Great Backyard Bird Count begins Friday

Bird watchers, as well as everyday citizens can start noticing their feathered friends by counting them during the 14th annual Great Backyard Bird Count.

The Bird Count will begin Feb. 18 and end Feb. 21, 2011. If everyone participates, there will be a clear snapshot of all of the types of birds that live in specific regions throughout the country and Canada and there will also be a tally that shows how many birds live in what areas.
The event is coordinated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Audubon, and Bird Studies Canada, and there are normally 10 million observations recorded during this four-day event.
Birds are often seen migrating in the air from place to place, but during the wintertime, they are also seen trying to keep warm in birdhouses or flying from bird feeder to bird feeder trying to keep warm between their wintry flights. The reality is that birds are everywhere, but are seldom counted and recognized. These birds have a chance to be recognized and noticed for their beauty and color.
Bird watchers will gather from coast to coast waiting on that one chance to spot their favorite feathered friend taking a drink of water or flying to their next destination. Birds can be counted in front yards, back yards, at work, in parks, and everywhere else. The GBBC is a free event and the goal is to identify different species of birds and help provide information that can help scientists and ornithologists learn more about environmental changes and how that affects the bird’s habitat and conservation as a whole.
Information collected during this continent-wide bird count gives scientists valuable information about bird distribution and movement.
Last year’s participants reported more than 1.8 million American Robins, as well as rarities such as the first Red-billed Tropicbird in the count’s 13-year history.
Members of the New Albany Garden Club are encouraging community citizens to participate. In 2010, 33 species of birds from the 38652 zip code were reported. The most common birds that were seen and reported were the Northern Cardinal, the Common Grackle, and the American Goldfinch. In Mississippi, 189 species were reported.
“Whether people notice birds in backyards, parks, or wilderness areas, we ask that they share their counts at www.birdcount.org,” said Judy Braus, Audubon’s senior vice president of Education and Centers. “It’s fun and rewarding for people of all ages and skill levels.”
“When thousands of people all tell us what they’re seeing, we can detect changes in birds’ numbers and locations from year to year,” said Janis Dickinson, director of Citizen Science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
“An isolated event such as the dead birds in Arkansas may be within the range of normal ups and downs for an abundant species like the Red-winged Blackbird,” Dickinson said. “But the count can serve as an early warning system for worrisome declines in bird populations that result from more widespread problems.”  
The Great Backyard Bird Count is made possible in part by sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited.
Participants that take place in this bird count are considered ‘citizen scientists’ and each person can tally the number of birds seen, along with the species’ name online at www.birdcount.org.
For complete information on counting, identifying, and reporting birds, go to www.birdcount.org.

About Chris Elkins

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