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Science & Nature

Ornithologist in Training: The Origin and Diversification of Birds (Flex)

Flexible schedule. Learn about fossils and phylogenetic studies showing how birds evolved from theropod dinosaurs, diversified, nearly went extinct at the end of the Cretaceous, and then explosively diversified. (Biology, Animals, Zoology)
Heather Gerth, M.S.
71 total reviews for this teacher
2 reviews for this class
Completed by 4 learners
year olds
learners per class


Charged upfront
$14 per week
Flexible schedule
Over 6 weeks
No live meetings

Available Times


Available Times

There are no open spots for this class, but you can request another time or scroll down to find more classes like this.


Class Experience

This class is taught in English.
- Learners will be able to describe the key principles of Darwin’s Origin of Species and how this and the discovery of Archaeopteryx allowed scientists to begin to uncover the origins of birds.  
- Learners will be able to name 2-3 characteristics of birds that first evolved in the theropod dinosaur ancestors of birds.  
- Learners will recognize the evidence that indicates that flight evolved in primitive birds as well as their close non-avian relatives.  
- Learners will be able to name 2-3 characteristics of living birds that evolved slowly in the earliest avian ancestors.  
- Learners will be able to explain why the surviving avian lineage after the end-Cretaceous extinction event explosively diversified into the groups of living birds that we see today.  
Heather is a published ecologist who has conducted field ecology research for more than a decade.  She has done research in Costa Rica, Teton Mountain National Park, the Southern Appalachian Mountains, and in the Midwest. Her main research interests are birds and landscape ecology. Heather is also an environmental educator and naturalist with over 20 years of experience teaching students of all ages through nature centers, schools, and Girl Scouts.
This is a flexible schedule course designed to take 1-2 hours each week.  
Optional Course Textbook: This course is a part of the Ornithologist in Training curriculum series. Most of the courses are organized by topics that are similar to the chapters in The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Handbook of Bird Biology (Third Edition, ISBN# 978-1-118-29105-4). This text is NOT required for the course; however, some learners may wish to supplement the Ornithologist in Training curriculum series courses with optional textbook reading. In the Handbook of Bird Biology, Chapter 2 Avian Diversity and Classification, Section 2.4 corresponds closely with the content of this course.
In addition to the Outschool classroom, this class uses:
No live meetings, and an estimated 1 - 2 hours per week outside of class.
This course uses the following external resources: Pear Deck, Google Jamboard, and Google Forms.  Students will be provided with links in the Outschool Classroom to access relevant resources each week.  Students will not need to create any accounts to access these resources, but are expected to provide their first name only in their responses so that the instructor can review these responses and provide each student with individual feedback in a private message through Outschool communications.  
- Brusatte SL, O'Connor JK, and Jarvis ED. 2015. The Origin and Diversification of Birds. Current Biology, 25:R888-898.
- Lovette IJ and Fitzpatrick JW. 2016. Handbook of Bird Biology, Third Edition. Wiley & Sons, Inc.  Hoboken, NJ.


Heather Gerth, M.S.
Lives in the United States
Published Ecologist, Ornithologist, and Environmental Educator with Over 20 Years of Teaching Experience
71 total reviews
49 completed classes

About Me

I am passionate about ecology, birds, and getting students outside observing and studying the natural world! I am a scientist with 15+ years of experience in field ecology research and publications in peer-reviewed ecology journals.  I've... 
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