Winter is for the Birds

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Carolina Wren and female Cardinal

If you enjoy watching the birds visit your feeders, now is a great time to start thinking about the Great Backyard Bird Count. A joint project between the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, this annual event is open to both novice and expert bird watchers at no cost. Participants can choose to spend as little as 15 minutes per day or many hours each day, counting and recording the birds visiting their yards or even those seen while visiting a wildlife refuge. The program is designed to allow bird enthusiasts to serve as citizen scientists, sharing their counts with ornithologists “who cannot possibly document the complex distribution and movements of so many species in such a short time” on their own. It’s both a fun and helpful activity so if you have an interest in joining in, you can learn more by visiting the Great Backyard Bird Count website. The program runs from February 18 to 21, 2011.

Eastern Bluebirds, Goldfinch and male Cardinal

This will be the third year that I’ll participate in the event. Last year I even went a step further and joined Project Feeder Watch, a program lasting five months long. Project Feeder Watch, unlike the Great Backyard Bird Count, requires a small fee. It is more complex, requiring a more in-depth and longer-term level of commitment, from both the participants and the ornithologists at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. This year the program began on November 13th but since it runs through April 8, 2011, there is still plenty of time to sign up and join in. You can learn more by visiting the Project Feeder Watch website.

Goldfinch and Eastern male Bluebird

An even longer-term program, that runs throughout the length of the entire year, has been developed and has become very popular among bird enthusiasts. e-Bird is not just a national program but takes into account global counts and sightings. Also sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, it provides many perks and benefits to participants. Visit the e-Bird website to learn more.

Eastern Bluebirds and Northern Flicker

If you are feeding the birds and enjoy watching them, one (or all three) of these programs could be something you might take an interest in. Be sure to check them out and find out which one works best for you.

Words and photos ©Thanks for today.™, by Jan Huston Doble

Written by Jan @ http://www.thanksfor2day.blogspot.com/ Not to be reproduced or re-blogged without express permission of the author.

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