Great Backyard Bird Count

The 13th annual Great Backyard Bird Count, a joint project of Audubon and The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, starts this year on Friday, February 12, and runs through Monday, February 15. I know this because Ursula and Virgil have both brought home information this week about how to participate.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual four-day event that enlists anyone and everyone around North American to count birds. The effort creates a real-time snapshot of where birds are across the continent. It takes as little as 15 minutes on one day — or people can count for as long as they like each day of the event. As the project’s website says, “It’s free, fun, and easy—and it helps the birds.”

In 2009, volunteers submitted more than 94,000 checklists, observed more than 620 species, and counted 11,558,638 birds. Looking at the Great Backyard Bird Count website, I learned that bird watchers in New Hampshire spotted 99 species, and that American Goldfinches were reported most often, at 3,643 birds seen — just barely edging out Pine Siskins, at 3,631.

Our kids are happy to have an excuse to use their binoculars. Ursula was surprised to learn that birds stay here throughout the northern New England winter. She’s already started scanning the skies and the bushes for them, and yesterday when we came home from school, she stood outside, just listening. Virgil has asked to be our data guy, inputting our bird list on the computer — and although I know it’s so he can sit in front of that mesmerizing screen, I’m happy to say yes, because he’ll be adding to our knowledge of wildlife and even aiding the cause of science.

Click on the links below if you want to join in.

Learn more
- Sign up to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count and learn more about it.
- Especially for kids: how to keep a bird list, pictures of common birds, and Did You Know questions to answer.

Great Kids, Great Outdoors” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Kristen Laine.

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