Got an extra fifteen minutes this weekend? It’s the Great Backyard Bird Count!

Sponsored by Audubon and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, this is an annual bird count done by people like you and me. Here’s a link –

Anybody can participate, and all you have to do is slow down for 15 minutes, sit quietly and watch. Then, fill out an online checklist, click SUBMIT, and over time, you can watch results roll in. You can do more than 15 minutes if you wish. And no, you don’t have to do it in your backyard, you can do it anywhere – just record the results in the proper zip code.

I’ve done this a few times, and what’s especially interesting about THIS year is that we can expect to see some drastically different results given the warm winter that’s been had over most of North America.

Oh. And if you’re wondering about things such as accuracy……or…what if a person who is counting doesn’t know the difference between something like – gosh, I dunno – a red robin and a cardinal? Or say, a mute swan and a domestic goose? I’d guess that with aggregate counts, some of that just comes out in the wash. And that’s what they get for including regular people, instead of ornithologists, in such a count. But here’s what the officials say about counting birds that you can’t identify:

“Do your best to figure it out. Take a look at your state or province checklist on the GBBC web site to help narrow down the possibilities. See if you can find the bird you’re looking for in a field guide. The All About Birds web site also provides photos, sounds, maps, and information about birds. For help in distinguishing similar-looking species, visit the GBBC page on tricky IDs. If you’re still unable to work out a species ID, that’s OK. You don’t have to report every species you see. When you enter the data on the web site, just be sure to check the box indicating that you are NOT reporting everything you saw.”

So don’t let fear of accuracy scare you away.

Here’s the part I like the best about the Great Backyard Bird Count: tons of people, all of whom are usually rushing around hither and yon, taking 15 minutes to stop, slow down, take a breath and look at nature around them. Collectively, I suspect the Great Backyard Bird Count does as much for people as it does for birds. Don’t you love the idea of a collective drop in blood pressure across the US and Canada? Probably does more for our hearts than any Valentine Day.

Oh. And PS:

If you happen to see something like this pass your view, don’t worry. It’s WILD birds we’re counting here, not their imprisoned cousins. You’re off the hook – believe me, Purdue will be taking care of THAT count.

~ by kbosin on February 17, 2012.

5 Responses to “Got an extra fifteen minutes this weekend? It’s the Great Backyard Bird Count!”

  1. Fantastic, thanks for alerting me to this Kathy!

  2. In Hawaii we’re counting whales 🙂

  3. I saw “my” Blue Birds scouting the Blue Bird houses in my yard already!!..early but they are cleaned and awaiting their return. Thanks for the alert, I will definately report in on activity on Harris Creek.

  4. Well said! And I will be participating. Great photos as usual!

    And now I remember what I couldn’t remember I wanted to mention at the end of my post last night. My mind & heavy eyes were getting the best of me!

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