Mainers invited to take part in global Great Backyard Bird Count

Maine residents are asked to take part in this winter’s Great Backyard Bird Count, taking place Feb. 14-17, according to a recent press release. By going for a stroll outdoors or simply looking out your window, you can contribute in an important study that helps better define bird ranges, populations, migration pathways and habitat needs.

Courtesy of Wild Birds Unlimited in South Portland Bluebirds sitting in a row.

Courtesy of Wild Birds Unlimited in South Portland
Bluebirds sitting in a row.

“The count is to study larger population trends. And of course, the more checklists submitted, the more accurate a picture we get,” Laura Turner, an ambassador of the Great Backyard Bird Count and owner of Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop in South Portland, stated in the press release.

Anyone can participate in this free event and signing up is easy. The best place to begin is at the Great Backyard Bird Count website, gbbc.birdcount.org, where you can learn more about the event, register and view prior years’ statistics.

“We want to encourage both residents and visitors to participate in the count, especially because many people have been seeing and enjoying a wide variety of birds in the area,” Turner said.

The annual Great Backyard Bird Count went global last year, when 137,998 checklists were submitted from 111 countries, and 4,258 species were observed.

Courtesy of Matt McRay A snowy owl seen in Biddeford in January 2014.

Courtesy of Matt McRay
A snowy owl seen in Biddeford in January 2014.

Two species that Turner is looking forward to seeing results for in Maine are the eastern bluebird and snowy owl.

“Eastern bluebird sightings in yards seem to have increased this winter, and of course, the snowy owl irruption to our area is impressive. I can’t wait to see what towns they are reported in,” Turner said.

Although it’s called the Great “Backyard” Bird Count, the count extends well beyond backyards. Many participants choose to head for national parks, nature centers, urban parks, nature trails and even ski resorts.

For information about the GBBC, visit gbbc.birdcount.org/get-started. Participants are also welcome to pick up bird count worksheets, ask questions, and submit their checklists to Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop in South Portland. For information, call the shop at 771-2473. Wild Birds Unlimited is a major sponsor of the Great Backyard Bird Count.

Aislinn Sarnacki

About Aislinn Sarnacki

Professionally, Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the "Outdoor" and "Living" pages. She's a wilderness romper and fashion-forward bookworm.