Photos and post by Joe Sebastiani, Seasonal Program Team Leader
Are you feeling like you’ve had too much indoor time with the lingering snow on the ground and temperatures below freezing lately? Here are a few ideas to get you outdoors, even if it is in your own backyard.
Start keeping track of the birds you see in your yard for the year. I started doing this on January 1st, and I have found 40 species as of yesterday. My goal is 100 species identified from the yard this year. All birds you see or hear while you are in your yard count, even birds flying overhead. I am maintaining the yard list on my e-bird account, which is where I keep all of my bird records. This site is run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. I urge you to check out www.ebird.org and start an account. Keep your yard list on this fun on-line database, and go to the “add a yard” button in the data tab to compare them with other birders in the USA and the state you live in. In Pennsylvania where I live, there is actually a state-wide, year-long yard bird list contest that I am participating in, and you can too if you are a resident.
E-bird takes your data and makes it available to the scientific community through the Avian Knowledge Network, so therefore your observations are useful to our understanding of birds. If you like e-bird, you can add individual bird sightings or whole lists into the database from anywhere on earth! If you have lists collecting dust from years past, enter those as well to immortalize your observations. Now it sounds like you have a winter project to get excited about! If you want some help with e-bird, please contact me.
Another chance to force yourself outdoors is a birding event called the Great Backyard Bird Count, February 18-21. Pick any time, or several times during this four day period to find birds in your backyard, nearby park, or neighborhood. Enter your sightings into the Great Backyard Bird Count website to help scientists get a mid-winter snapshot of bird populations around the country. Last year, almost 100,000 checklists were submitted.
Join us on these upcoming Delaware Nature Society programs: Breakfast and Backyard Bird Count program, February 18th, 8-11am at Ashland Nature Center. A diner-style breakfast is included. Birds of the Marsh and Mini e-bird Workshop at the Dupont Environmental Education Center on March 6, 8-11am.