Manage episode 358583775 series 3321033
I felt trapped early in the pandemic. I normally walk every day in downtown Toronto. I write on park benches and in distant coffee shops and love popping into bookstores and bumping into friends. I am very privileged in that I get to travel one or two days a week, too. But then: the pandemic. It hit hard and I was suddenly sitting in a makeshift office upstairs. Staring at four blank walls and peering out a glass door into the trees and electrical wires outside. And then I saw it. A bird! A bird I'd never seen before! It was ... a robin? No. Way bigger than a robin? And the chest was red but ... the rest looked different. Some white. Was it a woodpecker? I ran downstairs, got some binoculars, and then downloaded the Merlin ID app a friend had told me about. Within a couple of minutes more of looking and using the app: I had it! It was a Rose Breasted Grosbeak. Later that day my wife and I put together a (desperately needed) trampoline in the backyard ... and the bird didn't fly away. The next day I noticed there were three of them. Maybe four. My kids started jumping underneath them. It seemed like everyone was smiling at each other. It was a strange bit of connection in that suddenly-so-disconnected time. I felt less ... speciesist? Just more aware of all life. All energy. It helped me zoom out from my mind chewing on problems and worries. I got hooked on birdwatching. I became... a birdwatcher. I am, today, as I stand here beside you, a birder. Yes, hearing them counts. For me, I got hit by the birding bug in 2020. It really has changed my life. Now when I touch down in a new city, time zone, or airport... I go birding. I reconnect with the natural world. I practice shinrin-yoku and really feel my cortisol and adrenaline lowering. Basically: I recombobulate. And I have made wonderful friends birding through the eBird app -- shoutout to Tommy in Phoenix, JC in Jacksonville, Dave in Vegas, and Alannah in Newfoundland! -- and have found birding a wonderful source of conversation, beauty, exercise, nature, perspective, inspiration, and community. I even wear the big hat and khakis now and get a kink in my neck in the Spring. As I write this (March 20th, 2023) my life list is 401 after my first Snow Buntings and Wild Turkeys last week. I even snuck a couple of birding entries into OUR BOOK OF AWESOME, which as of now has spent 12 weeks on the international non-fiction bestseller list thanks to you! (Thank you so much and, if you don't have a copy, get one here. It was a pleasure to be interviewed by Jody Allair of Birds Canada on the wonderful Birds Canada podcast "The Warblers." late in 2022. Birds Canada is a non-profit run by extremely passionate people with the mission of driving understanding, appreciation, and conservation of birds in Canada. Leslie and I donate to Birds Canada and, if you're interested, you can donate here.
Thank you sincerely to Patrick Nadeau, Jody Allair, Andrea Gress, Kate Dalgleish, Kris Cu, José Mora, Alex Nicole, and the entire Birds Canada team.
You can find show notes and more information by clicking here: https://www.3books.co/chapters/birding-with-birds-canada
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