By Donna Bray
Co-sponsored by the National Audubon Society and Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is scheduled for February 16th through the 19th. Yes, that is the long President’s Day holiday weekend. But you can participate, staying home in your own backyard, traveling, or just birding wherever you want to go!
Over the years, when I worked on the Friday, I took folks I worked with out to bird in the surrounding neighborhood or to a local park. In fact, we used binoculars that our Chapter members had donated (thanks again!). Other Chapter volunteers have introduced school children and a local Ecology Club group to birding via the GBBC, too. The lists were all entered into the national count at www.birdcount.org or via eBird (www.ebird.org ). It feels good to be a part of the citizen science effort helping researchers build their data.
This year I’d like to emphasize the value of birding locally, going to a location that is under-birded. At the time of this writing I have accepted the eBird challenge to submit a checklist a day in January. And, I have decided that I’ll bird some of those under-birded parks in my own neighborhood. No, they probably don’t have rarities, though they might, but no one is checking! And in so doing, I am learning increasingly more about eBird and realized that an eBird hotspot doesn’t mean that there are fancy rarities there. It’s a place accessible to anyone, and that helped me decide to ask to have little old, freeway-adjacent Norwalk Park included on the Hotspot list. It caused me to take a pair of compact binoculars with me to Olvera Street, and wow, actually see birds other than pigeons at La Placita! When I submitted the list, I requested it be listed as a Hotspot too. You can see where I am going with this. Any birding you do is valuable. So really make the effort to get out once or all four days of the GBBC and submit your lists. For more information on how, go the birdcount.org website.
Photo below by Cindy Crawford, a Black-throated Gray Warbler recently spotted in her backyard, S/E Long Beach area.