Birds are our love connection to nature
Feb 11, 2020
Starting on Valentine’s Day, from February 14-17, bird lovers worldwide will participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count, an initiative launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society to collect data from people about the distribution and abundance of birds.
Bird watching – or “birding” – has been a popular pastime since the Victorian Era and, today, is second only to gardening as the most popular outdoor activity in the United States. An estimated 57 million U.S. households feed birds.
Birding is a gateway to nature. It gets people outside, to enjoy fresh air and natural sounds, lift our spirits and improve our health. Psychological studies using birdsong show improvements in mood and mental alertness. In short, birds make you feel better!
Birds have an important role to play in our ecosystem. They eat insects that destroy crops, spread seed that contributes to plant growth, and are an early indicator of environmental degradation. Healthy bird populations are essential to our well-being and the natural cycle.
One way to see more birds is to feed them, which sustains them and helps to counteract the stresses of climate change and human development. Seeing a chickadee, cardinal, woodpecker or so many other colorful birds feeding in your backyard will open your eyes. This lens is the first step to seeing the rewards that these birds give to the world around us.
Want to get started? Your local Wild Bird Center store offers a variety of feeders – tube, hopper, platform, nyjer, nectar and mesh, as well as feeders that hold suet and seed cylinders – depending on what species you want to encourage to come visit. Call or visit WBC for advice on how to feed in your backyard and get the most out of this hobby.
When you look up, you never know what you’ll see! Maybe it will be a bird you see regularly or a new one to add to your bird list. The Great Backyard Bird Count is a great way to start or deepen your appreciation of birds. To take part, create an online account through the Cornell Lab. In 2019, GBBC participants in more than 100 countries counted more than 6,800 species of birds on more than 200,000 checklists!
You don’t have to go far to connect with nature; it’s waiting for you right in your backyard.
Photos by Carla Mason