Friday, February 12, 2010
Calling all bird geeks!
As a certified bird geek myself, one who is never happier than when outside, binoculars in hand, gazing at some feathered phenomenon, this is absolutely one of my favorite weekends of the year. It is Christmas, Thanksgiving, and the Fourth of July all wrapped up together. Yes, this is Great Backyard Bird Count weekend. The count starts today, Friday, and continues all the way through Monday, Presidents' Day. It takes place every year on this weekend, and I have been looking forward to it now since Christmas.
In the event that you are among the uninitiated, here's a little background. The GBBC is a joint project of the National Audubon Society, Bird Studies Canada, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It is a citizen science project. People with all levels of skills in birding, from beginners to experts, participate. There is no charge for participating. All you have to do is observe and count the birds in your yard or at some alternate site and then report what you saw on the GBBC website.
Many people choose to count birds in parks, wildlife refuges, or other public places, even commercial properties. All of the counts are important, because the object is to find out where the birds are here at mid-winter. Bird populations are always shifting due to climate change, habitat destruction (or improvement), availability of food and other reasons known only to the birds. This weekend's survey will help the ornithologists who track such things have a better idea of which birds are where all across Canada and the United States, including Hawaii.
Considering the truly bad weather conditions that prevail in much of the eastern part of the continent now, it will be very interesting to see what results the bird watchers will report and how the weather might be a factor. It probably will be more of a factor for the reporters rather than the reportees.
Here in Southeast Texas today, it is a cold, gray, cloudy day with a temperature of around 39F the last time I looked. The conditions are not the best for watching the birds, but any day I can get outside with my binoculars in my hand, it is a good day!
Happy birding and don't forget to report what you see to GBBC.