By Becky Herman
Special to The SUN
The 23rd annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) will be held Friday, Feb. 14, through Monday, Feb. 17. It’s free, it’s fun and it helps scientific research. Here’s how to participate in this annual February tradition that spans the globe.
You can make up your own rules for this bird count. You can be outdoors wherever you choose or you can sit inside looking out the windows. All you really must do is make some simple plans. Decide when and where you want to count, take note of observations on your smartphone, or a paper list works too. Next, make sure you have a way to submit your data after the count is over. If you already have an ebird account or have registered for another Cornell Lab project such as FeederWatch or NestWatch, you can use that information to report your sightings.
Note that you can count for a little as 15 minutes on one day or you can count every day for hours if that suits you. Your own feeders are fine or you can go as far as a wildlife refuge and stay all day — up to you. Feel free to visit several different places. Just be sure to keep careful notes about where and when you count.
Go alone or with friends. National Audubon encourages experienced birders to take someone along who is learning to identify birds — that sharing of experience and information is called “Pledge to Fledge.”
Join members of the local Weminuche Audubon chapter for birding in the Navajo Lake area on Saturday, Feb. 15. Check our website, www.weminucheaudubon.org, for meeting time and place.
If you want to study our local winter birds before the count, see the GBBC website for online guides and ID tips.
This count is especially important because it is becoming increasingly apparent that climate change is affecting the number of species and the number of birds within each species, the times of migration and nesting, and changes in species behavior. Remember that it’s important to report your sightings promptly and accurately so that the scientists who study this data can come to correct conclusions.
Contact chapter president Jean Zirnhelt at email@example.com or 731-2985, or Keith Bruno at firstname.lastname@example.org or (503) 729-8196.
By Becky Herman