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13 Virtual Bird and Conservation Events to Tune In to This Spring

While COVID-19 may have canceled your favorite festival, the internet still offers plenty of ways to satisfy your love of birds.

Spring is here, birds are back—and most of us are stuck inside due to COVID-19. As a result of the pandemic, organizers have canceled the birding festivals, walks, and other avian-related group activities that birders flock to each spring. But while you may not be able to celebrate your love of birds in the physical company of others, online alternatives abound. 

Across the country, organizations and institutions are hosting online webinars, lectures, and other events for bird lovers to enjoy this spring. So mark your calendars and get ready to start exploring—from the couch, or close to home. We've highlighted some Audubon events below, but to see a full list, visit its newly launched online events page

I Saw a Bird; Wednesdays

The National Audubon Society’s weekly I Saw a Bird show brings the camaraderie and curiosity of the birding community into your home. Hosted by Audubon’s social media producer, Christine Lin, and chief network officer, David Ringer, I Saw a Bird showcases a fun, rollicking chat that is sure to educate and entertain. The first two episodes discussed spring migration and native plants, and featured guests including SNL’s Melissa Villaseñor and actress Lili Taylor. The show airs every Wednesday at 7 p.m. on Facebook Live and Zoom. More info: http://audubon.org/isawabird

Bird Friendly Fridays

Tune in at 2:00 p.m. CT on the Audubon Riverlands Facebook page for entertaining and informative presentations on all things avian. Past topics include DIY window-collision solutions and a how-to session on building a backyard bird sanctuary. Catch up on past presentations on Youtube any time after 5:00 p.m. CT on the day each session airs. More info: https://riverlands.audubon.org/programs/virtual-bird-friendly-fridays

Virtual Field Trips; April 22, April 29, May 6

If you’ve never been to the Keystone state, here’s your chance to take a virtual stroll through some of its vibrant nature preserves from the comfort of your computer chair. These field trips, led by members of Audubon Pennsylvania, will transport you to mellifluously named places like Honey Hollow and Shenks Ferry, where you’ll learn all about the state’s native flora and fauna. More info: https://pa.audubon.org/events

Shenks Ferry Wildflower Preserve. Photo: H. Mark Weidman/Alamy

Virtual Earth Day Art Show; April 22

In celebration of Earth Day, the Missouri-based Columbia Earth Day Coalition is fielding submissions for a virtual art show around the theme of climate change. Organizers are encouraging artists of all skill levels to interpret the intentionally broad theme in any way they please, to elicit a wide variety of perspectives and styles. The show will feature works across mediums. More info: https://www.facebook.com/events/222382578812963/

Science on Tap: Finding Joy in Birds; April 22

Nicole Michel is here to help you elevate your love of birds. Michel, a senior quantitative ecologist with the National Audubon Society, will be giving a wide-ranging talk that will delve into the basics of backyard birding, how technology is shaping what scientists know about bird migration, and more. More info: https://viaproductions.org/events/online_april_23_birds/

NYBG at Home; April 22-25

For Earth Day’s 50th anniversary, the New York Botanical Garden is hosting an array of online programs. The celebration begins with a talk by Richard Powers on his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Overstory. The following days feature multiple online workshops on taking part in community science projects, from observing and documenting nature to transcribing historical documents that help provide a greater understanding of our modern natural world. More info: https://www.nybg.org/event/take-action-with-citizen-science-webinar/

New York Botanical Garden. Photo: Linda Harms/Alamy

Sunset Session Livestream; April 25 

Bring the sweet, soothing sounds of a spring evening into your home with this live stream from the Greenwich Audubon Center. The session will not feature narration, but questions for attending chapter naturalists are encouraged. More info: https://greenwich.audubon.org/events/sunset-session-livestream-2

What Makes a Bird a Bird?; April 27

This online class hosted by Portland Audubon goes beyond the anatomical particulars that make a bird a bird, but field biologist Greg Smith will also cover those particulars. Attendees will also learn about avian taxonomy and the story of how birds evolved to become the captivating, varied creatures that we see today. More info: https://audubonportland.org/event/whatarebirds/

Backyard Birdathon; May 2

Spring, with its abundance of birds, is usually a great time for a birdathon: Participants compete to see who can rack up the most species within a given area over a specific timespan, and they rally supporters to pledge a lump sum or per-bird dollar amount that goes to avian conservation. Aullwood Audubon, in western Ohio, is taking its annual competition virtual, inviting birders everywhere to tally as many birds as they can from 6:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.. Safety is key: Participants are encouraged to compete from the comfort of their kitchen window, backyard, local park, or anywhere where they can practice social distancing. Birders list their sightings—and any photos they want to share—on Aullwood Audubon’s Facebook page. More info: https://aullwood.audubon.org/events/aullwood-backyard-birdathon-2020

Downy Woodpecker. Photo: Sujata Roy/Audubon Photography Awards

Pelee Island Bird Observatory Online Gala; May 9

Anyone can attend this year’s gala for the Pelee Island Bird Observatory, located in Lake Erie’s Canadian reaches. The festivities kick off at noon (at whatever time zone you’re in) on May 8 with a 24-hour birdathon; participants from near and far will post their results online. The evening gala will feature door prizes, speakers, and a virtual dinner. The event is free, but anyone who shells out for a ticket will be eligible to win door prizes and receive an autographed copy of a book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Margaret Atwood—the host, who will open the evening, as tradition demands, by conducting The Rubber Chicken Choir in singing Old Macdonald Had a Farm and Bye Bye Blackbird. (Dig out your rubber chicken; they do the chorus.) More info: http://pibo.ca/en/category/online-gala/

World Series of Birding; May 9

Like its major league namesake, the World Series of Birding is the premier competition of its kind. For 37 years, teams of birders have set out at midnight, scouring New Jersey to find as many species as they can over a 24-hour period that Audubon has called “birding’s most dramatic.” Over its nearly four-decade run, the event has raised more than $9 million for bird conservation.  This year, organizers have replaced the traditional competition with a “Special Edition.” Participants must focus on a home patch within 10 miles of their home, adhering to local COVID-19 safety regulations, and, in a twist that greatly expands the potential for sightings, teams can be composed of members in any of the 18 in the Atlantic Flyway, from Main to Florida. More info: https://worldseriesofbirding.org/

World Migratory Bird Day; May 9

In celebration of World Migratory Bird Day, organizations around the world will hold events dedicated to these feathered travelers. Houston Audubon will be holding its first ever online-only World Migratory Bird Day event, featuring art contests, workshops, birding competitions, and more. Multiple organizations in Klamath Falls, Oregon, are banding together to offer a mix of activities for bird-lovers of all ages, from interactive games that teach bird anatomy to instructions for creating avian-themed origami to tools for learning to identify birds by ear . The World Migratory Bird Day website hosts a map of events happening across the globe. More info: https://www.migratorybirdday.org/  

Birds n’ Beer; May 21

Birds n’ Beer offers the opportunity to kick back, crack open a cold beverage of your choosing (beer is, of course, the most popular option), and learn about the natural world. The next installment of this casual, free lecture series from Arizona Audubon will feature a presentation from two Arizona conservationists on preserving the state’s smallest native fish, the Gila Topminnow. More info: https://riosalado.audubon.org/programs/birds-n-beer-0

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