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Final thoughts for a successful bird count

by DENNIS. L. CLAY
Herald Columnist | February 13, 2020 11:19 PM

The 2020 Great Backyard Bird Count has started. It will continue for the next three days, plus today.

Here is general recap of the count: Those wishing to participate need to register, it is free, on the count website. Google Great Backyard Bird Count and the site will appear. Click on the “Get Started” button and complete the desired information.

The count takes place this weekend, Feb. 14 through 17. A person can conduct as many counts as desired on these days. Each count must last at least 15 minutes, but can last longer.

It is called a backyard bird count, because a count can take place in the backyard of a person’s house. There is no need to go outside, but a person could if preferred. Or a family could conduct a count from inside a vehicle at a city park.

The count is an opportunity to teach youngsters about birds, such as identifying them. On the count website is a form titled February checklist for Moses Lake, Grant County, WA.

Clicking on a specific species listed will help in identifying the specific bird. For example, there are four types of sparrows listed, the golden-crowned, white-throated, Savannah and song sparrow.

My list would be difficult to complete without help from this checklist with photos and other identifying characteristics.

One caution needs to be mentioned here. There is a chance any bird feeder may be visited by a hawk or other bird of prey. The feeder may be constantly visited by 50 to 100 birds, when suddenly no birds can be seen.

At this point take a minute to look around the yard. A hawk may be found on a fence post or on a tree limp, acting as if it was a statue. Eventually a small bird will enter the yard and the hawk will take action.

It will swoop down and grab the bird with its talons. The hawk will kill and eat dinner on the spot. Some may consider this to be harsh, cruel and disturbing, but, hey, the hawk has to eat, too.

This is mentioned so parents can educate their children about this natural event. One mother told me her 4-year-old would think watching a hawk catch and eat dinner to be cool.

Once a count is complete it needs to be submitted to the website and your obligation is complete. You will be able to delight in the fact you and your family have participated in a world-wide event providing valuable information for scientists to consider for the next year.

Have fun and create memories lasting a lifetime.