Bird Notes from West Houston

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Great Backyard Bird Count

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is this weekend, February 17 - 20. The GBBC is a way that you can help scientist study bird populations throughout the United States. Since labs cannot have scientists everywhere, your help is needed to study any fluctations in bird populations. It is easy to participate. Simply count the birds in your yard, your favorite park or wherever you watch birds for at least 15 minutes (30 minutes is recommended). Then you send your daily count (send in separate counts for each day and each location) to www.birdsource.org/gbbc. The 2005 numbers are as follows:

U.S. checklists submitted: 52,265
U.S. total species observed: 612
U.S. total individual birds observed: 6,546,606
Texas checklists submitted: 376
Texas individual birds observed: 544,009
Houston checklists submitted: 79 (surely we can improve on that!)
Houston species observed: 106

There is a specific way to count the birds to make sure you count each individual bird only once. If you're watching your feeders and see two Blue Jays at a time, you would mark "2" on your tally list. Later you see four Blue Jays at a time, you mark "4" on your tally list. Later on you see three Blue Jays at a time, you mark "3" on your tally list. The number you would enter would be four because that is the highest number you saw at any given time.

Species Observed Number Seen Reported Count
Blue Jay 2, 4, 3 4

Do not add your counts together (you would not enter "9" as the number you saw). This way you know that you are not counting the same individual more than once. This is on the website to remind you as well.

The GBBC is an excellent way to involve you children in birding. My children enjoy participating with me each year. It's a wonderful way to introduce kids to birding and give them a purpose to participate.

Log onto the website and see the results from years past. It is interesting to see how bird populations fluctuate from year to year. It is interesting to notice irruptive years among some species. Join in with hundreds of others this year and submit your sightings this weekend. Good birding!

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