Birdwatching – a way to connect with nature

Birdwatching is a popular activity in Newfoundland and Labrador. Now there’s a project to complete an atlas showing the distribution and number of breeding birds throughout the entire province.

Clifton Tam
Kicker

Jenna McDermott, a young woman wearing a white ball cap, a blue jacket and blue jeans, holds a camera to her eye next to a stream as she birdwatches. McDermott is the assistant coordinator of the Newfoundland Breeding Bird Atlas.
Jenna McDermott, assistant coordinator of the Newfoundland Breeding Bird Atlas, birdwatches in central Newfoundland. Organizers of a webinar series are hoping to recruit more birdwatchers to complete the Breeding Bird Atlas. Photo contributed by Catherine Dale

Around 140 people attended a webinar about identifying seabirds, gulls and terns on Feb. 6.

The Newfoundland Breeding Bird Atlas is hosting a free webinar series about bird identification. The series began Jan. 30 and will end on April 24. The webinars welcome everyone interested in knowing more about birds.

Jared Clarke, a birder with more than 20 years of experience in the field, highly endorses the webinar series.

Although he attended last year’s series and not this year’s, Clarke said from his experience the webinars are easy to understand and a good way for beginners and some junior birders to learn bird identification.

The webinars are scheduled every Monday from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Ducks and loons will be the theme of the upcoming webinar Monday, Feb. 13. Registration for the webinars are available online. Also, related videos about the webinars can be found on the Atlas website.

Catherine Dale, one of the organizers of the Birds of Newfoundland webinar series, says the project has a dual purpose. The goal for the webinar series is to expand the birding community while also looking for volunteers to help complete the Newfoundland Breeding Bird Atlas after people have gained a better understanding of birds.

It is a project of Birds Canada, which maps the distribution and relative abundance of breeding birds in the province.

Connecting to nature

“When you [can] understand what you are seeing outside, when you hear sound and you know what species [are] making it, when you can name something . . . just knowing what something is outside, (it) does make you feel more connected to the outdoor world,” Dale said.

Birdwatching is a pandemic-friendly activity, said Dale, as it allows for social distancing while birding.

Dale encouraged people to go birdwatching so they can appreciate the beauty of the province.

Clarke said birdwatching is an eye-opening learning opportunity. He was surprised there are so many kinds of birds in Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Just to enjoy it, it’s not all about the lists, how many different [kinds of] birds you’ve seen,” Clarke said. “It’s all about how much you enjoy it.

“The more I can learn about some (birds and) the more I can identify them, that added to the enjoyment.”


About the Author

Clifton Tam is a student journalist studying at College of North Atlantic. He loves sharing stories related to people’ lives.

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