This was a count for the ages. More than 60,000 checklists were submitted with 623 identified species. What am I talking about? I talking about North America’s Great Backyard Bird Count. During four days in February, bird watchers across Canada and the United States participate in Birding’s top annual event. How was Your Bird Count?
This is the fourth year I have participated in Bird Watching’s main event and while my input was trivial by itself, when combined with the results of thousands of fellow birders I am part of the largest survey team on the planet. The Great Backyard Bird Count is conducted by birders all over North America. Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology and Audubon team up to manage the results every year. This year over 7.5 million birds were counted all over North America. Does this sound crazy to you? What’s the big deal?
Each February, Ornithologists get a fresh look at bird populations across all habitats. In the birding world, this is simply priceless. Birds have always been our first indication of weather, ecological and developmental impacts on our environment. From studies like this, we are able to see trends quickly and act, when action is warranted. The Great Backyard Bird Count tells us about patterns as they emerge while there is still time to do something about it.
You may have missed this year’s count, but the next count will be here before you know it. Take time this spring, summer and fall to sharpen your birding skills so when the Great Backyard Bird Count returns next February, you’ll be right there next to me. This year I took the Great Backyard Bird Count very literal and never birded away from my home during the four days. I saw 23 species this year, down from 31 last year, and I’m sure our sustained drought in Arizona had much to do with the lower count.
Next time you are looking for a great family activity, right at home, don’t forget about Bird Watching. Even if you sit at your kitchen table and look through the sliding glass doors at birds in your backyard, you’ll never be disappointed. Birding gives you wings. Get Outdoors!
Chuck Fitzgerald, The Outdoor Guy, has written a beginner’s guide to bird watching call “Learning to Bird.” Visit [http://www.birdwatchingebook.com] to see just how easy and how much fun Bird Watching really is. Chuck is the owner of Arizona based BackCountry Toys, an online store helping you to have fun in the great outdoors. To get maximum enjoyment out of your outdoor life, visit http://www.BackCountryToys.com where you’ll find great gear and the Tips & Tales e-newsletter, “FreshAir.” (800) 316-9055.
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