Ornithology Short Course

Popular expert-speaker Dr. Charles Clarkson will be offering a short course about Ornithology aboard the Coastal Cultures of the West Voyage, Segments I and III. In this supplemental offering to his lectures onboard, Dr. Clarkson’s short course aims to make you a better birder, a more conscientious consumer, and to heighten your appreciation for these masters of flight. Sign up now>>

About the Course

Do you want to know the best seed to entice birds to your backyard? Do you want to know where neighborhood birds travel to during the winter months and how they manage to survive the cold? Do you want to know how to predict, with pinpoint accuracy, when migratory birds will start showing up in your backyard? If you’ve wondered the answer to any of these questions, the Ornithology Short Course is designed with you in mind.

Join  Dr. Charles Clarkson, Professor of Ornithology at Roger Williams University, for a lecture series in which all of your questions about birds will be answered. Dr. Clarkson is an Enrichment Voyages alumnus and has given talks onboard the ship on topics ranging from ecology and conservation to biology and environmental science.

Listen to Dr. Clarkson on NPR

This workshop is designed to give you much more than a cursory glimpse into the amazing world of birds. You will enter the course with a birder’s appreciation for your feathered friends and exit the course with an intimate understanding of bird biology. An opportunity available exclusively in a university setting is now offered to you during the Coastal Cultures of the West Enrichment Voyage. 

About the Dr. Charles Clarkson

Charles Clarkson developed an appreciation for birds at a young age in the mountains of Virginia.  He earned his undergraduate degree at Mary Washington College graduating magna cum laude from the Department of Environmental Science. Clarkson received his Master’s from the Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Biology, graduating summa cum laude.  During his tenure at VCU, Charles spearheaded a study to determine the demography of owls in the state of Virginia. Following his Master’s degree, Charles worked as a contractor for the United States Military at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Charles was employed as the conservation head of a project to bring the Red-cockaded Woodpecker back from near-extinction. After three years, Charles returned to Virginia where he received his doctorate from the University of Virginia. His research involved the determination of the effects of mercury on the growth and development of nestling herons, egrets, and ibis.

Dr. Clarkson is currently a professor at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island. He also serves as the conservation committee co-chair for the Waterbird Society. Clarkson has published eight articles pertaining to this research and has given over 40 presentations. 


  • The short course is offered on Segment I and repeated on Segment III of the Coastal Cultures of the West Enrichment Voyage. It will not be offered during Segment II. 
  • Ornithology classes are offered on days at sea in 2-hour-long sessions.
  • Topics range from bird adaptations to flight, migration, nesting behavior to the history of bird conservation, birds in mythology and what humans can do to be better stewards of the environment. 
Segment I  Segment III
April 27: “Birds in Mythology and Folklore” May 27: “Birds in Mythology and Folklore”
May 1: “Bird Evolution: The Diversity of Birds” May 30: “Bird Evolution: The Diversity of Birds”
May 2: “Getting off of the Ground: Feathers and Flight” May 31: “Getting off of the Ground: Feathers and Flight”
May 7: “Surviving in Extreme Environments” June 7: “Surviving in Extreme Environments”
May 9: “Pretty Birds: Songs, Colors and Displays” June 9: “Pretty Birds: Songs, Colors and Displays”
May 10: “Shade Grown Coffee: The Real Story” June 12:  ”Shade Grown Coffee: The Real Story”

Sign Up Today!

The short course (one segment of six two-hour classes) is a flat rate of $175 per person in addition to voyage fare.  For your convenience, the charge will be added to your shipboard account. Please note, tuition for the Ornithology Short Course cannot be pre-paid. 

To sign up for the Ornithology Short Course

To make a reservation on the Coastal Cultures of the West Enrichment Voyage