By Jeff Osmundson
Has COVID been good for birds and birding?
This week Colleen (I’ll call her my sweetheart as I’m writing this on Valentine’s Day) had yet another phone call with someone who was asking about birds, or bird feeding, or bird watching, or birding locations. Several of our friends and families have asked to be introduced to birds and locations, how to buy binoculars, what books to read and where to go. We are happy to be asked and have fun introducing people to the joys of birding.
Due to Covid-19 there is a boom in Zoom. We have been to very interesting meetings that took place all over the state of Washington and beyond. While we would rarely be able to attend other Audubon chapter meetings or Washington Ornithological Society meetings, we have been fortunate to attend fascinating presentations from across Washington State and beyond. We have been privileged to be able to see these programs without driving and from the comfort of our own homes and offices.
So, has Covid-19 been good for birding? Yes, I think so.
Among the many changes spurred on by the pandemic, we also saw a growing movement in support of racial equality and social justice. Many environmental organizations, including National Audubon Society, have taken steps over the past year to address racist practices and make the outdoors more inclusive to people of all backgrounds.
Then what should we do about using this as an opportunity to promote and provide for resources so that people might enjoy our type of outdoor recreation with respect for the birds, other wildlife, and public and private property? I believe it is time for our chapter to step up, as National Audubon has suggested. With that in mind, we have formed a new Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee that will be working on addressing these issues. If you would like to get involved or have opportunities in mind for making our organization more welcoming, please do not hesitate to reach out to our committee chair, Kim Nelson. You can be part of this if you wish.
We can look at Covid-19 as a terrible year of isolation or we can take this opportunity to build on a different way of doing things to enhance our Audubon Society and our mission. For those of you that have not reviewed our mission statement, here it is.
Our mission is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity.
Until next month, stay safe, wear a mask, and wash your hands. What’s the best time to go bird watching? When you can!