May 2020 Supplement

Virtual Birding in a Time of Isolation II

The lockdowns, quarantines, social distancing, and other anti-pandemic efforts persist despite easings. And they are not expected to completely end within the forseeable future. Continuing our supplemental resources for this troubling time, here are a few more.

First up is an opportunity to help some academic researchers from the EU who are social scientists and also birders. Their brief online survey in eleven languages (at last count) hopes to reach a global sample set, and offers both an occasion for introspection and a platform for describing the individual adaptations we've all had to make during isolations, potentially inspiring others. This reviewer offered working on these supplements as a way with coping with the current situation. The Questionnaire‬[1] includes an email contact for a "Prof. Dr." from Germany who is supervising the research, and who has also specialized in "Chronotypes"[2], analyzing what makes some people "early birds" or "night owls"!‬

One strategy this reviewer has used while missing regular birding outings with friends is to join sightings email lists from favorite travel destinations, allowing for vicarious long-distance birding. The Sialia[3] national list digest contains links to a vast opportunity for connecting with well-loved sites away from home. Alaska and Hawai'i are missing, but there's no reason not to participate in the Southeast Arizona[4] monsoon birding season! These lists offer a personal community experience eBird has not yet achieved for most users.

An unequaled global virtual experience can be found by joining Google Street View Birding[5],a Facebook group. Accessing the Google Maps collection of continuous roadside images, members scan the Earth for identifiable birds inadvertantly documented by the intrepid Google photomobile drivers and trail hikers. Although many group participants tend to concentrate on intensely birdy tropical countries like Sri Lanka, Thailand, etc., there's a world of potential sightings possible in essentially abandoned, "no man's land" areas which are still served by mapped roads. The DMZ[6] between North and South Korea (zoom in to see available detail), and the ghost neighborhoods of Chernobyl[7] come to mind. The private group's current "Life List"[8] with links and locations for all sightings (over 1100 on 4/20/20) is publicly available.

Rounding out this Supplement, and a complete change of pace, is a new series of participatory "webinars" offered by the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory[9]. Known for its contributions to public information and conservation advocacy, the SFBBO has begun Birdy Hour lecture/question events, streamed live and available in archive form. The first covered the use of social attraction through decoys and recordings to encourage the Return of the Terns[10] to Southern San Francisco Bay sites.

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