Being a Curious Birder

As kids went back to school via screen last August, the originators of “Screen Time into Green Time” got in the game. Dedicated to enhancing parks, programs, and play, American Canyon Community and Parks Foundation (ACCPF) released Curiosity Kids in September. Hosted on their website and YouTube channel, this video series features short tutorials on how to enjoy the outdoors and get a “daily dose” of nature.

Hosted by Miss Joy, and often featuring her two children, the first month of Curiosity Kids introduced activities such as nature journaling, planting a root view cup, or hunting for rainbow colors in the garden. I was thrilled to team up with Miss Joy and her crew to offer a few weeks of Birding Basics!

Birding Basics covered topics like how to pick a “sit spot,” bird watching while on a walk, identification tips, and attracting birds to your backyard. At just five minutes each, these videos offer a glimpse into how to become a curious birder.

This video introduces basic tips for attracting more birds to your backyard.

Although I’m still new to teaching outdoor youth birding classes, collaborating on this video project was very rewarding. It even motivated me to get outside more myself! I installed a feeding station in my yard and signed up to participate in Project FeederWatch, a citizen science effort to count backyard birds through winter.

While researching the topics for Birding Basics, I learned a lot about how important birding has become for people during the shelter-in-place restrictions. The September issue of Bay Nature published a great story that featured three women birders and shared experiences of Oakland, CA neighbors connecting (from a distance) to watch the birds in a nearby snag.

Backyard birdwatching is lifting people up during the pandemic, social change, and political tension.”

Now that the weather has shifted and we have reason to be even more aware of public health and safety guidelines, it’s critical to find an activity that can be a refuge. Virtual book clubs, online classes, and home improvement projects are a great start, but to really keep your mind, body, and spirit well-nourished, consider taking up an outdoor activity. Becoming a curious birder may be just the antidote you need to get through 2020!

Birding has never existed in a vacuum apart from society, and right now the health crisis and social movements happening around the world are intersecting with birding in interesting ways.

by Marissa Ortega-Welch

Becoming a Curious Birder

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