Sunday, February 08, 2015

Great Backyard Bird Count: February 13-16

Backyard bird feeding in winter months in Missouri is usually really fun for birdwatchers; we generally see the whole suite of Midwestern winter birds including juncos, cardinals, blue jays, white-throated sparrows, pine siskins, all the woodpeckers and so forth. For the past few years, despite the quality and composition of the seed I buy, my backyard stations have shifted away from hosting only the charismatic winter birds to mostly house sparrows, loyal to McDonald's parking lots and Bradford pears of lawns. While I've started making my own suet, attracting Carolina wrens, black-capped chickadees and most of the woodpeckers, my seed feeders scattered all over the yard have been empty for a few weeks now. Most of the non-house sparrows and starlings have gone to greener pastures or just better food supplies than what I can afford.

In the latest edition of the National Wildlife Federation magazine, an article discusses the northern shift in winter birds, changes in bird ranges due to climate change and other factors. It's an engaging and depressing article, but the information sources for all the data collection are citizen science events including the Christmas Bird Count, Project Feederwatch, and the Great Backyard Bird Count. I've participated in all of these projects, submitted checklists and so forth, and I'm really pleased that someone has synthesized all of that data and discovered such trends. To be expected, yes, but these three primary citizen scientist projects serve as a goldmine of data.

So, this weekend brings an opportunity to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count. "Backyard" in this sense isn't restricted to one's personal backyard property, but encompasses natural places, feeder stations, and anywhere else birds may visit during the four day holiday weekend.

From the Great Backyard Bird Count website:

Launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, the Great Backyard Bird Count was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time. Since then, more than 100,000 people of all ages and walks of life have joined the four-day count each February to create an annual snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds. We invite you to participate! Simply tally the numbers and kinds of birds you see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, February 13-16, 2015. You can count from any location, anywhere in the world!

If you live near Columbia, join the Columbia Audubon Society for the 2nd annual "feeder crawl" where we visit designated homes with feeders to count their birds, eat cookies, and submit checklists. The event will start at Songbird Station where we'll count birds at their feeders; from there we'll 'crawl' to various backyard bird feeders in and around the Columbia area and count birds for at least 15 minutes at each backyard, then submit each checklist to eBird. The trip will last 3-4 hours and return to Songbird Station for coffee and donuts. Saturday, Feb 14, 2015 • Depart: 8am, Songbird Station 2010 Chapel Plaza Ct #C, Columbia, MO. The event is free and open to the public.

1 comment:

Kelly Thompson said...

Sounds like a great way to spend our time this weekend while we are enjoying the crazy warm winter weather and trying hard not go in the direction of the garden. Thank you for the invite...:) ~Kelly

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