Class about region’s raptors begins in Bellingham Jan. 8

When it comes to birds of prey this time of the year, you can’t beat this region.

So says Bud Anderson, a raptor biologist who is once again teaching a class about raptor identification and behavior. The focus is this region’s birds.

“This is one of the best places in North America to see winter birds of prey. For these four months, you can’t be in a better place,” Anderson said of the period from December to March.

“This is the time to be out there,” he said, adding there were high numbers and a broad diversity of species.

See what he means by signing up for Anderson’s Bellingham class, which occurs on five consecutive Thursday nights beginning Jan. 8. It includes an all-day field trip.

“It’s an opportunity for people to get involved with birds at whatever level they want,” Anderson said. “It can be just the identification. It can go deeper if they want to.”

Anderson has been teaching the class since 1980. He founded the Bow-based Falcon Research Group in 1985.

The renowned raptor expert 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, those who have taken the class say it offers more than can be learned from a book.

Whatcom Land Trust is sponsoring this year’s event, which is popular with experienced birders and beginners alike. Some have taken Anderson’s class over and over.

“Whatcom Land Trust is sponsoring Bud Anderson’s raptor class because we believe that it is a great resource to bring our community closer to the incredible natural environment in which we live,” said Rand Jack, a Land Trust board member. “It will change the way you experience the back roads of Whatcom and Skagit counties, especially during raptor season.”

Jack said he has taken the annual classes about six times.

“Each time I take the raptor class, it increases my awareness of these incredible birds. They are masters of a world apart,” Jack said. “More than anyone I know, Bud Anderson can think like a raptor. My goal in taking the class is to learn to think more like Bud Anderson.”