December 20, 2021

A New Passion for ‘Birding’ Joins Older and Younger Generations

Episode description:  

As a young boy growing up on Long Island, host Ron Roel was an avid birdwatcher—or, as they’re known colloquially, a “birder.” Over the years, Ron’s passion and support of birds has continued to grow, like that of many older folks. But it’s not just a hobby for retirees anymore. Surveys over the last few decades have shown that birdwatching has been one of the fasting growing outdoor activities in America, along with hiking, skiing and camping—and one of the largest increases in interest has occurred among people in their 40s.  More recently, birding has surged during the pandemic. Not surprising, perhaps. It’s a healthy, inexpensive activity. It gets us outdoors, connecting us to nature. It’s relaxing and calming, but it can also be challenging and socially engaging. In today’s episode, Dr. Miyoko Chu, Senior Director of Communications at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, offers a wide-ranging conversation about the state of birds—and what it means to the future of our planet. Trained as an ornithologist and science journalist, Myoko works with the lab’s staff, supporters and partners to engage people of all walks of life in learning about birds and protecting the natural world. She’ll talk about how the lab is exploring cutting-edge technology and citizen-science participation to transform people’s experiences with birds and to advance science and conservation. While field guides remain traditional sources for identifying birds, innovative apps and websites are speeding up the results. Myoko has helped create and deliver content that provides interactive online experiences through platforms such as the Lab’s All About Birds website, the Merlin Bird ID app, Bird Cams, and Living Bird magazine. During the current pandemic, eBird observations have led to some provocative conclusions: 80 percent of the bird species examined were reported in greater numbers in human-altered habitats during pandemic lockdowns. And as we mark the Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count, we should also note that in this holiday season of gift-giving, birds are one of the nature’s supreme (and vulnerable) gifts to humanity.

Guest description:

Dr. Miyoko Chu is Senior Director of Communications at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, a nonprofit organization that engages people of all walks of life in understanding and protecting birds and nature through research, lifelong learning, and citizen science. An ornithologist and science journalist by training, she helped create the Cornell Lab’s Merlin Bird ID app, and authored Songbird Journeys: Four Seasons in the Lives of Migratory Birds, and Birdscapes, a pop-up book in stereo sound. Her team at the Lab of Ornithology helps create interactive online experiences for learning about birds through the All About Birds website, Living Bird digital magazine, and live Bird Cams.


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   Twitter: @cornellLab

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Miyoko Chu with a Florida Scrub Jay

Miyoko Chu with a Florida Scrub Jay

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