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More people taking up bird watching amid COVID-19 pandemic

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Posted at 1:48 PM, May 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-11 17:02:18-04

More Americans are taking notice of the wildlife right outside their windows. Bird watching is soaring amid stay-at-home restrictions.

A Nashville man says he started paying more attention to the birds in his yard in March. That's when he started working remotely.

"The more birds I saw coming, the more I wanted to put more seed out, the more I wanted to put another bird feeder out too, and when you're at home, you’re trying to come up with creative ideas so you don't get cabin fever and so for me it’s just fun to watch them," said Rob Tudor, a backyard birdwatcher.

Tudor has been using the help of the National Audubon Society's app. Downloads doubled when stay-at-home orders went into effect.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is also seeing double the number of users it would normally expect.

"It's doesn't matter if it's a robin or a cardinal or a jay, anything to a little warbler or something that's really exciting. If it makes you excited, that makes us excited," said Jenna Curtis, eBird Project Leader at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

If you're just getting started, Cornell’s Merlin app can help you identify birds using pictures or sounds. Its logging app, eBird, tracks statistics of observations.

"So, you can actually look at your own personal trends over time to better understand what you can expect at your home any given year," said Curtis.

Data from all over North and South America also helps in scientific and conservation projects.

Through an animated map on eBird's website, you can watch the migration patterns of the barn swallow. It's entirely based on submissions from app users.

ebird is averaging about 1 million individual bird reports every day. They say it's a mix of new users and enthusiasts taking the time to upload checklists they already had.