REGINA -- Much of Saskatchewan is still in a cold spell, but songbirds are resilient. So too are bird watchers, like Rachel Ling.

“It’s just such a peaceful hobby,” said Ling.

Ling started bird watching more seriously about a year and a half ago, after having knee replacement surgery, then ovarian cancer treatments.

“That’s when I would spend a lot of time sitting by my garden doors, just watching the birds and enjoying them and doing a lot of photography,” she said.

She said she’s also learning a lot from the Sask Birders Facebook Group, a community of bird watchers sharing their own findings.

“If there’s a new bird and you don’t know what it is, you just post a picture and right away someone who’s very knowledgeable will help you out,” Ling said.

Naturalist Jared Clarke is also part of the group. He’s been bird watching for 30 years, since he was five years old.

“There’s the mental health component of just getting outside and being in nature and refreshing your soul,” he said. “But, there’s also a scientific aspect of it, where you are actually going out and counting birds and contributing to citizen science.”

Clarke said he has been bird watching for 15 minutes a day – every day – for months now.

“I’ve been out in this cold stretch birding every day, and it’s been awesome,” said Clarke.

Provincial Capital Commission ecologist Sarah Romuld said while a lot of birds migrate south for the winter, a lot also migrate from more northern areas to southern Saskatchewan, and you can learn quite a bit about their changing behaviours during the colder months.

“They might hide some food to feed themselves later. They might forage as a group collectively,” said Romuld. “Or, they might just puff themselves up to keep warm on those colder days like today.”

Romuld said bird watching is a great form of exercise and a way to explore the trails in Wascana Park. She just asks that bird watchers remain respectful of the feathered fowl’s space, as birds are big fans of social distancing.