A guest post by Chris Glass, Research Services Librarian
Stay safe: if you’re heading outside for nature observation, please practice social distancing and hygiene recommendations and comply with the latest advisories from the City of Boston Parks and Recreation Department and the Boston Public Health Commission.
Whether you’re looking to pass the time, relieve some stress, learn something new, or find a safe way to get outside, nature observation is hard to beat. With so many other activities on hold, this is an excellent opportunity to slow down, look closely, and discover the great variety of natural lives and processes going on around (and even within) the places we live.
Close contact with the natural world is especially important for city-dwellers. Authors like Richard Louv have collected a variety of evidence supporting its benefits for our physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Check out this guide to online resources for inspiration, instruction, and information to help you understand and appreciate what you see. Learn about:
- Identifying plants, animals, and other life in our area
- Becoming familiar with seasonal processes
- Practicing mindfulness through nature contact
- Developing your drawing or photography skills
- Becoming a citizen scientist to contribute data for research
A number of free citizen science platforms offer ways to not only record data and participate in projects, but also to share observations and connect with other people around a common interest in the natural world:
- Record your bird sightings on eBird
- Contribute observations of the life in your home to the Never Home Alone project on iNaturalist
- Track the timing of seasonal plant and animal events (particularly noticeable now at the start of spring!) as part of the National Phenology Network using Nature’s Notebook
Take a look at the guide. The next time you go out for a walk, or look out your window, look around and look carefully, and take solace in the life that teems and strives around us.
And if you have a question, would like a recommendation, or have a suggestion, please don’t hesitate to Ask the BPL.