The Oracle

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s definitely a bird. . .

Carter MacDonald, Viewpoint Editor

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Bird-watching, in simplest terms, is watching birds for recreation purposes.  Since birds will be more active than ever with our very warm spring, so now’s the time to learn about the hobby of bird-watching, the fastest growing outdoor activity in America.
Everyone can be on the lookout.  The most primitive form of bird-watching is simply observing birds.  One Spartan said that bird-watching sounds like it could be interesting.
“I haven’t [bird-watched], no,” said senior Michael Rodgers.  Yet he does like the sound of it.  “I like the outdoors, so it sounds like a lot of fun.  I would be joining a group to go.”
Those who are more interested, however, buy special equipment, such as binoculars, a field guide, and a notebook.  Another piece of technology would recognize bird vocalizations to better pinpoint the location and sex of any birds.  If all this equipment sounds intimidating, it’s not necessary.
Bird-watching can also be an opportunity to exercise your photography and videography skills.  To cherish your photos longer, post great (or not) photos and videos on social media.
It is important to read up and avoid common mistakes before getting into birdwatching.  For instance, being loud and wearing bright colors can scare birds.  You should also know that birds are most active in the early morning, and that sea birds prefer low tide.
Bird-watching helps the environment—that is, when people respect their surroundings and not litter.  Bird-watchers use their observations to collect data about birds and the environment around them.
“Bird-watching relates to many, if not all, environmental issues,” said AP Environmental Science teacher Patrick Boyd.  “For example, bird-watchers have noted declines in numbers of many species as a result of habitat loss, overharvesting, pollution, the ongoing destruction of the marine environment, and increasing domination of the planet by humans.”
Perhaps the most important environmental factor that has affected bird-watching in climate change.  While you may appreciate our warm spring, it can have some less-than-nice consequences.
“Changes in weather patterns, including in the timing and severity of storms and the distribution of precipitation, which are believed by the majority of scientists to be effects of global climate change, have affected birds,” said Boyd.  “For the past three years, tropical storms have been noted in the Atlantic Ocean as early as April, far in advance of the ‘normal’ hurricane season that traditionally begins in June.  These storms have the potential to disrupt spring bird migration, which occurs primarily in April and May.”
There are various commitment levels when it comes to bird-watching, from disregarding this article to becoming a pro and everything in between.  It can be fun, relatively inexpensive activity, from which one can learn to better appreciate nature and the planet.  There’s one last piece of advice to know.
“The general public should know that birds are indicators of the planet’s health, and as such, it is important to monitor their status and conserve them.  This is an important function provided by birdwatchers.  Remember, there is no plan B,” said Boyd.

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West Springfield High School Newspaper
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s definitely a bird. . .