As we’ve passed winter’s mid-point, and in spite of our wonderfully wacky winter weather, days are lengthening and signs of spring’s inexorable coming are becoming visible.
Cardinals in my Conway neighborhood have started tuning up for the impending spring songfest with their “whit, whit, whit” songs becoming a bit more emphatic as the days progress.
Even winter residents like orioles, yellow-rumped and pine warblers, along with white-throated and chipping sparrows, are issuing fragments of their own songs and trills, while the resident mockingbird is becoming somewhat more aggressive as the days lengthen, much to the chagrin of the feeder birds in attendance.
Another sign of winter’s mid-point is the annual Great Backyard Bird Count scheduled for the coming weekend, Feb. 14-17. As a citizen science project, the GBBC seeks to collect data from across the continent (and in recent years other parts of the world) to give a winter snapshot of bird distribution and numbers for the present year.
Researchers can use the collected information to help assess potential trends in species’ winter distribution, overall population numbers, correlations of occurrence with winter weather patterns, etc., in order to help track the overall situation with our overall and specific bird populations.
Participation is free, and the rules are quite simple. Basically, you count the highest number of each species you observe at your feeders, in your yard, on a neighborhood stroll, or on a field trip to a natural area, wildlife refuge, etc., then enter the data online at the GBBC website, located at http://gbbc.birdcount.org/.
In addition to participation, guidelines and data entry, the site also offers a plethora of other information, including the ability to watch in real-time as reports come in from towns, states or the entire country; links to other bird-related info such as species accounts with identification tips; and a photography gallery with a contest for those so inclined.
The GBBC offers an opportunity for all of us to put our enjoyment of observing birds to use for the benefit of these wonderful, amazing creatures that grace nearly every aspect of our landscape. Every bit of data collected and entered is helpful to those who are dedicated to the monitoring and study of our feathered friends, and useful in conservation of our diversity of bird species.
Reach GARY PHILLIPS at 248-4595 or email@example.com.