Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Great Backyard Bird Count

...and we're back!

Mark your calendars now! The 2009 Great Backyard Bird Count will be held between February 13th and 16th. Unlike the Christmas Bird Count recently held within a defined circle around the Audubon Center at the Francis Beidler Forest, the Great Backyard Bird Count can be conducted anywhere by anyone! Last year's results for South Carolina can be viewed here.

(from the GBBC webpage) The Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent. Anyone can participate, 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.

Participants tally the highest number of birds of each species seen together at any one time. To report their counts, they fill out an online checklist at the Great Backyard Bird Count web site. As the count progresses, anyone with Internet access can explore what is being reported from their own towns or anywhere in the United States and Canada. They can also see how this year's numbers compare with those from previous years. Participants may also send in photographs of the birds they see. A selection of images is posted in the online photo gallery. In 2008, participants reported more than 9.8 million birds of 635 species. They submitted more than 85,000 checklists, an all-time record for the count.

Why Count Birds?
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 the complex distribution and movements of so many species in such a short time. We need your help. Make sure the birds from your community are well represented in the count. It doesn't matter whether you report the 5 species coming to your backyard feeder or the 75 species you see during a day's outing to a wildlife refuge.

We encourage everyone to take a few minutes (at least) during the Great Backyard Bird Count weekend to step outside (bring the kids along) and count the birds you know. We challenge you to learn the identities of a few new birds and help make 2009 the new record year, especially if you live in any of the all-white areas on the map.

Image by Mark Musselman

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