Friday, February 18, 2011
This is a long-awaited weekend for birders across Canada and the United States, including the island state of Hawaii. It is the time of the Great Backyard Bird Count when we spread out across the landscape of our two countries, identifying and counting birds to help discover how bird populations are faring here at mid-winter and where exactly particular birds are located.
This is a count that is not unlike the Christmas Bird Count except that the counter gets to pick where he or she will conduct the census. For most people, that is probably their own yard, but many also choose to survey public areas like parks or schoolgrounds.
The count takes place over the four-day President's Day weekend each year. Since many gardeners are also bird-lovers, a lot of them put down their trowels and hoes for the weekend and pick up their binoculars instead. Of course, some of us manage to combine the two activities. I spent most of my day today working in my backyard garden, but I was also watching birds, as I always do whenever I'm outside, no matter what else I may be doing.
Participants in this bird count do not have to have any particular birding expertise. People with all levels of experience are welcome. If you can spend as little as 15 minutes this weekend watching birds, then you, too, can participate. Just click on the GBBC website and submit your observations. You'll be asked to identify where you watched birds and then you'll be given the list of birds that could most likely be seen in that area. You simply enter the numbers of birds that you saw by each species that you observed. What could be easier?
It is fun and it is free, so come on and join us this weekend. I can practically guarantee you'll enjoy it.
(You can follow my weekend bird counts at Backyard Birder.)