Thursday, February 12, 2015

Let the Bird Counting Begin!

It snuck up on me this year.

The Great Backyard Bird Count, I mean.

 I've been preoccupied with family health issues (now beginning to resolve themselves, thank goodness), and just realized the GBBC is here.

To be exact, this annual exercise in participatory birdwatching begins on St. Valentine's Eve -- now just (yikes!) an hour away here in the Eastern time zone, USA -- and runs through Monday. Which is not to say I'm going to go out at midnight and beat the bushes in an attempt to bestir some birdies to count. Morning will be fine. That's usually when they are most numerous at my feeder.

But I do now need to find my binoculars, and bird books, and maybe even plan for an emergency run to the store to resupply with a good brand of bird seed, which is probably one of Audubon's.

The thing is over the next four days, you can do as much or as little bird-counting as your heart desires. The organizers ask only that you spend at least 15 minutes on any given day and report your findings. You can sign up and do so at All of this counting of just plain folks around the world helps the scientists detect any changes in bird populations and migratory patterns. Last year, we mostly amateur counters submitted more than 144,000 checklists with almost 4,300 different species (some 18 million individual birds in all.)

A challenge this year hereabouts will be the cold wave that is settling in tonight and is expected to bring wind chills as low as 5 degrees by Sunday morning. These conditions may make the birds all the hungrier, but we watchers of birds will have to bundle up and try not to miss any prime sightings due to shivering.

I will be writing more about this over the weekend. You don't have to stay in your backyard, by the way. You can count while on a walk in your neighborhood or while visiting a park. Happy counting if you're in. Stay warm.

                                  © Robert G. Holland  2015

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