FEBRUARY 13, 2009
This weekend is the 12th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count, hosted by the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It’s a free, educational, nationwide activity in which ordinary citizens can help scientists gather data about how the distribution and abundance of birds are changing over time. This is the third year I’ve participated.
Unlike winter bird walks, which in Maine can be a bone-chilling experience, this is something that can be done from the comfort of your living room. You just count the number and different kinds of birds you see in your yard or at your feeders over a period of 15 minutes or more, then you log onto www.birdcount.org to record your results. Online maps and lists are updated throughout the count, so you can see how your birds fit into the big picture. On my first day of observing this year, I spotted eight species of birds, including black-capped chickadees, which are Maine’s state bird, a blue jay, a downy woodpecker, and dark-eyed juncos, one of which is seen above. These were all among the top 10 most commonly reported species seen in last year’s count.
It’s not too late to join in. The count runs through Feb. 16th, and you can record birds on any or all of the four days of the count.