How birds of the Pacific Northwest experienced the pandemic
“When you know things are more standardized, you are able to make comparisons with a smaller data set, and the comparisons you can make are a little more precise,” says Schrimpf. Using eBird data from 93 counties in North America, Schrimpf’s study of where eBird users saw birds showed a greater number of species in counties with stronger locks.
“It’s not just the things we build – roads and buildings and everything – but the way we use them that affects wildlife. And for the most part… all you have to do is reduce this human activity, and the birds will use the spaces more.
And more, for bird watchers and birds
Sanderfoot says there’s still a lot to study, but volunteers are creating a second season data set that will help answer some lingering questions.
“I didn’t expect to tell a story about human mobility… and I actually pushed myself to learn more about noise and light pollution and those other facets of urbanization often confused with air pollution that could help to explain why is, ”says Sanderfoot.
“I think a lot of people expected us to be able to observe birds more easily, and our study suggests that this was not true for all species, which creates this opportunity to think a bit more in a way. little more critical of how the birds might have changed their behavior. during lockouts, ”Sanderfoot says.
Bird populations change every year, Sanderfoot says, as do environmental conditions. This year is supposed to be warmer than 2020, which could somehow show up in the behavior of this year’s birds.
By noticing changes in the behavior of the birds and in their relationship to the environment, the volunteers noticed similar changes in themselves.
Reflecting the feelings of many participants, Santo Pietro did not consider herself an ornithologist before all of this. “I loved watching birds, but I didn’t know much about them. Before, you know, we could name crows and blackbirds, and then the others were little brown birds. “I found out that we had so many more birds than I thought, right after I was asked to look for them.”
Santo Pietro has since enrolled in bird identification and drawing classes through the Cornell Ornithology Lab, and has started writing a journal. She has several journals filled with drawings of birds, counts, environmental conditions and unusual sightings. “Once I started this I realized how much I didn’t know,” she says.
Campion identifies birds primarily by sound and can now hear the differences in calls. She is also more aware of how changes in the environment affect birds: the day after a wooded area behind her house was razed for development, her yard looked like a “bird airport,” says -she: They decorated the fences and cleared the sky, looking for a new place to live.
Birdwatching can be a “drug of passage” to much of nature, says Chuang. When she speaks, her ears are still scanning. “You don’t want to turn it off,” she said, gesturing to a harbor seal. If you want to know where to find birds, you have to know how to read the landscape. It shows a cotoneaster bush. “Eventually, you’ll want to know that there are some red berries that cedar waxwings love, and in some of my accounts last year there were said to be 50 cedar waxwings on this bush,” she says.
While the volunteers were stuck inside, some say the birdwatching even helped their sanity. Campion finds himself in his yard even outside of survey times to talk to the birds. She started gardening to spruce up her field of research. Santo Pietro says the investigative process has given him hope.
“Part of it was everything else was so hard and falling apart – and yet the birds are still building their nests, have to feed their babies and they still sing and, I don’t know, it really helped a lot. that way, ”she said. “There is something going on.”