SARS-CoV2 (COVID-19) pandemic lockdown influences nature-based recreational activity: The case of birders

Christoph Randler, Piotr Tryjanowski, Jukka Jokimäki, Marja Liisa Kaisanlahti-Jokimäki, Naomi Staller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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The new corona virus infection SARS-CoV2 which was later renamed COVID-19 is a pandemic affecting public health. The fear and the constraints imposed to control the pandemic may correspondingly influence leisure activities, such as birding, which is the practice of observing birds based on visual and acoustic cues. Birders are people who carry out birding observations around the globe and contribute to the massive data collection in citizen science projects. Contrasting to earlier COVID-19 studies, which have concentrated on clinical, pathological, and virological topics, this study focused on the behavioral changes of birders. A total of 4484 questionnaire survey responses from 97 countries were received. The questionnaire had an open-ended style. About 85% of respondents reported that COVID-19 has changed their birding behavior. The most significant change in birdwatchers’ behavior was related to the geographic coverage of birding activities, which became more local. People focused mostly on yard birding. In total, 12% of respondents (n = 542 cases) reported having more time for birding, whereas 8% (n = 356 cases) reported having less time for birding. Social interactions decreased since respondents, especially older people, changed their birding behavior toward birding alone or with their spouse. Women reported more often than men that they changed to birding alone or with their spouse, and women also reported more often about canceled fieldtrips or society meetings. Respondents from higher developed countries reported that they spend currently more time for birding, especially for birding alone or with their spouse, and birding at local hotspots. Our study suggests that long lockdowns with strict regulations may severely impact on leisure activities. In addition, a temporal and spatial shift in birding due to the pandemic may influence data quality in citizen science projects. As nature-based recreation will be directed more toward nearby sites, environmental management resources and actions need to be directed to sites that are located near the users, e.g., in urban and suburban areas. The results can be applied with caution to other nature-based recreational activities.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7310
Pages (from-to)1-16
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2020
MoEC publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Behavioral changes
  • Birding
  • Birdwatching
  • Citizen science
  • Leisure
  • Recreation

Field of science

  • Ecology, evolutionary biology


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