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A GREENER VIEW National Bird-Feeding Month PDF Print E-mail
Written by JEFF RUGG   
Thursday, 10 February 2011 05:19

The groundhog says that spring will be here in only six more weeks. I am sure the birds coming to my bird feeders will be happy.

If you have been feeding the birds, you may want to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) that Cornell Lab of Ornithology operates. This year, it will take place Feb. 18 to Feb. 21, and you can do it from the comfort of your living room if you want. It is an annual four-day period when bird-watchers create a snapshot of the birds across the continent. Anyone can be a bird-watcher for those four days. A "backyard" can be anywhere you happen to be: a schoolyard, a local park, a balcony of a high-rise apartment or a wildlife refuge.

Doing the count is easy. All you do is count the birds you see at any location, and the highest number of each species is recorded. Then you go to to record your list. Check out the photo contest page to see some great pictures.

The GBBC website can help you prepare for a trip to the backyard or any location where you choose to watch birds. The site is full of tips, including information on bird feeding, how to use binoculars, how to make a bird-friendly yard and how to identify birds, especially those tricky, similar-looking species. There are even tips on how to be a bird-friendly family.

The results of each survey are displayed on a variety of maps. You can easily see the distribution pattern of any bird species. You can also view the same map change over time, as the bird's distribution changes over the years. You can compare your sightings to everyone else's in your state.

Make sure the birds from your community are well represented in the count. It doesn't matter whether you report the five species coming to your backyard feeder or the 75 species you see during a day's outing to a wildlife refuge.

This event was developed and managed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, with sponsorship from Wild Birds Unlimited storeowners.

As noted by the National Bird-Feeding Society, February is "National Bird- Feeding Month." If you are new to bird feeding or just want to learn more about feeding birds, you can go to the society's website for more information (www.birdfeeding. org). You will find several educational pamphlets to improve your bird-feeding experience.

E-mail questions to Jeff Rugg, University of Illinois Extension at jrugg@illinois. edu.