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Biodiversity: Great Backyard Bird Count starts today

Four-day tally helps provide continental snapshot of bird populations

The American kestrel is the American Birding Association's bird of the year and is declining in some parts of the country. PHOTO COURTESY @MiaMPhotography. Click on the image for more bird photos.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The 15th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (Feb. 17-20) is going high tech this year, with interactive online maps and graphs updating results of the national event every hour.

The annual count helps create a real-time snapshots of where various bird species are across the continent. Follow the #GBBC hashtag or @audubonsociety on Twitter for more updates.

“The GBBC is a fun and easy event to experience birding while providing valuable information on birds at both the local level and in a manner that contributes to a national picture,” said Robert Skorkowsky, avian program coordinator for the Rocky Mountain Region of the U.S. Forest Service.

Participants are encouraged to observe the basic concepts of ethical birding, exercising restraint and caution during photography, sound recording or filming to avoid stressing birds.

The American Birding Association also discourages the use of recordings and baiting, especially in heavily birded areas or for attracting any species that are threatened or endangered.

Keep well back from nests and nesting colonies, roosts, display areas, and important feeding sites. In such sensitive areas, if there is a need for extended observation, photography, filming, or recording, try to use a blind or hide, and take advantage of natural cover. Read more on the ethics of birding at the ABA website.

During the count, coordinated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Audubon, and Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada, bird watchers across the U.S. and Canada will tally millions of birds.

Participants watch birds at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count and enter their tallies at www.birdcount.org.  The internet results will be updated hourly in the form of animated maps and colorful graphs and participants will be able to see their observations on a national scale.

In addition, the web site provides bird check lists by region, identification tips and access to photos, sounds, maps, and natural history information on more than 500 bird species.

Participants can also submit photos to an online gallery showcasing winter birds found during the GBBC.

“This competition includes a photo contest, rankings for most numerous birds, and the coveted “checklist champ” title for towns, states, and provinces with the highest participation,” said Skorkowsky.

All participants are entered in a drawing for prizes that include bird feeders, binoculars, books, CDs, and other birding products.

Data sheets must be submitted to www.birdcount.org no later than Feb. 27, 2012.

For more information, contact Robert Skorkowsky by telephone at (970) 870-2146 or by email at rskorkowsky@fs.fed.us

2 Responses

  1. In my younger enthusiastic lifetime, I used to watch birds just for the satisfaction, using a screen such as a window type between myself and the birds. They seemed to sense my presence, but couldn’t make out where I was, which I understood was because my image was broken up in tiny pieces by the screen. Of course, it also required my keeping still, silent, as well as calm. I grew to think that we humans are a very noisy breed in the spectrum that we can’t hear, but other animals can.

  2. Have fun bird watching year round and contribute your sightings to the citizen science project at Wildlife Sightings, http://www.junponline.com .Young & old, novice & professional, everyone can participate.

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