Bird Watching

By Charlie Nardozzi

It may be early for birds to start their spring migration, but it's still a good time to check in with our feathered friends to see how they're doing. During the 10th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count, February 16th to 19th, people in the U.S. and Canada are being asked to take a few minutes and count some birds in their backyards, at school, at work, and even at bird refuges. Cosponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Wild Birds Unlimited, and the National Audubon Society, the bird count is a way to get a snapshot tally of the species and number of birds across North America. Observers simply count the highest number of each species they see during an outing or a sitting, and enter the tallies on the Great Backyard Bird Count Web site. The Web site has guidelines on how to count birds and information and maps on last year's results. Eventually the site will publish a map showing the numbers and species of birds tallied during the count.

Last year observers submitted more than 60,000 entries. They reported 7.5 million birds overall and 623 different species. The information is used by bird researchers to determine the timing and strength of bird migrations, the influence of winter weather and diseases such as the West Nile virus on bird species, and if any bird species are undergoing worrisome declines.

To participate in this year's count, go to: The Great Backyard Bird Count .

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