For those in the northern hemisphere, spring is unfolding all around, flowers are blooming, and we wake in the morning to melodious birdsong. This season also marks the return of migratory birds, which are arriving in great numbers to find suitable habitats to breed and raise their young. It’s a beautiful thing to see. Unfortunately, many people will be unable to witness this amazing phenomenon this year, as the COVID-19 crisis forces us to stay home.
This could have been a problem for Spring Alive
, an international project encouraging children’s interest in nature and migratory birds. Their theme for 2020 is “how to be a good birdwatcher” –but thankfully, there are many ways to discover the wonderful world of birds from the comfort of your own home.
Birding is not limited to visiting nature reserves or sanctuaries. Birding can be enjoyed from your bedroom window or your back garden. Whether you live in the countryside or in a big city, if you pay attention, you should be able to see a wide range of species. Birding is something that the whole family can do, and it helps us to reconnect with nature. It’s far more than just identifying species: watching birds also gives us interesting insights into how they live, and how they interact with their – and our – habitat.
For some people, beginning a home-birdwatching journey may feel quite daunting. Don’t worry, it will be fine: help is all around you. You can find lots of useful birding applications online, available in many languages, and some of them are even free! The RSPB, BirdLife’s UK partner, has created a fantastic online identification simulator
that helps you identify the birds you see. If you’d rather avoid screens and stick to paper, you can print out an identification chart or use a book on the birds of your region – you can often order them from BirdLife partners’ online bookstores!
Are you already wearing your binoculars? Before you start birding, it is always useful to keep a notebook and pen handy to record the name of the species you spot. Keeping track of which birds you see is a fun thing to do, and you can also make it into a game with your colleagues, friends or family.
The best time of the day for birding is in the morning or late afternoon: that’s when our little feathered friends are most actively searching for food. Avoid the hottest times of the day, as that’s when birds tend to seek shelter and rest. And please be kind: do not cause birds any stress, and stay away from their nests. An ethical, respectful relationship with birds is fundamental to being a good birdwatcher.
So next time you stare out the window, longing for the day you’ll be able to wander about freely; take that time to put on your binoculars, and enjoy the beauty and wonder that’s already around you.