Thanks to the sponsorship of Wild Birds Unlimited, the Great Backyard Bird Count is going into its 16th year in 2013. This annual four-day event engages bird watchers of all ages and experience observing and counting birds in their backyards, creating a real-time snapshot of bird populations in the U.S. and now around the world. According to the Bird Count’s website, “Everyone is welcome--from beginning bird watchers to experts. It takes as little as 15 minutes on one day, or you can count for as long as you like each day of the event. It’s free, fun, and easy—and it helps the birds.”
The dates this year are Friday, February 15, through Monday, February 18. During the event, participants tally the number of individual birds of each species they see during their count period and enter these numbers on the Great Backyard Bird Count website
. As the count progresses, anyone with Internet access can explore what is being reported from their own towns or from anywhere in the world. People may also send in photographs of the birds they see for a photo contest.
Local events are listed on the website, including these two that take place in Indianapolis:Indianapolis
Saturday, February 9, 10-11:15am
Spades Park Library Branch, 1801 Nowland Ave.
This Amos Butler Audubon program, led by Don Gorney, will be perfect for the birder who wants to learn or improve their identification skills. You will also learn more about the Great Backyard Bird Count and plans for the nearby Spades Park area.
Contact: Don Gorney, firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, February 16; 10am-4pm
Eagle Creek Park Ornithology Center, 6515 Delong Road
Learn how to identify birds as we count every bird that flies by! Amos Butler Audubon will be at the Ornithology Center collecting data for the GBBC. Stop in and dissect an owl pellet between 10am and 12pm. The Ornithology Center staff will offer a live “Birds of Prey” talk at 2pm. We will be counting birds at the feeding station, observation deck, and the area around the Ornithology Center. Free with gate admission.
Contact : Eagle Creek Park Ornithology Center (317) 327-BIRD
Why is this event important? Again, according to the website, “Scientists and bird enthusiasts can learn a lot by knowing where the birds are. Bird populations are dynamic; they are constantly in flux. No single scientist or team of scientists could hope to document and understand the complex distribution and movements of so many species in such a short time.
Scientists use the GBBC information, along with observations from other citizen-science projects, such as the Christmas Bird Count, Project FeederWatch, and eBird, to get the “big picture” about what is happening to bird populations.” The longer these data are collected, the more meaningful they become in helping scientists investigate far-reaching questions about how weather affects bird populations, transmission of bird diseases, the timing of bird migrations, and many more.
The Great Backyard Bird Count is led by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, with Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada.
The Indianapolis Zoo also supports working to maintain the native bird populations of Indiana. Zoo visitors can check out the Backyard Bird Habitat inside the Flights of Fancy exhibit
, which is sponsored by our good friends at Wild Birds Unlimited.
This is one activity that is sure to be fun and easy while still being valuable to scientific research; you can’t beat that combination. Check it out