Are you a fledgling birder? Would you like to learn more about the feathered flocks that visit your feeder and grace your yard?

Join Simon Thompson at the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville on Wednesday, Aug. 4, at 8:15 a.m. for a very informative and personal “Introduction to Bird Watching.” The two-hour program costs $15 for Arboretum members and $19 for non-members. You may register online at or by phone at 828.665.2492.

Thompson is one of the foremost birding experts in the Carolinas and has gained national and international recognition through his Ventures Birding Tours. He is also co-owner of Asheville’s Wild Birds Unlimited. To learn more about Thompson and Ventures and Wild Birds Unlimited go to or drop by Wild Birds Unlimited at 1997 Hendersonville Road in Asheville.

Thompson brings his same enthusiasm for birding and joy of sharing whether he is pointing out a cinnamon-breasted warbler on the Cape of South Africa to someone with 600 species on his life-list or explaining the difference between a song sparrow and a chipping sparrow to a beginner on the grounds of the North Carolina Arboretum.

Thompson emphasized that the program is geared for beginners and said it would begin with a walk around Arboretum grounds. “We’ll walk around the grounds where we’ll likely see chipping sparrows, bluebirds and robins,” he said, “but, of course, we’ll keep our eyes open for whatever we might find.”

He said emphasis would be put on shape, size, habits and habitat. “But we’ll also listen,” Thompson said, to see if participants can learn about songs and calls.

According to Thompson the second part of the workshop would be inside and would be a little more formal. Thompson will delve into the world of optics and field guides discussing the pros and cons of the myriad of choices and helping workshop participants learn how to choose which products are best suited to their needs.

This program is a great place to start if you are a novice birder interested in getting a good start on techniques and equipment that will make it easier for you to get a grasp on this truly accessible and thoroughly enjoyable hobby of bird watching. I have often seen beginning birders go home crestfallen from a “bird walk” or “birding program” where the majority of participants were accomplished birders and no one had the time to stop and point out the robin or towhee that was singing.

You don’t walk out on a golf course for the first time and shoot a 75. You don’t walk out into your backyard for the first time and know all the species of birds that can be seen or heard. You have to learn. You have to learn technique and you have to learn skill and you need the proper equipment.

Don Hendershot can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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