Great Backyard Bird Count
Would you be interested in helping scientists better understand the population dynamics and movements of birds in your area? If so, the Great Backyard Bird Count has a deal for you. The count, which is coming up February 13-16, is a joint project of the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. Sponsors of the event include the National Science Foundation and Natural Resource Conservation Service.
Those of you that watch birds have certainly noticed that the abundance and diversity of bird species in and around your homes and feeders during winter can be quite variable. Scientists are trying to get a better understanding of these differences across North America. With your help, they can obtain some real-time data on where the birds are each year during four days in February.
Last year volunteers turned in over eighty thousand checklists which documented the location and abundance of over six hundred species of birds. One of the many interesting discoveries of 2008 was a southern movement of pine grosbeaks due to large seed failure across much of northern Canada.
Here in North Dakota volunteers submitted over 100 checklists from more than thirty locations. They documented over 8,000 birds ranging from chickadees and nuthatches to snowy owls and bald eagles. Amateur birders are providing valuable information that enables scientists to better understand what is going on with our feathered friends.
Participating in the bird count is easy and by no means do you have to be an expert birder. As their website notes, participating is as easy as 1,2,3! You just count birds in your area for at least 15 minutes for as many of the days as you like. Count the greatest number of individuals of each species you see together at any one time. Then when you’re finished, submit your results.
You can check out the Great Backyard Bird Count website at birdcount.org (www.birdcount.org). You will find all the information necessary to participate as well as lots of good information on the project and birds in general. They even have a special section for kids, and the bird count could be a great school or class project. That’s www.birdcount.org.
Natural North Dakota is supported by NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center and Minot State University-Bottineau, and by the members of Prairie Public. Thanks to Sunny 101.9 in Bottineau for their recording services.
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