Monday, 19 February 2007 00:00
Backyard Bird CountWritten by Mike Kiniry
Monday wraps up the 10th annual Great Backyard Bird Count…organized by Cornell University and the National Audubon Society. Ornithologists use information from the annual tally to paint a continent-wide picture of what’s happening with bird populations.
Birders last year submitted more than 60-thousand checklists. To submit one yourself all you have to do is sit in your backyard for 15 minutes and note every bird you see. Then go to the website ‘birdsource-dot-org’ and enter that information.
Count spokeswoman - Pat Leonard – says it’s pretty amazing when people spanning an entire continent do something together.
“I was thinking about it this morning it’s sort of like that type of artwork, pointillism I think they call it, where each point if you looked at it very closely you wouldn’t see much, but when you back off and look at the whole thing it’s actually a beautiful painting. And that’s kind of the way this works. Each person who is a report is a little dot, and then when you step back and look at it all you get a good picture of what’s going on with the birds in winter.”
Leonard says while most people enter their information online – they still do get a few checklists by mail. She says because of the sheer number of participants they highly encourage online submissions.
Over its 10 year history the count has helped ornithologists chronicle the shifting of a number of species’ migratory patterns.
Leonard says thanks to interested individuals and advances in technology… scientists now have access to more data than they would’ve even dreamed possible just a few decades ago.
“There’s something called an Avian Knowledge Network. And all the information from the Great Backyard Bird Count; all the Christmas bird counts; any other bird counts that are done elsewhere by university’s say, or other groups – there’ll all going into that database. There are 10’s of millions of records in there.”
Leonard says the network is part of the National Science Digital Library - whose main purpose is to collect digital data so it’s available for scientists around the world.
The 10th annual Great Backyard Bird County runs through Monday.