Part of a series
Birding this spring means we’re stuck in our own back yards. But it doesn’t have to be boring, said Jenna Curtis, a project manager at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology who works with engagement among eBird users.
Jenna is a consistent and persistent birder, a role model whose species sightings can seem to grow at a viral rate. She could also be considered an extreme birder, someone willing to spend a day sick at sea to push her life list past the 1,000 mark. And now, just like us, Spring Migration 2020 finds Jenna mostly at home, watching the same-old, same-old birds.
Jenna and I had a phone chat about this situation yesterday. She’s sheltering in place in Ithaca, home of Cornell Lab and smack in the middle of the most dangerous state on the planet right now.
Before Jenna and I got to the crux of our conversation – how to use eBird to add depth and excitement to birding from home — I could not resist telling her about my Barred Owl that hoots from the nearby woods every afternoon between 4:30 and 5.
“Oh my gosh. You have an owl?” Her voice jumped nearly an octave. As I delivered the details of how I finally spotted the owl and how proud I felt, Jenna, bless her heart, followed along without missing a breathless beat.
So far this chat with Jenna was the best birding moment I’d had all week.
One of the great joys of birding is sharing the experience, finding a community of like-minded people who know what it feels like to crave the high-pitched, barely audible sound of itty-bitty warblers decked out in the glorious garb of spring.
I didn’t realize how much I’ve been yearning for my birding tribe in the midst of this godforsaken wilderness – a wilderness that’s not nearly wild enough to find the warblers I still need to add to my own life list.
“It’s hard to make the choice to stay at home right now rather than be with everyone else at your local hotspot for the migration,” Jenna said. “But you’re doing the right thing by following your local health regulations. Everyone needs to be following their local regulations right now.”