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Mental Health

Bird-watching Soars During Pandemic

Black and white warbler
Scott Kruitbosch for Connecticut Audubon Society
Black and white warbler

Spring is usually a busy time for bird enthusiasts since it’s peak season for bird traffic. But since the pandemic, interest in bird-watching seems to be soaring. 

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Tom Andersen, director of communications at the Connecticut Audubon Society, says the organization has seen a significant increase in pageviews on its website; specifically the page that lists the location of its 20 wildlife sanctuaries. 

“The number of pageviews on the sanctuaries page is up 70% over last year,” Andersen said. “To me, that means people are going to our website specifically to find out where they could get out of doors and enjoy a little bit of respite and nature.”

Crowding at the sanctuaries is a concern, Andersen said, but so far, it hasn’t been a problem. The organization is also seeing a lot of interest in its webinars -- a new venture since all of its in-person events had to be canceled.

“We limit them to 80 or 90 people, just so they don’t get out of hand, and they’ve been a big hit,” Andersen said. “We’ve done one on woodpeckers. We did one on backyard bird feeding. Patrick Comins, our executive director, did one last week on how to identify shorebirds.”

There’s no shortage of programs, groups and events. This Saturday is Global Big Day, an annual event in which birders across the world share their sightings on a database known as “eBird” run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

The Cornell Lab also has a bird identification app, which has reportedly seen the number of downloads increase more than 100% from last year.

The timing for new bird-watchers is perfect. “Species are migrating and establishing their breeding territories,” Andersen said, and birdsong is plentiful.

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