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Bird watching takes flight as people spend more time at home

Posted at 9:08 PM, May 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-07 23:52:57-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — As Rob Tudor sat in his Bellevue backyard on Thursday afternoon, he was able to call out the names of birds visiting his feeders with ease.

"That's a tufted titmouse that just landed there," Tudor said, pointing to a hanging bird feeder. "We’ve had a lot of finches as well."

But Tudor will admit he's no expert. In fact, he didn't start paying attention to the birds in his backyard until a couple of months ago.

"No, I didn't think I would know this much!" he said with a smile.

Tudor started watching the winged guests in March, when coronavirus concerns led to him working remotely and spending more time in the house.

"The more birds I saw coming, the more I wanted to put more seed out, the more I wanted to put another bird feeder out, too," Tudor explained. "And when you're at home you're trying to come up with creative ideas so you don't get cabin fever, and so for me it's just fun to watch them."

Tudor isn't flying solo with a newfound interest in bird watching. Downloads of the Audubon Society's bird-identification app have soared, doubling when stay-at-home orders started going into effect in March and April. In Tennessee, the Facebook group 'Tennessee Bird Watchers' added more than a thousand members in just a matter of weeks.

"I've noticed a major spurt in people wanting to join," group administrator John Akers Jr. said. Akers joined the group eight years ago, and said he didn't expect this kind of growth in his "wildest dreams."

"In the last 15 minutes I've added seven people," Akers said with a laugh. "Last week I had 300 people join!"

While the growth is unexpected, the seasoned bird watcher from Chestnut Mount understands why folks are flocking to bird watching.

"If you're stuck in the house its a real great way to kill time, I guess," Akers said. "It's totally free, all you have to do is look out your window or open your back door."

Akers was unsure if quarantine bird watchers will keep it up as things gradually return to normal.

"I'm kind of curious myself of how the group will grow," he said.

But Tudor said bird watching has turned into more than a stay-at-home hobby.

"It's been a real joy and I'll continue doing it, absolutely."