Help the birds by taking part in some Citizen Science during one of the bird counts. These counts help compile data which has become a valuable tool in protecting birds and the environment as a whole. You have the option of participating in team counts or individual as well as at home or in the field. Here are some ways to get involved:
Christmas Bird Count
In 1900 Frank Chapman started a new tradition, the Christmas Bird Count, to replace the Christmas Side Hunt – a tradition where two sides would hunt birds and other wildlife, the winning side being those who bagged more game. Recognizing the decline in bird populations already occurring due to market hunting and the feather trade, Frank and others started what has become a holiday tradition for tens of thousands of participants. Chapman, an early officer of Audubon, had foresight and the program he created has become one of the earliest examples of citizen science.
Join one of the local count teams and be a part of the science. While winter may be a challenging time to be out birding, a hot meal at the end of the day that is shared with the other count teams is a heartfelt reward. Contact Ron or Joyce Wolf for more information.
Great Backyard Bird Count
This free, four-day event is held in mid-February every year. You set the amount of time you wish to count and record the highest single concentration for each species seen together at one time. Resources on the GBBC website allow you to print out regional checklists, report your findings online and see the results and summaries during or after the counts have finished. Details on the event and how to participate can be found at this link .
Project Feeder Watch
Not available in February to count? Or looking for something more comprehensive? This one which might fit you better as this count runs all winter long (November through early April). There is a $15 fee to register for this count to cover the cost of the research kit you will receive which includes a bird ID poster, wall calendar, feeding guide, tally sheet and more. All participants also receive the quarterly newsletter Birdscope. Sign up here.
Looking to participate year-round and anywhere you go? Ready to start keeping your life-list on-line for research purposes? Explore the eBird site to see just how extensive and comprehensive it can get. Don’t let the intensity of the reporting keep you away from adding your data to one of the fastest growing and largest biodiversity data resources ever compiled (more than 3.1 million bird observations reported across North America in March of 2012!).
You’ll find the details and have your questions answered here.
Female cardinal. Photo by Jim Bresnahan.