If there were a list of articles you never expected to write, this one would be at the top. Yet, here we are, an entire planet brought to our knees in a matter of weeks by a microscopic enemy known as COVID-19.
Every day seems to be full of bad news right now. Like you, I’m feeling the weight of it all. I’ve found myself unable to sleep, waking in the night with an overwhelming sense of dread. I have so many fears and concerns, many of which I have no control over. Most of our dedicated staff at Bird Watcher’s Digest is working from home right now, including me. Although we are as united and positive as possible, working remotely can be a lonely feeling if you’re not accustomed to it. If you’re an introvert by nature, this quarantine business may actually appeal to you! However, being a natural extrovert who thrives on social interaction, the thought of spending days on end at home alone sounds about as fun as, well, a pandemic.
Still, the birds continue to arrive. Little by little, a few more trickling into my backyard each day, they’re coming. Every morning the dawn chorus outside my bedroom window seems more glorious than the day before. Pandemic or not, I don’t want to miss the spring migration show! I may be forced to miss some beloved birding events in the next few weeks or months, but doggone it, I’m determined to see some great birds this spring, even if it means doing a daily Big Sit alone in my backyard! There is much joy in birding, and I want to soak it up in the coming weeks.
To combat the coronavirus blues, I’ve identified “10 Birdiful Ways to Cope with Social Distancing.” Obviously not all of these ideas will suit everyone, but perhaps you’ll glean a thing or two from this list that might “birdify” and brighten your days in the coming weeks and months.
10. Clean your binoculars, scopes, and birding gear. We recommend using a lens cloth and cleaning kit made especially for cleaning birding optics. (Please don’t use Windex and paper towels.) If you don’t have an optics cleaning kit, you can support a small business I happen to be quite fond of, and purchase one here for $19.99! We’ll ship it right to your door so you don’t need to venture out in your hazmat suit.
9. Start an at-home, backyard birding list. This is a great project for the entire family! Keep paper, pen, and a field guide by your window and start your list today. Are you new to backyard birding? Learn more about it in this article written a few years back by Bill of the Birds himself.
8. If you have bird feeders, it’s time to clean ’em and fill ‘em up! Do you want to learn more about properly cleaning your feeders? Check out the fab article “How—and Why—to Clean Your Bird Feeders” by BWD editor Dawn Hewitt! Do you need to restock bird seed or bird feeders for spring feeding? Check out these small-birding-business options: PRD Seed and All Things Alpaca—companies that support us! Wondering what seed to buy? Read “Making a Good Match: Bird Seed and Bird Feeders” to learn more about what to feed your fine feathered friends.
7. Take a bird walk each day. Take your binoculars, your cell phone, a pen and notebook or Rite in the Rain All-Weather Birders Journal, and a field guide. Try and walk the same route at the same time each day and keep a journal of what you see. It’s amazing what you’ll find when you’re looking! If you hear an unfamiliar birdsong or sound, record it on the voice memo feature on your phone and try to identify it when you get home. There are great phone apps available that can help you identify or learn to identify birdsongs! Here are a few I’ve used, but there are many more to choose from.
6. Sign up for an online birding course through the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Bird Academy. There are free courses available as well as courses ranging from $29.99 to $239.99. Some of the courses include the Be a Better Birder series, Nature Journaling and Field Sketching, Think Like a Bird: Understanding Bird Behavior, and many more! Check out the entire course catalog here »
5. Listen to a birding podcast or two. If you’re not a podcast person, it’s time you give it a try! It’s really just online talk radio, and you get to choose who and what you want to hear. Most are free, and there are some fabulous podcasts out there for birders. Here are some of my personal favorites:
4. Schedule a weekly video call with birding buddies. Since it’s unwise for birding groups to meet right now, why not create your own bird club meeting online? You can set goals, compare lists, share ideas, and “talk birdy” to each other.
3. Send personal cards or notes to people who have influenced your birding journey. Do you have a favorite author, speaker, magazine, or bird club? Is there a birding mentor in your life you’d like to thank? Take a few minutes to gather a list of names and addresses and try sending an encouraging note to a fellow birder each day during the quarantine.
2. Become an eBirder (eBird). Join the world’s largest birding community and contribute to citizen science at the same time! It’s free, and it’s fabulous. You can also keep track of your birding lists, photos, recordings, and more, and find out what other birders are seeing, and exactly where—close to home and around the world!
1. Take a child (or family) birding. Is there a young person or family in your life who might like to join you at your favorite local birding spot? If you are all healthy and able to get outside, reach out to friends and family and offer to take them birding. Be sure to respect the rules of social distancing and quarantine in your area, but try and share the joy of birding with someone who can use some nature therapy during these difficult times. You’ll be glad you did!
Do you have other “Birdiful” ideas to add to this list? We’d love to hear about them! Share your ideas on our Facebook page »
About the Author
Wendy Clark is the president and publisher of Bird Watcher’s Digest, a career communications specialist, and an avid birder. She has three children and two grandchildren, and lives in Marietta, Ohio.