Kids can count the birds in the backyard! The February 2011 California Least Tern Newsletter of the El Dorado Audubon Society had an article on the Great Backyard Bird Count to be held February 18-21, 2011. This would be a great classroom or family activity! Here is an instructional video all about what you would need to do from the website of the GBBC (Great Backyard Bird Count). Here’s How to Participate. Here’s GBBC for Kids!
February 8, 2011—Blackbirds made the headlines when a flock of thousands fell from the skies in Arkansas on New Year’s Eve. Now bird enthusiasts across the continent are counting the birds—not just blackbirds, but birds of more than 600 species—in the annual Great Backyard Bird Count. During February 18–21 the event will create an instantaneous snapshot of birdlife across the U.S. and Canada for all to see.
Anyone can help by tallying birds for at least 15 minutes on any day of the count. At www.birdcount.org, you can enter the highest number of each species seen at any one time and watch as the tallies grow across the continent. Coordinated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Audubon, and Bird Studies Canada, the four-day count typically records more than 10 million observations.
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.
“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.”
Dickinson said past GBBC counts showed a drop in reports of American Crows since 2003, coincident with some of the first widespread outbreaks of West Nile virus in the U.S. Once ranked among the top 4 or 5 most frequently reported species, crows are still among the top 10 birds reported in the Great Backyard Bird Count but they have dropped in ranking since 2003. This “signal” is consistent with data from the more intensive Breeding Bird Survey, as well as studies demonstrating declines of 50–75% in crow populations in some states after outbreaks of West Nile virus.
Maps from the count have also captured the paths of migrating Sandhill Cranes and recorded the dramatic spread Eurasian Collared-Doves. Introduced to the Bahamas in the 1970s, the species was reported in just 8 states during the 1999 GBBC. A decade later, it was reported in 39 states and Canadian provinces.
“I have joined the Great Backyard Bird Count for the past three years and am really looking forward to doing it again,” said participant Kathy Bucher of Exira, Iowa. “I really enjoy nature and bird watching. My mother and I share updates on the birds we see. It’s a fun hobby to share with a loved one!”
For more information, including bird-ID tips, instructions, and past results, visit the birdcount website. The count also includes a photo contest and a prize drawing for participants who enter their bird checklists online.
The Great Backyard Bird Count is made possible in part by sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited.
• Miyoko Chu, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, (607) 254-2451 (Eastern Standard Time), email@example.com
• Delta Willis, Audubon, (212) 979-3197 (Eastern Standard Time), firstname.lastname@example.org
• Dick Cannings, Bird Studies Canada, (250) 493-3393 (Pacific Standard Time), email@example.com
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a nonprofit membership institution interpreting and conserving the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. Visit the Cornell Lab’s website and the All About Birds Bird Guide.
Now in its second century, Audubon connects people with birds, nature and the environment that supports us all. Our national network of community-based nature centers, chapters, scientific, education, and advocacy programs engages millions of people from all walks of life in conservation action to protect and restore the natural world.
Bird Studies Canada administers regional, national, and international research and monitoring programs that advance the understanding, appreciation, and conservation of wild birds and their habitats. We are Canada’s national body for bird conservation and science, and we are a non-governmental charitable organization.
National Audubon Society
225 Varick Street
New York, NY 10014
Call: (212) 979-3000
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
159 Sapsucker Woods Road
Ithaca, NY 14850
Call toll-free (800) 843-2473
Bird Studies Canada
Port Rowan, ON N0E 1M0 Canada
Call: (888) 448-2473 or (519) 586-3531
Grandpa Ron and I had a Red-tailed Hawk perch on the wall outside a window last July. I captured 2 pictures of it before he had enough of me and flew off.
… and we always have quail, unless they are hiding…