, and Wolf Tree: an Ecopsychological Memoir in Essays, both of which include adventures and immersions in the wonderful world of birds.

Jesse Phillips


Jesse Phillips spent his college years studying the relationship between nature and human culture. He graduated with an honors degree in Environmental Writing and Philosophy from Whitman College, then designed  a summer camp and took over a small farm business to live his passion for connecting and playing with people, plants, food, and wildlife. Jesse is a graduate of various Wilderness Awareness School programs, including The Immersion, the Tracking Intensive, and the Nature Instructor Training, which he now instructs. He has mentored youth and adults at WAS since 2014, and his work feeds his passion for crafting healthy learning cultures that honor the rhythms of nature inside and outside our wild selves. As a mentor, Jesse has always loved learning with humans of all ages–in classrooms, tutoring centers, gyms, gardens, on farm and sports fields, and in forests. He enjoys honing his skills in firemaking, bird language, game design, nonviolent communication, riparian restoration, and the art of wandering. When he’s not work-playing in the woods, you can find Jesse going camping, practicing hip hop dance, playing spikeball, or tending the local food forest.

Wilderness Awareness School