Friday, February 15, 2013

The Great Backyard Bird Count

My mother and grandmother always delighted in bird watching.
When I was little, I really didn't understand 
their enthusiastic phone calls to one another.
They would say things like "I had two cardinals this morning!"
or "There's a red-headed woodpecker at my feeder!"
It wasn't until I was much, much older that I understood their excitement.
And now I love to watch birds, too.

Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal Photo by Jerry Acton, New York
2006 GBBC Photo Gallery

I appreciate their beauty and their nature.
There's something fascinating about tiny creatures that can fly through the air.
Maybe what draws my attention is their colorful markings, 
or their soft, waterproof feathers.
Perhaps it is their speed and grace,
maybe their distinctive cries and songs. 
Whatever it is, I'm not alone in my fascination of them.
I'm always surprised at how many people love to watch birds.

White-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch photo by Ella Clem, Frankfort, Kentucky
2011 GBBC Photo Gallery 

In fact, from today, February 15th, through Monday, February 18th,
thousands of people will be taking part in the 16th annual Great Backyard Bird Count
or GBBC. According to the official web page of the Count, Bird,
the GBBC is "an annual four-day event
that engages bird watchers of all ages
in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot
of where the birds are."
Click on this link: How to Participate
It's easy: watch birds for at least 15 minutes 
and upload your list to the link the site provides.

This year marks the first year that the GBBC, which is a joint project
by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Audubon, 
and Bird Studies/etudes d'oiseaux Canada,
is integrated with e-Bird, "a worldwide bird data collection program"
for individuals and groups who keep a personal bird watch record.

Pine Warbler
Pine Warbler photo by Will Stuart, Matthews, North Carolina
2012 GBBC Photo Gallery

So take the time this weekend to join the fun.
And remember: one blue jay, nice. 
Six blue jays at the feeder, amazing!

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