We are pausing while the Earth rests. 

California Bird Language Intensive will return in Spring 2021.

California Bird Language Intensive 

Experience Life Through the Eyes of the Birds

 ​Deepen your connections to nature, self, & others

 Bring more presence to all that you do

Did you know that the birds will tell you when a cougar (or any other predator for that matter) is moving through the landscape?  

Knowing how to hear and understand these messages is an ancient skill that helped people survive and flourish for thousands of years. For centuries, modern cultures have been marked by an increasing separation from these ancient skills, from nature, themselves and from others.   

What if I were to tell you that birds hold a key to this connection?  

Not only can birds teach you to identify when a predator is moving through the landscape, and understanding their cues/language will also teach you how to quiet your mind, blend in and attune to your senses, and become sensitive to how you affect the natural world and those around you, in the same way your ancestors knew to do. 

The California Bird Language Intensive is designed to guide you to do exactly this. By attending this Intensive, you’ll be part of a temporary village where connection to people, self, and nature are core values!

In an era marked by increasing disconnection from nature, self, and others, the practice of learning Bird Language will give you the tools to be more successful in your relationships, your career, your community, and in life in general by enhancing your ability to experience empathy, compassion, attentiveness, sensitivity to your surrounding and others, and increased awareness.

During this Course You Will:

Learn how to identify, interpret, and appreciate the wonderful world of birds.

Be immersed in a village of mentors and learners, thus amplifying your learning journey.

Learn the unique patterns and behaviors of birds and mammals.

Practice the 7 Questions of Bird Identification.

Learn how birds act as a barometer for your own awareness.

Experience the core practices of bird language:

  • The Five Voices of the Birds
  • Interpreting Shapes of Alarm
  • Sensory Awareness & Natural Movement
  • Mapping Bird Language

When you listen deeply for bird language, you begin to access a deeper part of your awareness. With your senses activated, you connect with the landscape, the animals, and with your inner worlds. 

This Intensive will teach you how to be more attentive to your surroundings, sensitive to how you affect others, and help you achieve a quiet mind.

As shared in Jon Young's book, What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World (science and audio editing by Dan Gardoqui), participants will experience the core vocabulary of bird language, including tools for interpreting the language and behavior of birds around the world.

Who Is This Course For?

  • At the California Bird Language Intensive, we welcome people of all levels of experience, whether you are new to birding, naturalist skills and mentoring, or are an experienced instructor. 
  • This workshop is suitable for teachers, parents, nature enthusiasts, and anyone eager to build a more nature-centered, resilient local community.
  • If you enjoy the outdoors in any way you'll learn a TON from this experience!

At 8 Shields, we value diversity in all its forms and commit to actively building a community that is diverse across many dimensions, including race, sex, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, ability, culture, nationality, socioeconomic status, occupational status, education, life experience, religion, political opinion, and level of comfort and experience with the outdoors. We commit to identifying, minimizing and removing barriers to participation in our programs.

Lodging and Meals

The California Bird Language Intensive takes place at a beautiful and diverse natural location near Pescadero, about 1 hour south of San Francisco. At the time of the workshop this land is home to up to 60 species of birds.

Rustic camping space is provided and all delicious meals are catered by our wonderful chef Carin McKay. We use organic and local foods when possible and can accommodate gluten free, vegetarian, vegan and other dietary preferences. For questions email events@8shields.org.

For those seeking deluxe accommodations rather than camping onsite, we recommend Costanoa Resort just a few minutes drive away. They have tent cabins, luxury cabins and lodge rooms and a hot tub and sauna as well as a KOA campground.

This is a Family Friendly Event!

Creating a village—where the whole family is welcome, supported and growing together—is so important.

In that spirit, there are youth nature connection programs for children aged 4-17 at the event. Also children under 3 are welcome to attend under the care of a parent or other adult caregiver!

Lead Facilitators

For over 30 years, Jon Young has been a leader in the field of nature-based education and cultural mentoring, implementing vital advancements in the understanding and benefits of effective nature- and people-connection modeling. Jon is a deep nature connection mentor, wildlife tracker, peacemaker, author and co-author of What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World (2013), and Coyote's Guide to Connecting to Nature (2007) among others, workshop leader, consultant, inspiring public speaker and storyteller. He has appeared as an expert in numerous documentaries concerning nature and ecology and travels to teach widely throughout North America, Europe, Australia and southern Africa.

Kristi is the founder of Bird Mentor, a resource for live and online courses helping people worldwide build confidence learning about birds and the natural world. She also leads birding programs for the Bosque del Apache Sandhill Crane Festival, Mesa Verde Bird Festival, and The White Memorial Conservation Center. Over the years she’s spent time banding terns on Great Gull Island, migratory birds at Oxbow Preserve and hummingbirds at Mesa Verde National Park. In 2015 she helped to found the Dipper Project, a research study looking at the effects of the Gold King Mine spill on avian life in the Animas River in Colorado. In addition to geeking out about birds, she's also a naturalist, herbalist, and photographer and has made contributions to the new Peterson’s Field Guide to Bird Nests, Coyote’s Guide and ABA’s Birder’s Guide.

Dan Gardoqui has been called a mimic thrush, a skilled mentor, and a pioneer in the field of bird language. Working alongside Jon Young, Dan has served as the science & audio editor for “What the Robin Knows.” He also helped create “A Birds World” - a permanent exhibit at the Boston Museum of Science that reaches 1.4 million people annually. As a curious naturalist and aspiring hunter-gatherer for three decades, Dan has amassed his share of lessons from nature. He’s a certified wildlife tracker, Registered Maine Guide and has served on two college faculties. Dan lives in Maine with his wife and two sons where he tempers his high energy with lots of trail running and cycling. (Fun fact: Jon Young was a high school teacher of Dan’s in the 1900’s).

Bios of Additional Staff Coming Soon - Please Check Back!

Registration Closed

We are pausing while the Earth rests.

California Bird Language Intensive will return in Spring 2021.

Registration includes camping and all meals. Days are full with small group facilitated activities, keynote speakers, and evening activities, jam sessions or fire time. 

The Children's Program for ages 4-17 runs concurrently with Adult programming. Parents/caregivers are responsible for children at meals, breaks, and all other non-program times.

We welcome children age 3 and under who are always under the care of their parent/caregiver.

Please note that while we welcome teens to this Intensive, there is no program specifically for them. If there is enough interest, we would love to develop a teen program. Please email us at events@8shields if you are interested in bringing a teen!

8 Shields Reparations Fund: A portion of the proceeds from this event will be allocated to the 8 Shields Reparations Fund, lending support to Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) led organizations at the forefront of the movement to establish racial equity in Outdoor Education and Nature Connection.

Work Trade/Scholarships: Please email events@8shields.org to inquire about limited scholarship/work trade positions and/or if you require accessible accommodation.

How to Register

1. Click on the icons below. Select “add to bag” for adult, child, etc., as needed. You will need to add each person individually from this page. Add name, email and phone number for each person please.

2. Select any dietary restrictions. All meals are included. 

3. Add medical conditions. Please let us know if you or anyone you are registering has a medical condition that may affect their time at the workshop.

4. Consider making a donation. The California Bird Language Intensive is made possible by hundreds of volunteer hours and the prices are reflective of the minimum costs of running the event. Even so, there are families and individuals that are not able to attend due to cost. If you are financially able, we invite you to add a donation of $100 or more to support someone who may need financial assistance to attend. Thank you in advance!

5. Check out. When finished, click on the shopping bag in the bottom right corner to check out and complete payment.

Cancellation/Refund Policy: Should circumstances require you to cancel your plans, refunds are available, less a 10% administration fee. 

Concerns about Coronavirus: In the event of major interruptions to travel, health and safety, we will cancel the event and offer each participant the option to receive a refund or accept a reserved spot as we endeavour to reschedule the event. 

​Want to learn some birding by ear? ​Discover the "Five Voices" we use to start decoding bird language - check out our Bird Voices Audio Library here: