Newswise — People from all ages and places can participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count, Feb. 16-19, 2007. It is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. Now in its 10th year, this fun, free event helps create a long-term record scientists can use to learn how environmental changes " such as urbanization and global climate change " are affecting birds.
Last year participants reported 7,594,742 birds and 622 different species. They submitted more than 60,000 checklists, nearly breaking an all-time record. People simply tally the highest number of each bird species they see together in their backyard, a local park, wildlife refuge or other area for at least 15 minutes, and submit the counts online at http://www.birdcount.org.
Results from the Great Backyard Bird Count and projects such as eBird, the Breeding Bird Survey (which is organized jointly by the U.S. Geological Survey's Patuxent Wildlife Center and the Canadian Wildlife Service's National Wildlife Center) and Audubon's Christmas Bird Count, may help scientists understand the impact of global climate change on birds as it alters the abundance or distribution of food such as insects. "The Great Backyard Bird Count " which is carried out over a short but intense period of time " provides a nice snapshot on the winter distributions of birds," said Janis Dickinson, director of citizen science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. "If we examine these data over time, we can observe the possible range shifts that are occurring."
"The climate changes that come with 'global warming' will include dramatic cooling in some regions, decrease in rainfall in some areas, increasing rainfall in others. Habitats will probably change dramatically, making areas unsuitable for the birds that currently use them," said Paul Green, director of citizen science for the National Audubon Society. "Counting which birds are where each year is an important way to track the effects of climate change on birds over time."
Increasing development and urbanization also have an impact on birds. "Cities are not ideal habitats for wildlife, but efforts such as urban greening can attract a surprising diversity of birds," said Miyoko Chu, science editor at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. "This bird count can provide a wealth of information scientists can use to understand how altering the landscape " for better or worse " alters the birds we see too."
For detailed information about the Great Backyard Bird Count, including birdwatching tips, visit: http://www.birdcount.org.