This morning on National Public Radio, I heard a piece about the Great Backyard Bird Count. This is an annual four-day effort to count birds across the continent. The purpose is to create a yearly snapshot for scientists about bird distribution and movement patterns. Over time, the data is analyzed to help scientists better understand migration patterns, disease, and how changes in climate may affect bird populations.
The Great Backyard Bird Count is science in action, and it would be fun and easy for us all to participate. If you have children, this would be great way to engage them in an interesting and meaningful nature activity. Over the past few winters, I have noticed that fewer sparrows and doves are coming to our backyard at this time of year. I wonder if what I've noticed is part of a more widespread trend or simply the work of our neighborhood outdoor cats. Participating in the bird count may give me some insight into this casual observation.
For complete information, go to the Great Backyard Bird Count website. Then between February 16 and 19, grab a field guide to birds and begin counting your feathered friends in your backyard or neighborhood. Submit your data as indicated on the website, and record it in a journal for yourself. Next year, see how your own findings change.