Birding in the Time of Corona
Many of us look forward to our monthly walks for a multitude of reasons. Personally, I enjoy the social aspect of gathering with other birders. I do quite a bit of solo birding, but I always look forward to every 3rd Saturday of the month, knowing I will be with like-minded folks for a few hours, finding mutual enjoyment in the natural world around us. Unfortunately, the March and April walks have been canceled, with only uncertainty as to when we will be able to safely congregate around our scopes and field guides again.
I have kept a yard list for years, but I had never done a Big Day from home. For those unfamiliar with the concept of a Big Day, the goal is simply to identify as many species as possible. Folks who are able and willing spend a whole day, beginning before dawn in hopes of finding owls, to well after dusk, traveling from hotspot to hotspot keeping a list along the way. In the past, LCAS birders have recorded over 150 species on Global Big Day!
An Instagram friend of mine suggested folks participate in a Backyard Big Day on April 1st. Photos can be seen by searching #BACKYARDBIGDAY. With little else to occupy my time, I happily joined in. With typical April Oregon weather—chilly and rainy—my count did not reach above 20. But limiting my attention to just the birds in my yard gave me the opportunity to really focus on behavior, plumage, and different calls. My feeder (see page 7) was full of finches all day, with the House and American Goldfinches seeming to take turns. A pair of Scrub-Jays spent most of the day sorting through sticks and flying off with their preferred branches, presumably for a nest nearby. It was a lovely day spent with no TV or podcasts to distract me. I just may make this the start of a Big Quarantine list.