By Denny Olson

My son (second-grade teacher-from-home) sent me a Facebook post — not his own — that summed up our present predicament in quarantine. “The spread of COVID-19 is determined by only two factors:

1. How dense the population is
2. How dense the population is

The lesson is clear. Expertise, and following expertise suggestions, will be critical. Stay away from other people (but not birds and the outdoors!), wear masks when you must encounter people (at more than 6 feet) , and sanitize, sanitize, sanitize. We’ll get through this.

And I’ll try to help! On the Flathead Audubon Facebook page, I’ve already started to give readers a daily break from their COVID sequestration pastimes of  home-schooling, day-drinking (hopefully not at the same time!), binge-watching, book-reading, walking-the-poor-dog-for-the-18th-time-today, etc., activities. Each day, from now until we are released from social distancing incarceration, I’ll be posting a daily: “BIRD TRIVIA” to give you an educational challenge. Four things to check out:

(1)  NATURAL FACT: something going on in the NW Montana wilds this very day.

(2)  BIRD TRIVIA QUIZ: a question about birds that you may try to answer in the “comments ” section below the post.

(3) BIRD “SYNONYM” question: I’ll give you the synonym (or strong association) and you give me the North American bird name. An example would be “getting venison”, and the answer would be “Killdeer”!

(4) a chance for you to gain extra credit by coming up with a CREATIVE COLLECTIVE (a noun for a collective group of a bird species, such as a “Murder of Crows” or a “Murmuration of Starlings”) OR … a BIRD PUN, such as “you quack me up” or “Toucan play that game”. I’ll give extra, extra credit for really owlful puns (sorry).

There will be PRIZES! First prize (or punishment, depends on your perspective) will be a birding hike through Owen Sowerwine Natural Area in Kalispell with both Jake Bramante and myself (when this quarantine is all over). Second prize will be me treating you to lunch at Montana Coffee Traders, while I try to answer as many bird questions as you can cram in between bites. You can call that “revenge”. Third prize will be a window bird feeder. Prizes will be awarded when the “curve” of infections is on its downward slope, and the State of Montana says it is OK to assemble again.

I will post these questions at exactly 8 AM every morning. The first correct answer in each category posted in the comments below will be awarded a point for each first and correct answer.

In some other news, I have just finished editing a 15-minute video — narrated by the infamous Professor Avian Guano, Bir.D., and beautifully augmented with gorgeous bird video by BJ Worth’s Birds in Motion — about why birds matter. It is called “BIRDS ROCK!” and hopefully you will see it as a fun way to educate your non-believer friends about the incredible value of birds to us. In a few days, you will find it on both our website and our Flathead Audubon Facebook page. Share it, spread it around, please. People need to know!

If it turns out to be a successful educational tool, more entertaining videos will come, about (a) specific things we can do to give birds an assist, and (b) the intricate timing and relationships of plants, insects and birds.

Meanwhile, get outside by yourself, or with your sheltered-in-place family or roommate, and watch birds! It is socially-distanced, safe and fun!

The migrants are arriving!