All About Crows & Other Urban Birds

Discovery Core Experience: NW or VLPA Course

B CORE 116 (NW) or B CORE 104 (VLPA)

60-Second Syllabus: All About Crows & Other Urban Birds

About This Course: 

This class has been inspired by the thousands of crows and other birds that inhabit our campus and our cities, and the influence that those birds have in human life.

This course will cover a thorough exploration of the natural history, ecology and behavior of crows and other urban birds in the PNW and about birds that live in the city of Lima, Peru (via an international collaboration).  For this course, we will also cover birds’ influence in history, literature, art, culture, mythology, and other aspects of human life.

Why Should I Take This Course? 

This course is for students who want to gain or improve skills for:

  • Nature observations and attention to detail
  • Documentation of your bird observations in written and visual formats
  • Critical analysis of readings, summarizing and documenting information from scientific sources
  • Communication of scientific information using creativity thus the information reaches larger audiences
  • Collaborative interactions with peers from different backgrounds and cultures
  • Reflective learning

What Should I Expect ?

  • Time spent outdoors doing observations of birds with the class, and on your own (parks/gardens/urban areas near by your residence)
  • Keeping a naturalist journal and documenting your own observations via sketches & notes, and a picture/video gallery 
  • Spending time reading, researching on your own, and discussing scientific literature during class sessions and some online discussions.
  • Participating on a remote interdisciplinary and international collaboration with students from a Peruvian University


We will be reading pieces from a variety of sources (scientific, popular-science and literature, etc) and they will be provided as PDFs or links in Canvas. 

Suggested books: the following books are non-required, but I highly recommend that you read at least one of the following: “Welcome to Subirdia: Sharing Our Neighborhoods with Wrens, Robins, Woodpeckers, and Other Wildlife” by John Marzluff, “In the Company of Crows and Ravens” by Marzluff&Angell, and “The Thing with Feathers: The Surprising Lives of Birds and What They Reveal About Being Human” by Noah Strycker

Professor Ursula Valdez (She/Her/Hers)

School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences

About Professor Valdez:

  • B.S. Biology, Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina, Lima Peru
  • M.S. Zoology and Animal Behavior, North Carolina State University
  • Ph.D. Biology (Ecology and Conservation), University of Washington



I would like that every human fully understands how essential biodiversity is for our lives, and how essential it is that we conserve it for our future and for the future of our planet. Learning about and engaging with the species and ecosystems around us is a big starting step for that understanding– Professor Valdez