For the first time, anyone anywhere in the world with Internet access can participate in the 16th annual Great Backyard Bird Count, which starts Friday and continues through Monday.
Participants will watch birds at any location for at least 15 minutes, tally the numbers of each species and report the figures online at www.BirdCount.org. The GBBC is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon, with Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada and Wild Birds Unlimited.
The GBBC is open to anyone of any skill level and welcomes bird observations from any location, including backyards, national parks, gardens, wetlands and urban landscapes. The four-day count typically receives sightings from thousands of people reporting more than 600 bird species in the United States and Canada alone.
“We’re eager to see how many of the world’s 10,240 bird species will be reported during the count this year,” said John Fitzpatrick, Cornell lab director. “We need as many people as possible to help build the wealth of data that scientists need to track the health of bird populations through time.”
Locally, Dobbs Memorial Park personnel and Wabash Valley Audubon Society volunteers will be participating from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, at the Dobbs Memorial Park Nature Center, 5170 E. Poplar St.
During last year’s 2012 Great Backyard Bird Count participants from the Wabash Valley service area of Clay, Parke, Sullivan, Vermillion and Vigo counties turned in 22 checklists. Terre Haute led the way with 11 checklists and 40 different species that were reported. In Terre Haute, the most abundant species were house sparrows with 163 reported, mallards were next with 80, and American crows came in third at 65 counted.
Other area 2012 participants reported from Rockville, St. Bernice, Brazil, Montezuma, Poland, Universal, and W. Terre Haute. Universal led the way with the most number of individual birds at 1,308, compared with Terre Haute at 748.
On Universal’s only checklist, a participant reported 500 greater white-fronted geese, 120 mallards and 100 each of trumpeter swans, gadwalls, American coots and red-winged blackbirds.
The rarest species to be found in the five county area with one of each species reported were the pileated woodpecker (Rockville), great blue heron (Universal) and the following species reported from Terre Haute: wood duck, killdeer, yellow-bellied sapsucker, Northern flicker, swamp sparrow, white-crowned sparrow, and brown-headed cowbird.
Participants will be able to view reports on interactive maps and contribute observations for ongoing bird research and conservation efforts.
For the first time, participants will also be able to upload counts from the field using the eBird BirdLog app for Apple or Android smartphones.
To celebrate the new global reach of the count, developers of the eBird BirdLog app are offering regional versions of the app for just 99 cents through Monday. For bird ID tips and more information about how to participate, visit www.BirdCount.org. The count also includes a photo contest and a prize drawing.
For more information about the Wabash Valley Audubon Society, visit www.wabashvalleyaudubon.org.