I am pausing every few minutes as I work at my computer to watch the birds out of my window. Actually, I doing more than watching – I’m counting. The tallies, which I will enter into the BirdCount database will contribute towards the real-time snapshot of birds across the country.
This is the 11th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. The theme is “Count for Fun, Count for the Future.” It starts today and runs through February 18.
During the 2007 count, over 80,000 checklists were submitted during the four day event, reporting 11 million birds and 613 species. Individuals can count for as little as 15 minutes – in their yards, city parks, nature centers, or wherever they like. They enter the highest number of each species seen at one time on the GBBC web site.
Besides counting birds, it has been interesting to notice the change in bird behavior from earlier counts I have done this winter for Cornell’s Feederwatch program. The male House Finches have molted into brighter red plumage. As I watched, two males did aerobatics as they tried to out due each other displaying for a female perched on the hanging feeder.
The Curved-bill Thrasher that hangs out in my yard all winter has started murmuring his gurgling song from the Pyracantha bush.
You can almost feel the testosterone in the air. Robins call out to each other and White-winged Doves have started their mating call, “who-hoo-who-hoo-oo.” So far today, I have seen seven species of birds from my window. While I can hope that something rare or exciting might happen by, I know that just counting the ordinary provides the kind of snapshot that will be helpful to bird conservation.
You don’t have to be passionate about birds like I am to participate. What have you seen in your yard today?