Blanco, TX - 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 from February 12 – 15. Blanco State Park will be celebrating the bird count with bird walks, classes, and children’s activities for experienced and first-time birders alike. 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 turned in more than 93,600 checklists online, creating the continent’s largest instantaneous snapshot of bird populations ever recorded.
This will be the second 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 8am, 10am, and Noon on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (February 12-14). Bird checklists will be completed during these walks and recorded at the GBBC website. Participants can come to one walk or try all of them! On Saturday, February 13th, a children’s area with bird identification games, crafts, and experiments will be set up from 8am – 2pm. Also on Saturday at 11:00am and again at 1:00pm, short, interactive classes will be held on “How to Attract Birds to Your Backyard”.
“Taking part in the Great Backyard Bird Count is a great way to get outside with family and friends, have fun, and help birds—all at the same time,” said Audubon Education Vice President, Judy Braus. “Even if you can only identify a few species, you can provide important information that enables scientists to learn more about how the environment is changing and how that affects our conservation priorities.”
Bird populations are always shifting and changing. For example, 2009 GBBC data highlighted a huge southern invasion of Pine Siskins across much of the eastern United States. Participants counted 279,469 Pine Siskins on 18,528 checklists, as compared to the previous high of 38,977 birds on 4,069 checklists in 2005. Failure of seed crops farther north caused the Siskins to move south to find their favorite food.
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, which is $4.00 for adults, $2.00 for seniors, 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, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Audubon at (202) 861-2242 ext 3050, email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.