If you missed out on the Payson area’s National Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count event Jan. 2, another bird count opportunity is at hand.
The Great Backyard Bird Count starts Friday, Feb. 14. Now in its 22nd year, individuals and families are invited to take part in the count, which is held throughout the world from Feb. 14 through Feb. 17.
The event helps scientists get a snapshot of global bird populations. In 2019, about 225,000 people counted some 6,850 species.
Last fall, scientists reported a decline of more than one in four breeding birds in the United States and Canada since 1970, which makes keeping track of birds more important than ever.
Volunteers from around the world count the birds they see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count and then enter their checklists at birdcount.org.
Besides the steep declines reported last year, Audubon scientists projected a grim future for birds in Survival By Degrees, a report showing nearly two-thirds of North America’s bird species could disappear because of climate change.
Birds from around the world are facing similar challenges and declines.
Counting birds for science is one simple action that individuals can take to protect birds and the places where they live.
“In order to understand where birds are and how their numbers are changing, we need everybody’s help,” says the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Marshall Iliff, a leader of the eBird program, which collects the GBBC data. “Without this information, scientists will not have enough data to show where birds are declining.”
With more than 10,000 species in the world, it means all hands on deck to monitor birds found in backyards and neighborhoods as well as in suburban parks, wild areas, and cities.
“Birds are important because they’re excellent indicators of the health of our ecosystems. Taking part in the Great Backyard Bird Count is one of the easiest and best ways to help scientists understand how our changing climate may affect the world’s bird life,” says Chad Wilsey, interim chief scientist for National Audubon Society. “All over the world people are paying more attention to our environment and how it’s changing. There’s a lot of bad news out there, but in just 15 minutes you can be part of a global solution to the crises birds and people are facing.”
“At times, we can feel like there’s little we can do on environmental issues,” says Steven Price, president of Birds Canada. “The Great Backyard Bird Count gives all bird enthusiasts a chance to help, as well as a great opportunity to include family and friends of all skill levels in a common conservation effort. Go out, have fun, and take heart that you are helping birds and nature!”
To learn more about how to take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, visit birdcount.org.
The Great Backyard Bird Count is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society with partner Birds Canada and is made possible in part by founding sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited.
Not ready to jump into the bird count event? Get a taste of bird watching later in the month during the first of the season’s Bird Walks at Tonto National Monument Wednesday, Feb. 26.
Learn about the wide variety of birds found at Tonto National Monument, from the Gila woodpecker to cactus wren, Anna’s hummingbird, red-tailed hawk and more. Friendly, knowledgeable park rangers guide the walk, which will also be held March 12, April 1 and April 22. Walks start from the Tonto National Monument Visitor Center and last from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Bird species spotted by visitors are recorded and featured on Tonto National Monument’s social media, check out recent posts at facebook.com/TontoNPS.
Park admission is $10 per person, unless visitors have an Interagency Annual, Military, Senior, Fourth Grader, or Access Pass. There is no additional cost to attend the bird walks and reservations are not required. Visitors will also have the opportunity to explore the Lower Cliff Dwelling after the program.
Park staff suggests visitors wear dependable hiking shoes and bring binoculars; carry a water bottle, and wear sun protection. All experience levels are welcome to attend; novice birders are welcome to use binoculars and field guides supplied by the National Park Service during the walk. See visitor photos of Tonto National Monument at instagram.com/TontoNPS, subscribe for updates at twitter.com/tonto_nps.
Directions? Set your GPS for 26260 N. Highway 188, #2, Roosevelt, AZ 85545.
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