Backyard bird watchers wanted for worldwide count

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— There are an estimated 10,000 species of birds in the world. Of those, roughly 3,620 species and 34.5 million individual birds were sighted and documented in the 16th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) in 2013.

Last year’s event was the first-ever worldwide bird count, in which people from more than 100 countries and all seven continents participated.

Beginning Friday and continuing through Monday, bird lovers in Steamboat Springs and around the world are invited to participate in the 17th annual Great Backyard Bird Count, counting and logging various species of birds wherever they can.

Participants need only count for at least 15 minutes at any location, estimate how many birds of each species were seen, and submit a checklist of the results on www.birdcount.org.

The GBBC "was initially started just to see if people would submit bird observations online, and has since grown to provide an incredible snapshot of bird populations that conservationists and researchers could never collect on their own,” National Audubon Society program associate Zach Slavin said.

All the data submitted goes into the eBird.org database, where it is used by researchers and conservationists to form a larger picture of long-term bird population trends.

For those who want to count birds on multiple days, a new checklist is required for each new day, location and time of counting. Those who have not participated in the count in previous years will need to create a free account on www.birdcount.org.

All observations must be made during the count, Feb. 14 to 17, but observations can be submitted online at any time.

People of any age and bird-watching ability are encouraged to participate.

“If you can identify a robin, a pigeon or a crow, we want to hear from you,” Slavin said.

Participants will be entered to win some great bird-related prizes, including feeders, books and bird-friendly coffee.

Enjoy watching birds but not enthralled with the idea of counting them all?

There is also a photo contest through GBBC in which judges pick the top photos in categories including people, behavior and habitat. More information about rules and registration can be found at http://gbbc.birdcount.org/photo-contest-rules.

Visit http://gbbc.birdcount.org/get-started for more information on how to get started in the 17th annual Great Backyard Bird Count.

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