You’re Invited to the Great Backyard Bird Count

The cardinal, North Carolina's state bird, will be a common sight this weekend during the Great Backyard Bird Count. The Audubon Society invites amateur bird watchers of all ages to count the birds they see Feb. 16-19.

If you’ve ever wanted to be a scientist, now’s your chance.

This weekend, in North Carolina and around the world, amateur biologists are heading outside to look for birds during the 21st annual Great Backyard Bird Count.

“This is a great opportunity for bird lovers of all ages to get outside, get involved and make an impact,” said Curtis Smalling, director of conservation for Audubon North Carolina.

It’s easy to participate in the bird count, happening Feb. 16-19. Simply go outside in your yard or in a nearby park and write down any birds you see for 15 minutes or longer. Report your sightings online at birdcount.org.

Bird watchers from 140 countries participated in last year’s count, documenting almost 6,000 species – nearly half the possible bird species in the world — on more than 170,000 bird checklists. North Carolina birders documented 213 species in 2017, turning in 4,220 checklists.

“The data collected by local communities will provide our biologists with key insights on where birds are thriving and where they need greater support,” said Smalling. “It will also give us critical information on how climate change is impacting birds.”

To kick off the event, North Carolina’s First Lady Kristin Cooper will host a class of fifth-graders on Friday morning to count birds at the Executive Mansion. The public is invited to watch the student-scientists in action by visiting Audubon North Carolina’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/audubonnc from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Local bird experts will also be on the scene.

Cooper, an avid birder, installed a bird- and pollinator-friendly garden at the governor’s home in October. With the help of Audubon North Carolina, more than 1,000 native plants were installed, providing food and shelter for birds, pollinators and other wildlife.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society with partner Bird Studies Canada and is made possible in part by sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited.

Heather Hahn, Executive Director of Audubon North Carolina, left, and First Lady Kristin Cooper, plant a viburnum in October 2017 to dedicate a garden at the Executive Mansion with more than 1,000 native plants to benefit pollinators, birds and other wildlife.

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