Counting birds may not be for everyone, but having an opportunity to be a part of a larger project always intrigues me. My family has participated in the annual Christmas Bird Count as well as FrogWatch USA for years. We have counted loons, released monarchs, and monitored nests.
These various citizen science projects all have the same thing in common, asking the general public to provide critical data for future conservation efforts. Some projects require a bit of training while other programs just require being consistent. No matter the project, my family is always willing to learn more about conservation and animals that are indicators of environmental health.
If you are unfamiliar with the citizen science projects, the Audubon Society and Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is a great place to start. You don’t have to be a birder to participate, just be interested in keeping track of visiting feathered friends. It’s also an opportunity to be part of a global movement. The GBBC is free and fun for all ages. There is also an eBird app available that directly links the Great Backyard Bird Count to a smartphone. (My children love the app, as it allows them to count birds anywhere and anytime.)
The GBBC starts this weekend, February 16-19, 2018. Counts can be taken in the backyard, a local park, or while on a hike. The recommended amount of time to spend on each day’s count is only 15 minutes. The main objective is to keep track of the numbers and various species of birds. Worksheets are available online and can be targeted by zip code. Upload the data and start a new count the next day. There is even a photo contest for budding photographers.
After a long winter of flu and fluctuating temperatures, the GBBC is a great excuse to get outside and be active. I’m hoping that downy woodpecker comes back to my feeder.