Backyard Birding at Virus Time

Backyard Birding is a Thing – and a Temporary Way to Leave the News and Coronavirus Behind

In many ways, the coronavirus has stopped life mid-flight. We are not coming and going. We are staying. And that may be one of the silver linings to all this. We now have time to look around where we live, to notice things we ignored during our busy lives. For example, backyard birding.

I myself have been watching a pair of red-bellied woodpeckers construct a home in a dead palm tree in the yard of my next-door neighbor. The tap-hammering goes on from dawn to dusk. From time to time one of the birds pops out of the growing cavity to spit out a beak-full of sawdust which rains down onto the grass. This couple will soon be settling in to raise a family.

Backyard Birding
Male Cardinal

These birds – along with cardinals, mockingbirds, blue jays, palm warblers and other familiar neighborhood species – offer reassurance that the world has not been forever knocked off its axis.

“In a way this shutdown has forced us to take a little quiet time, stare out the window, sit out in the yard and watch nature right outside your doorstep,” says Gables resident Joe Barros, a dentist who is also president of the Tropical Audubon Society. “It takes you away from the constant barrage of the news. It’s a cleansing of the brain.”

backyard birding
Joe Barros

It is springtime, after all, and the air is filled with avian activity and birdsong, Barros points out. You might spot a bright red cardinal calling from a treetop. Also, a screeching mob of blue jays chasing away a Cooper’s hawk. Moreover, way up high, spy a circling pair of swallow-tailed kites, just arrived from Central America and looking for a nesting site. “It’s a beautiful time of year,” says Barros.

Expert birders like Barros keep life lists – every species they have seen, anywhere in the world – and yard lists. His life-long yard list, much of it from the Gables, is 92 species long.

backyard birding