This weekend (February 17 – 20), the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society are holding the annual “Great Backyard Bird Count.” Launched in 1998, the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time. Participants from all over the world simply count birds for at least 15 minutes on one or more days, and then record the data online. This form of “crowdsourcing” science, or citizen science, is very helpful to scientists studying migration patterns, population changes, and other aspects of avian life by providing an annual winter snapshot of the distribution and abundance of various species of birds.
The best part is that it’s very easy for anyone to participate. Whether you are trudging through the snow, taking a leisurely stroll down the street, or simply watching birds at your bird feeder from the comforts of home – record the species, how many of each species, time spent, and location. The data is simple to enter into eBird, an online platform and application for bird enthusiasts. More information about the GBBC can be found at http://gbbc.birdcount.org/.
With two feet of freshly-fallen powder here in Downeast Maine (and another foot on the way!), your neighborhood feathered friends will be actively searching for food this weekend. Be on the lookout for winter finches, such as crossbills, pine siskins, and redpolls, picking at gravel in the roadways. Refilled feeders will definitely draw in the usual hordes of chickadees, finches, woodpeckers, doves, and sparrows. And don’t forget about the crows, ravens, and blue jays – they count, too!