How to Make Lockdown Life a Little Easier, Courtesy of Birds
April 22, 2021
Update 2021: We wrote this post back in March 2020, when we were all just dipping our toes into the idea of life under the Covid-19 pandemic. In the meantime, thousands of people have made countless creative adjustments to live a socially distanced lifestyle. During that time, birds have brought both solace and connection to longtime birdwatchers and new practitioners alike. As we pass the one-year mark—and begin to look toward resuming a more normal life—we hope you’ll find these resources as relevant and useful now as they were a year ago.
This fight against coronavirus is serious and sobering. As we take it on, collectively, the only certainty seems to be that we’ll all be homebound for the next few weeks and months. At least we still have the outdoors as refuge and respite.
That’s not to diminish or deny what’s happening in any way—everyone is spending every moment to ensure loved ones are healthy and friends and coworkers safe. But during this time, when you can, let birds soothe you. When you’re ready for a moment of beauty, or a child needs something new to focus on, bring birds’ innate joy and hope into your life.
Are you a teacher prepping for a new kind of remote class? We’ll send you ideas. A grownup with kids on an unexpected “vacation”? Let them play games and learn. A casual birdwatcher with time on your hands—or an inveterate traveler finding yourself homebound? We can bring birds and bird song into your home—or let you explore the farthest reaches of the world in sounds and images. Read on for all our suggestions, and make things a little #BetterWithBirds:
Live Cams: Bring the Birds to You
Stream one of our Bird Cams for peace, beauty, and intimacy with wild creatures. Many of our users keep a cam streaming all day long just for the calming outdoor sounds that filter in.
Or watch a rotating cast of birds at our feeder cams:
- Ruffed Grouse and Evening Grosbeaks in snowy Ontario
- Blue Jays and Northern Cardinals at our offices in Ithaca, New York
- Tanagers and tiny toucans (called aracaris) in tropical Panama
Backyards: Still the Best Places to Go Birdwatching
One of the delights of birdwatching has always been that you can do it anywhere—including right at home. Take a quiet walk or enjoy a moment of reflection at your window: birds will be with you. Now is a great time to deepen your knowledge and appreciation with resources like these:
- Our free Merlin Bird ID app helps you identify more than 7,000 bird species on every continent. Answer 5 simple questions to get a short list of likely birds near you. And if you already have Merlin, don’t miss these 5 advanced tips, including amazing Photo ID.
- Practice the Four Keys to Bird Identification. Put names to the birds you see by focusing on Size & Shape, Color Pattern, Behavior, and Habitat. Learn from some of our experts through our Inside Birding videos.
- Play Bird Song Hero and brush up on birding by ear so you’re ready for the sweet songs of spring.
- If you do Project FeederWatch, we’re extending the season through the end of April so you can keep right on counting. And now’s the time to set up nest boxes—NestWatch has amazing resources at All About Birdhouses.
- Take our free eBird Essentials course to get the most fun from your outings, save your birding memories, and contribute to science.
Virtual Birding: Around the World with Videos, Quizzes, and Sounds
- Beautiful videos: Our YouTube channel has more than 400 captivating videos from some of the world’s most special places. From transcendent birds-of-paradise to ethereal loons to arguably the fanciest bird in the world, it’s all on our YouTube channel.
- Quiz yourself on birds from anywhere in the world. Our eBird Photos and Sounds quiz will create a multiple-choice quiz based on any location and time of year—for a quiz that’s different every time you play it. It’s addictive.
- Find any bird on the planet (almost): search our Macaulay Library archive for sounds, images, and video of more than 10,000 species. Pro tip: filter by “Best Quality” to jump straight to top-rated submissions, or log in and rate media yourself.
- Living Bird magazine has been delighting homebound travelers with stories and photos for more than 30 years. Some recent favorites cover the cutest owl in North America, amazing ways birds survive winter, and how feeder birds stack up in head to head competition.
- Is it dark where you live? It’s probably light in New Zealand and you can watch this albatross chick grow up.
Things to Do: Teachers and Families, We’ve Got You
We can help teachers and parents make the shift to online and at-home learning, with free resources and good ideas to keep students interested. In fact, our K–12 Education group has created a special weekly email full of science- and nature-focused ideas and activities for the duration. Click the link to sign up for the email, and get a fresh batch of new ideas each Friday.
Our Bird Academy project has a catalog of free learning games—amazing explorations of bird song, breathtaking artwork of bird families, the magic of feathers, and more. There’s even a video game that explores evolution and the hypnotic BeastBox, where you can use natural sounds to create your own hip-hop sound loops.
Bird Academy has a full set of deeper courses, from better birding tips to nature journaling to a full-scale ornithology course—and you can test drive each of them with a free lesson.
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