Backyard Birdwatchers See Something New
by Michael Price
The United States and Canada just basked in an unusually mild winter. Temperatures ranked fourth warmest on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and many spring flowers are already blooming. But did the birds notice? Definitely, according to the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), an annual tally of bird sightings collected by amateur birders across the United States and Canada. The numbers reveal that the snowy owl population in particular boomed and that many other birds showed up in more northerly latitudes than usual.
GBBC, now in its 15th year, is a joint effort by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York, and the National Audubon Society, headquartered in New York City. This year, birders, who were instructed to identify and record whatever birds they happened to see in their yards and neighborhoods between 17 and 20 February, tallied 17.4 million individual sightings. Pat Leonard, GBBC’s director of communications, says that it’s unclear how many individuals took part because each observer can submit more than one sighting checklist, but he estimates that between 65,000 and 70,000 volunteers participated…
(read more: Science NOW) (photo: Ian Davies)