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Are you looking for an excuse to get outdoors—or maybe not with the sub-zero temperatures experienced recently? Good news: If you can look out your window from that nice warm kitchen or living room and count the birds you see for at least 15 minutes, you can participate in the 22nd Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC).
As the National Audubon Society explains on its website, “The Great Backyard Bird Count is a free, fun and easy event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of bird populations. Participants are asked to count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the four-day event and report their sightings online at www.birdcount.org.”This year’s GBBC will take place this Friday, February 15 through Monday, February 18. As the name implies, the GBBC can be done from your own home, watching birds on the feeders and surrounding trees in your backyard. You can also count all day at your favorite trail, field or forest, marking the number of each species you see.
This may be a good activity to get your kids involved in—you don’t have to be an expert birder to participate. Get your friends involved, too. The more diverse the experience levels are, the better. You can find instructions, checklists and helpful hints at www.birdcount.org.
Northern Cardinals are seen throughout the year in the region, and they are attracted to bird feeders (they like sunflower seeds). They prefer shrubby areas next to roads of field edges. The male, shown here, is a deep red, while the female is a pale red.
If you have a feeder in the backyard, you will most likely see a black-capped chickadee. In fact, you will see many of them. Seed is their favorite, and if someone or something scares them off the feeder, they will be back within minutes. An intruder nearby may trigger alarm calls from the flock, similar to the behavior of crows when a hawk is nearby.