It’s Time to Count The Birds!

I’m going to step away from the house plants for a moment and talk about birding for a very important reason. It’s almost time to count the birds!

Actually, it’s not quite time to count the birds–the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) begins at 7:00 am on Friday February 14 (how’s that for showing the birds some love?). The count continues through Monday February 17. It’s always held President’s Day weekend.

For those of you who aren’t yet familiar with this adventure, all you need is a computer (and I use an old fashioned paper and pencil to keep track of my daily bird tallies before I enter them into the computer–but I tend to use a paper calendar too. I’m not fully into the electronic age yet!).

There are easy instructions here. There are also apps. If you’re an experienced birdwatcher and are already submitting counts on eBird (and those of you who are will know what I mean) the counts you submit through eBird will apply for purposes of the GBBC.

Now if you wonder why folks might want to get involved in any of this nonsense, let me try to help with that. For one thing, it’s fun and surprisingly addictive. Don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it.

For another, birds are absolutely amazing. And it is so wonderful to see such fabulous signs of life in this ridiculous frozen winter most of us are having–at least across a good part of North America, anyway.

And it doesn’t take much to get a lot of birds–a single feeder and some good quality bird seed will get you a lot of birds. If you’re able to put out fresh water–even if you can’t keep it from freezing, some water that you change every day, in a plastic saucer perhaps–is a great way to attract even more birds. It’s not a requirement, though.

I could go on to talk about all the things that make a yard–of whatever size–a habitat, but that perhaps is a much longer post or series of posts. Suffice it to say that one speaker I heard at a horticultural symposium a week or so ago described it this way: places for nesting and resting and breeding and feeding.

In other words, the birds want pretty much what most of us want in our lives– a nice place to make a home. Make your little corner of the world attractive to them and they’ll reward you with their beauty and song.

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