BELLINGHAM - Bud Anderson will introduce people to what he calls a "parallel world" when his annual course on raptors begins Jan. 9.
Anderson, a renowned raptor biologist who has been studying the birds for 50 years, has been praised for the depth of his knowledge and the way he teaches people about the birds of prey found here - by using slides, imitating their calls, and flapping his arms the way a particular bird would flap its wings.
Combined with a field trip led by Anderson to put newly learned identification skills to use, the class offers more than can be learned from a book.
"In a classroom setting he's very entertaining, but he's also very passionate," said Hugh Lewis, a Bellingham-area resident who has taken the class five times and will do so again in January. "He truly understands these birds. So you get more than you could possibly get by reading bird guides."
The course is on five consecutive Thursdays, beginning Jan. 9, at Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship. The Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association is sponsoring it.
"There's nothing like this," Lewis said. "It's an amazing amount of information that is imparted in a very short period of time."
Anderson described the class as an introduction to birds of prey, which escape snow up north and flock to the region during winter to find an abundance of food that includes ducks, voles and shorebirds.
"Vast numbers of prey bring in huge numbers of raptors," he said, including the four species seen most here - bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, rough-legged hawks and northern harriers. "From about Thanksgiving through the end of March, our functional winter if you will, we have very high numbers and species diversity of raptors here in the Northwest."
So much so that the region is known for it, especially the Skagit Flats but also the smaller Lummi Flats.
A Bow resident who founded the Falcon Research Group, Anderson has been teaching the class since 1980. About 100 people took it last year.
"I find birds of prey endlessly fascinating. They have a life that is very complex. They each have distinct personalities like we do," he said. "They each have different habits, different prey, different hunting techniques.
"You see these playing out in endless variety in winter out on the flats. It's actually better than the Super Bowl, because it's life or death."
IF YOU GO
What: Class about raptors taught by Bud Anderson, a raptor biologist.
When: 7 to 9 p.m. on five consecutive Thursdays, Jan. 9, 16, 23, 30 and Feb. 6. There also will be field trip, to be arranged during the session.
Where: Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship, 1207 Ellsworth St.
Cost: $175 per person.
To register: Mail a check to Falcon Research Group, P.O. Box 248, Bow, WA 98232.
Details: Call Bud Anderson at 360-757-1911 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or contact Rand Jack at 360-592-5169 or email@example.com.
Reach Kie Relyea at 360-715-2234 or firstname.lastname@example.org.