Blanco County News
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Great Backyard Bird Count in Blanco
Wednesday, February 15, 2012 • Posted February 17, 2012

Each year bird watchers from coast to coast become “citizen scientists” by taking part in the Great Backyard Bird Count and collecting data on winter bird populations. This year’s GBBC will take place February 17-20. Blanco State Park will be celebrating the bird count with bird walks, classes and children’s activities for experienced and first-time birders alike on Saturday, February 18. Participants in the event will join tens of thousands of volunteers counting birds in their own backyards, local parks or wildlife refuges.

Each checklist submitted by a GBBC participant helps researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Audubon Society, and Bird Studies Canada learn more about how the birds are doing—and how to protect them. Last year, participants submitted more than 92,000 checklists with more than 11 million bird observations. These data capture a picture of how bird populations are changing across the continent year after year—a feat that would be impossible without the help of tens of thousands of participants.

This will be the fourth year Blanco State Park will be hosting a Great Backyard Bird Count event. Participating visitors will have the opportunity to hone their bird watching skills, see new birds, introduce family members and children to the joys of watching birds, and help the park track bird populations. Bird walks and counts will be held at 9am, 10am and noon on Saturday at the beautiful Wildlife Viewing Station. Bird checklists will be compiled during these counts and recorded at the GBBC website. Participants can come to one walk or try all of them! A children’s area with bird identification games, crafts and experiments will be set up from 9am – 2pm and a special children’s bird count will take place at 2:00pm. This is the perfect place to introduce your child to a new outdoor, life-long hobby.

“This count is so much fun because anyone can take part—we all learn and watch birds together—whether you are an expert, novice, or feeder watcher,” said Gary Langham, Audubon’s Chief Scientist. “I like to invite new birders to join me and share the experience. Get involved, invite your friends, and see how your favorite spot stacks up.”

Participants at Blanco State Park’s Great Backyard Bird Count are encouraged to bring binoculars if they have them, though they are not necessary to participate, and to wear clothes for being outside and sturdy walking shoes. Participants may also want to bring a camera along so they can enter the GBBC photo contest by uploading images taken during the count. Many images will be featured in the GBBC website’s photo gallery. All GBBC activities are free; the only cost is a day-pass into Blanco State Park; $4.00 for those 13 and older and free for children under 13 and Texas State Park Pass holders.

For more information about the GBBC, visit the website at www.birdcount.org. Or contact the Cornell Lab of Ornithology at 800-843-2473, gbbc@cornell.edu, or Audubon at 202-861-2242 ext 3050, citizenscience@audubon.org. For more information and to obtain a complete schedule of activities for Blanco State Park’s Great Backyard Bird Count please contact 830-833-4333 or maryalice.partain@tpwd.state.tx.us.

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