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The Great Backyard Bird Count this past weekend

Many of us enjoy watching our fine feathered friends providing them with feeders filled with their favorite seeds to entice them to visit even closer and help them survive through the winter when food is not so plentiful. It seems that watching birds soothes the soul and relieves everyday stress.

If you become hooked on bird watching you will soon realize these aerial acrobats exhibit personalities that rival that of humans. Some are stingy and mean and will give a nasty peck to one who gets too close or even try to take the seeds out of another’s mouth while others will help feed their kin. Chickadees are quick to grab a seed and fly to another location to devour it while Cardinals squat over a pile of seeds and stay unless danger gets entirely too close. Feisty tiny birds will take on much larger ones in a fight over food. They will entertain you with their aerial antics and if you treat them well they will return time and again and bring their families.

The Great Backyard Bird Count invites bird watchers of all ages to count local birds in order to help specialized organizations get an idea of bird populations in different areas of the world during a given time. The 19th annual GBBC was held Friday, February 12-15. Individuals were asked to count the birds and report their sightings online.

Shirley Burnham / The Prentiss Headlight—Bickering at the feeder between Goldfinches.

Shirley Burnham / The Prentiss Headlight—Bickering at the feeder between Goldfinches.

Anyone can take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, and you can participate from your backyard or anywhere in the world. Just keep track of the number of each species you see. Last year, more than 140,000 participants submitted their bird counts online.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society collect the data to learn more about how birds are migrating, and how to protect them and the environment they need. Bird populations are always shifting and changing due to climate change and other factors.

Feeders lure more birds in number and species to your area. Many local stores carry their favorite seeds and if you keep your feeders full you will you will be rewarded with plenty of species visiting that you can count. If you enjoy taking photos you can fix up your own “set” with limbs and natural materials to get that special picture and use a hunting blind to get closer.

Visit the official website at birdcount.org for more information and be sure to check out the latest compiled facts and figures. There is a GBBC tool kit on the site along with the count forms to fill out. Photo enthusiasts can enter their best bird photos in the 2016 Audubon Photography Contest for a chance to win cash prizes and awards. You can still enter data at the site through March 1st.

This birder observed these species all in one day in the yard and field behind her house in the Whitesand Community: 4 Black Vultures, 1 Red-Tailed Hawk, 2 Mourning Doves, 2 Blue jays, 6 American Crows, 3 Chickadees, 2 Tufted Titmice, 2 Brown-headed Nuthatches, 3 Eastern Bluebirds, 10 American Robins, 7 Northern Cardinals, 3 House Finches, 65 Goldfinches, 4 House Sparrows, 13 Pine Siskins, 2 Swamp Sparrows, and 2 White-throated Sparrows.

If you missed it this year you can always prepare for the 2017. Spring is especially good to sharpen your observation skills and enjoy the courting habits, nesting preparations and raising young. Happy birding!