I’m spending a lot more time in my garden watching birds as the world has slowed down and I have less need to be out and about. While some have entertained themselves baking bread or working on crossword and jigsaw puzzles, lots of others have taken on birdwatching. Let me pass on some stories that I read about recently about these newbie birders.
Conner B., a law student at Stanford, played “Pokemon Go”, a mobile video game when the virus outbreak first happened. Then it dawned on him that watching birds is just like collecting characters in Pokemon Go. He thought a game should be made of birdwatching. Well, somebody did. Wingspan is a card-driven competitive game dedicated to birds where the players assume the roles of bird enthusiasts — researchers, birders, ornithologists, and collectors — and try to attract the best birds to their specific wildlife preserves. Another is The Great North American Bird Watching Trivia Board Game. I know nothing about one called Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, apparently a very different birdwatching game but it seems fascinating from the description
And it’s not only puzzles. The Associated Press has reported that sales of birding merchandise are up 10 to 15 percent this year, according to Panacea Products Corp., a manufacturer of bird-feeding products.
In the Midwest, the Chicago Audubon Society has seen its Facebook group grow by 134% in the last month and 251 new members joined the society, a 12% increase.
A well-known bird identification app put out by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology was downloaded 8500 times during Easter weekend. Downloads of the National Audubon Society’s bird identification app doubled in March and April as compared to the same time last year.
Charles G., a Brooklyn resident, noticed a pigeon nesting in his window box planter. He became obsessed with the pigeon and its eventual offspring, posting regular updates to Instagram.
Rob T. was calling out the names of the birds visiting his backyard feeder – Tufted Titmouse, Blue Jay, and a bunch of finches. Before the pandemic hit, Rob neither knew nor cared much about birds. But more birds he saw, the more seed and the more feeders he wanted to put in his yard.
So COVID-19 may actually be good for the birds. Besides the fact that fewer of us are creating roadkills and polluting the air, more people are watching birds, in the outside or from the inside. The more of us that appreciate birds the more protection they are likely to get.
While researching, I looked at a number of newspaper sites and ran across The Daily Republic, a Solano County, CA, newspaper. Scrolling down an article about increased birding, I came upon some digital ads. One was from Whistling Wings Taxidermy in Nevada. It advertised, as the ad rolled from one phrase to another, All Bird Taxidermy, Recreated Artificial Birds, Taxidermy Only Birds and Create Artificial Birds. This was sort of confusing – are they selling artificially produced mounts of birds? I guess they are – that’s what their website shows. But if you go to their website, it also tells you how to ship your legally shot dead birds to them. In any case I found the advertisement odd, placed in the middle of an article on the increase in birdwatching.