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Fabulous Fall Geek Out: The Lives of Black-Capped Chickadees

September 30 @ 3:00 pm - October 2 @ 1:30 pm


Spend a glorious fall weekend on the North Shore of Minnesota gaining hands-on experience and learning from experts in their field.

Workshops take place on the Wolf Ridge campus and surrounding areas, with lodging and meals provided. Whether you’re a seasoned naturalist or just a curious learner, the experience is designed for lifelong learners who have a passion for the natural world. Participants select a single workshop for the weekend but will have an opportunity to connect with other workshop groups during meals and evening programming.

Workshop: The Lives of Black-Capped Chickadees

Black-capped chickadees are small, black and white songbirds that can be found nearly everywhere in Minnesota, even in the middle of winter when most other birds depart. These unassuming birds might seem too common for a second thought, but with numerous vocalizations, adaptations that allow them to survive harsh winters, and a curious disposition, these birds are anything but ordinary.

During this workshop, students will combine simple bird observing strategies with new and modern technologies to take a deep dive into the lives of these common backyard birds. Students will be introduced to Black-capped Chickadee bird banding research that is currently happening at WRELC, using both federal ID bands and PIT tags to answer questions about chickadees. We will be banding some birds during the workshop, and students may have the opportunity to handle and release some live birds. Students will also use DNA techniques to sex birds and analyze sound recordings to explore the social behavior of these birds.

We will use these research tools and technology to complement our own eyes and ears, and students will leave equipped with observation tools they can use to observe and learn about birds in their own neighborhoods.

Instructors: Joe Lutz & Caroline Urban

Joe  Lutz is a retired plant genetics researcher living in Grand Marais, MN.  He developed an interest in birds, a love of science and started asking why at a young age.   He started volunteering at Wolf-Ridge 5 years ago doing various citizen scientist projects.  When he is not banding birds, chasing chickadees, or filling feeders he loves canoeing and exploring the North Woods with his partner Annie and wonder dog, Angus.

Caroline Urban (she/her) is a graduate from the Wolf Ridge Naturalist Training Program and is currently the Environmental Education teacher at North Shore Community School in Duluth, MN. Caroline first became interested in birds while in college when she banded her first bird, a Northern Saw-whet Owl. While a naturalist at Wolf Ridge she dove in head first to bird banding, and has banded around northern Minnesota, and even in northern New Mexico. When she is not scaring birds, she enjoys traveling, knitting, and playing board games.

Register for this Workshop

Lodging Information

Dining Information

Directions to Wolf Ridge



Weekend Workshop Schedule

Friday, Sep 30, 2022

  • 3:00 – 4:45 pm — Student registration and check-in at the Wolf Ridge office
  • 4:00 – 4:45 pm  — Tour of the Margaret A. Cargill (MAC) Lodge
  • 5:15 pm  — Dinner
  • 6:00 – 6:30 pm  — Orientation in MAC Lodge Wiesner Commons
  • 7:00 – 9:00 pm — 1st learning session
  • 10 pm  — Quiet time

Saturday, Oct 1, 2022

  • 7:30 am — Breakfast
  • 8:30-10:00 am  — Continental breakfast for Owl Workshop
  • 8:30-11:30 am  — 2nd learning session
  • 12:15 pm  — Lunch
  • 1:30 – 4:30 pm — 3rd learning session
  • 5:15 pm  — Dinner
  • 6:30 – 7:15 pm  — Evening presentation
  • 7:30 – 9:30 pm  — Social hour & campfire
  • 10:00 pm  — Quiet time

Sunday, Oct 2, 2022

  • 7:30 am — Breakfast
  • 8:30-10:00 am  — Continental breakfast for Owl workshop
  • 8:30-11:30 am —4th  learning session
  • 12:15 pm — Lunch & check-out
  • 12:30 – Owl workshop ends
  • 12:30-1:30 pm — Optional: Use of designed rooms to shower before leaving

On Friday afternoon before registration or on Sunday afternoon you’re welcome to hike our trails and enjoy the fall colors.


Packing List

You should plan to venture out in rain or shine and the instructors may follow up with more information on specific details about your workshop if applicable. You can expect nighttime temperatures to range from 25°F to 50°F and daytime temperatures up to 65°F. Please be prepared so you can feel comfortable if it is cool or rainy. Most of the walking you will do is on nice graveled trails, but some trails are rugged. Photography will be a common thread throughout the weekend so we encourage you to bring a camera. If you do not own a digital camera, we can loan you one for the weekend.  

  • Rain suit with pants and hood
  • Walking or hiking shoes
  • Warm jacket
  • Sweater or fleece
  • Warm hat
  • Light shirts
  • Light pants
  • Wool Socks (recommended for hiking)
  • Soap, shampoo, other toiletries
  • Personal water bottle
  • Sunscreen, sun hat

Optional Items:

  • Knee-high rubber boots
  • Non-aerosol insect repellent
  • Camera
  • Sunglasses
  • Alarm clock
  • Small backpack for day use
  • Snacks (space available in group refrigerator)

Wolf Ridge will provide linens, blankets, towels, and a pillow.


September 30 @ 3:00 pm
October 2 @ 1:30 pm
Event Category:


Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center
6282 Cranberry Road
Finland, MN 55603
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(218) 353-7414
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On Campus, Some Travel Off Campus
Adult Education