In August, we asked a group of some of our most loyal and engaged members (who participate in Audubon's Donor Insight Panel survey) to share how birds have been a comfort for them during the pandemic, and if their relationship with birds has helped them through 2020.
More than 600 members shared their heartfelt stories with us. We found ourselves nodding along as we read each account. We hope they offer you the same sense of peace and understanding. The birds we love will continue to soothe us all during these difficult times.
Here are eight of our favorite recollections:
Carolina Wren (above)
"Birdwatching has been a solace to us. Since we are home now, we notice more events in the bird world. We had at least one brood of Carolina Wrens and just last week a brood of four American Robins fledged from a nest near a window. We were able to see the incubation, the nestlings and then the fledglings. Nature has truly been a gift during these difficult times. We are kept busy feeding the birds and filling bird baths."
"I have some bird and hummingbird feeders in my tiny backyard. The birds swoop in and feast. The hummingbirds have to share their feeder with a Gila Woodpecker and then sometimes fruit bats come in at night. Watching them is a constant source of delight and gives me lots to think about. In the fall, I am going to plant some of the native plant species that bees and butterflies like as well."
—Mary W., Tucson, Arizona
"Birdwatching or 'bird-noticing' unconsciously forces one to be in the moment. This is true mindfulness, to be utterly present with all one's senses, fully in that moment of a flash of feathers; the lilt of a familiar songbird; the startling cry of a raptor, just a silhouette circling in the sky above. It may be just moments or minutes, but a good 'bird break' lowers the heart rate, relaxes the shoulders, deepens one's breathing...and reminds us that no matter the concern, worry or issue, beauty is all around."
—Trisha S., Fort Worth, Texas
"Watching the birds in my backyard and on walks has been entertaining and a learning experience. Chickadees, Tufted Titmice and even wrens love to drink from the ant cups set up for my hummingbird feeders."
—M. Susan E., Hingham, Massachusetts
"It eases my mind to watch so many birds coming to my back garden feeders and birdbaths. There is a joy in watching them splash around in the baths. My husband calls it their pool party. Makes me smile."
—Carolyn M., San Antonio, Texas
Black-throated Gray Warbler
"During this spring migration, I got outside daily in my neighborhood to watch spring unfold and see what birds were around. These daily walks helped me to maintain my sanity. From the first northbound Turkey Vulture in March to the last lingering warbler in May, I got to see a full parade of spring migrants."
—Doug S., Seattle, Washington
"I come from a family of bird lovers and their presence has always been a huge part of my everyday existence. The pandemic has been great for enjoying them at all hours of the day and early evening. From the hummingbirds to the bluebirds, they all lift my spirits and calm my cares. What a gift to be able to enjoy them everyday in my own yard!"
—Terry H., Hendersonville, North Carolina
"Birdwatching is always about storytelling, which I find soothing to the soul. I hear the Red-eyed Vireo in the woods. It's fall, so I know soon it will be more active and get closer to my yard for Pokeweed berries to prepare for migration. Listening to bird song connects me with something greater than myself. Being aware of life's eternal cycles is always humbling—always a good place to be."
—Nancy B., Dayton, Ohio
If you are interested in participating in our Donor Insight Panel Survey, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.