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Join the Great Backyard Bird Count

The Great Backyard Bird Count is coming up next week, February 16-19. This annual citizen science effort is a collaboration between the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, National Audubon Society, and Birds Canada to help scientists better understand the bird population dynamics and movements.

Participating is easy, and both new and experienced birders are encouraged to participate. You just count birds you observe for at least 15 minutes for as many times as you like. Count the greatest number of individuals of each species you see together at any one time, then submit your results.

You can work alone or in a group, and it can involve kids as well as adults. You can also count the birds anywhere and at any time. Many participants submit several checklists throughout the four days.

Last year, North Dakotans submitted over 200 bird checklists from 53 counties in which they observed 57 species. The observations included bald eagles, golden eagles, snowy owls, red-bellied woodpeckers, and pileated woodpeckers.

Other observations included:

  • 45 robins in Mountrail County
  • 70 snow buntings in Grand Forks County
  • 200 mallards near the Garridon Dam Tailrace
  • 1 apparently lonely coot in Williams County

Globally, more than half-a-million participants in 200+ countries documented the location and abundance of over 7,000 species. These observations are helping ornithologists better understand what is going on with birds in a variety of ways, including identifying population trends, range expansions or contractions, and how birds are doing in both urban and rural areas.

All the necessary information for participating is on the Great Backyard Bird Count website. The website also contains a wealth of information on birds and birding.

And if you are rather new at birding, it may help you to download Merlin Bird ID, a free app to help in bird identification and allows you to save your sightings. There is also information on webinars, podcasts, bird identification and other related aspects of birding.

Chuck Lura has a broad knowledge of "Natural North Dakota"and loves sharing that knowledge with others. Since 2005, Chuck has written a weekly column, “Naturalist at Large,” for the Lake Metigoshe Mirror, and his “The Naturalist” columns appear in several other weekly North Dakota newspapers.
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