Armchair Birding

By Ron Renchler

Although we all may wish otherwise, it’s quite possible that the statewide stay-at-home order issued due to the COVID-19 pandemic will still be in effect by the time you receive this issue of The Quail. The pandemic has all of us in an unfamiliar spot—staying at home as much as possible and keeping a distance of at least six feet between friends and strangers alike. Although bird watching, especially backyard birding, is still possible as an outdoor activity, we are all probably spending more time indoors than we’d like. 

But indoor time is great for armchair birding, especially given all the helpful online resources made possible by current technologies. If you have access to a mobile phone or computer and wi-fi, you can use some of your indoor time to explore and learn more about our fine feathered friends.

Lane County Audubon’s website has a Resources tab (laneaudubon.org/resources) where you can start your adventure. This page has links on a variety of topics, including Field Notes (monthly, going back to 2001), Christmas Bird Count Reports (annually, also going back to 2001), Vaux’s Swift Information, Birding Eugene (links to several birding locations in our area), Mt. Pisgah Arboretum Bird List, LCAS Informational Handouts (handouts produced by LCAS over the years), and Web Links.  (cont.)

Most of the resources on the Web Links page, laneaudubon.org/resources/links, are self-explanatory and well worth exploring. The page is conveniently organized into several topics, ranging from bird-related teaching materials to bird photography. 

One particularly useful resource under the Birding in Oregon heading is Oregon Birders Online (OBOL, also known as Birding News), which tracks daily listings of birds seen in various locations around Oregon, including Lane County: birding.aba.org/maillist/OR-7. The listings for early dates in April mention many sightings of backyard birds—a sign that people are heeding the stay-at-home orders that, for better or worse, help us learn more about the birds that show up in our own yards and neighborhoods.

Listed in the For Kids and Teachers section, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – Bird Guide: allaboutbirds.org/news/ is a wonderful resource where you can get lost for hours exploring links to all sorts of bird-related material, including a bird ID database that lets you search for and ID birds that you may or may not be familiar with. The All About Birds site has a lot of other informative material, too—live Webcams for several species of nesting birds, free and fee-based online classes, and more.

If you want to dig a little deeper into birding, check out eBird: ebird.org/home. Many of you already know about this tool for reporting your sightings and maintaining personal bird lists, but if you’re not familiar with it yet, this is a good time. It encourages citizen science and has become the go-to database for many ornithologists, climate change scientists, and others who track bird populations and other bird-related phenomena.

The Web Links page has information on many other topics such as: how to choose binoculars for birding, contact information for public officials, wildlife and conservation links, and more. The thumbnail sketches above barely begin to scratch the surface of the wealth of bird knowledge that is now at your fingertips. Happy armchair birding!