Thursday, February 12, 2009

Please help count us!

Downy Woodpecker
Originally uploaded by Laura Erickson
Look, you humans. Every ten years, you guys fill out a census form so everyone knows how you're doing, as a species and as various smaller populations. Now I personally have mastered the "hunt and peck" system of typing, but most of my friends are functionally illiterate, and your census doesn't try to count us anyway. So we need you birdwatchers to do it.

So please, please, PLEASE join the Great Backyard Bird Count this weekend.

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is a fun, free, and easy project hosted over four days each February by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. This year's count takes place Friday through Monday, Feb. 13-16.

You can tally the birds you see in your backyard, a nearby park, nature center, refuge, or anywhere you like. Just watch birds for at least 15 minutes and report the highest number of each species you see together at any one time. File your checklists online at where you can see results showing up on our maps in real time. Count all four days if you like, or fewer.

The GBBC gathers a massive amount of data about where we birds are, and in what numbers, during late winter. All this information goes into databases that scientists use to better understand the movement and distribution of bird populations. The information you give them gets more and more valuable as they track the impacts of habitat loss, climate change, and disease on us birds over time.

After filing your report online, check out the GBBC photo gallery. Upload an image of your own to be considered for the photo contest. (It would be SO cool if a photo of one of us Downy Woodpeckers won!) Leave a comment on their blog. Play games on the special kids' page. Just by participating you are eligible for great prizes, including bird feeders, software, books, clocks, and more.

So PLEASE join the Great Backyard Bird Count! Thank you for caring about us birds.

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