By Madison Fisler Lewis
Feb. 11, 2015. This weekend, the 18th annual Great Backyard Bird County will be held in a collaborative effort between the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornothology. This international effort strives to track bird populations all over the world.
From Feb. 13-16, anyone can become a citizen scientist from their own homes by spending at least 15 minutes counting bird sightings. After the count, participants can enter their sightings here, where the data will be compiled with other entries by thousands of other volunteers. In this way, everyday citizens can help track bird populations on a large scale without ever leaving their own homes.
From a press release:
During last year’s citizen science event, more than 5,000 checklists were submitted in our state. The largest single species count was 12,000 Redheads at Okracoke Island and the most frequently reported species were the Northern Cardinal and the Dark-eyed Junco. In total, 204 species were spotted during the four-day event.
Edi Crosby, owner of WingN’It in Banner Elk, has some tips for those wishing to participate in the event this year.
“Especially with the cold this winter, I think the biggest tip I have this year would be to find someplace warm where you can watch and count the birds,” Crosby said. “Fill up your feeders, fill up your birdbath and put extra things out for the birds, and then just sit back and watch.”
In addition, Crosby wants to remind bird lovers to keep suet feeders full and to put out extra bowls of seeds, nuts and a fresh supply of peanuts in their shells.
“Put aside your time for a few different counts, and even better if it is snowing!” she said. “Every food source will be full of birds and you will have a waiting line at every feeder. Last year, I had 15 bird species, plus a few squirrels and chipmunks present and accounted for.”
The Great Backyard Bird County is a great way for bird lovers of all ages to connect with nature and make a difference for the birds that they love.
Birds to watch out for in the High Country this year are goldfinches, black cat chickadees, juncos and cardinals.
“Take the time to sit down, relax and experience it,” Crosby said. “I hadn’t done this kind of thing for a very long time, and now it is something that I look forward to every year.”
WingN’It is located in The Little Red Caboose at 441 Shawneehaw Ave. in Banner Elk. For more information, call 828-898-5008. Winter hours for WingN’It are 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sunday.