For the next four days--February 16 through 19--birdwatchers of all abilities and ages are identifying and counting birds throughout North America. The Great Backyard Bird Count is going on right now, and it's free, easy, takes as little as 15 minutes, and helps the birds.
According to the GBBC website:
"Scientists and bird enthusiasts can learn a lot by knowing where the birds are. Bird populations are dynamic; they are constantly in flux. No single scientist or team of scientists could hope to document the complex distribution and movements of so many species in such a short time.
We need your help. Make sure the birds from your community are well represented in the count. It doesn't matter whether you report the 5 species coming to your backyard feeder or the 75 species you see during a day's outing to a wildlife refuge.
Your counts can help us answer many questions:
How will this winter's snow and cold temperatures influence bird populations? Where are winter finches and other “irruptive” species that appear in large numbers during some years but not others? How will the timing of birds’ migrations compare with past years? How are bird diseases, such as West Nile virus, affecting birds in different regions? What kinds of differences in bird diversity are apparent in cities versus suburban, rural, and natural areas? Are any birds undergoing worrisome declines that point to the need for conservation attention?
Scientists use the counts, along with observations from other citizen-science projects, such as the Christmas Bird Count, Project FeederWatch, and eBird, to give us an immense picture of our winter birds. Each year that these data are collected makes them more meaningful and allows scientists to investigate far-reaching questions."
Don't know anything about birds? That's OK. The folks at Great Backyard Bird Count can teach you all you need to know. (They have lots of fun games and activities, too.)
Results of the bird count are constantly being updated. See what's going on in your neck of the woods!