February 9, 2012 —
About this time during the winter, many people yearn for spring; it’s cold, the holidays have passed, and trout and spring gobbler seasons are many weeks away. Fortunately, there is an event coming up real soon that the whole family can participate in, and in doing so, can also provide scientists and researchers with a real-time snapshot of which birds are where. The event is the 15th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC).
A joint project of several U.S. and Canadian partners, the GBBC is a four-day count that takes place from February 17 through 20. Anyone can participate, and you don’t have to be an expert birder; just report the species you know. You can count for as long as you like, or just count for 15 minutes on a single day. You can travel far afield, or just look out your back window at the bird feeder for birds. Bird feeders will likely draw in birds that would normally be harder to find in the field.
Instructions for conducting the count and data submission can be found at www.birdsource.org/gbbc . As the count progresses, real-time updates will be posted on that site of what species of birds are where. Archives of past years’ results can also be found there for comparison. This year’s upcoming count may yield some interesting sightings with the milder than usual winter so far. A few turkey vultures have been spotted in the region in the past month, and the irruption of snowy owls that is taking place this winter holds some potentially tantalizing sighting opportunities for GBBC 2012.