East Lansing Joins Great Backyard Bird Count

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Monday, February 11, 2019, 7:54 am
Aron Sousa

This week, people from around East Lansing and the world will spend at least fifteen minutes counting birds in their yard and reporting their sightings to the Great Backyard Bird Count.

This year the count takes place February 15-18 and, to participate, local residents, anywhere in the world, count all of the birds and bird species they see in at least a fifteen-minute stretch anytime during those days.

Participants are allowed to spend more time and watch for birds in more places if they want.

To participate, East Lansing residents just need to find a place to look for birds and start counting. There are useful resources at the count’s “get-started” webpage. The Great Backyard Bird Count offers a tracking sheet to help people collect information.

Wild Birds Unlimited, including the local franchise at the corner of Coolidge and Lake Lansing Roads, is a sponsor of the count and has material supporting the count.

The count was started in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society and now also includes Bird Studies Canada. The Backyard Count follows on the tradition of the Audubon Society’s 119-year-old Christmas Bird Count, which has its own results page and bibliography.

In last year’s local count, 51 bird species were reported from Ingham County, ranging from tiny chickadees to wild turkeys. In 2018, people in more than 100 countries participated and counted 6,400 species of birds.

The count is an example of “citizen science,” a movement in which ordinary citizens help collect data and have the opportunity to view the data. The data collected in the count are particularly interesting as a snapshot of where birds are at a particular time of the year.

Just as an author’s note, I kept an informal tally of the birds I saw outside my dining room window over the hour or so I spent working on this article: 15 House Sparrows, 1 Northern Cardinal, 2 Blue Jays, 3 Mourning Doves. (I’ve also seen 3 black squirrels, but they do not count for this purpose.)




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