This is it, folks. We’ve spent a year trapped in our houses with little to look at except for the feeders in our backyard. The whole world seems to be on about how birdwatching is having a moment, and now it’s time to put all that feederwatching to some good use. Coming up next week, from Feb. 12 and 15, it’s time for the Great Backyard Bird Count.
The GBBC, as it’s known, is a free, fun, and easy event open to bird watchers of all ages and helps create a real-time snapshot of bird populations. All you need to do is count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or longer, if you want!) on one or more days of the four-day event and report your sightings online at birdcount.org.
With a year to prepare, many of our feeders are in prime shape. I’ve got my suet up, my nyjer feeder filled, and two other feeders filled with black-oil sunflower seeds. If you’re not quite ready, there’s still time, and Maine Audubon has plenty of resources to help you pick the right bird feeders and fill them with the right bird food. Our nature store has all the supplies you need (available for curbside pick-up in Falmouth).
Maine birders should know that there might be some special birds at their feeders this winter. We’re in the middle of what’s called an “irruption” of finches, where seed-eating birds come farther south than usual to find the seeds they prefer. Keep an eye out for birds like Pine Siskin, Pine Grosbeak, Evening Grosbeak, and Common Redpoll, as their movements will be of particular interest to scientists studying the data.
Every sighting submitted during the Great Backyard Bird Count weekend helps researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society learn more about how birds are doing, and how to protect them and the environment we share. Similar to the Maine Bird Atlas, the information gathered as part of the GBBC goes to a greater scientific good.