Birders of all skill level needed for Great Backyard Bird Count

If you have 15 minutes to spare this weekend, you can take part in the annual Great Backyard Bird Count.

From Feb. 13-16, birders of all experience levels are invited to count the number of birds they see in a 15-minute period and enter their data online.

This will be the 18th year for the count. The information gathered by the tens of thousands of volunteers who take part helps track changes in bird populations on a global scale.

As estimated 142,000 bird watchers from 135 countries took part in the 2014 count at more than 140,000 locations. They provided data on almost 4,300 species, about 43 percent of the bird species in the world.

The county is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, with partner Bird Studies Canada.

Participants can do their count in their backyard, in a neighborhood park or anywhere they choose.

In Tacoma, there will be two counts people can join.

At 10 a.m. Feb. 14, participants will gather at the University Place home of Helen Engle. There will be an introduction to birding, as well as lunch. Beginners are encouraged to take part. The group is limited to 15 people. To sign up, contact Engle at hengle@iinet.com or 564-3112 by Thursday.

At 9 a.m. Feb. 16, Richard Perkins will conduct a count at his central Tacoma home. Participants are asked to bring their cameras. The group is limited to eight people. To sign up, contact Perkins at 253-565-5532 by Friday.