Whether you are an experienced birder, or someone who prefers to watch through the window of your living room, all can take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count.
The 17th annual citizen science event runs Friday through Feb. 17.
Organizers expect people in more than 100 countries to take part in the count, gathering information that will help track the health of bird populations at a scale possible only with volunteer assistance.
Also, participants can view real-time maps and charts on a website that show what others are reporting during and after the count.
Each checklist submitted during the count helps give researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Audubon Society and Bird Studies Canada a real-time snapshot of winter bird populations, according to a news release from the organizations. The data provides information on how birds are doing and how to protect them and the environment.
Last year, participants turned in more than 134,000 checklists, the world’s largest instantaneous snapshot of bird populations ever recorded, the release said. Participants reported sightings from all seven continents, including 111 countries and independent territories. More than 34.5 million birds and 3,610 species were recorded — nearly one-third of the world’s total bird species documented in just four days, the news release said.
In North America, participants can add their data to help define the magnitude of an irruption of snowy owls and look for the invasive Eurasian collared-dove to see if it has expanded its range again, Audubon chief scientist Gary Langham said in the release.
To take part, you should choose a location and count birds for at least 15 minutes. When you are done, estimate the number of individuals of each species you saw during your count period. Organizers ask that a separate checklist be submitted for each day you count, for each location or for the same location if you counted at a different time of day.
HOW TO: To learn more, or to report your findings, go to birdcount.org.
WILLAPA COUNT: If you want to combine the count with a road trip, the staff at Willapa National Wildlife Refuge Complex near Ilwaco will be leading a count from 10 a.m.-noon Saturday. For details, go to fws.gov/refuge/-willapa.