“Citizen Scientists” Needed for National Birdcount

Tree swallows meet in Otto Armleder Park. Photo courtesy of Konstantin Vasserman

This Saturday, join a nation-wide project to help Audubon and Cornell University take an annual “snapshot” of bird populations across the continent. It will be day two of the 14th annual Great Backyard Birdcount, and the third year that citizens will pool their observational forces at the Clifford Bird-Banding Station in Delhi.

Children and adults of all ages are all welcome, and no experience is needed. “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,” writes the national organization, which found that nearly half of last year’s participants had become interested in bird-watching as children. Saturday’s young birders will be thanked with certificates.

Participants will record the largest number of each bird species they see, and the largest number from each site will be sent into the national database.  According to the Great Backyard Birdcount, the information helps answer important questions about dynamic bird populations:

  • 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?

Those who aren’t up for exploring the forest trails around the station can watch birds feed and birders log, from the comfort of the Sisters of Charity Motherhouse; organizer Kathy McDonald of the Midwest Native Plant Society will provide cookies. Local non-profit groups will lead hikes throughout the day and offer educational programs, starting with “Birding 101” at 10am. The Cincinnati Wildflower Preservation Society will offer a talk on local invasive plant species at 11am. Photographers can also submit their best shots to the project’s photo contest.

Other local non-profits are welcome to join the event, offer talks of their own, and meet volunteers interested in wildlife enjoyment and preservation.

Volunteers can come anytime between 9am and noon to the Clifford Bird Observatory, at 5900 Delhi Road, Cincinnati, OH.  For more information on the local event call 513.941.6497 or email whocooksforyou@gmail.com.

Anyone in the U.S. or Canada can contribute to the project independently, from Feb.18-21, using the easy instructions and species checklists available here.

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