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Don’t Forget the Herons ​

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February 13, 2012 by Joseph C. Neal

The annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) begins Friday, Feb. 17 and goes through the weekend. I’m going to Devil’s Den State Park on Friday to get things started. Y’all Observer readers are mighty welcome. I’ll meet anyone interested in the parking area adjacent Lee Creek bridge in the park at 9 a.m.

This is a user-friendly event. You are welcome to come for as little or as much of the day as you want. Yes, it’s OK to just stay 30 minutes. You can even come late and join us after the “official” start, but in that case you’ll have to hunt us up.

You don’t need to be some kind of smart alecky bird expert to be a “citizen scientist” on Friday or for that matter, anytime through the weekend. Just being interested and having a little time is enough.

It’s also almost too easy to be real. In terms of effort and inconvenience, this will rival having to heft off the couch in search of the channel changer. That is, you will have to shake a leg to participate on Friday, but not too hard. And best of all, it will be fun. Everyone’s effort for GBBC will help the big time bird scientists understand where which birds are at the end of winter.

Just to put this plainly: that Great Blue Heron we spot along Lee Creek at Devil’s Den State Park will become part of a national database. Those who study herons will learn more about where Great Blues are in mid-February. Same goes for the like 50-60 species of birds we are likely to see on Feb. 17.

Here’s a web site if you want to look this stuff up yourself: http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc/whycount.html

If you don’t like to search stuff on the web, GBBC is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent. Anyone can participate, from beginning bird watchers to experts. It takes as little as 15 minutes on one day, or you can count for as long as you like each day of the event. It’s free, fun, and easy—and it helps the birds. GBBC is led by Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, with Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada and sponsorship from Wild Birds Unlimited.

By the way, you don’t have to come to the park to participate. You can count birds anywhere, including your neighbor’s yard, but if the feeder is hanging in front of their house, I’d advise you not to be looking in their windows! We don’t want Peeping Toms to be claiming to be “citizen scientists”!

Northwest Arkansas Audubon Society is a co-sponsor of the Devil’s Den count on Friday.

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