Somewhere between the height of shelter-in-place orders and Zoom meetings, many Americans began to appreciate the once ignored chirps and coos of the colorful wildlife outside their windows. Bird watching surged in popularity as did the sales of bird feeders, birdseed, and manmade nesting boxes. In fact, preliminary marketing data from retailers indicate an overall sales increase of 10 to 15 percent this spring in the birding category.
Also, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 50,000 birders set a world record on May 9 for Global Big Day, an annual bird-spotting event. New and seasoned birders logged more than two million observations that recorded 6,479 species. These figures represent the most bird sightings in a single day.
With pandemic-imposed lockdowns coinciding with peak migration for hundreds of species and nesting season in North America, new and experienced birders have found reprieve in tracking the migratory patterns of our feathered friends.
Interested in Bird Watching?
Whether living in a rural area or a more urban area, birding is one of the most convenient forms of wildlife watching people can participate in. Also, people do not have to invest thousands of dollars to enjoy this pastime. To get started bird watching, people need a pair of standard binoculars, traditional print field guides, and keen observation skills
To help identify a species when bird watching, people should observe the size and shape, calls, color patterns, habitat, and behavior of the bird. There are several apps and websites that can help speed up the process of identifying bird species. Many of these apps are available for free download. Some websites and apps great for resources on bird watching include
- Audubon Guide to North American Birds
- The Audubon Bird Guide app
- eBird website and mobile app
- The Cornell Lab of Ornithology website
- Merlin app
As coronavirus restrictions continue, consider making bird watching a new hobby and reconnect with that fascinating world outside. Bird watching is a perfect activity for all ages while practicing social distancing. Visit www.aces.edu for more information on birding and other wildlife topics.