Fairfax County Volunteers Get Ready For Great Backyard Bird Count
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February 12, 2014
From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, bird watchers from more than 100 countries are expected to participate in the 17th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). On February 14–17, 2014, anyone anywhere in Fairfax County can count birds for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count and enter their sightings at the Great Backyard Bird Count website. The information gathered by volunteers helps track the health of bird populations at a scale that would not otherwise be possible.
In Fairfax County, 36 sites in the county’s School Age Child Care (SACC) program are participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count. “This activity is a natural fit with the focus of the SACC curriculum this year, Digging Deeper into the Wonders of Nature,” said SACC program administrator Beth Leggat. “Many of the teachers at our centers participated in a training conducted by our partners at the Audubon Society. It helped them to really understand the mission of GBBC and inspired them to get children excited about this project.” Teachers and children at centers have been gearing up for the event, adding birdfeeders and other elements to their outdoor spaces to create environments that attract birds. Children and their families have been encouraged to continue counting throughout the weekend as well.
In North America, GBBC participants will add their data to help define the magnitude of a dramatic irruption of magnificent Snowy Owls. Bird watchers will also be on the lookout for the invasive Eurasian Collared-Dove to see if it has expanded its range again. GBBC observations may help show whether or not numbers of American Crows will continue to rebound after being hit hard by the West Nile virus and whether more insect-eating species are showing up in new areas, possibly because of changing climate.
Last year’s Great Backyard Bird Count shattered records after going global for the first time, thanks to integration with the eBird online checklist program launched in 2002 by the Cornell Lab and Audubon. Participants reported their bird sightings from all seven continents, including 111 countries and independent territories. More than 34.5 million birds and 4,300 species were recorded—over one-third of the world’s total bird species documented in just four days.
“People who care about birds can change the world,” said Audubon chief scientist Gary Langham. “Technology has made it possible for people everywhere to unite around a shared love of birds and a commitment to protecting them.”
The Great Backyard Bird Count is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society with partner Bird Studies Canada and made possible in part by sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited. The Great Backyard Bird Count is a great way for people of all ages and backgrounds to connect with nature and make a difference for birds. It’s free and easy. To learn more about how to join the count visit the Great Backyard Bird Count website and view the winning photos from the 2013 GBBC photo contest.
Now in its second century, Audubon connects people with birds, nature and the environment that supports us all. Its national network of community-based nature centers, chapters, scientific, education, and advocacy programs engages millions of people from all walks of life in conservation action to protect and restore the natural world.