We've got some feeders hanging from the lilac tree outside the kitchen window. Every morning I watch the chickadees and juncos, blue jays and woodpeckers ~ red-bellied, hairy, downy ~ feast upon sunflower seeds and suet. The juncos gather on the mess of intertwined lilac and forsythia twigs, a safe place to wait for the open spot at the feeder. The blue jays wait for no one. And the red-bellied woodpecker has discovered a stout limb below the suet where he can perch and peck away at his heart's content.
Though I've watched birds for many years, this will be the first time I officially count them for the Great Backyard Bird Count.
You might be wondering: hey, Sue, you count pollinators every summer - so why have you been ignoring the birds? Well, the truth is that a number of years ago a bear took down our feeder. After this happened a few times, we sort of gave up. But this year we decided to try again, because we really miss watching our feathery neighbors. And now the birds have told their friends where the buffet is and we anticipate seeing a good number.
Not only that, the Great Backyard Bird Count sounds like fun. All I need to do is:
- watch birds for 15 minutes or more at least once over the President's Birthday long weekend. That's next week, Friday, Feb. 18 - Monday, Feb, 21.
- count all the birds I see or hear during those observation times
- report them using one of the tools listed on the GBBC website.
Since I've got the Merlin app on my phone, I'll probably use that. But
you don't need a smartphone - you can jot down your observations in a
notebook and report them using a computer. In fact, you don't need much of anything except a bird guide and some warm clothes. Binoculars are great, but if you don't have them, rely on your eyes and ears. You don't even need a backyard. You can count birds on your balcony, at a park, at the bus stop, at the school yard, or anywhere you are. Heck! You can sit at your kitchen table where it's toasty warm, and count birds while you enjoy your cup of coffee.
I'm planning to go outside, though. Partly because I want to listen to the birds and partly because I need to rack up some #1000hoursoutside time. And who knows, maybe I'll head down the road and check for birds hanging out by the creek.
The real reason I want to participate is that I know the data we collect will help scientists learn more about where birds are wintering here in the northern hemisphere, and summering in the southern hemisphere. Yup, it's a global event. Find out more at https://www.birdcount.org/.