From hobby to obsession: How birding is sweeping the nation

Local News

ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) – Going from a hobby to an obsession. That is what birding has turned into for some people that have been stuck at home. 

“Even if I’m focused on another activity, I’ve been doing this for so long, I’ll just pick up on things,” said Greg Lawrence, a research scientist at the College and Brockport, “There’s an oriole singing right there behind me by the way.” Lawrence has been birding for years and says his friendS, family, and co-workers continue to ask him about birding as interest continues to grow. 

Some common birding spots around Rochester are Cobbs Hill, Hyland Park, Braddock Bay, and Hamlin Beach. Western New York is a place where birds can stop and rest before continuing to fly north to Canada as temperatures warm. “Everything is singing. All of the birds are coming back from places south of here, even down in South America where a lot of these birds winter. They’re all arriving right around now, in May.” 

The timing of birds emerging has been right in line of when people are continuing to stay home from COVID19. This has inspired people to try to bring the birds to them. “We get a lot of phone calls,” said Patti Pirz, “we have two phone lines so we’re constantly busy.” Pirz is a manager at The Bird House in Pittsford and has been offering curbside pickup since the crisis started.

While they have plenty of regular customers, the store has seen a lot of new aspiring bird watchers. “We’re getting a lot of people that are just so excited, saying, ‘I’m working from home and I’m bored and I put a feeder out and it’s making me happy’.” 

The recent record cold has slowed blooming of flowers, so there have been fewer bugs. That has helped bring birds to the feeders, something that is a good secondary food source for birds like the oriole. “You’re not taking the birds out of nature by having a bird feeder, when it warms up your bird feeder becomes a secondary source of food for them,” said Pirz. She suggests to make a hummingbird snack with one-part sugar and five-parts water. Boil the water and it will be good for about ten days. 

Orange slices or grape jelly can attract orioles according to Lawrence. He also suggests to download Merlin as an app to help track birds. You can also log sightings at E-Bird

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