Want to be part of a cool project and monitor birds this winter? February is approaching and that means it's time for the Great Backyard Bird Count. The event happens from February 12 - 15, 2010 and all you need to do is the birds you see in your yard on one or more of the days during Feb 12 - 15. You count can be as short as fifteen minutes or as long as 24 hours--it's up to you. To make sure you are not counting the same bird again and again, you wouldn't count every cardinal you see. You'd count the most number of cardinals that you see at one time. So, if watched for three hours and you saw 10 cardinals in a flock all at once and then 45 minutes later you saw 4 more, you wouldn't say you saw 14, you'd say that you saw 10.
There's a very helpful video here and written instructions here. It's super simple and gives us some great data on wintering populations of birds--who knows, maybe you have a weird bird in your yard and it needs to be documented? Now, I'm going to be in Panama during the count--I've asked Cornell if I can count it, they are doubtful but they think I should do it anyway just for the bragging rights.
Now, there is also a photo contest for this too. You should enter that as well for some fun prizes. My favorite photo from last year didn't get first place, but you could tell that this woman had some crazy hungry redpolls coming to her feeders.