OK…let’s be honest, things have been a little slow at my feeders this winter.
Apparently I am not alone! Anecdotal reports from much of North America seem to paint a similar picture of less than stellar activity.
At this point we can only speculate; but, there are a couple of prime suspects: an incredibly mild winter, a bumper crop of natural foods produced during last year’s growing season and the almost total lack of a southward movement by the “winter finches” out of northern Canada.
It is all speculation at this time, but this year’s Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) looks to be perfectly timed to help bring some factual answers to the question, “Where are all my birds?”
The Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages and skill levels in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent.
The 15th annual Great Backyard Bird Count will be held February 17-20, 2012. Participation is free, and everything you need is available online.
Last year’s count, which includes Canada and the United States, identified 596 species and tallied over 11.4 million individual birds. Citizen scientists like you submitted over 92,000 checklists for the four day count period.
While the European Starling was the most abundant species reported by GBBC participants at almost 1.4 million, the American Robin was a strong second with 1.04 million birds reported.
The Northern Cardinal appeared on the largest number of checklists – 45,709, which is almost half of all the checklists submitted, the Mourning Dove took second place.
Information like this will help ornithologist determine how this year’s weather and other factors are influencing the activity, movements and populations of birds throughout North America.
And you can help!
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.
You can find all the details on how to participate at the GBBC web site.
This event is coordinated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Audubon, and Bird Studies Canada and I am proud to say that Wild Birds Unlimited has been the major corporate sponsors for the GBBC since its beginning.