Though temperatures have rebounded from the nadir and were temporarily above freezing here in New York City, the mercury has plummeted again and long outings out of doors are distinctly less pleasant than they would be if it were T-shirt weather. What’s a birder to do when weather fails to cooperate? After all, you don’t want to sink to spending time with family or doing chores, do you? Of course not! Here, then, are five birding-centered activities you can do to keep you busy when the birds aren’t.

  1. Rate photos in eBird. As of this writing, users have submitted 5,276,927 images into eBird. That’s a lot of images! If you want to make sure that the cream rises to the top and you see the better photos pop up in all the areas that photos appear in eBird you can spend some time rating photographs on the simple one-star-to-five-star rating system. Being a hopeless homer I have made sure that each and every photograph that gets submitted to eBird for Queens is rated and I often rate random photos when I have a few minutes. It beats wasting time on Facebook and I get to see birds from all over the world! (None of the photos in the image above had been rated as of this posting.)
  2. Organize your bird books. If you’re like me you have way too many books about birds, birding, bird identification, birding destinations, bird finding, and any other topic tangentially related to birds and birding. My books overflow my bookshelves, are stacked haphazardly in several strategic locations, and cause my family to resent me. Neaten up so you know what is where and to avoid harming visitors with a book-avalanche. I’m slightly embarrassed to say that the last time I sorted my books I realized that there were at least three books of which I had two copies.
  3. Cull (and organize) your photos. Here’s another aspect of my birding life that is kind of messy. I tend to download my photos from a birding outing, skim through them deleting the very worst and editing the very best, and then never look at them again. I have gigabyte after gigabyte on external hard drives and in folders on my computer. I really need an intervention. An hour or two on a cold day can make a nice dent in the issue, deleting hundreds of out-of-focus or lesser images and sorting the keepers by species or location.
  4. Plan a future trip. This is a marvelous way to while away the hours. Even if you have no vacation time, no budget, and no idea when you’ll have either, you can still dream. Figure out where you’d want to go, when you’d want to go, and what you’d want to see when you get there. I’ve been doing this with the Dominican Republic recently when a planned family trip fell through. We wouldn’t have been in a great place for finding most of the endemics anyway so now I can plan a dream trip to Hispaniola and someday put my plans into action.
  5. Write a birding listicle. Ha! Yes, I’ve suckered you into reading something I only wrote because the weather was too much for my delicate constitution to handle. Don’t you feel silly now?

What about you? What’s your best way to spend time not-birding but still focused on birds? Let me know so my next list can be a top ten

Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.