The Christmas Bird Count is the longest running citizen science program in the world, with over a century of records.
This year’s CBC is just finished but you can make plans for next year. Your timing, however, is perfect for the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), which runs four consecutive days beginning Feb. 18.
The GBBC is a more do-it-yourself, low-velocity version of the CBC. You pick your own location to count birds (for at least 15 minutes). If you are counting at different locations, you can do more than one count in a day; you can do counts on any or all of the four days of the GBBC. There are simple rules for counting birds, and you need to have some easy-to-get information for each of your counts.
If your birding experience is limited, chances are that you’ll see birds that you can’t identify. That’s OK! One of the questions you’ll answer for each of your counts is whether you identified all the birds you saw.
The GBBC is especially suited for stay-at-home bird watchers. Your seen-from-your-window count of birds at your backyard feeders is just as needed as a count done by a bungee-corded birder, dangling from a blimp over a remote mountaintop.
The GBBC website, www.birdsource.org/gbbc, has instructions, downloadable checklists of birds for your location and help for bird identifications. After you’ve done your counts, you enter your data at the GBBC website.
If you are completely nondigital but would like to do the GBBC, contact me at 662-9087 for a paper version.
— Mark Oswood, Connecting with Nature
This piece is also published in the Wenatchee World at www.wenatcheeworld.com/news/2011/jan/03/low-velocity-birding-for-everyone/