January 29, 2010

Watch You Some Birdies on February 12

Friday-Monday, February 12-15, is this year's Great American Backyard Bird Count.

Anyone can take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, from novice bird watchers to experts. Participants count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the event and report their sightings online at www.birdcount.org. One 2009 participant said, “Thank you for the opportunity to participate in citizen science. I have had my eyes opened to a whole new interest and I love it!”

It's simple, it's free, and it's actual grunt-level science.

“The GBBC is a perfect first step towards the sort of intensive monitoring needed to discover how birds are responding to environmental change,” said Janis Dickinson, the director of Citizen Science at the Cornell Lab. “Winter is such a vulnerable period for birds, so winter bird distributions are likely to be very sensitive to change. There is only one way—citizen science—to gather data on private lands where people live and GBBC has been doing this across the continent for many years. GBBC has enormous potential both as an early warning system and in capturing and engaging people in more intensive sampling of birds across the landscape.”

I have to admit that I grimace a little bit at the "Great American" part. It's so 1976 Bicentennial-esque, taking me back to when the landscape seemed to sprout "Great American ..." this and that. "Great American Spaghetti & Woodstove Company," that sort of thing. Where's my AMC Pacer?*

M. and I are already doing Cornell's  slightly more complicated citizen science bird project known as Project Feeder Watch. But maybe this year we can work in the GBBC too.

*No, I never owned one. Had a Ford F-100 back then.

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