A surprising thing happened at the Wild Bird Unlimited store in Raleigh, N.C., when the pandemic struck and shut down almost all of the retail stores that surrounded them.
Suddenly, their business started booming.
All kinds of new customers, stuck in their homes at the height of the spring migration, began tuning in to the nearby birds, often for the first time. Demand jumped for feeders, bird seed and the birding supplies that Wild Birds specializes in.
“We worked out a way to have curb-side service,’’ said Arlette Early, who helps operate the shop. “It was so busy.’’
The widespread embrace of birding is one part of an unexpected phenomenon unfolding in the midst of the pandemic. At a time when many species have been in decline for years, the slowed economy, reduction in human activity and the growing interest in birdwatching could end up helping birds in ways nothing else has.
The relief could be momentary, and some worry that the push to restart the economy now underway could run over wildlife protections and end up making conditions worse than before the virus.