Join the Great Backyard Bird Count

The Great Backyard Bird Count returns in South Dakota from Feb. 18-21. Millions of novice and accomplished bird watchers can make their love of nature count for science and for the future during the 14th annual count, led by the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

During Presidents� Day weekend, anyone can count birds wherever they are and enter their results at http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc/. Those reports create a real-time picture of where birds are across the continent and contribute valuable information for science and conservation.

Participants from 54 South Dakota locations submitted 261 checklists during the 2010 count, reporting a total of 93 species.

The most numerous species reported by South Dakota counters were the Canada goose, mallard, American goldfinch, ring-necked pheasant, and horned lark. The most commonly observed bird species in the United States were the dark-eyed junco, black-capped chickadee, downy woodpecker, house sparrow, and American goldfinch

Sioux Falls counters submitted the most checklists, followed by Vermillion, Huron, Rapid City, and Pierre participants. Rapid City birders reported 52 species, the highest number in the state.

If you are a novice or rusty birder, use the count as an excuse to hone your birding skills. Many resources can help you improve. View a series of short and helpful instructional videos at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology�s website: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/NetCommunity/page.aspx?pid=1053.

The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks has a free, color guide to backyard birds that you can request at this website: http://gfp.sd.gov/wildlife/critters/birds/default.aspx

Everyone can participate in the count, from beginning bird watchers to seasoned experts. During the count, bird watchers tally birds for as little as 15 minutes, or for as long as they like, keeping track of the highest number of each bird species they see together at one time.

People are encouraged to report birds from public lands and local parks, as well as their backyards. Participants can enter their numbers online at http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc/ and can explore sighting maps, lists, and charts as the count progresses. There is no fee to participate, so mark your calendar for th is year�s Great Backyard Bird Count.

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