Be a part of history in the making by counting birds for 15 minutes, wherever you are on Feb. 13-16, 2015. The Great Backyard Birdcount started in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society as the first online citizen science project to collect data about wild birds and display the results in near real-time. Last year, more than 144,000 checklists were submitted online documenting about 43% of all the bird species in the world! Individual scientists seeking to understand bird distribution and movements rely on a large network of citizens who submit observations to a database called eBird. This data, collected over a many years, helps scientists investigate questions like how weather and climate change influence bird populations across North America, how migration timing compares with prior years, and how bird diversity differs within cities, towns, and rural areas.
Sign up to be a citizen science volunteer for The Great Backyard Bird Count. During the count, you can explore what other people are seeing and enjoy photos submitted from all over the world. Participation is free and easy.
Keeping a backyard bird feeding station is a fun way to enjoy watching and hearing birds all winter. Being diligent about keeping feeders and birdbaths clean is crucial to prevent the spread of diseases like Salmonellosis, Aspergillosis, and Avian Pox between birds. Diseased birds are more likely to succumb to death by starvation, dehydration, severe weather, or as easy prey for a predator. The National Audubon Society suggests this list of must-do hygiene practices:
- Disinfect your feeder and birdbath: To keep pathogens at bay, immerse your seed feeder or birdbath in a nine to one water-bleach solution, rinsing it thoroughly, one to two times per month
- Empty water from your birdbath every day: Brush or wipe it clean and rinse, then refill the birdbath with fresh water.
- Discard old seed and hulls: When you clean your feeder, get rid of the old seed. Rake or sweep up any uneaten hulls on the ground.
- Avoid overcrowding: If possible, provide more than one feeder and spread them out. Crowding only expedites the spread of disease, so give the birds plenty of room.
Source: Audubon: Feeder Care & Hygeine
Collisions with windows are a major cause of death for songbirds, so position your feeder to minimize the chance of collisions. Scientists think that bird collide with windows because they see a reflection of the landscape and sky on the glass. Either hang a feeder very close to your window (within 1-2 feet) or at a distance of at least 30 feet. You can break up and reduce the reflections from a window by hanging shiny objects in from of the window, applying strips of semi-transparent tape, streaking the window with soap, or by spraying on fake snow. Read more about practical, detailed solutions on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s website.
After participating as a citizen scientist in The Great Backyard Bird Count, you might want to continue observing and learning about birds. The local North Central Washington Audubon Society chapter offers field trips, classes, and a newsletter with information about regional bird festivals, programs, and bird species sightings (www.ncwaudubon.org). Bird-watching is our county’s fastest growing recreational activity and our Columbia River valley is a great place for new birders to start seeing amazing wild birds.