Photo by Gabriel Macdonald
by Mary Reid Barrow
Citizen scientists, here is your chance to participate in a global event!
Join volunteers from hundreds of countries to identify and count birds in the Great Backyard Bird Count. Often called the GBBC, the count takes place worldwide this weekend, Friday through Monday, February 17-20.
All you need to do is count and identify the birds you see for 15 minutes one day, or all day long, every day. Then submit a bird list for each time and place. The choice is yours!
You can also choose where to look for birds–your own backyard feeder, a park, a trail or along the beach. It’s up to you.
Visit https://www.birdcount.org to find out how to participate and enter a list. If that seems daunting, stop by Wild Birds Unlimited at Hilltop and pick up a printed checklist of common birds in the area with instructions on how to enter your count. Wild Birds will even enter your data for you if you bring your checklists in by February 28.
Even if you aren’t sure of a bird’s identification, but you do know generally what the bird is, such as a sparrow or a hawk, the GBBC still wants to know. They only ask you don’t enter anything if you don’t have a clue.
Whether you are able to count a lot of birds or find none at all, your reports will be valuable to trained ornithologists around the world. Among other data, they use the numbers to estimate bird population trends over the years.
Scientists with The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, National Audubon Society, and Birds Canada have conducted the bird count since 1998. It went global in 2013.
Last year, more than 7,000 species were identified and almost 400,000 of you participated. This represents 200 countries!
And last year, 414 birders in Virginia Beach identified 131 species. You can explore the website to find more results from not only Virginia Beach but anywhere you choose to look.
What’s more, you can discover how to watch this year’s results in real-time online and find out where the birding “hot spots” are in Virginia Beach during the count. Then add your count and watch the numbers grow!
LRNow would love to hear your nature news. Whether it’s about unusual plants or critters you see on your walks or find on the beach, or tales of good folks who care for the environment, let email@example.com.