June 2020 Supplement

Virtual Birding in a Time of Isolation III

Although there have been recent, hopeful attempts to explore loosening, for many of us the lockdowns, quarantines, social distancing, and other anti-pandemic efforts still persist and even seem advisable. This third collection of supplemental resources is shorter than earlier ones, but possibly gives opportunities for some greater depth, as you'll see below.

The Richardson Bay Center of California Audubon has sponsored a free online drawing class with John Muir Laws, a noted author, illustrator, and popular "nature journalling" instructor. His engaging three-part bird drawing lessons[1] were streamed as a live, interactive event. The fast-moving, comprehensive sessions were recorded, and are now available on a YouTube playlist[2]. John Muir Laws is an exceptional teacher who combines technical virtuosity with a warm, human approach to his students. This one online resource alone could be profitably studied for years and always offer something new to the willing learner, locked-down or not. John's website[3] is a treasure chest of tools, tips, and techniques.

The American Birding Association (ABA) has created what they call their Virtual Bird Club[4], to try to make up for all the monthly local face-to-face meetings most of us are deeply missing right now. While some Audubon chapters are experimenting with Zoom meetings, the ABA has focussed more on the quality content of most program presenters, and their expanding "Bird Club" collection on YouTube[5], ably hosted by Nate Swick, demonstrates their success. You may need to forward the videos to get to the starting point, but the wait is worth it.

The Talkin' Birds[6] Ambassador Outreach coordinator from the Ray Brown radio show and podcast (see the Oct. 2018 article) has sent their "ambassadors" an excellent list of isolation-friendly activities. For our purposes, two really stand out. The first is an opportunity to expand the birding worlds of those among us who have accessability issues. The "Birdability" project from National Audubon combines crowd wisdom with high-tech wizardry. Know a good birding trail or location which is wheelchair/walker/impaired-mobility-friendly? Add it to the Birdability Map[7], using the standards and assessments you'll find there. Your reviewer has already added several local sites to the project, and plans to include many more from remembered trips near and far. Once we think of our favorite birding spots this way, we all have much to contribute!

In what may be the final entry in these lists of "supplemental" resources, now comes the second recommendation from Talkin' Birds that we'll pass on. Consider the most exotic birding location to explore, add a serious cognitive challenge, and you'll find that Birdlife Australia offers Crossbirds[8]. These would be hard (and fun) enough puzzles with familiar North American species, but try to solve them instead with Superb Fairy Wrens, Little Penguins, Emus, and the other antipodal avifauna, and it's game on! Need a refresher (or primer) for your virtual Aussie fill-in-the-grid adventure? Try their version of All About Birds[9], an encyclopedic compendium of photos, songs, and feathery facts from their island home. Love the look of that Australian Magpie? Mind the swoop!

The Bird Wide Web™ will be publishing a new article each month.

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