This wretched pandemic has been – and still is – catastrophic. Indeed, for some, it has been tragic.
In looking desperately for a bright side, the lockdowns might actually have recruited new troops for the battle to restore Nature. A battle we are now losing but must win.
On Thursday, February 25, our local newspaper, The King Weekly Sentinel, ran a front-page photo of a barred owl. The bold caption read, “Majestic visitor graces King forest.”
The editor knew that, in these unusual times, his readers would be captured by the magic of a beautiful local bird. Tired of sitting at home and staring out our front windows at the street, we are stepping out into our backyards and beyond … and noticing the everyday wonders of the natural world.
In early March, while taking a physically distanced walk with seniors along a forest trail, we glanced into a deer track in the snow. There we spotted jumping springtails, aka snow fleas, not much bigger than a comma.
Snow fleas? Our friends had never heard of such a thing and suddenly wanted to find their own snow fleas and learn all about them. For days afterwards, we received email links to snow flea facts and photos. Our friends were blown away by this new find, this glimpse at the marvel of biodiversity, even in the dead of winter.
A third indication of the growing interest in Nature comes again from the bird world. The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) happens every year, in early February. The GBBC is a global event where folks submit lists of birds they see in their backyards. And 2021 broke both global and Canadian records.
Globally, 6,436 different species were seen by over 300,000 people in 190 countries. 379,726 lists were submitted – so some keeners submitted twice! That was over 130,000 more checklists and over 40,000 more participants than the year before.
In Canada, 264 species were seen by over 35,000 people in every one of our 13 provinces and territories. 43,465 lists were submitted. That was more than double the number of checklists and people!
Three short stories about how Nature worked her magic and captured more people during this pandemic. As our headline indicates, we now know that Nature is not only breathtaking but it’s also good for us!
But she needs help, now more than ever.
We began this article talking about troops in a battle. It is the job of Canada’s leading environmental organizations to turn this interest into action for Nature. The opportunity is unprecedented thanks to a catastrophic pandemic.
David and Ann Love are fervent naturalists who live and walk every day in the magical Happy Valley Forest, about 40 km north of Toronto.