The letter below is from a birder who is also a physician and contains good information and reminders about birding while maintaining social distancing. Stay safe out there!
So I know
this is somewhat off-topic (and you are probably all sick of reading about
COVID-19), so admin please delete if inappropriate. But in my non-birding day
job I’m a physician, bracing for the ramping up of COVID cases and the
horrifying specter of lives lost to this disease.
It’s become abundantly clear that this is a disease that needs to be beaten on the public health front, not at the bedside. As a member of a wonderful, vibrant birding community, with many birders “of a certain age”. I feel the need to speak up a bit about our responsibilities to each other and to the country as a whole.
all heard, social distancing is key, and birding can be a wonderful form of
social distancing. However, it’s not social distancing when you are riding in
the car with other birders who don’t live with you. It’s not social distancing
when you are clustering in groups, and certainly not when you are sharing
optics such as scopes. Anyone of us can be exposed to the virus through
asymptomatic friends, so to restrict yourself to hanging out with people who
have no symptoms is not enough.
Since this began, I have gone birding once with another person. We met at the site, having come in separate cars. We kept 6 feet distance between us at all times, and did not share any optics. If you are not following procedures like that, you’re not social distancing. It’s also obviously important at more popular sites to avoid touching handrails that other people could be touching, as the virus can live on surfaces for up to three to five days. Frequent handwashing and use of at least 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer is also crucial.
It discourages me when I look on eBird and see multiple people reporting the same group checklist from a site. Maybe I am wrong, and they are all arriving in separate cars and keeping distance between themselves, but I doubt that’s the case. We are at a tipping point in this crisis, and as an educated and caring group we need to commit to doing everything we can to stop COVID-19. If we lose one member of our birding community because of this virus, it will be a tragedy. Make no mistake, if we do not change our behavior, that is near certain.
happy to answer anyone’s questions to the best of my ability. I’m in frequent
contact with Cape Cod Healthcare’s COVID-19 response team, keeping up with all
of the latest on testing and management of cases.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me anytime. I’m also on FB and can be messaged there.
Thank you for reading,
West Barnstable, MA