Birders of all levels asked to record sightings for The Great Backyard Bird Count

“There’s all kinds of questions about bird distribution that scientists can have this great big database to look at and answer,” said Judy Pollock, president of Chicago’s chapter of the Audubon Society.

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A Black-Capped Chickadee.

The Black-Capped Chickadee is one of the birds that can be spotted in the winter months around Chicago.

Provided by Matthew Dolkart

The Great Backyard Bird Count is in full swing and avian admirers of all levels are being encouraged to bundle up and record their sightings for the sake of science.

The bird count, a joint effort by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Audubon Society and Birds Canada, asks everyone from casual birdwatchers and serious twitchers to grab their bins — that’s short for binoculars — and head to their backyards, parks and natural areas to report what they see.

The window for the count is short — submissions opened Friday and will close on Monday.

Participants can use the eBird app or website to log their sightings.

Judy Pollock, president of Chicago’s chapter of the Audubon Society, said the data is used for a variety of research — including learning the impact of climate change on local bird populations.

“There’s all kinds of questions about bird distribution that scientists can have this great big database to look at and answer,” Pollock said.

The count holds special significance in Chicago, according to Pollock.

The city was named the most dangerous for migratory birds in a 2019 study by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Light pollution and geography make a deadly combination for birds navigating the towering glass skyscrapers downtown.

Pollock hopes the count will attract new birders who will grow to appreciate the beauty of these feathered friends and inspire those who participate to also take parts in efforts to protect birds.

“Once people start thinking about birds and doing something about the decline of our birds, there’s a lot of things we can do,” Pollock said.

Birding has also been a safe activity during the coronavirus pandemic that gets people outdoors, Pollock said.

“There’s a lot of pandemic birders out there; we welcome them,” Pollock said. “I think it has really added a dimension to [their] life.”

If you’re head out for a birding session, Pollock says to remember of only observe them.

“We really try to stress observing birds in an ethical way,” Pollock said. “Making sure that you’re not disturbing the bird that you’re enjoying.”

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