This is the weekend to help scientists keep track of wild birds as you participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count. From February 17th through the 21st, many people throughout the U.S. and Canada will be counting birds at the park, on a hike or in their own yards to help inform the folks at the Cornell Lab of Orinthology and the Audubon Society of what birds are up to. The information is then logged in online (or you can get a paper tally to mail in if you don’t have a computer).
Why should we help? As you can imagine, no one group could possibly keep track of what all the birds are doing, so they enlist the help of bird watchers – expert and not – to help get the information from the various areas of the country. The counts can help with migration answers and tell scientists how the winter has affected the bird population and other useful info.
The count is simple to take part in and will take 15 minutes only, or you can count for longer. All information and answers to questions can be found at their website (link below), but basically what you will do is count the largest number of each type of bird you see at any one time and then report it for that date. An online questionnaire will ask where you are located and what the location is like. Were you at a public garden or in a desert? That type of thing. I used to be part of Project FeederWatch where I counted birds all winter and sent in my counts each week. That is another worthwhile endeavor and I enjoyed it.
On the GBBC site there is a page just for kids and getting young ones interested in birds is a wonderful thing. There is a poster to down load, and a page of photo contest winners.
Don’t worry if you are not an expert at distinguishing which bird is which, they answer that question too, and don’t worry if your birds seem boringly ordinary, they still want to know what you see.
Visit the Great Backyard Bird Count page and get started doing your part for the birds.