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January 15, 2021

Birdwatching may be the key to relaxation during pandemic lockdown

Cooper's hawk face with beak open.

South Grey News | Birdwatching key to relaxation

A Cooper's hawk gets up close and personal. Photo: Nigel Eves


BY SOUTHGREY.CA STAFF— The National Audubon Society has said that birdwatching is one bright spot in a pandemic-stricken economy. While many retailers have witnessed a significant decline in sales due to restrictive measures rolled out by governments all around the world as well as here in Ontario, seed suppliers and birdhouse businesses are booming.

A meadowlark flashes his vibrant yellow breast crossed by a distinctive, black, V-shaped band. Photo: David Turner 


“Birdwatching is a satisfying hobby,” said Harry Fuller, a leader in the international birding community. According to the well-known author and ornithologist, it comes down to three things... it’s free. It’s easy. And it’s fun!

Locally, the Beaver Valley Birding Facebook page has seen many new members joining this past year, sharing their bird photos and experiences online and these three things have been put on full display. "I started the page to show my photo's and get some local birders involved with birding," said David Turner, Beaver Valley Birding administrator. "It just took off. It has started a great community of local birders."

Snowy owl sitting on snow

Driven by a search for food, snowy owls are appearing in large numbers, further south in central and eastern Canada. Photo: David Turner

But there may be one more reason to take up with our feathered friends. A 2017 study from the University of Exeter in England found that people living in neighbourhoods with more birds and tree cover are less likely to experience depression, anxiety and stress. Peace of mind and better health may be the hidden rewards of this natural pursuit.

Bohemian wax wing with wings spread wide.

A Bohemian waxwing shows off it's broad wingspan. Photo: Nigel Eves 

We don't even have to leave our houses to enjoy a wide variety of species that regularly visit Grey County backyards. From ground fowl to songbirds to birds-of-prey, they're all here. You just have to look! But a quick, appropriately-gathered and socially-distanced trip to any of our trails, forests or natural open spaces will reveal many more, sometimes rare bird sightings.

A member of the finch family, this redpoll tries to stay warm on a frosty branch. Photo: David Turner is another online way to share birding observations and photos with a community of educators, scientists and birders. According to ebird, hundreds of thousands of people are joining a growing field of bird enthusiasts. The website charts the movements and needs of birds on a global scale. It also sleuths the best birding hotspots at any time of the year. 

Ruffed Grouse

A ruffed grouse has well-camouflaged plumage but is easily recognizable against the white snow. Photo: Robert Pointer 

The Beaver Valley Birding community occasionally arranges birding hikes locally. During the current lockdown, only five people or less can attend one of these excursions. More can join, once gathering restrictions ease. These events are disseminated to Beaver Valley Birding members on their private Facebook page but all interested people are welcome to follow this group.

Downy woodpecker on a post.

A downy woodpecker looks for food. Photo: Ingrid Remkins

Grosbeak in a pine tree

A Grosbeak finds nourishment in a spruce tree. Photo: David Turner


At South Grey News, we endeavour to bring you truthful and factual, up-to-date local community news in a quick and easy-to-digest format that’s free of political bias. We believe this service is more important today than ever before, as social media has given rise to misinformation, largely unchecked by big corporations who put profits ahead of their responsibilities.

South Grey News does not have the resources of a big corporation. We are a small, locally owned-and-operated organization. Research, analysis and physical attendance at public meetings and community events requires considerable effort. But contributions from readers and advertisers, however big or small, go a long way to helping us deliver positive, open and honest journalism for this community.

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