An annual avian census will take flight Friday for four days, and everyone of any age is welcome to count and chip in with their observations.
The 16th annual Great Backyard Bird Count, a joint effort by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Audubon Society and Bird Studies Canada, gathers data from bird watchers – skilled and novice – to better see trends of bird species populations and patterns across the United States and Canada.
The Northern cardinal, the state bird of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia – more than any other state, for the Western meadowlark commands the designation in six states – remains the most-reported species for eight years running.
Filing out a checklist take three simple steps, accessed through www.birdcount.org, from observing birds in one place and noting how many of each species spotted, whether at home, at the beach, at a park or in a field, for at least 15 minutes, as many times as desired through the bird count weekend.
Anyone without a computer can take notes, then log on at a local library’s terminals or through a friend or family member’s Web access to complete checklists.
Kurt Hugelmeyer of Sunset Beach, N.C., a volunteer at the Museum of Coastal Carolina in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., loves to chirp about the joys of bird watching. He also helps with programs touting the bird counts as well as gives tips on focusing binoculars, using published bird guides, and where to go locally to see interesting birds.
This time of year, you’ll see a lot of goldfinches, especially because they’re heading north for the spring. You see a lot of Carolina wrens and Carolina chickadees; those are the common birds around here ... and mourning doves. Cardinals are interesting: They’re the first and last ones at the feeder. You’ll see them at first light and last at night.
The bobwhite quail; I used to have them every once in a while. I’d see a female under my feeder with a bunch of babies. I hear them once in a while. I used to see them every time I take part in the Christmas Bird Count, toward Pawleys Island, but it’s been at least six years since one’s been seen over here.