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Step outside for Great Backyard Bird Count

Participants in The Great Backyard Bird Count hosted by Lakeshore Branch Library, 7346 RR 261 in Buchanan Dam, look for birds in trees, on land and water, and in the sky. Courtesy photo

Count ’em as you see ’em in The Great Backyard Bird Count, sponsored by the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

The annual count is Friday-Monday, February 14-17, and takes place in backyards and other areas around the world. Participants spend at least 15 minutes on one or more of those days counting the number of birds and species seen by location.

The beauty of the event is you don’t have to travel anywhere; you can just count what birds you see in your own backyard. The information, which you provide through The Great Backyard Bird Count website, gives scientists, researchers, and bird lovers an idea of bird populations. The information is used to denote any changes and determine what caused them.

When the count began in 1998, it was the first online citizen-science project. In 2019, more than 160,000 people from over 100 countries participated. They counted at least 6,800 species.

You also can count beyond your backyard. In the Highland Lakes, a group of birders plan to gather at Lakeshore Branch Library, 7346 RR 261 in Buchanan Dam, at 8 a.m. Saturday, February 15.

The Lakeshore Library event lasts three hours, but watchers can leave at any time. Be sure to dress appropriately for weather and bring bottled water.

Lakeshore Library began hosting the event five years ago as a service project — one that library Director Melissa Macdougall especially enjoys leading.

“I’m a nature lover and avid watcher of birds,” she said. “Any person can do it.”

The group has discovered more than 40 bird species in past years.

“It’s a major contribution,” Macdougall said. “With some birds, we’re surprised to know they’re here.”

Some participants are experienced birders and can identify the species on the spot, she said, although she invites anyone who has an interest to join. Amateurs are welcome.

“The great thing about this event is you have a lot of eyes looking around,” she said. “You may be the one who spots the bird on land, in the sky, on water, or in trees. All you need is a willingness to get out and look.”

The Highland Lakes offers perfect perches for bird watching, including of wildlife stations with a front-row seat to nature:

To participate in the Lakeshore Branch Library count, contact Macdougall at lakeshore.library@gmail.com or 325-379-1174.

Visit The Backyard Bird Count website for information on counting on your own or with your family and how to turn in the data you collect.

jfierro@thepicayune.com

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