Audubon California and Weaving Earth are offering an experiential dive into the practice of Mindful Birding and Bird Language from March 6 - 30, 2023.
Mindful bird sits are a simple yet potent way to cultivate relaxation, a quiet mind, and a deep love for birds. The practice dovetails perfectly with the awareness and presence needed to learn the language of the birds.
"There is a wild avian conversation happening all around us that does not take place using human-made words or language. It exists in sound, gesture, feeling, and silence. It communicates a constantly unfolding story of place that we are all a part of." - Weaving Earth
Perhaps you have already noticed this subtle conversation:
Do you feel the ease and peace in your body when the birds are singing?
Has your body ever picked up on the tension that comes when the birds suddenly go quiet?
- Can you walk down the street without making the birds fly away from you?
Birds pay acute attention to everything that happens in the landscape because their survival depends on it! They communicate to announce food sources, declare territory, attract a mate, coordinate within a flock, and sound the alarm when danger appears.
We can learn this language – and quickly – with a little bit of practice.
“Paying attention to the language of the birds expands awareness of the interrelated ecology that we are a part of, deepens intimacy with the birds in our home places, builds an understanding of common interspecies communication patterns, and offers insight into how we move through the world.” ~ Weaving Earth
The gift of this practice is that our bird teachers are all around us! Whether in a city, suburb, rural area, desert, mountains, or seaside, birds are our neighbors.
Studies show that spending time outside is healthy and nourishing for our bodies and minds. Mindful birding can help reduce stress, sharpen concentration, and improve our wellbeing.
"Exposure to nature is now Doctors Orders. A recent study by the University of Michigan concluded that if we connect with nature for at least 20 minutes at a time, 3 times a week, our cortisol levels will be lowered significantly. This is a good thing. This internal chemical warning system signal governs stress reactions in our mood, immune system, metabolism, and the aging process." - Ornitherapy: For Your Mind, Body, and Soul
This webinar series is designed to be fun and engaging for long-time bird lovers and beginners alike. No prior experience is necessary! You can engage in this practice indoors or outdoors. We recommend finding a place you can sit by a window, on a balcony, in a backyard, or local park.
Though we will be gathered remotely, the series will take your attention out into the bird world around you. We will focus on experiential learning and the chance to practice together in real-time -- including getting off of our screens.
"Right outside your door flies just what you’ve been looking for to help ease symptoms of stress, pain, depression, and anxiety. All you have to do is look up, take notice, and open your heart and mind." - Keep Looking Up: Your Guide to the Powerful Healing of Birdwatching by Tammah Watts
Tammah Watts is a board member at Audubon California and Buena Vista Audubon Society. She is certified by the Kripalu School of Mindful Outdoor Leadership and is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). Her new book, Keep Looking Up: Your Guide to the Powerful Healing of Birdwatching is coming out in March 2023.
Molly Tsongas leads Mindful Birding and Bird Language programs for Audubon California. She is trained in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Somatic Coaching from the Strozzi Insitute, and Animal Communication.
Lauren Dalberth Hage is executive director, co-founder, and facilitator at Weaving Earth and has been working outdoors with youth, teens, and adults for 20 years. She weaves her certifications in Regenerative Design & Nature Awareness, Ecological Agriculture, Embodied Social Justice, Integrated Trauma Therapy & The Resilience Toolkit into her Bird Language praxis.
brontë velez is a black-latine transdisciplinary artist, educator, and jíbare, whose eco-social art praxis lives at the intersections of Black feminist placemaking, abolitionist theologies, environmental regeneration, and death doulaship. They serve as educator, facilitator, and curriculum designer for Weaving Earth, the creative director for Lead to Life design collective, and co-steward of a land refuge in northern California.
Will Scott is a co-founder, program designer, and lead facilitator at Weaving Earth. He has worked as a nature-based educator, mentor, guide, and consultant with individuals and groups for 20+ years, bringing a life-long study of the human-nature relationship to all he does.
Webinars are on Mondays: 12:30 - 2:00 pm PST and Thursdays: 9:00 - 10:00 am PST. Note: All webinars and guided bird sits will be recorded so you can join live or watch/listen on demand.
WEEK 1: INTRODUCTION TO MINDFUL BIRD SITS
Monday, March 6: Birding and the Body: We will introduce the mindful bird sit practice and how it can benefit our health. Together, we will do our first mindful bird sit and share stories about what we observe.
Thursday, March 9: Bird Sit: We will practice the bird sit with a focus on connecting to our bodies, gently activating our senses, and building our awareness of the birds.
Facilitators: Tammah Watts, Molly Tsongas, brontë velez, Lauren Dalberth Hage, and Will Scott.
WEEK 2: BIRD LANGUAGE: PART ONE
Monday, March 13: Joining the Conversation: How can we offer our attention to the world in increasingly nuanced ways? What aspects of bird life and behavior help us learn their language?
Thursday, March 16: Bird Sit: We will practice the bird sit with a focus on connecting to our bodies, activating our senses, and bringing our attention to the language of the birds.
Facilitators: Lauren Dalberth Hage, brontë velez, and Will Scott.
WEEK 3: BIRD LANGUAGE: PART TWO
Monday, March 20: Taking it Deeper: Building on the practice, we will look for the patterns and shapes of bird language, draw out themes, and relate them to the stories on the landscape and in our lives personally.
Thursday, March 23: Bird Sit: We will practice the bird sit with a focus on connecting to our bodies, activating our senses, and bringing our attention to the language of the birds.
Facilitators: Lauren Dalberth Hage, and Will Scott.
WEEK 4: GRATITUDE FOR THE PRACTICE
Monday, March 27: Reflections and the Path Ahead: We will reflect on what we have learned about the birds and ourselves through the practice. We will share upcoming opportunities for continuing bird sits at home and in the community with Weaving Earth and Audubon California.
Thursday, March 30: Bird Sit: We will practice the bird sit with a focus on preparing an ongoing home practice and sharing gratitude for our experiences with the birds and in the community.
Facilitators: Tammah Watts, Molly Tsongas, and Lauren Dalberth Hage