Bird Feeding Month Feeds Famished Birds & Hungry Minds

Learning Opportunity In Your Backyard

As much as humans express our discontent with the dark and cold (and resulting feelings of isolation) that winter brings, the cold months bring far more challenges for wildlife than they do for humans. While animal adaptations help them cope with the difficulties that New England’s winter weather brings, surviving the coldest and snowiest time of the year is not without struggle. For birds in particular, February is the hardest time of year. Food is at its most scarce, making it tough for feathered creatures to stay full and warm until springtime comes.

In response to the challenges that late winter brings for birds, February has been designated National Bird-Feeding Month. Designated as such in 1994, National Bird Feeding Month helps not only to provide birds with food sources, but also supports community- and place-based learning about local species and the environment… Read the rest of this entry »

Engage in Your Community as a Citizen Scientists During the Great Backyard Bird Count

Great Backyard Bird Count
February 14th-17th, 2014

During the winter, birds are perhaps the most easily spotted of all the wildlife roaming the snowy landscape. Our fine feathered friends flock to feeders, leave tracks in fresh snow, and flit around in the trees and bushes of backyards everywhere. Interested in learning more about the birds that share your surroundings? Participate in this year’s Great Backyard Bird Count!

An annual event since 1998, the Great Backyard Bird Count brings together over 100,000 citizen scientists (and real scientists) from all over the globe to collect data on over a third of the world’s bird species. Held this year from February 14th-17th, 2014, the bird count requires participants to watch for birds and track the species and number of each species that they see.

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Citizen Scientists Wanted for the 15th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count

Great Backyard Bird Count Perfect for Families

(Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Get out your bird books- this year’s 2012 Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) takes place from February 17th-20th!  

The GBBC helps researchers gather an accurate count of bird populations, as well as determine the location of bird species.  Sponsored by Audubon and Cornell University, the event requires citizen scientists to watch and count birds in their backyard for at least 15 minutes on at least one of the days during the bird count.

After you’ve collected your data, you can submit your information online.  Tallies on the data site will grow as the count continues- check back to see how populations in your area look and to see how many other people are participating!

Although it’s called the Great “Backyard” Bird Count, the count extends well beyond backyards. Lots of participants choose to head for national parks, nature centers, urban parks, nature trails, or nearby sanctuaries. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

The GBBC is essential to ornithology research because without the help of volunteer citizen scientists, researchers wouldn’t be able to gather accurate data about populations and locations of birds.  The event is incredibly easy for families to take part in, and also offers ample learning opportunities!

While counting birds, families can practice identifying the different species they see, discussing with your kids why each bird looks (color, shape, and size) the way that it does, and talk about what the bird’s natural food sources are during winter.  Kids can also learn about habitat by thinking about where they saw each bird and what kinds of birds they didn’t see because they’ve migrated south.  For more information on the event, visit www.birdsource.org.  Happy counting!

Citizen Scientists Wanted this Weekend for the Great Backyard Bird Count

Western MA Families Can Participate as Citizen Scientists During the 14th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count This Weekend

“Whether people notice birds in backyards, parks, or wilderness areas, we ask that they share their counts at http://www.birdcount.org,” said Judy Braus, Audubon’s senior vice president of Education and Centers. “It’s fun and rewarding for people of all ages and skill levels.” (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

The 14th annual Great Backyard Bird Count began today Friday, February 18th, and extends through the holiday weekend until February 21st. Parents and kids of all ages and skill levels are needed to count birds in their yards, neighborhoods, or other places they may be traveling to during school vacation. Simply tally birds for at least 15 minutes on any day of the count, then go to www.birdcount.org and enter the highest number of each species seen at any one time.

Coordinated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Audubon, and Bird Studies Canada, the count provides an instantaneous snapshot of birdlife across the continent for all to see. Anyone can watch as the tallies come in at http://www.birdcount.org. Organizers hope to receive more than 100,000 checklists during the event, with tallies of more than 600 birds species in all.

Last year’s participants reported more than 1.8 million American Robins, as well as rarities such as the first Red-billed Tropicbird in the count’s history. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

“When thousands of people all tell us what they’re seeing, we can detect changes in birds’ numbers and locations from year to year,” said Janis Dickinson, director of Citizen Science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Data from the Great Backyard Bird Count can provide an early signal of changes in bird populations. Past counts showed a drop in reports of American Crows after outbreaks of West Nile virus in 2003, a finding consistent with studies showing crow populations declined by 50–75% in some states. Maps from the count have also captured the paths of migrating Sandhill Cranes and recorded the dramatic spread Eurasian Collared-Doves. Introduced to the Bahamas in the 1970s, the species was reported in just 8 states during the 1999 GBBC. A decade later, it was reported in 39 states and Canadian provinces.

For more information, including bird-ID tips, instructions, and past results, visit  www.birdcount.org.

Join the Great Backyard Bird Count During February Break

Join the Great Backyard Bird Count
February 12-15, 2010

Heading south for some sand and surf during the February school break? Bring along a tally sheet and count the sea gulls, sand pipers and pelicans at a nearby beach or wildlife refuge. Click on the image above for a printable tally sheet. Use your postal code, town or name of National Park to generate a custom tally sheet. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Bird watchers coast to coast are invited to take part in the 13th annual Great Backyard Bird Count, Friday, February 12, through Monday, February 15, 2010.  Participants in the free event will join tens of thousands of volunteers counting birds in their own backyards, local parks or wildlife refuges.

Each checklist submitted by these “citizen scientists” helps researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology,the National Audubon Society , and Bird Studies Canada learn more about how the birds are doing—and how to protect them. Last year, participants turned in more than 93,600 checklists online, creating the continent’s largest instantaneous snapshot of bird populations ever recorded.

Anyone can take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, from novice bird watchers to experts. Participants count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the event and report their sightings online at www.birdcount.org. One 2009 participant said, “Thank you for the opportunity to participate in citizen science. I have had my eyes opened to a whole new interest and I love it!”

On the www.birdcount.org website, participants can explore real-time maps and charts that show what others are reporting during the count. The site has tips to help identify birds and special materials for educators. Participants may also enter the GBBC photo contest by uploading images taken during the count. Many images will be featured in the GBBC website’s photo gallery. All participants are entered in a drawing for prizes that include bird feeders, binoculars, books, CDs, and many other great birding products.

Participants submit thousands of digital images for the GBBC photo contest each year. Participants are also invited to upload their bird videos to YouTube tagged “GBBC.” – Businesses, schools, nature clubs, Scout troops, and other community organizations interested in the GBBC can contact the Cornell Lab of Ornithology at (800) 843-2473 (outside the U.S., call (607) 254-2473), or Audubon at citizenscience@audubon.org or (215) 355-9588, Ext 16.

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Christmas Bird Count: Citizen Science in Action

Christmas Bird Count: Citizen Science in Action
December 14th – January 5th

Hilltown kids participating in a bird count last year at the Chesterfield Gorge. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

For three weeks beginning December 14th, 2009, tens of thousands of volunteers throughout the Americas take part in an adventure that has become a family tradition among generations. Families and students, birders and scientists, armed with binoculars, bird guides and checklists go out on an annual mission – often before dawn. For over one hundred years, the desire to both make a difference and to experience the beauty of nature has driven dedicated people to leave the comfort of a warm house during the Holiday season.

Each of the citizen scientists who annually braves snow, wind, or rain, to take part in the Christmas Bird Count makes an enormous contribution to conservation. Audubon and other organizations use data collected in this longest-running wildlife census to assess the health of bird populations – and to help guide conservation action.

From feeder-watchers and field observers to count compilers and regional editors, everyone who takes part in the Christmas Bird Count does it for love of birds and the excitement of friendly competition — and with the knowledge that their efforts are making a difference for science and bird conservation.

To find out how you can get involved, click HERE.

Events happening in the Berkshires for the Christmas Count:

  • Saturday, December 19th
    North Berkshire Christmas Count
    Count species in Williamstown, New Ashford, North Adams, and Adams with members of N. Berkshire Audubon. Contact Gary Soucie (458-0309, wf5f@roadrunner.com) or Pam Weatherbee (458-3538) for more information. Blizzard date: 12/20
  • Sunday, December 20th
    Central Berkshire Christmas Count
    Join a team and keep the tradition going. Sign up at Members Night (12/1), or contact count leader Tom Collins (499-2799, tcbirder@nycap.rr.com) for departure place and time. Blizzard date: 12/27.
  • Friday, January 1st
    South Berkshire Christmas Count
    Join a team and welcome the new year with some winter birding. Contact René Laubach (637-0320, rlaubach@massaudubon.org) to sign up or for more information about time and place.

February Bird Count

Another bird count your family can participate in this winter is the Great Backyard Bird Count, a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. This year the GBBC happens February 12th-15th, 2010.  Click HERE to read more about the GBBC.

Join the Great Backyard Bird Count

Count for Fun, Count for the Future
February 13-16, 2009

Chickadee in West Chesterfield, MA

Chickadees along the Westfield River. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Bird and nature fans throughout North America are invited to join tens of thousands of bird watchers for the 12th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), February 13-16, 2009.

A joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, this free event is an opportunity for families, students, and people of all ages to discover the wonders of nature in backyards, schoolyards, and local parks, and, at the same time, make an important contribution to conservation.

“Anyone who can identify even a few species can contribute to the body of knowledge that is used to inform conservation efforts to protect birds and biodiversity,” said Audubon Education Vice-President, Judy Braus.

Volunteers take part by counting birds for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the event and reporting their sightings online at www.birdcount.org. The data help researchers understand bird population trends across the continent, information that is critical for effective conservation. In 2008, participants submitted more than 85,000 checklists, a new record.

“The GBBC has become a vital link in the arsenal of continent wide bird-monitoring projects,” said Cornell Lab of Ornithology director John Fitzpatrick. “With more than a decade of data now in hand, the GBBC has documented striking changes in late-winter bird distributions.”

Winter Morning Dove

Morning Dove in West Chesterfield, MA (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Participants submit thousands of digital images for the GBBC photo contest each year. Last year’s winners have been chosen and are now posted on the web site. Participants are also invited to upload their bird videos to YouTube tagged “GBBC.” Some of them will also be featured on the GBBC web site. All participants will be entered in a drawing to win dozens of birding items, including stuffed birds, clocks, books, feeders, and more.

Businesses, schools, nature clubs, Scout troops, and other community organizations interested in the GBBC can contact the Cornell Lab of Ornithology at (800) 843-2473 (outside the U.S., call (607) 254-2473), or Audubon at citizenscience@audubon.org or (215) 355-9588, Ext 16.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is made possible, in part, by support from Wild Birds Unlimited.

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