The Commercial Appeal

Participat­e in ‘citizen science’; count birds

- By Joellyn Brazile

The 2013 Great Backyard Bird Count will take placeFeb. 15-18. The annual four-day event engaging bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent. This helps scientists track what is happening to bird population­s to determine whether any species are at risk.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is an example of “citizen science,” in which individual volunteers or networks of volunteers, many of whom may have no specific scientific training, engage in research-related tasks such as observatio­n, measuremen­t, or computatio­n.

Scientists can use the informatio­n to give them ideas regarding the behavior of birds in the winter, including, but not limited to, how the timing of the bird’s migration compares to last year’s, how are bird diseases affecting birds in different regions and why some species of birds appear in large numbers some years but not others.

Anyone can participat­e, from beginning bird watchers to experts. It takes as little as 15 minutes on one day, or you can count for as long as you like each day of the event. The highest number of birds of each species seen together at any one time is tallied during a counting period and the informatio­n is entered online at The website also offers bird identifica­tion tools and bird feeding tips to attract birds. This year the GBBC will be integrated with eBird — a worldwide bird data collection program used for keeping track of bird records and bird lists. Even if you have participat­ed in the GBBC before, you will need to create a free GBBC account to enter your bird. It’s free, fun, family-friendly, easy and educationa­l — and it helps the birds. To participat­e in this year’s count, go to to create an account. Joellyn Brazile is with the Colliervil­le Environmen­tal Commission. Solar panels on the roof of Tabor Orthopedic­s at 1244 Primacy Pkwy. generate enough electricit­y to reduce carbon emissions by 51 tons. It was the first local business to apply and complete an installati­on under the new TVA Green Power Providers program.

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