Imagine helping scientists research animals in your own backyard or your favorite park. The Great Backyard Bird Count is supported by groups like the Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, but it depends on ordinary people like us to get an idea of where the birds are each winter.
Helping is easy and fun! You pick a day (or all four days, if you want!) and spend at least 15 minutes watching for birds. Imagine how fun this would be with kids! I'm so excited to try it with mine! You make a list of all the birds you see and record how many of each species. You can have more than one observation period. Then you type your data into the website and let them take care of all the analytics. If you don't feel like you're an expert on bird species, don't worry! The project's website, http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc/howto.html, has dozens of resources to help bird-lovers identify birds. Now is a great time to start getting familiar with the birds that are usually in your area (which is why I'm typing this post tonight...three weeks in advance...that, and I'm already starting to get excited about this project!).
And there's a contest! It's a photo contest and Kaia has been so into taking pictures lately that I think we will set up a feeder and let her start snapping away...just for fun! In fact, the Great Backyard Bird Count may just last three weeks at our house!