Warmer temperatures and lack of snow in parts of North America are setting the stage for what could be a most intriguing 15th annual Great Backyard Bird Count, coming up Feb. 17-20, 2012.
Bird watchers across the U.S. and Canada are getting ready to tally millions of birds in the annual count coordinated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Audubon, and Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada.
In past counts, participants were most likely to report American Robins in areas without snow. Will more robins be seen farther north this year? Will some birds, such as Eastern Phoebes, begin their migrations earlier? And where will the “Harry Potter” owl turn up next? Snowy Owls have dazzled spectators as these Arctic birds have ventured south in unusual numbers this winter – an unpredictable occurrence that experts believe is related more to the availability of food than to weather.
Participants count birds at any location they wish for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count and then enter their tallies at www.birdcount.org. Anyone can participate in the free event, and no registration is required.
To learn more about how to join the count, get bird ID tips, downloadable instructions and more visit www.birdcount.org. The count also includes a photo contest and a prize drawing for participants who enter at least one bird checklist online.