As we all adjust to the growing coronavirus outbreak, we’ve learned a new phrase -“social distancing” – actions to limit unnecessary contact with each other in order to limit the spread of COVID-19. When I first heard we should be avoiding crowds and staying home when possible, I couldn’t help but wonder, “What will I do with my time?” If you are like me, may I suggest birding. Now’s a good time to dust off binoculars if you have them, take a walk in the woods or put up a bird feeder in your yard.

Spring is coming and with it come those “from away”, and COVID-19 isn’t affecting them. Ducks, loons, warblers, and many, many more will soon arrive. If you have unexpected time on your hands, here are some suggestions I have: This is a free website from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. This is a great site for birders of any level. You will find videos, tips, tools and even online classes to help you learn about birds and identify those in your own yard. Find out about steps being taken to protect birds in Maine and how you can help.
Subscribe to Naturally Curious with Mary Holland, a Nature Blog that showcases birds, plants and animals of the northeast. You can subscribe for free at
Nature Walks. Trails at Valentine Farm, Bethel Pathway and Bethel Village Trails offer opportunities to get out but still maintain “social distance” from others.

How Many Different Birds? If you have children, consider creating a simple game of counting different types of birds. This can be played from a window, in the yard or on a walk. Make it a scavenger hunt. Younger children, even you, don’t need to know the names – just start noticing differences in the birds you see.

These are just a few ways to learn about birds and nature while at the same time observing the “social distancing” recommendations made by the public health officials in your area. So, in this time when we all need a break from the news, consider adding birding as a new hobby.

James Reddoch, of Albany Township and Boston, leads birding events for the Mahoosuc Land Trust. Visit Mahoosuc Land Trust at 162 North Road, Bethel, ME. To learn about upcoming events or to contact James, send your emails to [email protected]

Black-throated blue warbler. Charles J. Sharp photo


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