Bird watching is the new spring sport; hobby soaring to new heights

Posted at 2:37 PM, May 21, 2020

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - You may be noticing the birds chirping a bit louder or more feathered friends gathered at your backyard bird feeder.

It seems the stay-at-home order has us all appreciating the little things.

"Birds are the gateway to nature and a window to the world around us," said Bill Portlock, Senior Educator with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

In the midst of a pandemic, as we all remain grounded, nature is still taking flight.

"We have the spring migration taking place with literally millions of songbirds moving through from Central and South America to their breeding grounds in Canada," Portlock explained.

Fans of the hobby and newfound birders now have a front row seat to nature's spring chorus.

"It is very relaxing to sit on your deck and watch little lives unfold," said Virginia Beach birdwatcher Pam Monahan. "When the pandemic happened, it was a great way to walk and be by yourself."

Monahan has been flying the coop for the past few months, flocking to the great outdoors with her camera and binoculars in hand.

"I like to watch them gather material from the earth - sticks, leaves, things like that," said Monahan.

Birding is soaring to new heights. Downloads of the National Audubon Society's bird identification app in March and April doubled.

"People like to identify things, and right now we are seeing cardinals, blue jays, robins and Carolina wrens," said Portluck. "If you live by water, you can see a lot of osprey flying fish back to the nest."

Portlock says all you need is a backyard bird feeder and some wild bird seed, even sunflower seeds. The best time to see the birds is first thing in the morning.

"If you are are able to plant native plants or trees or shrubs, that will enhance the habitat. You will have more birds that will feed on berries or insects," said Portlock.

A comforting way to cope amidst the chaos.

"It's really an educational thing for children and adults alike. I don't think you are too old or to young to get started," said Monahan.

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