WAKE FOREST — Did you get a new bird feeder for Christmas that is attracting hungry visitors to your yard? Do you notice flashes of color and hear lovely sounds on your evening walks?
Would you like a good excuse to sit with a cup of tea and look out your window for a while? Then you need to participate in The Great Backyard Bird Count Feb. 17-20.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society started the online citizen-science project in l998 and now more than 160,000 people join in each year to help create a near real-time snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds worldwide.
Area residents are invited to spend at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count recording the numbers and kinds of birds you see, and enter your lists online. There is no age limit for bird watchers and you can count from any location, anywhere in the world, for as long as you wish.
Go to www.birdcount.org to get instructions and bird lists. If you have trouble sorting out your sparrows and finches and such, there is even a site to help you tell them apart. Once you send in your numbers, you will become a part of this global project.
River Hawks, the local chapter of the NC Wildlife Federation, would like for you to also join in on a more local survey of birds in our immediate area. You can send in a copy of your GBBC list or make a separate report and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear reports too at email@example.com. Please note the day and time you watch (your name is optional), your location, and the species and number of birds you see. For example, if you see one cardinal and then four cardinals and then two cardinals, only report four cardinals because there’s a good chance you saw the same bird more than once.
Although the national count wants very specific identification, if you can’t narrow it down any further, River Hawks will settle for generic sparrow or finch or woodpecker.
To check out the local results, go to ncwf.org/ncwf-chapters/ and click on River Hawks. That website will also give you information about meetings and events, including hikes, sponsored by the group.
Whether you count for the world, or count for the Wake Forest-Rolesville area, or both, you can have fun while contributing to the scientific knowledge about the complex distribution and movement of birds, how it is changing and what is affecting the population.