Birdwatching Takes Off as Americans Head Outside

Birds are their most active now, and bored Americans are noticing.

Sorry baseball, but the coronavirus pandemic has Americans looking to the skies for a new national pastime.

Interest in birdwatching is reportedly soaring as Americans emerge from quarantine with a newfound appreciation for the outside world. According to the Associated Press, downloads of bird identification apps have soared, and preliminary numbers show sales of bird feeders, nesting boxes, and birdseed have spiked.

Family Birdwatching
Chad Springer/Getty Images

"The world of birds is so much more vibrant and active than I'd ever realized, and once I paid attention, it just hit me in the face," Conner Brown, a 25-year-old law student turned birder, told the AP. "It's given me a reason to get out of the house, it's motivated me."

It's no coincidence that the birdwatching trend coincides with nesting season and peak migration for hundreds of species. Birds are their most active now, and bored Americans are noticing.

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The birdwatching of today is very different than the hobby your grandparents used to enjoy. Birdwatching has gone digital, and the younger set is taking full advantage of the latest technological advances.

Downloads of the National Audubon Society's bird identification app in March and April doubled over that period last year. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York, has seen downloads of its free bird identification app, Merlin ID, increase by 102% over the same time last year, with 8,500 downloads on Easter weekend alone.

Michael Kopack Jr. recently put up a birdhouse at his home in Angier, North Carolina, and is currently watching a pair of bluebirds hatch their eggs. "It kind of takes us back to a magical time six or eight weeks ago when there was no pandemic," he explained to the AP. "It lets me decompress and get away from everything that's going on in the world, at least for a little while."

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