As a city girl, I’ve always loved watching birds. I think part of my fascination is that they are a link to wildlife. I grew up in NYC, and now live in a small NJ town. I don’t get to see much wildlife. So when a cardinal, blue jay, or American Goldfinch (the NJ state bird) appears in my backyard or in the reservation near my home, I get excited.
A while back my son and I were driving past a local park when I spotted a white crane. I immediately stopped the car, and made Jordon (my 10-year old) get out of the car with me to watch. We were about 6 feet away from this large magnificent creature. We watched quietly for about 15 minutes. Then he spread his wide wings and flew off.
The U.S Forest Service wants you to think of your backyard as a forest or grassland. It’s part of their Great Backyard Bird Count, a long-running citizen science program spearheaded by Cornell University that creates a real-time snapshot of where birds are across the continent.
To participate, you can spend as little as 15 minutes a day between Feb. 18 and 21 to tally the highest number of birds of each species seen together at any one time. Those numbers are entered into the Great Backyard Bird Count website database, which is used by researchers.
“We are continuing our work at the U.S. Forest Service to maintain and restore our forests while providing an exhilarating outdoor experience for millions of Americans,” says Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “What better way to enjoy the outdoors than to participate in bird research as citizen scientists.”
Bird research is important to help maintain and restore habitats necessary to sustain healthy migratory and resident bird populations. The Forest Service is an international leader in bird conservation through the Wings Across the Americas program and has been a strong leader in scientifically rigorous bird population monitoring through the development of the Integrated Monitoring Bird Conservations Regions program.
Following is a video from the Great Backyard Bird Count: