Come outside and have fun with the Great Backyard Bird Count!
By Signe Hammer, photos by Bob Graham
The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is an annual four-day event in which bird watchers of all ages find and count birds to create a real-time snapshot of bird populations all over the world. Anyone can take part, from beginners to experts. It’s free, it’s fun, and you can do it in as little as 15 minutes!
Audubon de México Outdoor Activities
Great Backyard Bird Count
Fri, Feb 14 – Mon, Feb 17
Various locations and times
Various Costs. Pre-registration necessary for Sat and Mon events
Why count birds? The more researchers learn about how birds are doing, the better we can protect these beautiful creatures and the environment we share with them. Last year, participants helped create the largest snapshot of global bird populations ever recorded! San Miguel is home to three of the top five birds that appeared on most lists of birds seen last year: Northern Cardinal, Mourning Dove and House Finch.
Special Outings for Everyone
This year, Audubon de México is offering events for both children and adults to help you get involved and to raise funds for Audubon’s conservation programs. All events are led by knowledgeable, experienced guides. Note that pre-registration is necessary for the Saturday and Monday events.
Saturday, February 15, 9–11am: Kids and Nature day at El Charco del Ingenio, in English and Spanish. This outing focuses on introducing kids of all ages to the beauty and wonder of birds and nature. Our expert bird guides will be on hand to help spot and count the birds, and share information about them. There is a good chance of seeing all three of our “top five” songbirds, plus ducks, shorebirds and a hawk or falcon. To add to the fun, Audubon’s signature Vermillion Flycatcher mojiganga will be on hand. Each family will receive an Audubon bird book, enjoy free refreshments and enter a drawing to win prizes. If you have a child you would like to bring to El Charco on the 15th, please pre-register at email@example.com. El Charco members free. Nonmembers, adults 40 pesos. Children free with parents.
Sunday, February 16, 7:45am-noon, Audubon Birdwalk for adults and children 12 and up with parents. In English. Early birds get the worm! Or, at least, a chance to see and count a variety of local and wintering birds along a quiet tree-lined stretch of the Rio Laja. Transportation by carpooling. For more information, visit the Audubon website at www.audubonmex.org and look for the Audubon Birdwalk announcement in next week’s Atencion. Audubon Members free, nonmembers US$10 or 100 pesos. Pre-registration is not required.
Monday, Feburary 17, 9am–1pm, Kayak Outing on the Presa Allende for adults; children 15 and up welcome with parents. In English. What better way to get close to the birds than on the water? We’ll head up the Rio Laja channel to spot and count warblers, orioles, wrens, woodpeckers and kingfishers in the trees on either side, plus airborne or perched vultures and cormorants. Then we’ll head out to the open waters to view and count the pelicans and ducks, egrets and other wading birds. A few kayaks will be available to rent; register early at firstname.lastname@example.org to make sure one has your name on it! Audubon Members free, nonmembers US$10 or 100 pesos.
Friday to Monday, February 14-17, Count Birds in Your Own Backyard! If you are familiar with local birds, you can also participate by counting the birds in your own back (or front) yard. It only takes 15 minutes a day, for as many of the four days as you’d like. Please contact email@example.com to pre-register and get the information you’ll need to make your numbers count! Free.
And to help you get ready for the GBBC, Audubon has a presentation on Tuesday, January 11, at 3pm in the Biblioteca’s Teatro Santa Ana. “Birding by Color: Who’s
That Bird Hanging Out in Your Backyard?” will show you how to identify birds by one of their signal characteristics. For details, see the announcement in this issue.
If you’ve never tried birding, you may be surprised to learn that, according to the USDA’s Forest Service, in the US, watching or photographing birds ranks 15th on a list of the most popular outdoor activities, just below bicycling. Arguably no animal—not even man’s best friend—is as intertwined with human experience as birds, which have served as muses, messengers and the beautiful objects of our human and camera eyes.
Birds remain bellwethers of climate change, (via changes in migration patterns) and diseases, (such as mosquito-borne West Nile Virus, which crows and robins helped bring to light). More than 1200 bird species—12 percent of the planet’s total—face extinction over the next century. It’s citizen science like the GBBC that may help to save them.
Audubon de México works to promote healthy habitats shared by birds, other wildlife and people. Through education, hands-on projects, and recreation we encourage people to become good stewards of our environment for the benefit of all living things. For more information on Audubon and the GBBC, visit the Audubon website at www.audubonmex.org. Lend a hand, contribute to research and conservation, and have fun—join us for the GBBC!