Birders throughout Skagit County are making time to check out their backyards this weekend for the annual Great Backyard Bird Count.
The Great Backyard Bird Count, a global citizen science project launched by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, asks birdwatchers to look outside for a period of 15 minutes, identifying all the birds they hear or see.
This year, the Bird Count is taking place Friday through Monday. Participants can enter their data on the app Merlin, which helps to ID birds, or on eBird, which is for more experienced birders.
Matt Kerschbaum, an employee at Skagit Wild Bird Supply in Mount Vernon and retired wildlife professional, participates in the count from the store or his house.
He said it’s always interesting to see which birds show up across the different days of the count.
Just across the road from the supply store, he said he will often see swans and snow geese foraging in the fields.
Kerschbaum said the Bird Count is valuable because it can help Cornell get data that it can translate into usable information.
Plus, Kerschbaum said, “It gets people who are into (birding) to stay, and gets people into the fold.”
For Wes Jansen, co-owner of Fine Feathered Friends Nature Store in La Conner, the count is something he and his wife Rosi look forward to each year.
“(Birding) is so rewarding, because you can learn something new and different each day,” Jansen said.
Skagit Audubon Society Board Member Mary Sinker has participated in the count for about 10 years. She plans to take part during each of the four days.
Sinker said she enjoys the event because of its accessibility.
Participants don’t need special equipment or a science degree, Sinker said. And it’s not a strenuous event.
“This is something anybody can do,” she stressed.
Sinker usually has 25 to 35 species at the bird feeders in her backyard, including red-breasted nuthatches, red-winged blackbirds and dark-eyed juncos.
She and her husband Jeff have already seen Anna’s hummingbirds, spotted towhees and a red-tailed hawk during this count period.
Sinker said the data from the count is useful to see which birds are and aren’t in the area each year.
This year, she noticed that there’s been goldfinches, which are in the area year-round, but no pine siskin, which are small brown and yellow songbirds that are often seen in groups.
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