Wood Duck

Chris Bosak

A male wood duck swims across a pond in New England.

Coronavirus may have robbed us of our schools, normal work routine, hand sanitizer and toilet paper, but it hasn’t taken away our enjoyment of the outdoors yet. Hopefully it won’t even as scientists and officials put additional regulations on our lives almost daily.

Not that I am questioning or making light of the regulations. I understand the reasoning behind social distancing and sheltering in place. It is important to not let the virus get even more out of hand.

Experts have said that being outdoors is fine and even encouraged during this time. They do suggest avoiding crowds and maintaining a six-foot buffer between you and the next person, even outdoors.

That is fine for birdwatchers. Many of us like to enjoy our hobby either alone or with only a few people anyway, so avoiding crowds and maintaining distance is not a problem. The coronavirus crisis may even lead more people into this great hobby as they seek outlets from being cooped up inside.

Again, not to make light of the situation, but this drastic change of routine comes at a pretty good time as the spring migration is under way. I heard my first Eastern phoebe the other day and, to me, that is always the signal that spring is here. I know robins are the traditional harbinger of spring, but some robins remain with us all winter, so the phoebe has always worked better for me.

I want this crisis to be over as soon as possible, of course, but since we are in the situation we may as well make the most of it. What is that expression about life giving you lemons? For most of us, that means fortifying our already strong bonds with nature. As I mentioned before, for others it is an opportunity to get connected or reconnected with nature.

If this does drag on, which I hope it doesn’t, we will get to see the spring migration unfold in a way that otherwise would not have been possible if we had retained our normal work routines. Instead of tucked away in an office or cubicle all day, many of us who are now working from home can set up our work stations near windows — possibly even with views of bird feeders.

So, as most of us are stuck at home awaiting the OK to return to a semblance of normalcy, we may as well make the most of a bad situation and enjoy the outdoors as much as possible. So get outside, but remember to maintain social distance protocol as outlined by the experts and be safe.

And, of course, let me know what you find out there.

For the Birds runs Mondays in The Sentinel. Chris Bosak may be reached at chrisbosak26@gmail.com or through his website www.birdsofnewengland.com